I was defensive of Andre Villas-Boas after his sacking by Chelsea in March. Given the success the Blues enjoyed under Roberto Di Matteo for the rest of that season, I don't think they'll be too bothered about their decision. The performance of the Portugese coach, now at Tottenham, would add further weight to that.
Our own â€˜noisy neighbours' Tottenham Hotspur have closed the gap on us â€“ that is the official line. You can't argue with that, I suppose, if the pinnacle of their achievement is finishing just one place behind us in five of the last seven seasons â€“ a marked improvement on their previous exploits â€“ then yes, they have caught up with Arsenal.
It might seem premature to write this when contract negotiations are still up in the air, but if Arsenal history is anything to go by, when one star leaves another unlikely one usually steps up from within the ranks to surprise everyone. I've been one of his biggest critics over the years so I can almost hardly believe I'm saying this but could it be Theo Walcott?
We've seen some absolutely mad games over the last couple of years, and this one probably tops the lot. At the end of the night, an early-round League Cup game I hadn't thought that much about ended with a final score of Reading 5-7 Arsenal.
At half time the Arsenal fans sang "we want our Arsenal back".
I'm sure you'll all be familiar even those who did not read my match preview with the statistics flying around before yesterday's game. Needless to say, Schalke ended a very strong run of form in Champions League home games for Arsenal. As for actual, more immediate form, Arsenal looked much the same as they did at Norwich: slow and unimaginitive.
After a disappointing defeat to Norwich City, Arsenal would be expected to respond tomorrow evening with the visit of Schalke to the Emirates Stadium. In recent seasons Champions League home games have proved largely comfortable for the Gunners, especially in the group stages.
The last time Arsenal lost a home game in the Champions League?
Disturbed. That is the adjective best to summarise the feeling Arsenal fans should be experiencing tonight. Not just palpable anger towards the heartless performance they just witnessed; but they should feel haunted by the idea that the new group of Arsenal players aren't that different to the ones that have left in the last few years.
Arsenal are ten points off Premier League leaders Chelsea after a spineless, gutless performance in a 1-0 defeat to Norwich City, who at the final whistle were celebrating their first win of the season.
Arsenal now find themselves 9th in the table, with just three wins in their opening eight games.
In the recent past, Arsenal has had problems finding a perfect goalkeeper. Of the quartet currently known as the â€˜Big Four,' Manchester United relied upon the solid Edwin van der Sar, and now have the duo of David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard. Chelsea has Petr Cech and Manchester City has Joe Hart, who is arguably the best goalkeeper in the league.
South Korean international Park-Chu-Young played more minutes in London this summer at the Olympic Games than he has in his entire career with Arsenal. Now according to several reports it appears that the Gunners have written the 27-year-old striker off at a cost of Â£5.5 million.
Park was bought by manager Arsene Wenger from French club Monaco on transfer deadline day in 2011, perhaps as a panic buy.
It occurred to me the other day that Robin van Persie must be one of the best pieces of business Arsene Wenger ever made for Arsenal, just on goals alone. When I thought about it further, I wondered where he would rank among the top strikers over the last 20 years or so, in terms of the cost of each goal scored; there can't be many strikers who score 100 goals or more for a club that come cheap.
Speaking just for myself and not Arsenal supporters in general, if the rumours are true that
Cesc Fabregas wants to come back to the Gunners, I have a couple of choice words for him and
they're not too kind. The way Fabregas left the team was one of the most annoying and distasteful
situations in recent memory for me.
There comes a time in every footballer's life when they need to play regularly if they hope to
develop or retain their skills. But in reality this isn't always possible to do, especially for
youngsters because there are so many more players than positions available. This is why we see
players loaned out to other teams on a regular basis.
There is no doubt that Arsenal have suffered the loss some of significant players over the last
few seasons but that is a fact of life in modern day football; players come and players move on and
they move on for a variety of reasons, some for money, some for ambition, some for the love of the
club they were brought up in and some are pushed.
On the same day that Arsenal's main defensive midfielder was confirmed as a Barcelona player,
Everton overran Manchester United in a very impressive and fully deserved 1-0 win at Goodison
The link here? United had no midfield. Sky called it a 4-3-3 in the pre-match buildup, but it
looked more like a 4-2-3-1 with Rooney, Nani and Kagawa swapping positions behind Welbeck and ahead
of Scholes and Cleverley; one is an ageing playmaker, the other a young playmaker who missed the
whole of last season through injury.
