Competition Time

We all love free stuff right? Course we do! So here is a fantastic competition that is sure to excite you.

If like us you have spent many an hour in front of LMA Manager, Championship Manager or Football Manager you will know the feeling and emotional roller coaster that comes with playing those games. Well author Chris Darwen has taken that one step further and written a diary based around his fictional manager Johnny Cooper, all based on his experience of Championship Manager. In celebration of his forthcoming second book “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager: The Second Season Syndrome (according to Champ Man)”, he is giving people the chance to win a signed paperback of his debut ” Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager: The Story of Mansfield Town FC 99/00 (according to Championship Manager)”.

All you have to do is email; johnnycooper@chrisdarwen.com with the answer to the following question:
Who ends the 99/00 season as Johnny Coopers top scorer?
The competition ends on Friday October 3rd and the winner will be announced afterwards.

You can purchase a copy of “Johnny Coper, Championship Manager: The Story of Mansfield Town 99/00 (according to Championship. Manager) from here.
Good Luck

Ry

Advertisements

5 Reasons Why……. This Transfer Window was the best for a while.

Continuing our look at 5 reasons why…..
Our 5 today comes from SiRZ owner Ryan and he explains why the last transfer window was the best one for the Premier League in a long while.

1/ We had top quality players coming in

The first reason this window was better than any other was the simple fact we had quality players join the ranks of the Premier League. Di Maria, Falcao, Diego Costa, Sanchez, Mangala, Cabella & returns for Balotelli & Fabregas all go to show that despite recent claims, the Premier League is where all the top players want to ply their trade. Infact of the top 3 World Players of the Year only one hasn’t graced the League and that’s Messi, who it would take a lot to persuade him away from his beloved Barcelona.

IMG_0065.JPG
Diego Costa has adapted well to the Premier League.

2/ The Premier League now has the 3 most natural strikers in the game today.

It already had one in Sergio Aguero. But now with Diego Costa and Falcao joining Chelsea and. Manchester United respectively, we have the three top goal scorers who will hopefully lead their forward lines and continue to build on their own personal reputations. Certainly with Diego Costa already looking settled in front of the Chelsea creative machine he looks like he could be the missing part of their puzzle. Also with Liverpool acquiring Balotelli and Welbeck moving to Arsenal, those two will be worth keeping eyes on as they have have a natural ability to find the back of the net when played down the middle.

IMG_0066.JPG
Aguero carries the weight of the City fans on his shoulders in what they hope will be a title winning year.

3/ Liverpool got rid of their albatross.

Come on I did well to get three without mentioning the obvious. Luis Suarez has finally got his gnashers out of Anfield and although now FIFA got bitch slapped down by CAS they could have got a bit more for him, I think every Liverpool fan will be happy that he and the circus his actions attract has finally departed. He had some excellent solo match winning performances for Liverpool but often his actions were overshadowed by his cannibal routine, now hopefully every football fan will sit and enjoy the smooth counter attacking football Liverpool play and if not there’s still Mario who can cause us some amusement.

IMG_0067.JPG
Its the guy banned from football playing for his new team that was banned from signing players!

4/ Some English players got some great moves.

Micah Richards must have been fucking annoyed being at Manchester City, A product of their youth academy and once thought to be the next big defender for club and country and rightly so. He found himself marginalised and under utilised by City and despite a few injury concerns never got the game time he deserved. Now with a loan move to Fiorentina he should hopefully get a lot more time on the pitch and show City where they fucked up. Another good move was for Danny Welbeck aka Dat Guy, his desire to play and his bulldog chasing the ball mentality often meant he was played out of position at Manchester United so never lived up to the hype surrounding him. Hopefully Arsene Wenger will play him down the middle and let Dat Guy score a him 10 or so goals this year, my only concern with that is Arsenal still don’t have a guaranteed 20 goal a season scorer which the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea all posses. Elsewhere Thomas Ince made a clever move to Hull who have altered their play in the last two seasons to utilise wide men. Ashley Cole finally fucked off although unfortunately it was only to Italy, but it means we don’t have to watch him on a weekly basis unless we choose to. Frank Lampard proved he still needed to improve his bank balance to single handily keep Greggs afloat with a move first to the MLS and then to Manchester City on loan. and Manchester United finally cut their losses on “The Next Paul Scholes” Tom Cleverley and allowed him to join Villa on loan until his contract expires in the summer.

