Saturday, 31 May 2014

2013/14: Arsenal's season blogged

Before I begin this, I have a confession to make.

I'll admit that it was Gunnerblog that inspired me to adopt this feature in my blog. It seemed like a good idea to use it for my blog as well, and even though I know that I didn't write in the first two months of the departed season, I'm still eager to try this out. I'll be using some Arseblog and Gunnerblog extracts to highlight the key moments from June to September, after which all the other excerpts will be from my blog.

Here we go!

Time for club to prove words are not hollow | July 7, 2013 [Arseblog] 
"If there’s been confusion down the last couple of years about whether it’s money we haven’t spent or we haven’t spent because we don’t have the money, that’s well and truly clarified now. He’s spoken about his ambition, about Kroenke’s ambition, and put it up to the manager to use the funds available. If we don’t, it gives perfect clarity to the reason why.

The key question is whether Arsene’s modus operandi will change with it. While I don’t think you’ll ever stop him trying to unearth the gems and hidden talents, there’s the very real capability of going out and buying established talent at a level beyond what we’re used to. It’s one thing saying it, it’s another thing entirely to do it." 

Sanogo signs, Djourou leaves, Bender bid rejected | July 2, 2013 [Arseblog]
"He’s not the signing who will make a statement, who will fire us to trophies, and guarantee goals. Sanogo is someone who can replace Chamakh and Park in the squad, and the reality is we don’t have a young striker coming up through the ranks who’s ready for that at the moment. As such I’ve got no issue with his youth, his nationality, his price tag and hopefully he’s left his injury woes behind him." 

All striking eggs in Suarez basket as Higuain signs for Napoli | July 25, 2013 [Arseblog] 
"When you consider that Jovetic (with a far inferior goalscoring record) went for around £25m, Negredo cost £20m, and Cavani cost £55m, £30m for Higuain is nowhere near bad value or anything like it. Sometimes you’ve got pay what the market dictates, but clearly the manager wants Luis Suarez and all our striking eggs are in that particular basket right now."

Opening day preview: New season - no new faces | August 17, 2013 [Gunnerblog]
"I can’t hide my disappointment: this summer has been embarrassing. Our bizarre decision to declare our flush hand at the start of the window seemed hubristic at the time, and has proved so since. Arsenal have lurched from one dead end deal to another. The likes of Clement Grenier, Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Gustavo have all escaped our grasp. Luis Suarez seems certain to join that ever-expanding list.

If Arsenal fail to beat Aston Villa today, the Emirates will resound with the boos from fans who will understandably feel they have been misled. They were promised statements of intent and a change in policy. Instead they’ve suffered more of the same penny-pinching and indecision."

Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa: Disaster | August 18, 2013 [Arseblog]
"Yesterday was the direct result of the summer. Sure, you can’t legislate for a referee having a nightmare, but you can put yourself in a better position to be able to cope if that happens. At the end of the day, there’s no transfer official making decisions which stop us spending money. We have, deliberately, chosen not to spend any money this summer.

At this point you can’t convince me that any business we end up doing is anything other than reactive. Oh shit, we’ve lost a game in a slapstick manner, bit of an injury crisis, better go buy some players. That’s no way to run a football club. We had the chance to be proactive. We make a complete and utter mess of it. Compared to the summer when it would have been seen as a signal of intent and ambition, it’s now the polar opposite."

Arsenal 2-0 Fenerbache: One job done, now do another | August 28, 2013 [Arseblog]
"For me, however, the need for signings is the same as it was before this game, before qualification, before the start of the season. The group of players we have has shown themselves to be capable, willing, determined and resolute in the face of intense pressure following that opening day defeat to Villa. If we buy the right players, and enough of them, we might just surprise some people this season."

An exciting investment opportunity | August 30, 2013 [Arseblog]
"At this stage, Flamini’s welcome and very handy because of the state of our squad. He’s experienced, versatile, will get stuck in for us, but let’s not pretend this was anything other than a bit of convenience for Arsene Wenger and a case of being in the right place at the right time for Flamini.

If the sum total of our summer is a freebie from Ligue 2, and a freebie Flamini, then it’s not unreasonable to be concerned that we might fall short in the final days of the window."

Arsenal 1... £100m nil | September 2, 2013 [Arseblog]
"We’ve just shattered the hearts of the tiny Totts who were clearly hoping to use a derby win to soften the blow of announcing Bale’s departure to Madrid. Instead, they got beaten and then had to tell the world they’re losing their best player. We made that worse for them, and it’s fantastic.

Of course, that doesn’t negate our need to do business today. Arsene Wenger said afterwards he might have a ‘good surprise’ in the transfer market, and last night various reports said a deal was in the offing for Real Madrid’s Mesut Özil. He’s just one of the players linked with us and if it’s true it would be a staggeringly exciting signing, one almost worth waiting all summer for. Almost!" 

Mesut Ozil: A perfect signing in a far from perfect window | September 3, 2013 [Gunnerblog]

"Like the signing of Mathieu Flamini, there is the whiff of opportunism about Arsenal’s Ozil raid. And yet I couldn’t care less. When an opportunity like this arises, you simply have to take it.

Ozil is probably is out of our league – and that’s precisely what makes him such a thrilling capture. Only by signing players of that ilk will we drag ourselves back to the top of the English game.

I hope my delight about Ozil’s arrival is clear, because I have to couch it with the fact that his signing alone does not transform this window in to a success. Arsenal failed to recruit in several other key positions. In fact, had Ozil not become unexpectedly available at the last moment than this window could have ended in disaster."

Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal | Ramsey shines again [Arseblog]
"His control and pass for Giroud’s opener was brilliant. He seemed to click almost straight away with Ramsey and Wilshere in particular, he wanted the ball all the time, created some fantastic chances, and all the while he looked like a guy that wasn’t fully fit. It was a debut that augurs very well for the future."

And now me!

Great time to be a Gooner, eh? | October 2, 2013
"We're currently on the top of what I consider to be the best football league of the world. The talk of finally ending our long awaited trophy drought has been on the tip of the tongue of every Gooner, and while I certainly agree that the chances of us winning it are higher than before, pardon me for wanting to intervene and bring a bit of a reality check to all Gooners around.

