Hello and welcome to my first (proper) post of 2009. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year and are geared up for the challenges that lie ahead this year.
As I write to you today I’m sitting on my new work chair at my new work desk that I got from Ikea, working from my new MacBook which I picked up just before Christmas. On one of the walls in my room hangs my new Arsenal calendar (cheers to my brother for that) and I’m currently nursing a ice cold Tiger beer. Needless to say, I feel bloody good.
I must apologise again for the lack of posting over the holiday period. I had intended to keep things running pretty much as they were but a whole host of functions, events and various other obligations meant that this was virtually impossible. As it turned out, I feel completely refreshed and revived and am excited to get this blog going again in 2009.
With regards to the football, there has been plenty going on since I last spoke to you on the eve of the Portsmouth game. On the pitch the boys recovered well from surrendering a two-goal lead at Villa to beat both Pompey (1-0) in the league and Plymouth Argyle (3-1) in the FA Cup. William Gallas was the hero with the only goal against Portsmouth while Robin van Persie repaid the manager’s decision to hand him the captain’s armband in Cesc Fabregas and Manuel Almunia’s absence with a two-goal performance.
Interesting points to take out of the games was the passion shown by Gallas when bagging the winner against Portsmouth, the outstanding performances by Samir Nasri when pushed central in both games and the decision by Arsene Wenger to give Abou Diaby a start as the side’s defensive midfielder alongside Aaron Ramsey against Plymouth.
As I missed both games I’ve had to rely on a lot of feedback from commenters on the blog. The general feeling I get from readers is that although the performances haven’t been perfect it’s been nice to get back to winning games and it’s a sentiment that I tend to agree with. With the injuries to Fabregas, Alex Song, Denilson, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky at the moment our midfield has been particularly stretched and to get two wins since the draw with Villa has been an excellent outcome.
The hope is that the lack of numbers in the midfield will see Arsene Wenger plump for a new player or two in the transfer window and despite reports about the club not having too much money to spend, I think he would be crazy not to buy. With Fabregas gone for practically the rest of the season we desperately need a creative midfielder in the mould of Andrei Arshavin or Mikel Arteta, two players that Arsenal have been linked to since the transfer window opened. Whether it is one of those two who comes in, I don’t know, but the manager would be taking a huge risk to carry on this season without reinforcements.
The other big story involving Arsenal to break since the opening of the window has been about Kolo Toure’s request for a transfer. Wenger has since confirmed the reports about Toure’s request but also insisted that he withdrew it after discussions with club management.
Regardless of the exact truth, it’s appears that Toure is unhappy with consistently being left out of the side. My personal opinion is that although I feel that the best centre-back pairing at the club is William Gallas and Johan Djourou I would hate to see Toure go. He’s not in the best form right now but he is one of the players in the squad who is genuinely Arsenal through and through and although losing him might not directly impact on the performances on the pitch it would be a sentimental blow for both the squad and the supporters.
The other topic of interest has been the loaning of a number of young Arsenal players to other Premier League and Championship sides. Abu Ogogo went to Barnet back in November while more recently Gavin Hoyte and Jay Simpson have gone on loan to Watford and West Brom respectively. As the only player to move to another top-flight team, I think a lot of supporters will be watching Simpson’s progress with great interest. It’s a great opportunity for him and hopefully he can start with a game and a goal against Villa in the next week.
While I haven’t been posting I have been reading all of the comments posted of lately and have noticed a couple of questions directed at me popping up consistently. Those questions are ‘Can we still win the league?’ and ‘Who would you like to see signed in the transfer window?’ and just before I go I’d like to answer both of them.
To the first the simple answer is ‘yes’. I’m a relatively optimistic supporter and although we’re 10 points off the pace I just feel the right signing or two and a bit of luck with injuries combined with a very generous set of fixtures over the next three months makes Arsenal something of a dark horse. With the performances that we have given in the first half of the season we should be miles of the pace and that gives me great hope. What I will say here is that Liverpool do not have the quality to win the league while Manchester United are looking best placed to snatch it. Throw in Arsenal and Chelsea and it’s set to be a very interesting second half of the season.
As for the question about signings I would like two. The first is an attacking midfielder to sit in for Fabregas – someone like Arshavin would be perfect – and the second is a defensive midfielder. My preference for Arshavin comes because of his ability to play both as an attacking midfielder and second striker and the arrogance and confidence he seems to possess in front of goal. He’s a quality player and there isn’t really anyone better around that is available just at the moment.
As for the defensive midfielder my preference would be someone in the mould of Barcelona’s Yaya Toure. I don’t think we specifically need him but an energetic, strong central midfielder who can tackle and distribute would certainly provide stability for our defence. Personally I think Song is doing quite well there at the moment but there are definitely better options that him available in world football at the moment.
And that’s it really. It’s good to be back and I hope you’ve enjoyed a positive start to 2009. Speak to you tomorrow on the blog.
Have your say on Arsenal’s festive period, the transfer window or anything else by leaving a comment.