IMG_0068.JPG
Thomas Ince should settle right in under Steve Bruces watchful eye.

5/ Transfer Deadline Day was brilliant as always.

Jim White, Purple Dildos, Fuck Her Right In the Pussy chants, Jason Bent doing an Odemwingie, Fans turning up at other teams grounds and ‘Arry blanking an interview in the car I love he randomness of Deadline Day, roll on January!

IMG_0069.JPG
Evertons new signing is a massive one.

Agree or Disagree? Get in touch the normal ways on social media or commenting on the article we read them all.

Ry

Our Premier League Predictions

Adamdellboy

Top 4

1. Chelsea
2. Arsenal
3. Man United
4. Man City

Bottom 3

18. WBA
19. Leicester City
20. Burnley

Player to watch: Alexis Sanchez, Eden Hazard will be top stars this season. Keep an eye on Remy Cabella at Newcastle as a surprise hit.

Young player: A trio of Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe and Lazar Markovic would terrify teams. Looking forward to see if Suso can make an impact too. Elsewhere, can Danny Ings score at the top level?

Top scorer: Diego Costa

20140802-232342-84222425.jpg

Ryan Howe

Top 4

1. Chelsea
2. Manchester United
3. Arsenal
4. Manchester City

Bottom 3

18. Hull
19. Burnley
20. Leicester

Player to watch: Juan Mata. He is going to be at the hub of everything creative and will have a big bearing on Uniteds season. Or Bojan

Young Player: Ryan Bertrand. Just think this May be the season he kicks on.

Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku

20140802-232455-84295245.jpg

Ross Jones

Top 4

1. Chelsea
2. Man City
3. Arsenal
4. Man United

Bottom 3

18. Burnley
19. Aston Villa
20. Leicester

Player To Watch – Eden Hazard – will be decided whether he becomes world class this season.

Young Player – Jordan Ibe – If he gets a chance could be a sprightly show like Sterling for Liverpool.

Top Scorer – Mame Diouf / Bojan Krcic – 35 goals each.

20140802-232553-84353012.jpg

Jade Li

Top 4

1. Chelsea
2. Man city
3. Liverpool
4. Arsenal

Bottom 3

18. Hull
19. Leicester
20. Burnley

Player to watch: Coutinho

Top scorer: Aguero

Young player: Coutinho

20140811-194224-70944158.jpg

 

Pete Walton

Top 4

1. Man City
2. Chelsea
3.  Man United
4. Liverpool

Bottom 3

18. Hull
19. Southampton
20. Leicester

Player to watch: Going to go with Mata especially under Van Gaal going to be interesting to see him develop this season.

Top Scorer: Sergio Aguero

Young player: Mangala

Mangala

 

So what do you think? Agree with us on anything? Or are we barking up the wrong tree? Let us know via our usual lines.

 

How to change football for the better.

We all often sit around and offer opinions on how to make football better and here is one we would like to see happen. Lets stop transfers for players under 21. Now we can understand any of you scoffing at the prospect but consider this, how many players under 21 can you say are worth the transfer fees you see banded about for them?

Take for example Luke Shaw of Southampton, now if you were to believe the rumors he is valued at around £30m. £30m for a player who is only just past 50 games for his club and one full England cap is far too much, we can understand Southampton placing that value on his head to try and ward off potential suitors but it shouldn’t be an issue. Southampton are no longer in the position they were with Walcott, Bale or Oxlaide-Chamberlian where they have to sell as they aren’t in the Premiership or in financial difficulty they should simply say he is not for sale full stop.