Arsene Wenger has had an unsuccessful summer. He hasn't fulfilled the primary priority of bringing in a world-class striker, which has left us only with Olivier Giroud. While Giroud's movement, control, hold up play and finishing has increased markedly, people forget that he is still far from the class of Robin van Persie. Is Giroud the kind of guy who would change the face of the game with one swing of his foot?

I'm not saying that this season is destined for disaster. I'm just saying that Arsenal fans are expecting too much of the thin squad that we currently possess."

Arsenal 2-0 Napoli: A pleasant surprise | October 3, 2013
"In the game against Swansea, this team's defence seemed to have turned a corner. And against Napoli, the team's defence was as assured as it could be. We restricted a quality team to only one shot on target, which wasn't even remotely threatening to Wojciech Szczesny. It was a cracking performance from a team that seem to have gone on another level today, by facing a top team in Europe and making them look like kittens."

Mathieu Flamini: The Unsung Hero | October 10, 2013
"Flamini is rapidly becoming one of my favourite players at this club, and I would hate to see something as trivial as media pressure affecting his performances. Mark my words, Flamini is the only one-of-a-kind player at this club, and that alone could make him the signing of the season."

A thought on Arsenal's injury crisis | October 13, 2013
"The only player in our squad last season who could be classified as a world-class player was Santi Cazorla. Our only world class player played EVERY SINGLE PREMIER LEAGUE GAME of last season. That is like, the definition of overplaying, which hardly makes it surprising that he is injured right now. If Arsene Wenger overplays his world class players so much with such poor man management, the players are likely to succumb to injuries.

Needless to say, I have no faith in Wenger's man management skills, and at this rate, I expect Ozil and Giroud to be out for long term and Arsenal fans failing to see Wenger's fault in it."

Arsenal 1-2 Dortmund: Cracks beginning to show? | October 25, 2013
"I'm having serious doubts over Wenger's tactical capability after I saw that he didn't make any change to our strategy in the game. I had stressed earlier that Dortmund would be a difficult matchup, and winning dirty should be the order of the day. However, instead of facing facts, Wenger didn't do anything to the formation, the tactics or anything, and thus witnessed a repeat of the first half."

Palace 0-2 Arsenal: Below par, but who cares? | October 27, 2013
"The brilliance of the Arsenal team as a whole to contain a Crystal Palace assault quite calmly was a welcome sight to see. The old Arsenal, filled with teenagers and inexperience, would've crumbled at this game. They would've probably sulked over the red card and screwed up the match, leaving Wenger to hunt for excuses in the post-match conference. It is said that title winning teams have a trait of grinding results when things aren't going their way. I'm glad we showed that trait today."

Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool: Rosic-key to our success | November 4, 2013
"A simply stunning result where we maintained good control over the game and found the goals through convincing and effective play. And while we deserved to win this game, I'm a bit surprised as to how many Gooners quickly forgot how easily we could've lost it.

I just don't feel that most of our back four deserves credit for our win, because they were pretty below par. Suarez and Sturridge were finding spaces and causing constant problems for us, and we wouldn't have kept our clean sheet if Szczesny and Sagna weren't at their reliable best.

Sagna - I have no idea why he hasn't been given a contract yet. He played his 250th game in an Arsenal shirt with remarkable consistency once again. One of his few flaws - crossing - seem to be taken care of at the moment. He came back from two long term injuries and a disaster of a last season to continue being one of the best right backs in the country."

Dortmund 0-1 Arsenal: A crucial, memorable victory | November 7, 2013
"Tonight was when I realized what being a Gooner was all about. It's not about trophies, it's not about success. It's not only about applauding Mesut Ozil and it's certainly not about turning your back on the club in the wake of embarrassing cup exits. Being an Arsenal supporter is a way of life.

After 8 long years, our time seems to be finally approaching. Savour it, because who knows how long it is going to last for?"

United 1-0 Arsenal: Let's be honest | November 11, 2013
"Robin van Persie's header was a clear example how an out-and-out, world class striker can make a difference between two quality sides. What's even more painful is that he could've been the one who might've made the difference for us, had he still been in Arsenal colours."

My worries on Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey | November 14, 2013
"Ramsey can be called decent, but no more than that. The goals that he scored against Swansea, Norwich and Liverpool were most notably goals that had a certain amount of selfishness in them. Don't get me wrong - sometimes you need to take matters in your own hands, but Ramsey is hogging up the goals rather than looking for better options.

The absence of Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain means that our team has had to adjust a lot and play in different positions. I'm constantly noticing a lack of movement in the final third, which would make Ozil difficult to find a man. I know that Ozil has really good vision, but shouldn't we give him something to see?"

Arsenal 2-0 Southampton: Back on track | November 24, 2013
"We've played 12 games now, so you can hardly categorize this part of the year as the "start of the season." We've faced difficult opposition in the form of Tottenham, Liverpool, Man United and Southampton, 3 of whom we defeated. We're 4 points clear of Liverpool and Chelsea, temporarily 8 points clear of United and the Spuds, and 9 points above Man City. I think it's finally safe to say that we're title contenders now."

Cardiff 0-3 Arsenal: Positives all around | December 2, 2013
"It capped another eye-catching display from the Welshman, who is rapidly becoming one of my many favourite players at the club. He is currently comfortably Arsenal's top goalscorer this season, which is simply magnificent considering his assigned deep midfield role. He's constantly reminding me of Frank Lampard this year, and resembling THE complete midfielder."

Man City 6-3 Arsenal: A humbling crash to reality | December 15, 2013
"I don't care if he's currently the face of Arsenal, I don't care if he's our X-factor or our Joker in the Pack, Ozil simply cannot pull off stunts like that. We've had enough talented players who haven't shown enough commitment and desire on the pitch in the past as it is, just ask Nasri, Arshavin or Adebayor. In this current Arsenal lineup, we have very few players who don't have the required amount of determination for the club. It's frustrating that our one out-and-out world class player, Mesut Ozil, is one of them.

Mertesacker's reaction to Ozil's disgraceful act was apt, and it's time that we - like the BFG - stop turning a blind eye to his falling levels of determination, just because he got here for £42m."

My predictions on Arsenal's 2013/14 campaign | December 19, 2013

Premier League: 3rd

"I seriously doubt that Wenger will buy a striker at all in the transfer window. If he indeed doesn't, then I shall solely blame him for the inevitable collapse that's certain to follow. That's why I feel that Chelsea will win the Premier League, with Manchester City finishing second and Arsenal a close third."