It struck me yesterday that Arsenal's starting lineup against Sunderland was almost an entirely
different team from even two seasons ago.
After years of being fairly quiet in the transfer market (apart from selling the occasional top
player and signing the occasional teenager), Arsenal have now gone the other way: last summer saw
Clichy, Fabregas and Nasri leave, with Gervinho, Santos, Mertesacker, Arteta and Chamberlain being
added to the first-team; this year we've seen van Persie and now Song leave, with Podolski, Giroud
and Cazorla coming in.
When the club finally confirmed on Tuesday after weeks of rumours the signing of Malaga
midfielder Santi Cazorla, it brought about an excitement in me, and seemingly Arsenal fans
everywhere, that hasn't been felt for a long time.
Perhaps it is simply because he joins other exciting players, Podolski and Giroud, and because
we have not yet sold a big player (emphasis on the 'yet'), in what has been a refreshingly
enjoyable summer transfer window.
Perhaps worse even than the sight of talismanic striker and captain playing in the red of
Manchester United, is the fact that our long-standing rival Ferguson felt he could make a bid at
all. If it wasn't already pretty clear, it is now official: we are not the rivals we used to
It almost seems silly to say, as we have barely challenged the Old Trafford club in the last
seven years, but there remained the faint, if dimming, hope that we would work our way back to the
big time eventually and win some trophies at their expense.
As I touched on in my article last week: with Robin van Persie surely set to leave Arsenal this
summer, the club is about to face yet another change in captaincy, with the Dutch striker having
only replaced Cesc Fabregas as skipper a year ago.
I suggested Bacary Sagna as a replacement in my last piece (that will not be the focus today),
but whoever gets the armband next will be the fifth different captain we've had since we last won a
Sky Sports ran an article on Tuesday night Â (July 10) claiming that striker Robin Van Persie might
reconsider his decision to re-sign with Arsenal and many websites jumped all over it. However, the
article didn't last long and within a couple of hours it had disappeared from the Sky site. Perhaps
the Dutchman is trying to achieve what Wayne Rooney did a couple of years ago by saying publicly he
wanted to leave the club and then signing a new mega-million pound contract.
We've been here before, haven't we? Too many times. Star player...club captain...one-man
team...selling club. The words have lost all meaning.
Though I have been toughened up by so many recent experiences (or perhaps simly grown numb to
the modern running of Arsenal FC) I have to, as ever, express my disappointment at Arsene Wenger
and the board for allowing this to happen; to keep happening.
Let me start off by saying that I would love to see Robin van Persie stay at Arsenal. He's a
leader, he's our captain and hisÂ abilityÂ to score goals is second to none. When fit and on-form,
there are not many better strikers around at the moment.
Our skipper managed to stay fit last season, and in the process, he picked up an impressive 30
Premier League goals; an achievement that paved the club's path to a 3rd-place finish sitting above
mega-spenders Chelsea andÂ arch-rivalsÂ Tottenham in the league.
I'm not a mind reader, but would assume there is one of two trains of thoughts going through
Arsenal striker Robin van Persie's head at the moment. He's looking upon manager Arsene Wenger's
impressive signings of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud as proof that Arsenal wants to help him
out up front, or he realizes they've been brought in to replace him.
There's no doubt that Arsenal striker Robin van Persie didn't live up to most people's
expectations at Euro 2012. In fact, nobody on the Dutch team had a performance they could write
home about. But he certainly isn't the first football star to have a mediocre major tournament and
he definitely won't be the last.
Nicklas Bendtner has thrust himself into the spotlight recently with his now infamous underpants
stunt, and, it must be said, some impressive performances at Euro 2012. But I must admit that for a
while I'd kind of forgotten about the player, on loan at Sunderland last season and supposedly on
his way out of Arsenal.
When Nicklas Bendtner showed the world his Paddy Power underwear after scoring against Portugal in
Denmark's 3-2 loss at Euro 2012, he probably had no idea how much controversy his seemingly
innocent actions would stir. But it's not actually Bendtner's action that has caused the newest
uproar, it's UEFA's reaction that has fans bewildered.