Daniel Sturridge is another example of youngsters moving about when they are too young, although he himself must take some blame for this one. Sturridge started his career at Manchester City but had his head turned by the money that was on offer from the up and coming billionaire plaything that was Chelsea and allowed his contract to expire. Once at Chelsea his career floundered, he was rarely used as an out and out striker, instead coming on as a wide player where his speed was a great attribute. We are glad he is now showing his true skill and attacking quality now at Liverpool where he has to be in line for featuring in Teams of the Year.

There is also the argument that a player should show a degree of loyalty, after all a young player has been a product of teams youth development system and should show thanks by helping the team to the best of his ability. After all if the player is truly good enough he will still be able to command a big enough fee when he turns 21, thereby giving something back to the club on two levels. We look at some of the situations and tribunals you see (no doubt there will be one this year with Thomas Ince) and clubs rarely get much above £3m and you feel sorry for them as they are losing someone who is probably a star turn for their team. Sometimes as well the players don’t get the benefit either, like we mentioned Sturridge is and example of this, as is Nick Powell, Willfried Zaha and Glenn Johnson (who was Roman Abramovich’s first signing when he came to Chelsea) his progress was majorly held back by that move at 18 and didn’t flourish until he went to Portsmouth and then to Liverpool. We just hope the likes of Shaw & Will Hughes see sense and give something back to the clubs who have shown faith in them.

 

Ryan

Costa? Morata? Berbatov? Who will Arsenal sign this month?

It’s January transfer window time again, that beautiful time of year filled with rumours sprayed across social media by the ‘ITK’s’, whilst the ‘reliable’ media link just about every player to every club. The truth is, no-one really knows for certain what will happen, which is what makes it so exciting. Hopefully there is another blockbuster finish to the window in store for us, with many top clubs still needing to bring in a player or two.

No team needs a new player more so than Arsenal, who are currently mulling over their striker dilemma. With Theo Walcott unfortunately ruled out for the season, Arsenal having been caught short in the striking department, especially now with Nicklas Bendtner thought to be out for another 3 weeks. There’s no doubt Arsenal are still short up top, so if there’s anything we can be fairly sure of in the turbulence and uncertainty of the January market, it’s that Wenger is on the hunt for a forward. Internally, the options are limited. Lukas Podolski seems to lack the movement to play as a lone striker, and with everyone else out injured (and with even Akpom loaned out), Olivier Giroud is left as the only fit and capable Arsenal striker.

Arsenal’s potential options are limited, especially in a World Cup year. There have of course been several strikers linked to the club, but the fans favourite option (and mine) seems to be Diego Costa. The 25 year old Athletico Madrid man would provide an outstanding long term option to give Giroud more competition upfront. There is no doubt about Costa’s goal scoring ability, impressively scoring 19 goals in 18 games this season in La Liga. With a reported buy-out clause of around 32 million, it seems a no brainer for the Gunners to sign the Spaniard, especially now that Wenger seems to have now found his wallet after the big money signing of Mesut Ozil last summer. However, Costa is very unlikely to want to risk leaving Athletico in a World Cup year when he is in such great form, and he has no need to, as Athletico are having a very successful season sitting 2nd in La Liga joint on points with Barcelona at the top, and an impressive 5 points above Real Madrid. He would also be cup tied for the Champions League, leading me to think that a summer move is more likely.

Alvaro Morata on loan is probably the most reported rumour around at this moment in time; however I have my doubts about how successful he would be at Arsenal on a short term basis. The loan would be for only 6 months, leaving him very little time to settle and to get used to the premier league’s physicality. The 21 year old has had limited game time at Madrid this season, making only 10 La Liga appearances scoring a mere 2 goals. However, 9 of these 10 appearances in the league have been from the bench to be fair to him. Signing him would be a definite gamble, and with a loan fee reported to be around 2 million pounds, I don’t think it’s worth the money or the risk of bringing in a raw and inexperienced forward at such a crucial point in Arsenal’s season.