Champions League: Round Of 16

"I see barely any way for Arsenal to get past Bayern, I'm afraid. I'm grimly confident that Wenger will refuse the chances to get in "top top quality" or whatever, which will be a catalyst in bottling our Premier League lead and losing against Bayern."

FA Cup:

"This is one competition where we don't need any signings to win it. However, we need to take this chance seriously, and instead of playing rag tag promising players, Wenger needs to straighten up and play strong starting XIs in these matches. I think that Wenger's insistence to play reserve players against a mediocre side is what's going to cost us another trophy, with a side like Swansea or Norwich possibly knocking us out in a shock one-niller. 

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the month of January may just define our season. It's the month which provides a window to buy a striker we so require, and a couple of FA Cup fixtures which we can either progress in or get knocked out of. In addition, if we string some good results in the Premier League, we might just set a good tone for the rest of the season."

January's here - Don't expect any arrivals | January 1, 2014
"While any striker - whether a marquee or a decent one - would be fine with me, I am quietly confident that we aren't going to see any additions to the squad, apart from a promising midfielder, of course. I absolutely have no faith in a manager who has failed to get a striker when it was necessary in January 2013 and August 2013 to use his money wisely now. You can say one thing for sure, though: Arsene will always look at the cheapest option first.

My judgement on Wenger is simple: if he wants the title, he'll get a decent or a world-class striker. If he's content with top four, we won't see any movement in January. Period."

Arsenal 2-0 Cardiff: Bendtner's heroics mask the need for a support striker | January 3, 2014
"I know that in the long run, a player like Bendtner has to be replaced with a more reliable one, but that's not to say that I won't miss his personality, which seems more likeable than irritating now.

However, we need to live in a realistic world, and Bendtner cannot provide good backup for Giroud in that world. News that Bendtner suffered a sprained ankle and is set to be out for weeks can actually be good news in disguise."

Arsenal 2-0 Spurs: A morale booster | January 6, 2014
Serge Gnabry is a wonderful prospect...
This guy has everything, really. Vision, pace, passing and even finishing. I'm not sure if he has the stamina for the rigours of the Premier League yet, but he certainly has the skill. It's a wise decision by Wenger to use him sparingly, unlike heap pressure on him like Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj.

Arsene may have lost faith in Lukas...
Is there a rift between the manager and Podolski? It's a possibility, but I don't think that's the case. In my opinion, Wenger just doesn't think that Podolski is good enough for a starting berth at Arsenal. People would argue that he's just recovering from a long injury, and that Wenger is just easing him in, getting him game time. If so, why not get him on for Rosicky instead of getting Ozil for Arteta, especially when Ozil himself was recovering from an injury and the game was already done and dusted?

Theo injured for the rest of the season: a signing is imperative now | January 7, 2014

"However, we've long since learnt that there's no use crying over spilt milk. In a way, it's better that we've learnt about Theo's injury now in January, when we have the time and money to get in a player.

Do I still believe that Arsene Wenger will not get a forward? I don't think I do anymore. I don't think that even Wenger can be so blind to not get in a striker or a winger. However, Walcott's injury means that nothing less than a world-class striker would rejuvenate our team. While I think that Wenger would go for a convenient purchase of a half-decent player late in the window, I pray the manager has realized how Theo's injury has changed everything."

Thoughts on Arsenal's transfer policy | January 9, 2014
"Some would say that getting deals done late to save financial losses is clever. I say it's cheap, and it's definitely putting money over football. If you're serious about winning a trophy this season, you would get in a quality striker early in the window - possibly by now - so that he integrates well within the team and performs well during the run-in.

Why does a player need to be injured for Wenger to realize that that area needs strengthening? Why didn't he make enquiries of a player before Giroud, Bendtner and Walcott got injured? Why do we Arsenal supporters have to pray for strikers to get injured so that Wenger realizes what the whole footballing world knows - that the team needs a forward?"

Southampton 2-2 Arsenal: Call for the Cavalry | January 29, 2014
"Another sickening blow - aside from Theo Walcott's injury is - that Aaron Ramsey will miss another month of football due to aggravating his calf injury. Forgive me when I say that this is a blessing in disguise, but it seems that Wenger's hand is forced on the transfer market owing to Rambo's injury.

As an Arsenal supporter, the key to a good deadline day is low expectations. Don't get your hopes up until you see the player in question in an Arsenal jersey (even on the Draxler thing, ESPECIALLY on the Draxler thing)."

Wenger gambles on our season | February 1, 2014
"I know that Kim Kallstrom is supposed to be a short-term fix, but I doubt that he would be necessary over the course of 4 months. In reality, I have a strong feeling that Kim would be obsolete after a month, because that's when Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere and Rosicky would return.

Look, the season isn't dead yet. We still have the FA Cup to look forward to, and can entertain ourselves over two legs against Munich. However, one would be optimistic - if not foolish - to expect more from this season."

Arsenal 2-0 Palace: Our Ox on the field carries the burden this time | February 3, 2014
"This is why I feel that players like Wilshere, Rosicky and now Oxlade-Chamberlain will have a very good second half of the season. Unlike a majority of the squad, the above mentioned players are ones who are prepared to make electrifying runs and press the opposition higher up the pitch, rather than sit back and soak pressure."

Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: Worse than the 8-2 | February 9, 2014
"In my opinion, it was Bould's coaching and Mesut Ozil's signing that had revolutionized Arsenal's form over the past 5 months. Now that the gloss of Ozil's buy has worn off and a suspicion of Wenger overruling Bould in the training ground has arisen, I'm actually terrified to see what is to become of us in the upcoming matches."

Fabianski announces summer departure - beginning of an exodus? | February 10, 2014
"Once again I emphasize - this season may be one of the last times that we witness an Arsenal team challenging for the title. I am scared for the future, I really am. It seems to me that the scene is set for heartbreak at the end of the campaign, and an exodus is to follow. Wenger will only buy players sufficient enough for qualifying for the CL in the summer, which would lead to another tug-of-war with Tottenham Hotspur for fourth place."

Arsenal 0-0 United: Adjust your sights for the remainder of the campaign | February 14, 2014
"I badly want this team of all teams to win the EPL. However, when everyone knew that we needed a striker and Wenger refused to buy one (not failed, REFUSED), that was when we lost our chance. All that hard work done by a plethora of honest, dedicated players like Szczesny, Mertesacker, Ramsey, Flamini and Giroud was laid waste by a blind manager who cares about his job more than our title hopes."

