Sagna confidence great news for Arsenal title hopes!

Following on from the disappointing 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, Arsenal fans were left questioning whether their team was beginning to do what was seen to be the inevitable by some critics, and fall down the Premier League table.

Of course the majority of Arsenal fans are still optimistic and confident that Arsenal will go on to win something this season, after seeing the way that we have played so far this campaign, however what a lot of people forget is that football can change in an instant and that’s exactly why most supporters of ‘the beautiful game’ see Arsenal as outsiders to possibly challenge for a trophy.

I must admit that I am still fairly cautious at the moment towards what I should expect from the Gunners this season because with all honesty I still think we are a little bit short in terms of a quality squad and we certainly lack in the confidence when it comes to the long haul campaign, so unfortunately I think we could fall at a hurdle during some part of the season. But what matters most right now is that going into the international break, the team remains confident in itself and believes in what we can achieve, because if we believe then the likelihood of achieving grows to a far greater extent.

We ended the run in before the international break with disappointment, though. Manchester United away was always going to be a difficult game and despite their position in the table, as always it was going to be a tough test for the Gunners. For the first time in years however, we arguably matched their quality and weren’t ‘beaten in the tunnel’, lining up with a few world class players ourselves. But even then it wasn’t quite enough and we bowed out of the game of two halves with no points to our name.

Defender Bacary Sagna was one of the high performers in the game against United, playing several key crosses as well as keeping his defensive duties very well. The Frenchman is now one of the club’s most experienced players both in terms of how long he has been with the club as well as at the age of 29, he has the experience and leadership qualities to be respected on the pitch. But it’s off the pitch in which he does the most talking and Sagna said after the United game:

‘We wanted to finish [the week] on a good note, we didn’t, so it’s a bit hard to take. That is football; I think we learn about our team, about football as well. But I want to think positive, I want to keep looking forward, I want to think we are first and we want to stay first. The best way to do it is to respond well on the next game. Now we are going into the international week and we are going to be ready to start again from the Southampton game.’

Arsenal definitely need to get a response against Southampton when club football returns to Europe because if we fail to obtain all three points in that game, we could see our already slender lead drop even further, possibly to the extent where we lose first place. Under normal circumstances, Southampton would seem like a relatively easy game; however with the Saints high up the table in the Champions League positions on 22 points, Arsenal will need to watch their backs and this again will prove to be yet another tricky test for the Gunners!

Arsenal’s win over Marseille doesn’t inspire confidence in Group Stages

Last night Arsenal secured their first Champions League win over the season in the group stage, with a very pleasing 2-1 victory over Marseille in France. The highly anticipated game proved to be one of very little excitement with the mood being more frustration than anything; however in the end the result proved to be an effective result for the Gunners in which we can take away confidence into our next game.

Arsenal are currently on a long running win streak away from home, which has broken new club records, and if it hadn’t have been for that disastrous result against Aston Villa then even more records may have been broken. Arsenal started their fine form at the end of last season as they pushed on for 4th spot and then a Champions League position and then despite the summer break we have returned exactly the way we had left off and our first real statement of the season came in the Champions League qualification round against Fenerbahce.

A 5-0 win over the course of two legs brought us into the Champions’ League group stages for the 17th consecutive year, however we were drawn one of our toughest tests of recent years as we were paired alongside Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and of course Marseille.

Many stated that Marseille would be by far the easiest team to come up against in that group and luckily we managed to get all three points in France.

But despite the score line, the game was anything but comfortable and I genuinely fear for our Champions League hopes this season, if that’s how we plan on facing Napoli and Dortmund.

Both of those latter teams have a lot more class amongst their team than Marseille do and both could easily upset Arsenal. Although we secured the three points last night, I couldn’t help but notice that on numerous occasions they could have easily taken the win off us. We didn’t necessarily deserve our lead for a lot of the game and I think the way we played would not only be outclassed massively by the likes of Barcelona or Bayern Munich, but even by Dortmund and Napoli, who in their own respect are fantastic sides.

I don’t know whether we should be concerned about that performance or whether it’s just a blip in the pipeline but I for one must admit I am fearful of when we come up against the other teams in our group. Of course I will have confidence in my team and support them along the way but in terms of footballing ability and potential, we can play a lot better than we did last night.

Wenger backs Giroud to star for Arsenal this season

It was great to see Arsenal smashing seven goals without reply past the Indonesia Dream Team yesterday, even though it was a meaningless friendly. Arsene Wenger was obviously pleased with the Gunners performance, and the Frenchman was especially satisfied with his big French striker Olivier Giroud, who took his two goals brillianyly and looked much better than he did last season.