From the inexperienced, to the very experienced, as the final rumour concerns Arsenal’s potential signing of 33 year old Fulham forward Dimitar Berbatov. I have mixed feelings about this one, as Berbatov has undoubted quality, but is also infamously a very lazy player. His work ethic is much lower than Giroud’s, so it is questionable if he would be able to play as a lone striker in Arsenal’s system not to mention his past history with Spurs. However, his style of play could fit in with Arsenal’s intricate build up, with his skilful flicks and ability to find space. I really think it could go either way, making signing him a risk too, but I guess you don’t win titles without taking a few risks along the way. With his 4 goals in 15 Premier League games this season, the signing of Berbatov would be very underwhelming, but his moments of brilliance could turn around crucial games.

For me, I wouldn’t mind signing Javier Hernandez from Manchester United. He’s quick and a great finisher but doesn’t get much game time at United, so it’s possible he might want to jump their sinking ship. I also haven’t even considered getting ‘The King’ Thierry Henry back on loan, which would be another interesting one!

Let me know who you think Arsenal should sign: Costa? Morata? Berbatov? Hernandez? Henry!? Or perhaps somebody else?

Luke Hastings

Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain; The Dilemma

I am currently writing this on the 29th December. Arsenal have just won 1-0 away to Newcastle, and are currently sitting top of the league going into the New Year. Small stat for you, in the last 4 years, the team top of the league has gone onto win the league. Pressure. However, I am writing about one of Arsenals missing players, who could make a huge impact in the second half of the season, and one they have solely missed. He goes by the name of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, and is, in my opinion, Arsenals and England’s biggest prospect.

At Arsenal, the formation generally used is a 4-2-3-1 or 4-2-1-3. The 1 in this formation is vital, as it is to initiate attacks, directing our play forward. It is the stop gap between the full backs, the middle 2, and the front 3. The success of this role is measured in different ways, one, by how often we attack, what the quality of the ball is into the attacking 3 is. It has a great overview of the whole field, something which is vital. It requires quick decision making on and off the ball, accurate execution of passes, which will require a variety of different types. The player needs vision, close ball control, speed, agillity, can get the ball out of your feet, drive and stamina. A good ‘man in the hole’ gives the team shape and purpose by conducting the play, and hopefully will produce a great number of indirect, or, assists.

This might seem gibberish to you. However, where has Oxlade Chamberlain played for the majority of his career at Arsenal? Wide midfielder. Looking at the range of skills i just posted, how many has the Ox gathered over the last 2 years? I can safely say all of them. One advantage he has, is the fact that he has played out wide. “Get used to using the ball in a small space, as the touchline effectively divides the space that’s available to him by two; when you move the same player back to the middle, he breathes more easily and can exploit space better.” That is the beliefs of Arsene Wenger, and is shown it works, with players like Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey all having spells out wide before coming into the middle.This means that the Ox will be more aware of the space he will have when coming inside. Where do you play him?
As I mentioned, the Ox can play every role in the front 6 of the pitch, depending on the team around him.

    Box to box midfielder:

In the role deeper behind the 1 in Arsenal’s formation, is a position the Ox had to play in with great maturity in the past. He had to play there against AC Milan in the Champions League, trying to turn around a 4-0 deficit from the first leg. He showed the physical, mental and technical attributes to be arguably the best player on the pitch that game, performing so well in that game that Dutch legend Marco Van Basten called him a little gem. High praise from someone of that calibre in a position you haven’t really played in before. The Ox has the right attitude, chomping at the bit to get a chance wherever he plays, which is a great attribute to have in someone so young.
However, one of his greatest performances was against Newcastle at the end of last season. Arguably Arsenal’s biggest game of the season, and biggest in my opinion since the 2006 Champions League final, the Ox started on the bench. He had to be in the right frame of mind and mentally ready to step in for anyone, and unfortunately (or fortunately) he had to step in for our defensive midfielder, and captain Mikel Arteta who suffered a calf injury in the 28th minute. The Ox came on for him, and sat alongside Aaron Ramsey, and had to show a completely different side to his game that we had never seen before. He showed a remarkable ability to screen the back four, sitting in front of them and breaking up the play. He kept the ball in a calm fashion, always picking the easy passes for his team mates, whilst also doing a good amount of attacking duties.
A player like him is he always good to have in the starting line up, because of the possibilities he can give you during the game. He allows you to change your team shape during the game and can give you many varieties including the ability to overload in attack. His ability to glide past players in midfield is easier for him because of his experience on the wings, which is what I touched on earlier.