A case to defend Olivier Giroud | February 26, 2014
"What Giroud needs is motivation and rest. He has shown us from time to time again that he will perform when rested or faced with the threat of losing his starting berth. Not to mention that he still works really hard even after being completely jaded due to gross overplaying by Wenger. With a proper balance between fitness and form, I'm sure Giroud can perform much better than he currently does."

Stoke 1-0 Arsenal: Proof that the title is lost | March 2, 2014
"Facts: We registered 2 shots on target against a team fighting against relegation. We were outclassed in possession and tactics by Mark Hughes. A team with Walters and Crouch defeated a team with Cazorla, Podolski, Ozil and Rosicky. And it wasn't a one-off; anyone watching the game knows that. The loss was deserved.

This isn't a collapse - it's the result of tired legs who are demoralized after not getting the resources that they wanted in January."

Arsenal 4-1 Everton: Wembley beckons, bitches! | March 8, 2014
"It's impossible to not be proud of the players. It was a massive occasion, the whole season was at stake and boos were certain to follow if we lost. The FA Cup, let's face it, was and is the only way we can transform this season into a success. And we're bang on track so far."

Spurs 0-1 Arsenal: Scrappy, but I'll take it... for now | March 17, 2014
"Winning ugly is a trait of champions. However, making a habit of it is not. Winning ugly is what Manchester City did against Hull, or what we did against Southampton (H) and Crystal Palace (A). Barely going past one of the worst Tottenham sides in half a decade is not a sign of champions, I'm sorry. If we dare to repeat the same performance against Mourinho, I promise you we'll get hammered worse than Manchester United did against Liverpool."

Contract updates + dissecting Wenger's injury comments | March 19, 2014
"There really couldn't be a better time for Arsenal to announce Wenger's renewal...
It's getting clear now that the board are rightly stalling over Wenger's contract. I have no doubt that Wenger wants to stay at Arsenal, but I'm having doubts that the board want to keep him. Either the board want to see how the season ends before making hasty decisions, or Wenger's holding the club to ransom (for a better deal) or there already is a mutual agreement in place regardless of how the season ends... I really don't know what's happening behind the scenes."

Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal: Expected disaster | March 23, 2014
"At any other club, I don't think that any other manager has overseen so many disasters, yet managed to stay at the club. Yet there seems to be a soft spot for the once invincible Wenger, only because he offers Champions League football and decade-old memories.

For the first time in years, I wouldn't mind if Arsenal fail if it means the end of Arsene Wenger. He built a wonderful legacy but is slowly destroying it, and I can see no way back now. I pray that other Arsenal supporters have realized that as well, so they can join the real Arsenal fanbase and show Wenger the door before 5th place starts to become a trophy.

Happy 1000th, Arsene."

Arsenal 2-2 Swansea: There is no hope | March 26, 2014
"Hope is everything one needs in life. There should at least be something to believe in that would egg one on to optimism, to belief, to success, to glory. At Arsenal, after witnessing the manager's ineptitude rub off on the players, I must concede. There is no hope."

Finally, some hope. | March 30, 2014
"“Yes [I will sign it], unless I decide otherwise. I have told you many times we have had no time to sit down and do it. Nothing, not going anywhere, don’t worry for that. But I want to have a feeling coming out of the season that that I have done the maximum for the club.”

That, in turn, makes it clear that his future rests solely on the FA Cup. It's a win-win. Lose the FA Cup, and Wenger leaves the club for good. Win the FA Cup, and we can end the trophy drought and instill happiness among millions around the globe."

Everton, Wenger, Cygan and my Wigan wish | April 7, 2014
"Let's leave speculation aside and look at cold, hard facts that no Arsenal supporter would disagree on.

  • Wenger and his staff don't know why his players keep getting injured, he said as much.
  • Wenger sat with his chin propped on the touchline while Arsenal lost comprehensively to Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea.
  • Wenger publicly said he doesn't know why Arsenal collapsed at Stamford Bridge.
  • Wenger did not buy a striker in January after Ramsey and Theo got injured, and after Juventus publicly put Vucinic on the transfer list on January 29th. Our striking options, as of today, are Giroud, Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo.
  • Wenger is paid 6.5 million a year under a supposedly financially constrained Arsenal.

Glaring blunders in one season - aren't these sackable offences in itself? Would any other club tolerate that? For a year I can understand, maybe even two, but for 7 consecutive years?

Wenger should go, I realized that this time last year around the Blackburn and Bayern losses. I have long since moved on, good runs and the team's toughness did not delude me. After our 3-0 hammering, it increasingly looks like Wigan will either end or prolong Wenger's reign."

Arsenal vs Wigan: Match Preview | April 12, 2014
"If you think rationally, the FA Cup does much more for Arsenal than just provide something tangible for this season:

CASE 1: We win the FA Cup, get the trophyless run off our backs and provide consolation to a season that admittedly should have provided much more. We finish in the top four, and the manager stays on.

CASE 2: We lose today, yet make the top four. Wenger leaves regardless.

CASE 3: We win today but lose the final. However, we still make the top four. In this case, I reckon the manager will stay.

CASE 4: We win today but lose the final. To add to that, we miss out on the Champions League. Heartbreak, but Wenger definitely leaves.

CASE 5: We lose today and screw up top four. Let's not think about that."

Arsenal 1-1 Wigan [4-2 on penalties]: Worrying performance, wonderful result | April 14, 2014
"However, that's the trouble. Barely scrapping past Wigan is not a sign of a progressive team. In all honesty, we really were lucky to have gotten into the final. If we want to fulfill our objective of finishing fourth and winning the FA Cup, big short-term changes are needed.

Knowing Wenger, I don't think we'll see any changes. If we do get fourth, it would be down to scrappy victories against mediocre opposition. At a time when we were supposed to be challenging for the title, we're looking uncertain over fourth. What a mess."

Arsenal 3-1 West Ham: Fourth place trophy recovered | April 17, 2014
"Ramsey makes us tiki-taka...
As soon as he came on the team felt alive, reminiscent of how we were in the first half of the season. His mere presence just changed everything, including the scoreline, where he gave a sublime assist to Podolski's clincher. I'd feel much more comfortable about the FA Cup Final if Ramsey were properly fit."