Wenger said, “I like Olivier very much. He scored 17 goals in his first year in England when he needed to adapt, and I’m sure he will be even stronger next season.”

I hope that Wenger does not use this as a reason to stop trying to sign another top class striker, and I’m sure he won’t, but it will be great to have a choice of two prolific centre forwards. Giroud was obviously delighted to get on the score sheet and this will help his confidence no end, a vital part of any successful striker’s make up.

The French forward told Arsenal player, “I’m happy to play again. It’s always good for a striker to score really early.

“It’s a friendly game, but when you can `kill` the keeper, you have to do it when you are a striker. You have to have the striker spirit.”

His finishing was the only thing missing from his game last season really, but that did affect his confidence. If he starts well this season, then we could soon be saying that Wenger has worked his magic again, after paying less than £10 million for him last summer.

It was just a friendly against fairly poor opposition, but it was a good way to start pre-season. Keep it up Olly.

Arsenal’s Bendtner finally sets his sights lower than Barcelona!

Nicklas Bendtner is sure to be amongst one of the players the majority of Arsenal fans want to see the back of this summer and it looks as if we may soon get our wish, with several media outlets, including the reliable Sky Sports reporting that Arsenal have agreed fees with several clubs for the Denmark international.

Bendtner himself recently stated that he had six clubs across Europe interested in his services and it seems as if he isn’t lying; with three of those clubs reportedly agree respective fees with the Gunners. Bendtner himself has stated; “I will make that choice within the next 14 days. They are all good clubs. It is a hugely important choice I’m faced with. I must go where I am wanted. As a footballer, there is only one thing that can make you happy: playing time.”

It’s understood that the three clubs are Borussia Monchengladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt and Besiktas, and the reported agreed fee for the player is in the area of around £3 million. Not the best looking transfer fee but Arsenal had to result down to such a low asking price to get the player off the books. What is good in terms of finances however is the fact that Bendtner’s sale will free around £45,000 off the weekly wage bill which can now be reinvested into incoming players. This means that so far around £200,000 has already been freed up in terms of wages.

Lastly it’s not as if it’s unusual for Bendtner to have a dig at a football club and Arsenal have witnessed it many times, which is one of the main reasons to why Bendtner is disliked by Arsenal fans, but now he’s probably gone an angered the fans of his potential new team by practically calling them ‘small clubs’.

Bendtner said; “Will it be good for me to go to a big club where I risk the bench? No, I’d rather go somewhere where the club is located just below the top where I can play every week, I can take a step back to take three forward.”

No doubt this will get some fans fired up and he may have an rather unpleasant welcoming, let’s just hope for our sake that the 25 year old’s comments don’t jeopardise any deal already in place.

Wenger – Arsenal are enjoying the pressure!

Arsenal have fought back from a seven-point deficit behind Tottenham to end up going into the final match of the season with a one-point advantage, needing just one more win to secure their accustomed place in the Champions League next season.

Obviously they are under extreme pressure to get another three points at Newcastle this afternoon, but Wenger is happy to be in this position especially if you consider the alternative!

“The pressure is big, of course,” said Wenger. “But I always said the worst, in my job, is to play games without any pressure.

“Sometimes you think it would be nice to have a game with no pressure, but when you have one you think `let’s get it back, it’s so boring`.

“What would be terrible would be to Newcastle and have nothing at stake for us. We have what we wanted so let’s just finish the job.”

Considering the rollercoaster season Arsenal have had up til now it is great to have something to play for in this last game, but I would rather we were one point ahead of Man United at the top of the League instead. This is what we must be aiming for next season.

Finish the job today Arsenal, and lets start looking forward to next season with confidence.

Wenger – Aaron Ramsey is just going through a bad patch! Really???

The young Welsh captain Aaron Ramsey came back from a horrific injury last year and all Arsenal fans feel sorry for the way his development was so cruelly interrupted, but his performances this season have simply highlighted his need for some psychological training to regain his former confidence.

I fully understand Arsene Wenger thinking that the Arsenal midfielder needs some game-time to help him regain his former glory, but I question why Wenger continues to put him in the starting line-up in games that are simply must-win games for the Gunners.

Yesterday he made some wild tackles, and missed a couple of chances at open goals, which was fairly predictable given his recent form, but Wenger yet again defended him after the game.

Wenger said: “He was unlucky with the first booking, it was a good tackle. It is part of learning your job, you have to deal with all kinds of situations and he will do that. He is very strong mentally and is going through a difficult period at the moment. But he will come off that stronger.”

So that tells me that Wenger is well aware of Ramsey’s problems, but still he decided to start him ahead of the promising Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, in fact the newest Arsenal star must be seriously wondering why he is on the bench while Ramsey blunders his way through every game.