    False #9

The False #9 is a interesting one, and one that wont be used very often, but can be used to dangerous levels if used effectively. The false #9 is a interesting formation, one that must be understood by everyone in order for it work properly. For me, for this system to work you need 2 direct, pacey wingers with a good eye for goal (see Walcott, Gnarby, Cazorla to a extent, and maybe any additions such as Draxler, Reus, El Shaarawy) and midfielders with exceptional passing abilities (see Özil, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Arteta, Zelalem, and again any new additions, Pogba, Gundogan, etc) this is why it is a hard formation to master due to the complexity of it. Now, with the Ox, we all know about his immense talent especially his direct running, decisive passing and excellent decision making for someone still so so young. The ideal template for this role, is arguably the greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi. He has mastered this role to perfection.

Now, I wont go into the attribute the Ox has had, because it feels like I have taken a trip on the Magic Roundabout. However, they all directly link into the False 9 system made so effective by, Bayern, Germany, Spain and Barcelona.

Now, is the dilemma with the Ox. Where do you put him?
Bare in mind, he is still extremely raw. He has a lot of potential, but still has a lot of learning to do.
Comments on the Ox are welcome and feedback appreciated.

Billy

Why Arsenal don’t need to panic just yet.

So you score three at the most fearsome stadium in the Premiership and still manage to lose. Football can be cruel can’t it? As easy as it would be to go ahead and blame the, quite frankly awful, refereeing (two non-offside goals disallowed and a penalty turned down that would be given nine times out of ten), it would also be a massive cop out. Unless your name is Alex Ferguson (there’s not enough money in the world for me to prefix that with ‘Sir’), you need to be winning games in spite of decisions like those. Expect no favours, especially away from home.

Our defending, particularly on the left side, was nowhere near good enough for a team with title ambitions. Nacho Monreal, be it down to a lack of game time or a general lack o positional awareness, gave them far too much room to roam and he wasn’t helped by having a defensively lax Jack Wilshere in front of him. Flamini, while he’s great for roaring the team on in times of need, often lets his tenacity get the better of him and found himself a step or two out of position after chasing some other lost cause – an admirable effort, but a calmer presence could’ve gone a long way in nullifying City’s central play in the final third.

As it was the last time we played in Manchester, a poor first half performance left us with a lot to do in the second, and while we created a lot more after City’s third, we were always chasing the game and as was proven today, that is not the position you want to find yourself in at The Etihad.

Our failings aside, City were (and are) phenomenal going forward. Their passing is precise, their movement is mesmerising and their finishing is sublime (well they scored six fucking goals, so yeah…). They’ve been unplayable at home and I really don’t see how any team in the league can successfully set up to stop them. It’s a good job (and it’s important to remember this in the bigger picture of the title race) that they struggle on the road or they would be running away with the league this year.

Still though, look at it this way; we played the best attacking team in the country and lost. It happens. They’ll drop points elsewhere and it’s all still firmly in our hands next week at Chelsea; taking three points from these two games would be a million miles away from disastrous. Theo’s finishing was class and he looks a real outlet for us. His link up with Özil will be a joy to watch in coming months. Oh yeah, and Per scored a goal too, which is always nice. If Arsene brings in a reliable goal scorer in January, this is still ours to lose.

So calm down, gooners, we’d have bitten hands off for this situation after the opening day and we won’t play teams that good every week.

Ryan De Freitas

Why I was wrong to write off Arsenal.

Right way back at the start of the season, the Sat In Row Z team bravely (or blindly) made their predictions for the campaign ahead. Perhaps one of the most eyebrow raising decisions was mine not to include Arsenal in the top 4.