Arsenal 1-0 West Brom: Goodbye Sagna? | May 5, 2014
"As the players went through the customary lap of appreciation, one chant in the Emirates Stadium rang in chorus, above all others:

"We want you to stay, we want you to stay! Bacary Sagna, we want you to stay!"

Who could argue with that? I still haven't ruled out the possibility that Sagna will stay if we win the FA Cup. From time to time again he's spoken about his dream being to watch Arsenal "compete", and winning a trophy at long last would certainly suffice that. Does Sagna's future rest on the FA Cup? I think so, but I'm not sure. We'll see."

Norwich 0-2 Arsenal: Are you happy with fourth? | May 12, 2014
"What I want next season is for Arsenal to compete in the Premier League and the Champions League. If we don't win it then I'd be sad, but at least I'd know that we'd be on the right track. It would provide hope and a good foundation for the future.

Whatever happens, I don't want this 'flattering to deceive' nonsense again. I don't want the season to be a predictable collapse, foreseen a day after the transfer window ends. I don't want the club to go meekly out of the Champions League and fall short in the EPL. I want competitiveness, right from the first day till the last.

Win the FA Cup, get the deals done early, listen to the experts, and it might just happen, Wenger. Come on."

FA Cup Final Preview | May 16, 2014
"We really should be winning this, but I think we've seen enough of Arsenal to know it isn't a given we will. It's almost definite we'll make hot water out of it, yet I don't care. As long as the final result is in our favour, I don't CARE.

I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but I know there will be tears at the end of it. Whether it's tears of joy or of sorrow, that's up to Arsenal to decide.

Geez. What's left to say? Come on Arsenal."

Arsenal 3-2 Hull (aet): Hands down, best moment of my life |  May 22, 2014

"THIS is what football is all about, I can't believe I have to point it out. It’s not about passing off bank balances, stadiums and Champions League qualifications as trophies. It’s about actually going out there and winning silverware, triumphing in the face of adversity and ridicule and returning something to the fans.

Even though my opinions on Wenger will not dwindle, I felt happy to see him lift the trophy. I wouldn’t say he deserved it, given all the rash decisions he made during the past decade. However, even though my mind hates him, my heart loves him. It felt great watching him lift the trophy and end the wait. And let’s face it, the day we won the FA Cup was a day for the heart.

I’m an emotionless, stone faced guy, but football is a place where my emotions tend to leak out. No, I don’t believe that winning the cup will be the beginning of our glory days, nor do I believe that it will transform Wenger for the better. However, for once, I’m not worrying about the future and instead, focusing on the present.

And the present, as Freddy Ljungberg would call it, is fucking excellent."


Wow, what a season. The end really ensured we finished out on a high. Even so, as I said after the Premier League season ended, I would love it if Arsenal went out there and competed for major honours all the way, this time around.

Until then let's raise a toast to Arsenal's 2013/14 season, one which began with such catastrophe but ended with our best season in six years.

P.S. Also read:

Arsenal Player Ratings thus far | January 27, 2014

Arsenal vs Palace: Match Preview | February 2, 2014

One life, one love. And it's Arsenal. | February 14, 2014

Arsene Wenger: The Professor who lost the race against time | March 5, 2014

My dream Arsenal: one bereft of Arsene Wenger | March 24, 2014

As the days go by, Klopp seems more and more perfect for Arsenal | April 10, 2014

A truthful Gooner quits the club + 2014/15 predictions | May 1, 2014

2013/14: End of season awards

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz ) 

Friday, 30 May 2014

2013/14: End of season awards

Here we are. Another roller-coaster season has halted, and it's time to review it.

Since this is my first season of blogging, you should know that these season awards are going to be an annual thing. Every year on the 30th of May, you'll find this on the site. And since I've analyzed this Arsenal season as minutely as possible, now that another campaign is over, it's time to distribute the individual fictional accolades.

The various sections of prizes are given below, and the winners are handpicked by me.

Let's go.

Best player of the season:

NOTE: This award is handed to the player who put in the best number of performances throughout the campaign. It is given to the person with the most talent, as well as the most likeable personality.

I really like this Arsenal squad, I think I've made that clear at every single opportunity. Naturally, there are a lot of players that come to my mind, worthy of this award.

Rosicky and Podolski deserve credit for filling in seamlessly, in times of need. Lukasz Fabianski redeemed his 'Flappyhandski' image by a solid season, the highlight of which were two penalty saves against Wigan. I still believe that he should have been picked above Szczesny in the pecking order and given a new contract.

Our unsung heroes, too, could use a mention here. Sagna, Szczesny and Flamini were key in stabilizing a defence rocked for years. I'd also like to spare a thought for the still-injured Theo Walcott. Had he been fit and firing for the second half, I'm certain he'd have taken this award.

I thought quite a bit about giving the award to Aaron Ramsey. After all, the all-action midfielder had comfortably his best season ever, not to mention became a symbolic figure of Arsenal's resurrection. Also, you know, that goal against Hull, which won us the cup, apparently. Wait, we won the cup!?

However, a lengthy 3 month injury meant that he lost out on the crunch part of the season, which was ultimately when our title challenge fell apart. Of course, the injury wasn't his fault, it was Wenger's. However, I regrettably was forced to pull him from the running. Yes, folks, Aaron Ramsey finishes runners-up here.

Few would have expected Per Mertesacker to be the player of the season for any blogger back in August, but for me, this award is well-deserved.

"But he was involved in the Anfield, Etihad and Stamford Bridge drubbings", you'd retort. Well, actually, no. I've already said (and proved) that our away day blues were directly related to Wenger's tactical naivety, as well as his inability to motivate his players.

However, the reason Mertesacker's been my best player was because of his personality. Under the astute coaching of Steve Bould, Mertesacker has evolved as a man as well as a player. With his slow pace hid by Koscielny's speed and his superb positional awareness highlighted, Mertesacker's become a cool presence on the field. However, I, for one, was particularly pleased with his reaction to Ozil not respecting the away support at the Etihad. That's the sign of a true warrior.

Mertesacker's like a big brother on the pitch. He scolds at you but always wants the best. He's like this rock-solid leader, who's now become the cornerstone of Arsenal's back four. He may be wearing it temporarily, but for me, he's fully deserving of the captain's armband.


