Date:Saturday October 27 2007
Pre-Quarter Forecast: As we all know, most of the media thought that this was the year we were finally going to be pushed out of the top 4, with most tipping Sp*rs to be the ones to do so.
We had no depth, had signed too few players and had lost our talismanic striker. The apocalypse had been called down on Arsenal`s fortunes, according to most.
I have to admit that I felt frustrated by our lack of signings myself and thought that we would be proven to be too light in depth and that we would pay the price for playing too many young players out of their normal positions.
Many Gooners felt the same as I and only the die hard, seriously well informed or the completely rose-tinted felt we had enough to mount a full-on title challenge.
Results: Our campaign warm ups provided us with some idea of how we were going to go about our football this term, resulting in not just pre-season silverware but compliments on our style of play, comfortably beating the likes of PSG, Inter, Lazio and Ajax, with RVP in particularly good form.
Once the season proper started, we had an early scare against Fulham with a Mistake from Mad Jens, but went on to beat them quite comfortably. A Win against Sparta followed before another bad error from Jens gave Blackburn a point against us.
Man City took a while to break down, but break them down we did and with Almunia in goal we looked a lot more assured at the back.
Stylish wins against Sparta again and Portsmouth came next and people starting talking about the "boys" at Arsenal who were playing sublime pass and move football and actually finishing teams off. ManUre and Chavs started getting worried and their players started learning how to string sentences together so that they could try to put us down in the media, to try and gain some kind of advantage.
Next came Spuds "our first real test" said the whole of the MOTD team and other wank*rs (which is what they said before the Man C game btw) and our players not only played them off the park but made them look exactly what they are. Ordinary.
Seville were supposed to be able to give us a good run for our money but ended up running around like headless chickens trying to catch our players, or even the ball. The Spaniards ended up being taught a lesson although they won our sympathy.
Derby were bewildered by our free-flowing football and were glad they only lost 5-0, then Newcastle were brushed aside. Bring on the "bogey team"!
WHU came next and had to move away from their traditional attractive football to try become Bolton thugs to kick us off the park. They may have left a few bruises (how Hleb`s leg didn`t break I don`t know) but went away with a 2-0 spanking. The last team to win at Highbury and the first team to win at the Emirates were sent packing.
Steaua came next and a slightly tired looking display helped us walk away with a 1-0 win.
Sunderland felt the force of our game for an hour before we let our concentration lapse and allow them back in the game. Last season we may well have gone on to concede the equaliser but the team have learnt from last year and held out for a fairly comfortable win in the end.
Bolton could have saved themselves the travelling by just forfeiting the game, they knew they were going to lose, but the fought bravely (well, they fought) to keep it down to 2-0.
Our last game of Q1 brought Sparta to the Emirates and the now infamous "Harlem Globetrotters" game that our team showed to the world. 7 fantastic goals, and without RVP too! What a game to end the quarter on.
Personnel: Our players this season have shown that they have matured from boys to men almost overnight and are currently killing off the teams that would have snuck points off us last season. Key personnel have been:
Lehmann - His blunders in the early season games cost him, first in injuries and more recently with his place. He is mouthing off all over the place, if reports are to believed, it seems that the writing is on the wall for Mad Jens with few Arsenal fans sad to hear he might go. Whether it is the January transfer window or whether he makes one last fight to reclaim his place back before the end of the season, he is certain to go next Summer.
Almunia - He has done admirably after coming in for Jens and has been competent throughout. This writer still feels that he hasn`t quite proven himself yet and he will have to be on the top of his game from here on in.
Sagna - What an acquisition! AW has gone out and bought a very young player, whom nobody really knows much about and who had not at the time broken in the French team, straight away he slots in as if he has been there all his life. A sure bet for Right Back slot of the PL team of the season.
Toure - Our General has been magnificent as usual. OK, he may not fare as well in the air as taller players but his brains and pace have saved us on more than one occasion. A rock.
Gallas - Started the season ok and looked to be getting into his stride before injury cut his first team appearances short. Let`s hope that was his 1 and only injury for this season.
Senderos - Stepped in and replaced Gallas with little fuss. Had a few awkward moments during games but overall has been dependable.