So why is Wenger persisting with a player that is so obviously out-of-form in such important matches?

Gervinho – Every game is tough for me..

The Arsenal winger Gervinho has admitted that he hasn’t been playing to the best of his ability since he joined the Gunners last summer, and although most people say that it always takes a year for foreign players to bed in at the Permiership he doesn’t think that next season will get any easier.

“I am happy about my first season but I know I can do better,” Gervinho said. “I have scored and given assists but I also created a few chances that I missed. If I had been more efficient, it would have been even better.

“I need to work hard at training to become more clinical in front of goal. I’m not worried though.

“People say that the second season is always better for a foreign player but I don’t think it will be much easier.

“Every game is tough for me because the level of competition is so high in the Premier League, and every time you have to be at your best.”

Personally I think that Gervinho was impressive when he first arrived (like Chamakh?) but he just lacked that confidence to take his goalscoring chances, and the longer that goes on the harder it gets (like Chamakh?).

I am sure with a steady run in the Arsenal first team and the confidence of his team-mates he can only be better next season. The most annoying thing about him is that there will be ANOTHER African Cup of Nations next season.

Arteta – All the players have confidence in Wenger (and the fans should too!)

Arsenal fans made their displeasure known to Arsene Wenger during and after the defeat by Man Utd on Sunday, but since then quite a few Arsenal players have made statements in support of their manager.

Robin Van Persie apologised to Wenger for questioning Wenger’s judgement when he brought on Andrei Arshavin for The Ox, and the latest one to call for the Arsenal fans to support Wenger is the Spaniard Mikel Arteta, who is also adamant that all the players are right behind him.

Arteta said: “All the players are supportive of Wenger — there are no divisions.

“When we’ve had bad results the fans get upset with the manager but that’s normal in football.

“Wenger has done so much for the club that he deserves the confidence of the fans.”

No-one is questioning how much Wenger has done for Arsenal in the past, but the debate now concerns whether the Frenchman still has the ability (or the resources) to return the Gunners to their former glory. We can’t carry on living on past successes for ever…..

***Jack Wilshere singing Usher whilst driving! (viral video)***

Wenger tells Szczesny that confidence is not enough!

The young Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is not short on confidence, in fact the size of his ego could probably rival even Nicolas Bendtner’s! But Arsene Wenger has advised the Polish international that he needs to keep his feet on the ground and keep his focus.

The last time Szczesny faced Man Utd he conceded a massive eight goals and although Wenger doesn’t believe he was at fault for any of them, he dosn’t think that it would affect his confidence even if he was.

“It is good that he has confidence – you feel that when he stands in goal. But as well it is a good mixture between confidence and concentration,” Wenger said.

“I believe a goalkeeper needs an aggressive focus. When I say that I mean a concentration that is ready to fight. If you lose that then you are always in trouble because you need to be so sharp in every reaction you show.

“If you lose a little bit of that committed focus then you are caught. You touch the ball but you don’t save it, and for that you need the right mixture between confidence and focus.”

“Life teaches you things; that you always have to be focused, that when you are younger you think too quickly that you have made it. It’s something to prove every day.”

“That’s why it is important to analyse people well. Confidence is a massive quality he has but you have to manage it well without losing your focus.”

What we need from Szczesny is a Man of the Match performance tomorrow and a reversal of August’s result, and we want to see Wenger praising Szczesny unconditionally after the game!

Mertesacker – We lose our confidence a little bit

Arsenal’s centre defender Per Mertesacker offered an interview for the club’s official website regarding his stay at Arsenal so far. According to the massive German all Arsenal needs in order to regain full form is more time, and he thinks they are heading in the right direction.

“I had to adapt very quickly. It has not been so easy but every game helps me and helps the team to get up to the next level. It is important to improve the performances. It is getting there slowly but I am very happy to be a part of Arsenal.”

“We lose our confidence a little bit. We have a team which has new players in three or four positions and I think we have to take our time. “

“But if we are coming back like this then I think our confidence will increase.”

“Confidence is the most important thing. If you look at the second half there was a little bit of nervousness but we were confident, created chances and they were forced into a lot of faults around the box. It takes time to score a goal. We are very happy.”

“We have won every game at Emirates Stadium since I have been here. That is a good thing; for the confidence and for everybody and we have to go on.”

Although Arsenal did indeed win every game played on the Emirates since Mertesacker was brought in, Arsene Wenger still has a lot of work to do with his team. The Gunners are now in the 10th position in the league ranking and they have a lot of catching up to do if they want to have any chance at a Big Four finish. The late departures of Nasri and Fabregas ruined Wenger’s plans for this season and now he is forced to improvise as the season unravels, at least until January when he will be able to transfer new players.