Worst player of the season:

NOTE: This award is handed to the player who has had the least impact and is becoming a liability to the team. Also in consideration should be the number of performances the player has made. Emiliano Viviano, for example, cannot be a candidate for this award since he hasn't played, well, any games.

This season, there were surprisingly few candidates for this award, which is a good thing. Don't even think for a second that Ozil and Giroud are going to be nominated here, for however underwhelming they might have been, Wenger is hugely responsible for most of it. Plus, they're statistics are impressive, I can't ignore that.

Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo are possibilities, but due to them having played so few games in the season, it's hard to judge them. Besides, Yaya Sanogo at least tried to make things happen, and hardwork is always appreciated, even if he is incredibly raw.

I thought about giving it to Nacho Monreal, who had a desperately poor second half of the season. Not helped by Podolski unwillingness to track back, Nacho was badly exposed on the left and didn't do much to cover it. A lot of goals in our away day nightmares had come from the left, if one notices.

However, one person had an even worse season than Monreal. Harsh as it may sound, this season's worst player was Mikel Arteta. A regular starter, yet overrun in midfield, panicky under pressure and offers nothing but spot-kicks. With his precision passing disappeared, I have to concede, the guy's become a liability. Better defensive midfielder needed urgently.

It's not like I wanted to give this award to him, but so many played well for the club that Arteta, frankly, was the only option. I still can't understand why he's picked above Flamini in the pecking order by Wenger.

Revelation of the season:

NOTE: This award is given to the person who, despite all odds, rectifies a lot of his faults, shocks the critics and becomes an integral member of the team.

I think the above notation describes one Gunner perfectly - Aaron Ramsey.

There can surely be zero competition. Who could possibly contend with Ramsey's resurrection? Flamini, perhaps, but no one else. The guy's torn apart defences and scored tremendous volleys with such ease, it was frightening for a while. We all knew the potential was there, but so much potential?

I hadn't foreseen it.

Seeing that he cruelly missed out on the Player of the season, this seems fit to be a consolation prize. At this moment, I can claim without hesitation that this guy is better than Cesc Fabregas.

Letdown of the season:

NOTE: This award is given to the player fans had high hopes of, but ultimately failed to live up to the hype. He didn't necessarily have a bad season, but could have, and should have done much better.

There are a few nominees for this. Jenkinson could be considered, as this season should have been the one where he provided people hope, in the wake of Bacary Sagna's imminent departure. Jack Wilshere may be another candidate, but I personally reckon he would have had a strong finish had he not gotten himself injured on international duty.

Mesut Ozil, perhaps, then. After all, even though he was going through an adaptation period, there were times when it was evident that he did not care about Arsenal. There wasn't any burning desire in his play, no concentration while passing, and zero tracking back. However, it was Wenger at fault for that, not Ozil. Wenger overplayed the guy until he could barely walk, and almost forced a hamstring injury out of him. Giving this award to our record signing in an adaptation period might border on injustice.

This particularly hurts me, as this season's disappointment is my favourite player - Santi Cazorla. Considering his debut season, he's been a huge disappointment. The Cazorla-Ozil axis didn't really work until the end, and even though Wenger shunted him to the left, better performances were expected.

I still think that renewing his contract was the right call, as players like Cazorla are hard to find. However, I expect much better from him in 2014/15. Let's hope his free-kick against Hull marks a turning point for him.

Best match of the season:

Note: This award is given to the most entertaining match, or the one that provided most happiness and optimism.

Bloody obvious choice. The FA Cup Final, no matter how we won it, will always go down as a memorable day in my personal Arsenal book. It was the first time I had seen The Gunners lift a trophy, and till date, was the best day of my life. Ever.

God, I hope we see more of these matches next season.

Worst match of the season:

The losses this season were few, but almost all of them caused huge pain. Indeed, aside from losses to Dortmund and Chelsea (in the Capital One Cup), I think all other losses were met with anguished responses.

The loss to Aston Villa was a complete nightmare. If you dare to recap that day, I suggest you read this. I really thought I had hit rock-bottom as an Arsenal supporter then, but our away days against top opposition kind of raised the bar. Everton away was a pretty bad day too, after seeing Wenger's Arsenal collapse so easily against a starkly inferior side.

Most people would readily agree that the 6-0 defeat to Chelsea takes the cake. I don't, maybe mostly because I had already predicted it would happen and had braced myself. Honestly, when the goals poured in, I was just sitting there emotionless, amazed at how much I hated myself for being right.

However, Liverpool at Anfield was as unexpected as it was disastrous. It's pretty clear that on paper, we are the better side. However, to see a team with Ozil, Wilshere, Chamberlain, Mertesacker and Koscielny concede 4 goals in 20 minutes without reply was frightful. Bar Ramsey and Walcott, we had our strongest team out there, with a huge incentive. And we were an absolute shambles.

Highlight of the season:

NOTE: This award is given to the moment, the person, the action, or the decision that had a vastly positive impact on the team, a moment that the season will be remembered by.

There were many highlights this season. Topping the league for a long time, Aaron Ramsey's resurrection, playing Bayern Munich were all moments that could be considered worthy for this award. Notable were also hilarious David Moyes and Tim Sherwood fails, and also the Emirates Stadium starting to feel more like home.

I toyed long and hard about giving this award to our FA Cup run. After all, Arsenal was defined as a trophyless team by the mainstream media, so to break that streak at last is fantastic. However, winning the FA Cup does not get this award because of 3 reasons:

1) As opposed to what people think, winning the FA Cup will not recreate the glory days. It will just be more of the same, unfortunately.

2) I have already given the FA Cup credit in the 'Best match of the season', so giving it even more would be partial.

3) Breaking the trophy drought took 9 years, but there was something else that happened this season that took longer...

Mesut Ozil's signing was reminiscent of Dennis Bergkamp's, with almost a 20 year gap in between. After all, both of them were creative attack-minded players and came to the club with huge pedigree. In addition, buying Ozil, like Bergy, was a real statement of intent and one that had huge implications on our first half of the season.

When he came in for 42.5 million, it almost didn't matter how well he would play. His arrival shot confidence through the veins of every single person connected to Arsenal, and awoke a sleeping giant. The team as a whole became rejuvenated and were given a profound psychological boost. And since Ozil's arrival was the first marquee signing I have ever seen as an Arsenal supporter, this one definitely takes the prize.

Imagine if we buy at least two more world-class players this summer. It'd be double the impact of Ozil. I mean, fuck.

