Arsenal secured fourth place in the Premier League on Sunday, following a 1-0 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park. The Gunners have had an up and down season, but in the end a top-four finish ensures Champions League football for next term. Arsene Wenger will look to strengthen this summer, and with a bit of continuity hopefully Arsenal can challenge for honours in 2013-14.
Fourth place will never be good enough for Arsenal fans, who still long for the Premier League title winning days of early in the Wenger reign. No one at the Emirates Stadium would have bet that this team would replicate The Invincibles’ achievements, but hopes of finishing closer to the top remain. Unibet had the Gunners as favourites to finish four ahead of Tottenham, but this should be seen as the bare minimum rather than the objective achieved.
Arsene Wenger’s tormenters are circling for the kill now. There is a Shakespearean vibe around North London. A great man is on the verge of being driven demented by betrayal and changed circumstances.
It could only ever have ended this way. They wrote him up as a learned professor knowing well that, one day, they would send him packing, in the final act, as a fool.
‘Wenger is in meltdown,’ the excited clamour goes. And since the Bard’s stuff doesn’t sell as well any more, they have begun to liken him to Basil Fawlty again, their greatest clown.
Arsenal v Bayern Munich
UEFA Champions League
Emirates Stadium, London
Tuesday 19 February, 2013
It’s crunch time for Arsenal as they look to overcome defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup with a first leg lead over Bayern Munich. The German side are one of the form teams in Europe and seem to have wrapped up the German league title well before the end of the season.
Some neutral spectators may be questioning Robin Van Persieís logic as he looks for the door at Arsenal, after he cleverly forced Arsenalís hand and formed the catalyst behind the clubs recent spending spree.
Arsene Wenger is oft criticised for his shrewdness in the transfer market; as other teams take high value risks, Wenger continues to operate on a relative shoe-string budget. This has often confined Arsenal to a life just outside of the biggest players and limited silverware in the last 8 years. The latest batch of signings though could be perfectly timed.
With the final of the Euro 2012 championships looming on Sunday, a raft of Arsenal’s players have been utilised for their countries over the last three weeks in Ukraine and Poland. The tournament has seen some of the Gunners’ summer signings showcased also as the squad looks to be bolstered ahead of the 2012-13 Premier League campaign. FREEbets.org.uk‘s odds and predictions have been impacted by the presence of some of the Emirates Stadium side’s players; here is a breakdown of how they have faired this summer.
Per Mertesacker – The experienced centre-half had to watch on as Joachim Low preferred Bundesliga pair Holger Bastuber and Mats Hummels. An inconsistent start to his time at Arsenal may well have played a part in the defender losing his spot in the team.
Laurent Koscielny – Initially overlooked for the starting line-up, Koscielny deputised for the suspended Phillippe Mexes in France’s quarter-final against Spain. Despite Les Bleus putting in a limp performance against the world champions and being eliminated, Koscielny did nothing to hurt his chances of further inclusion in the future.
Tomas Rosicky – Had a strong second half of the 2011-12 season with the Gunners, but struggled with injury throughout the Euro 2012 campaign. Despite this he acted as a senior figure both on and off the pitch to help a transitional Czech Republic team to the knockout stages.
Robin van Persie – Arsenal’s captain did not live up the expectations place on him after a wonderful 2011-12 domestic season. Netherlands were poor throughout the tournament, with a lack of potency in front of goal the reason for this; RVP must harbour some of this criticism despite scoring against Germany.
Wojciech Szczesny – One of the most high-profile players for co-hosts Poland, Szczesny got sent-off against Greece in the opening game after conceding a penalty. Suspended for the rest of the competition as the Poles were eliminated in the group stages.
Theo Walcott - Not fully given a chance to star by Roy Hodgson, Walcott had to make-do with substitute appearances for England. Played a pivotal role in changing the game against Sweden in the Three Lions’ favour by scoring one and setting Danny Welbeck up to score the winner in a 3-2 thriller.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Again was limited to cameo appearances for England, but did start the opening game against France. The Ox put in a promising performance against Les Bleus, and the experience of an international tournament will only benefit the gifted youngster.
Nicklas Bendtner – Unlike Van Persie, the Danes’ best performances seem to be saved for his country rather than club. The Gunners fringe forward bagged a brace of headers for the Scandinavians against Portugal, but was also fined for revealing his underpants with a betting sponsor on them. Will have done enough to stoke interest in him this summer, as a transfer looks likely.
Andrei Arshavin – Sent back to Zenit St Petersburg on loan by Arsene Wenger in January, Arshavin looked sharp and match-fit for Russia in the tournament. Although the eastern European powerhouses were eliminated in the group stages, the playmaker did enough to suggest that he could still potentially have a role to play in north London.
Lukas Podolski – One of Germany’s most experienced campaigners, Podolski was expected to be a driving force in the side’s quest for glory. Started all games except the quarter-final against Greece, and scored against Denmark but did not show the scintillating attacking ability that prompted Arsene Wenger to buy him this summer.
Olivier Giroud – Had to play second fiddle to Karim Benzema for France, but did still get opportunities to occasionally play. Showed enough to suggest that he could well be an important player for the Gunners next term and can take a chunk of the side’s goalscoring responsibilities away from Van Persie.
Arsenal’s north London derby day fixture had the potential to destroy the club’s season, and hand an added emphasis to Spurs’ achievements this season, and after half an hour it didn’t look good for Gunners fans. However, when faced with adversity, Arsene Wenger’s men showed a will to win, determination and a drive that has been missing for large portions of the season, and defied the Betfair football odds to claim a well-deserved 5-2 victory.
Arsenal travel to take on AC Milan at the San Siro on Wednesday night, and Arsene Wenger will be hopeful of getting a similar performance and result to the one recorded the last time The Gunners visited the Giuseppe Meazza. The north London club beat Milan 2-0 away from home at the same stage of the Champions League in 2007/08, and there is no reason why those lucky supporters traveling to watch Arsenal play in Milan won’t witness a similar outcome this time round.
Arsene says our frustrating pocket Russian still deserves to drink freely from the milk of human kindness.
And who could argue with that…
This article titled “Andrey Arshavin deserves Arsenal fans’ respect, says Arsène Wenger” was written by Jamie Jackson, for The Guardian on Friday 3rd February 2012 23.02 UTC
Arsène Wenger has told Arsenal fans to show some respect to Andrey Arshavin after the midfielder was booed when he came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 2-1 league defeat by Manchester United last week.
Wenger, whose side have lost three of their last five league games, backed the under-fire Russian, who has been vilified by some fans for his inconsistent form this season.
He said: “At the moment we play a little bit under difficult circumstances but we have to realise that we have to support our players. I personally have a huge respect for Andrey Arshavin and if you would see him behave every day you would have one as well. I understand everybody’s frustrations because I’m quite tolerant – but there is still a difference between frustration and lack of respect.
Especially with his injury record.
Pic from his new site robinvanpersie.com
Looks like Dennis Bergkamp wouldn’t have passed up that volley Theo Walcott missed at Bolton.
Bergkamp still got it by soccermr