I can't quite understand it myself and most Arsenal fans are feeling pretty good this week with
the news that Harry Redknapp has been sacked by Spurs. This is credit to a manager who has made our
neighbours a genuine threat for the first time in what feels like forever. And yet, most Spurs fans
are happy too!
When Ivan Gazidis met fans from a variety of supporters' groups at the Emirates Stadium last
week, his message regarding UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations was unequivocal. It will happen
and the clubs are all in favour of it, not least because the alternative â€“ football's bubble
bursting if it continues to expand in the current form â€“ does not bear thinking about.
Andrei Arshavin is a very talented footballer. There's no question about that. Even his critics
would have to admit the Russian captain has the skills needed to succeed at the top level of the
sport. However, as often happens in the world of sports, he may need a change of scenery, since he
doesn't seem to be able to put it all together when playing for Arsenal.
Do we as Arsenal fans perhaps have the right to feel slightly aggrieved at the way the media
treats us? I see no special reason for pundits, journalists and bloggers to have some kind of
agenda against the club, but it does seem like there's something there.
Take the coverage our rivals Spurs are currently getting, for instance; you'd think it was
Arsenal who'd let a potentially great season fall apart and were set to miss out on the Champions
League next year, with all the talk being of where our star striker will be after the summer.
I just want to make it clear quickly, that I'm not being petty here; I've got over Chelsea
winning the Champions League and this article is not intended to have a dig (I've done that more
than enough already), merely to have a look at something, admittedly kind of pointless, that
350 members of various Arsenal supporters' organisations and shareholders will attend a Q&A
evening with the club's CEO Ivan Gazidis in the north end of the stadium's Club Level next
Wednesday evening, after Coldplay have packed up and moved on to their next venue. At this time of
year, since before the move to the new stadium, such an event has been organised by the Arsenal
Supporters Trust for their members.
By Stuart Watson
Believe it or not there was a time when there were only one or two live football matches shown per
season on television.Â Â Even when I started following football properly in the very late 80s, you
would only get a maximum one game per week on television in the form of ITV's â€˜The Big Match,'
with Elton Welsby (remember him?
The Wengerism 'like a new signing' will never be greeted with more excitement than when Jack
Wilshere returns to action for Arsenal next season.
The extremely talented 20-year-old missed the entire 2011/12 season with a recurring ankle
problem after a highly impressive first campaign in Arsenal's midfield.
There's usually a lot of sizzle and no steak when it comes to offseason football rumours, but
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger does have some actual decisions to make concerning the club's roster
for next season. As most fans have probably heard by now, Chelsea has more or less given Wenger an
ultimatum regarding on-loan midfielder Yossi Benayoun.
It has passed without too much attention that Arsenal's 'Invincibles' of 2003/04 were last week
named the best team of the Premier League 20-year awards. A fine achievement considering some
strong opposition down the years, but also very much deserved, with the team of Vieira, Pires,
Bergkamp and Henry playing possibly the finest football this land has seen on the way to their
unbeaten title triumph that year.
Not much news on the Arsenal front, although Santi Cazorla has travelled to Germany for
pre-season training and the friendly match against FC KÃ¶ln on Sunday.
I really hope that Arsene is going to treat this game a bit more seriously than the ones on the
Far Eastern tour. I would like to see him field a true first XI team or something resembling one
for at least 60 minutes, before making the wholesale changes that are typical of this type of
Ten members of the Arsenal first-team have been called up and will be flying out to Ukraine and
Poland to represent their respective countries in this summer's European Championships. Euro 2012
kicks off in just under two weeks time when Greece take on co-hosts Poland in Warsaw on June
The entirety of this post & comments are forÂ PremiumÂ members only.
Cole - Plenty of medals since 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Ashley Cole is currently in the news for joining a long line of England penalty shoot-out
failures, but like him or loathe him, only the most churlish of fans would deny he is a highly
talented defender who has shown remarkable consistency over a very successful career.
Let me start of by stating that IÂ sincerelyÂ hope that Robin van Persie decides to put pen to
paper and commits his long-term future to Arsenal Football Club Club.
He's been a fantastic player throughout his career, giving us some breathtaking moments and
despite having spent a considerable amount of time on the treatment table last season showed us, if
he can stay fit for an entire league campaign, he's easily one of the best strikers in the