Lowlight of the season:

NOTE: This award is given to the moment, the person, the action or the decision that had a negative impact on the game, and broadly the season.

There were quite a few candidates for this. Our summer transfer window, for one. Even the One Direction team knew that Wenger simply had to buy a striker, but we swayed from one deal to another with increasing embarrassment. Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain and Demba Ba were up for grabs; so to try for all of them and fail miserably was humiliating. I think it's safe to say that the transfer negotiating side of our club is completely dysfunctional at every level.

Finishing fourth after topping the pile for 128 days was another disappointment; this really should have been our year. Besides, seeing Arsene Wenger not learn from his mistakes, employ the same tactics and man management was sickening to watch.

My winner, however, was the abject January transfer window. Perhaps what made it even more irritating was that it felt so avoidable. For huge chunks of the month, we had Draxler, Morata and Berbatov for the taking, but Wenger chose to keep his faith in Sanogo and Bendtner, probably his worst decision of the season. To cap it all, he brought an injured Swedish player on deadline day for 'backup'. 

This tweet from Piers Morgan - 8 days after the January transfer window - sums it all.

Had we bought Morata we would have finished higher than fourth, I am certain.

Goal of the season:
This season sure had its fair share of quality goals. Aaron Ramsey almost deserves his own space here, he scored some belters against Norwich, Sunderland and Fenerbache, and also chipped in a late one against Hull. My favourite Ramsey goal, however, is the volley he scored against Liverpool. That was when I genuinely felt these Arsenal boys had grown to men.

Mesut Ozil's first goal of Napoli, the very first goal I described on this blog displayed some truly fine football. Giroud scored two outstanding goal, one against West Ham, and an equalizer against Southampton which isn't given much credit. Not to mention Theo Walcott, who scored an incredible 3-2 goal at the Etihad. Considering the circumstances, that one went under the radar a bit.

Tomas Rosicky's goals against Tottenham, especially the one at White Hart Lane, were special moments. His goal against Sunderland, at the end of some fantastic pinball passing, was another one for the running.

My undoubted winner, however, remains Wilshere's against Norwich. It's just impossible to describe, really. The words 'spectacular', 'magnificent' and 'fabulous' don't do justice to it.

'Godlike' does, though.


And there you have it. This season, overall, was certainly better than the last nine, but what pains me is that it could have been so much more. Everyone knows that, so let's hope Wenger can take us the extra mile next season by showing ruthlessness in the transfer market.

Tomorrow, I will view the season blogged as a whole, kind of a copy from Gunnerblog's Season Blogged flick. Till then, enjoy the off-season, and take it easy.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Thoughts on the Cesc Fabregas saga, CL final and released players

Let's make this clear - in an ideal world, I would not want Cesc Fabregas back. Sure, he was the poster boy of Wenger's Project Youth and he gave us many emotional moments, if not trophies. Moreover, My refusal on wanting him back is not related to his manner of departure from the Emirates, but is more on the priority of signing a creative midfielder. 

We didn't spunk 42 million quid on Mesut Ozil to give up on him after one season, only to spunk 25 million quid on another. It's a waste of resources and doesn't make footballing sense. It would be better (and indeed, more cost-effective) to pursue a one-year contracted Khedira, for instance.

However, even though I am past the manner in which Fabregas left Arsenal, it has left him being trustworthy, to me at least. Have you ever heard of a player who is so desperate to leave a club that he goes on strike and contributes £5m to the buying club's transfer fee? Forget the fact it was his hometown Barcelona, such attitude is unprofessional. Arsenal wasn't a prison, it was the club that recognized his talents.

Anyway, what worries me now is Manchester United's interest in the player. I always knew that Fabregas would never leave Barcelona last season for David Moyes, mostly because he was happy at Camp Nou. But that was last year.

12 months down the line, things have changed. Barca have had a piss poor season, they have managerial instability, and the Catalans, for some reason, are making Cesc the scapegoat for their problems, despite his best season statistically. While he hasn't revealed anything yet, Fabregas could so easily be unhappy at Barcelona.

Normally, I wouldn't be too concerned about United's reported interest in him, because as long as Cesc was happy at Barcelona, there was no way United could lure him. However, after changing times at Barca and a confirmed £30m bid from United, there is a chance that Fabregas could play for United next season.

You might chuckle, because Fabregas has publically stated that Arsenal and Barcelona will remain his two playing clubs for his entire career. However, don't times change in football?

Arsene Wenger, 12th July 2011: "Imagine the worst situation, that we lose Fábregas and Nasri; you cannot convince people that you are ambitious after that."

van Persie, 28th February 2012: “I am a true Gunner. I love this club and that’s no secret."

Just two of many examples.

I'm just saying, there is no trusting a player who forced a transfer from a club with such shocking means. Of course, Fabregas would prefer going to Arsenal rather than United, for he clearly has affection for this club. In addition, returning to Arsenal will propel his PR image by justifying his quotes.

However, what if Arsenal never approach him? I have reason, if not proof, to believe that Wenger's does not give a rat's ass about the Cesc Fabregas situation, and I agreed with his stance earlier. However, after the £30m bid, it is obvious that we cannot let United pursue Fabregas, especially because we have contractual and emotional advantage over the player.

I have no idea if Arsenal are trying to bring Fabregas back, but it seems they don't care enough to. However, after the £30m United bid, the answer is clear - we need to move on Cesc.

We should buy Fabregas, only and only because it will hinder the progress of a direct rival. Never mind the fact he may be surplus to requirements from the very start, we should buy him so to not help the other team. Alex Ferguson did it with van Persie even though he had Rooney. Real Madrid did it with Bale even though they had Di Maria, and hence.

Di Maria was quite outstanding yesterday, on that topic. Grossly underrated and overlooked for players like Ronaldo and Bale, who weren't up to the mark. While I felt for Atletico, who lost out on the CL after such a landmark season, Real Madrid were deserved winners. Their style of football is something I've been wanting from Arsenal, what I believe is the best form of football in the whole world, presently. Klopp's pressing philosophy is promising, but at the moment dynamic wingers are king.

Possession football is dead. Bayern Munich proved it last year and Real Madrid proved it this year.

Bayern oriented their game around Ribery and Robben under Heynecks, trashed Barcelona (a possession-oriented team) and won the CL. Guardiola took over Jupp, gave possession football more preference by buying Gotze and Alcantra, and got trashed 5-0 by Real, a team that have strength concentrated on their wings. Real won the CL yesterday, what does that tell you?