Clichy - What a great player and person. Gael has been tough both on and off the pitch with excellent marauding displays for us backed up by well chosen words of encouragement for fans and team mates alike in the press. If he can learn how to cross he would be the best Left Back in the world.
Eboue - Has looked out of place in his new wingers role. His potential from last season, when as an attacking right back, he tormented many defences has not yet come to the fore and his chance may be limited this season whilst he learns his new position.
Gilberto - Had a gruelling summer after a gruelling PL campaign and Le Boss has chosen to give him time to recuperate at the start of this season. He has been used sporadically as a CB or DM so far and has always given us 100% in either role, albeit he looked jaded. I expect to see much more of him towards the end of the season.
Flamini - Has been a revelation. From deciding he needed to move on, he sat down with AW and was promised a more important role in the squad. AW came through with the promise, using Flamini`s desire to play to give Bert a well needed and play him in his favoured role. Will play a huge part in anything we win this season whether that it is DM, CM, RB, LB or any other position. A true utility man who is playing his best football right now. Great partnership with Cesc and long may it continue.
Fabregas: As we expect, Cesc has played like a footballing god so far this season. This almost flawless performer has perfected his art by scoring more goals and I think he is now the most complete footballer on the planet. Nuff said.
Hleb - This guy never ceases to amaze me. He trickery makes you think he has super-glued the ball to his foot and he has turned so many players inside out that they have had to install turnstiles in the away dressing room just to unwind them. Looks better on the left than on the right and again we have a great footballer in our midst. If he can weigh in with a few more goals then we definitely have our Pires replacement.
Rosicky - Has had an up and down season with injuries and his performances have fluctuated. I am looking forward to seeing a fully fit Tommy Gun playing a few games on the trot. He has the potential to take the league by storm this season.
Diaby - I personally cannot see how he could be a left sided midfielder, but then we don`t exactly play wingers do we. He has got better and better with each game and has some shot on him! Another top quality young utility player signed for a pittance, well done AW!
Eduardo - The jury is still out on the Croazillian. He is obviously a class player but whether he can cut it in the PL has yet to be proven. With more games and confidence we should see him start to shine. If anyone can make him a world beater, Wenger can.
Adebayor - If this guy could perform at the top of his game for 90 minutes at a time he would end up scoring 146 goals this season. Shows flashes of pure brilliance and always has a hatful of chances every game but then sometimes misses the easiest of chances.
Better than the other way around and at his age I think we have a huge prospect in him.
Walcott - Hasn`t played a huge amount but when he has he has caught the eye. It seems that AW is ready to take a chance on him up front and this paid off in midweek where he could and should have had a hat-trick. With RVP out for a few games, perhaps now is the time of young Theo to make his mark.
RVP - A huge blow for us when he picked up this injury with the Dutch squad. Had a slow start to the season but got better with each game and his class is evident. Lets hope he has a little rest now and comes back stronger and completely fit.
Investment: With the investment in the new stadium bearing rich fruit and a transfer profit of around £9M we are in very good shape financially. The sale of the Highbury flats will help us reduce our loans and we are on course to exceed all expectations.
We had been listed as the Premierships richest club but I think the figures had been somewhat massaged and it sent out the wrong message. It`s not far off though!
Board of Directors: Well our board have had a lot to deal with over the last year or so. Investment from Kronke, Dein being escorted from the building and now a Russian buying up dead peoples shares. I originally thought we would have to take the investment from these people if we wanted to compete, but thanks to some research and some education from Vital members I have come to the conclusion that whilst I think it is inevitable, it doesn`t need to happen any time soon.
I hope the board sticks with their current stance and that the outside influences do not cause any further disruptions.
Q2 forecast: Q2 starts off with a game against Liverpool at Anfield, followed by a home game against Manchester Utd and I feel that these two games could be key to kicking us through this quarter and past the Christmas rush hour to keep our top spot.
I think that we would all accept two draws in these games, with us continuing to beat the rest week in week out. If so our unbeaten run would have a real chance of gaining momentum. However there is no reason for us not to take 4 or even 6 points from these games and we all eagerly await the results.
The future is bright. The future is red and white.
Date:Saturday October 27 2007
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