My belief was that Spurs would continue to improve(I may point out Bale was still a Spurs player at this point) and I felt that the new manager’s at United, City and Chelsea would hit the ground running. Also, Arsenal hadn’t landed the quite frankly magnificent Mezut Ozil at this point.

The one major thing I didn’t consider however was the influence of a certain Arsene Wenger. I think it’s fair to say that many Arsenal fans were growing impatient with him and his failure to splash the cash that Arsenal undoubtedly have. Many a time I’ve heckled his most high profile critic, Piers Morgan on Twitter, with no response!!! These Arsenal fans were the butt of much ‘banter’ but now the tables have turned dramatically.

Arsenal have started the season like a house on fire despite the failure to land many high profile signings and the shock opening day home defeat to Aston Villa. The inspired signing of Ozil appeared to galvanise the whole club and bought Wenger a well deserved reprieve. Even the much derided capture of Mathieu Flamini appears to have boosted the team, credit to Wenger for that too.

As I write this, Arsenal stand pretty at the summit of the Premier League, with only Spurs showing any real consistency amongst their rivals. An incredible winning streak on the road has contributed to this and I reckon the team has thrived away from some of the negative atmosphere seen frequently at the Emirates in recent times. In my mind the key to this has been Wenger, by far the most established manager in the league. He has a squad and to as much an extent a club that is well and truly his, whilst Pellegrini struggles to find his feet in English football, Mourinho struggles to mould his Chelsea team to his liking and Moyes struggles to follow in the footsteps of Sir Alex. Arsenal’s stability looks like it is finally going to bear fruit.

So have I changed my mind already? Quite simply the answer is yes. Easy to say when Arsenal are top, but the form of players who were largely written off such as Giroud and Ramsey added to the quality the Gunners have right through the squad should give Gooners real optimism. Wenger’s ability to polish a turd is undoubtedly second to none(Bendtner and Chamakh excluded!!!) My concern is the pressure of the fans may cause issues as the season goes on and they are short of backup to Giroud. As things stand though, things are looking really good for Arsenal and it’s all down to one man, Arsene Wenger.

@adamdellboy

20131002-114710.jpg

Arsene, It Really Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

Arsene, It Really Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

Being a club legend allows people preferential treatment in football and why wouldn’t it? If you’ve given everything you can to a club and brought success along the way, of course you’re going to be given a pass. It’s the reason Chelsea fans ignore the fact that John Terry’s a despicable prick and, more importantly, why Arsenal fans have had so much patience with Arsene Wenger despite going eight long years without a trophy? Well, until now, at least.

Before we get into it, though, there’s no denying Wenger has earned that club legend status. He’s the man who lead us to an entire season unbeaten in the league, earning the first (and probably last) gold Premiership trophy in the process, the man who’s kept us relatively competitive while the club built and paid for a brand new stadium (find another club that can build a stadium using mostly their own resources and stay on course) and, owing to all his innovations in regards to player diet, scouting, etc, arguably the most revolutionary manager in premiership history. He’s provided Arsenal fans with some of the best memories of our lives and for that, we will always be grateful.

The past is the past, however, and a club such as Arsenal should be looking to compete with the best right now, especially this year. With every team that finished above us last season seeing managerial changes, it only seemed logical that by adding some world class quality to our stable foundation this would be the year we could finally look to break the infamous trophy drought (and trust me, this isn’t being written by one of those people who say ‘this is our year’ every year). It all started so well, with Higuain seeming all but certain within a few weeks, but as you probably know, that didn’t go quite to plan.

The details on what exactly happened with Higuain are pretty blurry, but the fact of the matter is that he was for sale for a reasonable price (£30m on him would equate to about a million per goal in his first season… I’d take that.) and is exactly what we need – even Giroud, the man who he’d probably have replaced in the first team, has gone public about the fact that the club need a striker! For me, it reeks of a manager who is either unprepared to pull the trigger on a big deal, or one that is genuinely just out of touch with market value. It’s happened time and time again (Alonso, Cahill, Mata etc.) and it’ll keep happening until he puts his ego aside and just stumps up the cash that it takes to bring in the top players. This ‘we refuse to deal with an overinflated market’ rhetoric is complete hypocrisy too, we sold Alex fucking Song for £25m to Barcelona! He can’t expect every club in the world to sell him players at a cut price and then demand crazy prices for his own players. That was a great transfer fee to get out of him, but you just cannot have it both ways. What is the point of being the most cash rich club in the world if you’re not going to make use of it?!

Strangely, the press, pundits and fans of other clubs all seem to think that we’re just baying for that one ‘marquee’ signing and that really isn’t the case. I’d be perfectly happy with Arsene only spending £7.38 on a player if he was going to come in and step us up to the next level, the problem is that you don’t really get many great players for that price. Regardless of how much we spend on any one player, the fact is that our squad is paper thin at the moment after shipping Gervinho, Chamakh, Djourou, Squillaci, Andre Santos and a whole bunch of kids off to the island of misfit players – even with those players being as rubbish as they are (and the clearout being as sorely needed as it was), we’re down to the barebones with our squad with the season already underway. The game against Villa on the opening weekend showed us exactly how far we still have to come and despite beating Fenerbache and Fulham, you can take a look at the benches from those two games and see exactly how close we are to a serious crisis. Our first XI is capable of beating anyone on their day (see: Bayern away last year) but one or two injuries and we’re back to fielding kids in big games (see: that time we got hammered 8-2 by Surrey’s favourite team) and it’s just not good enough for a club looking to compete at the top.

The atmosphere in the stadium for that game against Villa was vile and the sentiment is clear with chants of ‘spend some fucking money’ reverberating around the stadium for almost the entire closing half hour of the game, it really is pressure time for Arsene to do exactly that. Ideally, we need to bring in a keeper, centre back, holding midfielder, winger and striker in to really add depth to the squad and put us in a position to compete. The worrying part of all this is the mangers insistence that “we will only buy if there are players available that are better than what we have,” if he genuinely hasn’t been able to find players meeting that criteria, both him and his scouts are just not up to scratch because we’ve seen dozens of players moving who would’ve improved us no end. Hell, even Spurs have managed to bring in quality additions and they have to work on Thursdays!

The most wall-punchingly frustrating part of all this is that we shouldn’t even be in this position right now. He’s had over 90 days to improve the squad and get us ready and he hasn’t, leaving us to pick up the scraps in terms of transfers and letting the results suffer on the way. It’s horrible having to feel this way about a club legend like Arsene, but there’s no doubt that if he fails to bring in what we need and make a proper push for the title (I’m not expecting to win it, but to still be involved in March would be nice) then he’s thrown away his last opportunity and has to go (who would replace him is a whole different discussion for a different time). I would love for him to prove me wrong, but I really worry that he won’t, at least not to the extent we need him to.

Still, the fans know it, the players know it, the fucking Gunnersaurus probably knows it and you would like to think that the man in charge of running the club knows it: it’s time to spend the money and prove to the naysayers (God knows there’s loads of them) that we’re still the same club that less than a decade ago were the most feared in Europe. Arsene, we love you and we appreciate all you’ve done for us but fuck ‘the race for fourth’, we want to actually compete again!

Ryan De Freitas

Ryan is an Arsenal fan and also Editor & Creator of Louder Now , a fresh online review and news site on the alternative scene. Follow them on Twitter @GetLouderNow

The Emergence of Kieran Gibbs

It’s not a case of has Kieran Gibbs got the talent to succeed as Arsenal’s no.1 Left Back, it has always been a case of can he stay fit enough to make that spot his own.
Kieran has been at the Gunners since 2004, where he made the jump up to the first team in 2007, playing a relative disappointing 61 times for the Gunners.