Wenger is insistent on possession football, another factor in Arsenal's constant underwhelming in the EPL. He seems to have forgotten the importance of Pires and Ljungberg 10 years ago.

Instead of playing the striker game, buying a monster winger and calculated potential up front might be better. I won't say no to both, really, I just feel that buying a winger might be more productive. Cesc, in addition, would be a welcome bonus and would put a dent in van Gaal's plans. And isn't that all we want?


Elsewhere, Arsenal's released list is out, confirming departures of Bendtner and Park. Unlike many, I am sad to see Bendtner depart, not because I feel he was integral to our system, but because I had an unusual attachment to him. You can read more of my weird thoughts here. For now, I genuinely wish him well.

Park Chu Young's departure, along with Bendtner, means we have only two strikers at the club - Giroud and Yaya Sanogo. Both have their qualities, but let's face it, not enough to propel Arsenal to major trophies. A striker is a must now.

After PSG spunked cash on Luiz, they'd be looking to cover up the losses. I think you see what I'm hinting at.

Right, that's that. Have a good one, Gooners.

P.S. Whatever happened to Wenger's contract?

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Arsenal 3-2 Hull (aet): Hands down, best moment of my life

Finally, it’s come to an end.

Eight years, eleven months and 25 days. Filled with misery, compounded with false hopes. At a time when millions had stopped daring to dream, only to perk up their hopes again when we went to Wembley on the 17th, it seemed like the cycle was set to continue. 10 minutes in, Arsenal were trailing 2-0 to Hull City, fortunate to not be three down but for some fantastic work by Gibbs.

Disaster awaited, but was delayed by a superb Cazorla free-kick. He may have had a disappointing season, but that goal would undoubtedly be a high-point of his professional footballing career. It brought us back into the game, and more importantly, provided the fanbase with what they had craved for all these nine years – genuine optimism and belief.

The half wore on, then ended. The second half began, yet we didn’t look like getting the leveller. Familiar frustrations creeped up – Ozil wasn’t up to the mark, Podolski was anonymous, Giroud frustrating millions around the globe, Wenger facepalming on the touchline.

I won’t lie, at that point, everything seemed lost to me. I didn’t believe anything could happen unless we brought on Rosicky or Wilshere from the bench.

And then Yaya Sanogo, a guy who has never scored a goal for the club, came on for our third top goalscorer of the season, Lukas Podolski. Arsene, desperate to restore parity in a monumental encounter, reverted to a 4-4-2 of ten years ago, one that had proven effectual against Wigan. And then, incredibly, we saw change.

My heart went out to Yaya Sanogo. The guy has never scored a goal for the club, but I like him because he tries. I have never shown any hatred towards the guy, I just felt that it was unfair of Wenger to heap so much pressure on him by making him second choice to Giroud. Be that as it may, Sanogo put in a remarkable shift and swung the pendulum of momentum in our favour.

Koscielny bundled in a corner at the 60th minute mark, reminiscent of his goals on the last three St. Totteringham Day’s. At last parity was restored, tensions were cooled, and Gooners around the globe began to believe.

We could have been spared extra-time tortures had Gibbs not blasted a sitter over the bar. Had all not ended well, the guy’s confidence could have presently been in tatters. Yet one more incentive to take the trophy home was created. Pressure mounted.

And it mounted even more when the ref blew the final whistle, signaling the beginning of thirty added minutes. If people were shitting their pants over extra-time against Wigan, there’s no imagining their state then.

Honestly, we ought to have wrapped up the game early. Ramsey was clearly motivated to be the hero of the occasion, but was finding difficulty in getting his shooting across. A fine ball by him was nodded onto the crossbar by Giroud. Considering his height, Giroud really should do better in the air.

The moment did arrive, though. It took its sweet time, and that’s probably what made the moment sweeter. Seven minutes away from penalties, Giroud backheeled the ball to the onrushing Rambo, and the Welshman capped off a dramatic season by almost deflecting the ball into the net. That’s two screamers in the space of two games for him. 

When you need a goal, you need Aaron Ramsey.

When the final whistle blew, not before some Almunia antics from Fabianski, along with it brought tears of joy and intense relief. The wait was over, the monkey was lifted, and the team were, for the first time in a good part of a decade, winners. At last, since spaghetti knows when, belief was repaid.

THIS is what football is all about, I can't believe I have to point it out. It’s not about passing off bank balances, stadiums and Champions League qualifications as trophies. It’s about actually going out there and winning silverware, triumphing in the face of adversity and ridicule and returning something to the fans. I genuinely loathe people who think ‘practically’ in football, asserting that there are more important things than trophies. I think the wildness of the celebrations on the 17th proved them wrong. As long as you win trophies, nothing else matters, really.

Hands down, seeing my beloved Arsenal of eight years win their first trophy ever under my gaze, was the best moment of my life. My personal, non-Arsenal life has been on a high for the past year, so seeing them top my present state by first buying Ozil, and then, winning the cup, has brought my life to its ultimate peak.

Amidst all this, I am a bit puzzled. While winning the FA Cup was undoubtedly the best moment of my life, a small part of me felt that it would feel better. I don’t know why, but I didn’t feel the joy that I thought I would. Maybe because it’s tainted by the fact that it seals Wenger’s future at Arsenal, or because I know that the summer to follow is going to be an embarrassment, but I really felt that winning the cup would have signaled greater euphoria from me.

However, even though my opinions on Wenger will not dwindle, I felt happy to see him lift the trophy. I wouldn’t say he deserved it, given all the rash decisions he made during the past decade. However, even though my mind hates him, my heart loves him. It felt great watching him lift the trophy and end the wait. And let’s face it, the day we won the FA Cup was a day for the heart.

I’m an emotionless, stone faced guy, but football is a place where my emotions tend to leak out. No, I don’t believe that winning the cup will be the beginning of our glory days, nor do I believe that it will transform Wenger for the better. However, for once, I’m not worrying about the future and instead, focusing on the present.

And the present, as Freddy Ljungberg would call it, is fucking excellent.

We won the cup. Lap it up.

P.S. Apologies for the late review, internet was down for the last four days. Time to see what other surprises Brangled Minds, Twitter and Sky sources have in store for me.

Whew, what a week.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )