Quick Round-Up 06/08/07

Phew what a scorcher.  I’m literally sweating sitting here writing this.  Hopefully that is not a reflection of my lack of physical activity this summer.  A few games of squash aside and a 5-a-side tournament, I’ve done little in the off season, and with the first pre-season friendly for my team tomorrow night, I could struggle.  Especially if it’s hot like this.  Seriously, if you’re a believer in global warming (which I’m not – I studied climate change as part of my degree and I can’t see any real evidence for it) then you’re probably loving this summer and it’s mentalistic, topsy-turvy weather.  This morning I wore a jacket to work as it was cold.  Driving home, I left most of my body’s moisture on the car seat.  I can’t cope.

Onto some football then.  What’s going on in the world of Arsenal FC?  A lot of talking and not a lot else.  There is nothing major to report, but there are some good stories on Arsenal.com that are worth taking a look at.

The Boss has been talking about the squad, specifically about Nicklas Bendtner and Robin van Persie.  On Bendtner, he commented,

“At the moment he is a raw talent…Nicklas is not completely ready to start in the Premiership and I wanted to give him as many games as I could in pre-season to help him understand what is needed…Certainly I believe the talent is in there. He is super quick, very tall with good technique and he is intelligent. He just needs to play at a higher pace now.”

It’s nice to hear the boss say that whilst he thinks he’s a good player, that he’s not going to rush him into things.  Because of Thierry’s departure, the media are eager to pin the ‘talisman’ mantle on someone else, and it’s a pressure the young strikers can do without.  If Bendtner had scored a few more goals in the pre-season, he might well have be the victim of “Thierryism”.  If anyone knows how ready the player is, it’s the boss – and I trust his judgement.

Another player that is beginning to suffer from a condition I’ve just invented, is Robin van Persie.  However, if there is one player that is capable of producing moments of magic like Thierry did, it’s him.  He is super skilful and whilst he is a vastly different player to Henry, he does have that potential to turn a match in the blink of an eye.  We only need to look back a few days to the Inter Milan match to see that.  And let us not forget his contributions against United last season, or against Blackburn in the FA cup the season before.  Wenger seems to agree that his time in the spotlight is only just beginning

“Robin’s responsibilities have got higher now Thierry has left” Wenger commented. “Before it was all on Thierry’s shoulders now it is more on Robin’s.  I want him not to worry about that, just play good football, enjoy it and not be injured. Last year he could only play 17 games and missed 21, that was too many. Henry missed 22 so together they were out for 43.”

It’s a bit concerning to hear the boss say Robin is saddled with the weight of expectation that Thierry carried, but I’m sure he doesn’t mean it in that way.  In fact, I think he means the opposite.  I reckon he’s trying to alleviate the pressure on the Dutchman, rather than say he’s got to step up and do the business that Henry used to do.  He’s spot on about the injury thing though.

Arsene also spoke about the benefits of the Amsterdam Tournament

“Overall I am pleased with the performance of the team in the tournament as a whole because we had two quality games. We have built up our belief and confidence. There is a great solidarity in the squad now.”

This reminds me of the time when we didn’t lose a few games in a row.  49, to be precise.  Every time the players took to the field there was a sense of belief and team spirit that was almost tangible.  Without the “big personalities” of Henry and Ljungberg, I really feel that maybe the team spirit of yore could return and carry the team to titles.  Biased optimism maybe, but if there is a grain of truth in there, then we have every right to get excited.

Dennis Rommedahl seems to have been eating sour grapes.  The ex Charlton player reckons we won’t be able to mix it in Europe with the big boys.  He seems to have forgotten who got to the champions league final 2 years ago with a young and inexperienced squad.

Apparently, “the new Maradonna”, Franco Di Santo, has come to England to offer his services to all and sundry.  He’s having talks with Arsenal sometime this week.  Apparently.  Other interested clubs include, Sp*rs, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, Blackburn and Manchester City.  Apparently. 

Right, that’s about it for today.  I’m working on a Fulham preview and an article on why Sp*rs won’t finish higher than fifth, so be sure to check back for those later in the week.

Cheerio

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Arsenal 2 – 1 Lazio Match Report

As promised, here’s a quick update.

Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners over Lazio in the LG Amsterdam Tournament.  Goals from Niclas Bendtner and new boy, Eduardo Da Silva ensured victory for the not-red-and-whites-but-purpleish-and-blues.  Yes, this evenong saw the first showing of the third kit in action, and it looks…crap.  I really don’t like it.  As Lazio play in a really plae blue, I’m sure we could’ve worn the red and white, no problem.  But then Nike want to sell kits don’t they?

Aside from the aesthetics of the strip, the game was quite enjoyable.  Not quite up to the standard of the Inter game, but it made for good watching nonetheless.  A fairly even first half that you wouldn’t really describe as ‘open’, had some chances for both sides, most notable of which going Lazio’s way after Big Phil lost position in the back line and played on the Italian’s striker.  Fortunately, the run made onto the ball took Pandev wider than he would’ve liked and allowed Phil time to recover, and he actually showed some decent pace to get back and put in a great block tackle after Almunia had been rounded.  Phil is a good tackler and good in the air, but he needs to sharpen up his concentration because lapses like today’s need cutting out.  Manuel was also a bit shoddy in his ‘keeping and need not have come charging out the way he did.  Still no harm done except a quickening of pulses

Arsenal took the lead after 18 minutes through Niclas Bendtner.  The ball was played square to Cesc Fabregas, who was about 30 yards out.  He elected to shoot and unleashed a fierce strike that looked to be on target.  We shall never know if it really was, because it took a deflection off a Lazio defender and ricocheted to Bendtner.  At first glance he looked to be offside, but the linesman adjudged him to be level and allowed play to continue.  I thought Niclas could’ve taken a strike sooner, but he decided to round the ‘keeper and finished neatly from a tight angle.  Probably harder than it should’ve been, but a good finish in any case.

Pandev was obviously miffed at being denied a goal earlier in the half, equalised after 40 minutes.  The ball was only half cleared to the edge of the box, and in returning it back in, the Lazio player looked to have pulled Eduardo’s shirt sending him to the ground.  As Pandev neatly slotted the ball home, the Arsenal players were aggrieved that a freekick was not awarded to them instead of a Lazio goal.  1-1 at half time.

The second half saw The Gunners assert themselves more on the game and the free flowing attacking football was more prominent, but it was from a Tomas Rosicky corner that Eduardo rose to head home to make the score 2-1 and bag the Croatia striker a goal on competitive debut.  Hoyte hit the post late on, but the score remained the same and Arsenal claim 5 points from the game (3 for the win +2 bonus points for the goals).

I’ll leave it there or I’ll have nothing to write tomorrow!

Have a good rest of the evening