There is a funny story to Gibbs becoming a Arsenal player.. He was at Wimbledon until 2004, until they disbanded and became the Milton Keynes Dons. He was playing left wing at the time. However, one of his friend’s got scouted for Arsenal, and got offered a trial there; after not finding a club since leaving Wimbledon, his friend asked if he could bring Kieran along, and Arsenal accepted. Kieran got offered a place at the club, and his friend didn’t. I don’t want to bore you on his stat’s here, but this does show a remarkable improvement, for Kieran and Arsenal. Kieran, in his time, has suffered 8 injuries, totalling to nearly a year out injured. Just injured. That isn’t taking into account, gaining fitness, gaining match fitness. After replacing Gael Clichy as Arsenal’s number 1 left back in 2011, He has appeared in the red and white of Arsenal in the league a total of 43 times, injuries included, nearly double his appearances in the first 4 seasons on being Arsenal’s books.

Less of the stats, I want to take a look at his playing style. After seeing off the challenge( Well, you say challenge) of Andre Santos, Kieran grew in confidence, having a steady full first season, not setting the scene alight, just being a steady and consistent LB. His season didn’t really start until the start of January 2012, as he sustained a stomach problem in October 11 and was out injured for 6 week’s, but after that he really flourished. He was instrumental in clawing back the point gap with Tottenham, starting his first game since injury against the Lily Whites in “that 5-2”, which boosted Arsenal massively. He also saved Arsenal’s champions league hopes in the last game of the season against West Brom, making a crucial sliding tackle in the dying moments to deny Billy Jones. Once again Gibbs started the season as Arsenal’s no.1 left back, and crucially, along with others of the British Core, he signed a new long term contract with the Gunners. However, after blowing Santos out of the water, Kieran suffered another 6 week injury at the end of January, meaning Arsenal had to spend £10 million on Spanish international Nacho Monreal, proving quality completion for the England left back. Gibbs finished the season strong, the same as last time. It was almost like a case of Déjà vu from the season before. The same events occurred. The same score line happened with Tottenham. And Gibbs had a remarkable game up at Newcastle. Not much else you can say.

There is a healthy debate around the Arsenal fans at the moment, on who should be Arsenal’s no.1 left back, something we haven’t had in ages. For me, completion for places, means both players have to better themselves and improve, which is good news for everyone. They can learn off each other, complimenting each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For me, Kieran should be starting over Nacho. He was one of Arsenals best players last year, showing real threat in the attacking third, and being a steady component of a ever improving Arsenal defence, marshalled by a partnership of Koscienly and Mertesacker.
He has great timing in his tackles, has a great burst of pace, which is shown when he dives intelligently forward, making penetrating runs inside the penalty box.

He is composed on the ball, making an average of 41 passes every game, at a overall success ratio for the season 83.9%. This means that he knows what to do when he is on the ball, doesn’t panic like other players. He is a vital cog down the left side, supporting either Podolski or Cazorla in the final third, as he has a impressive cross on him, but the key for me with Gibbs is, he is always looking up in the final third, unlike say Sagna. This is highlighted by the fact that Gibbs often chooses to pass the ball to feet if the opportunities comes up, there are so many instances where this has happened, but I do want to keep this short and sweet.

A lot of talk over the last couple of years has been Arsenal’s weakness is their defensive work. Respectfully, I disagree, it is down to individual mistake’s, not the set up of the defence.
But, that is for enough debate. Defensively Gibbs is sound, a real important member of Arsenal’s, and, possibly England’s defence, present and future. He averages 2.8 tackles a game, and 2.4 interceptions a game. This shows he has a really good reading of the game, as his tackle’s and crucially interceptions are high for a full back.
Remarkably, he was only dribbled past 22 times last season, TWENTY TWO. Over a long season, that is really impressive and something that can and should only be admired.

If, and a big if, Gibbs can stay fit, for a prolonged period of time, getting himself a good run of games under his belt, he is going to have a really big future for Arsenal, and for England.

Also, on a personal note, this is my first article ever, but I am delighted it is for SatInRowZ.
Any feedback or comments, positive or negative, is welcome, and if you want to give me a follow on Twitter, you can find me at @BillyyAFC

Thank you for reading.

Stats via WhoScored