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Freedom For The Few

Santi Cazorla's footballing profile has taken a leap upwards since joining the club this summer. Quite rightly too given the obvious talent now being freely expressed. There can't be too many players happy to take corners with his right foot but equally confident in taking such a venomous shot with this left in scoring, from outside the area, this weekend.

An interview Fabregas gave last year caught my attention because a sentiment he expressed echoed those of another Arsenal refugee that had preceded him to the City of Barcelona.

'I've learned a lot tactically, personally,' Cesc claimed at the time 'I know my position on the pitch a lot more. Before I was free to do whatever on the pitch at Arsenal, and I wasn't tactically good. I was playing wherever I wanted, up and down. Here I have to work much more for the team, individually, and think about the team tactically.'

At the time it sounded as though he'd lacked something in his Arsenal education but thinking back I recall, in his early days, Cesc playing in different midfield areas. Out on the right on occasions and further forward or deeper lying depending on the needs as he has himself acknowledged. If he wasn't tactically aware then it was his own fault - or perhaps just too early in his footballing education.

Thierry Henry said something similar after joining the Catalan club 'Barcelona have a well-grounded game plan where you have to respect certain rules. When you play on the wing, you have to stay there to open the game up and wait for the ball. It is like that here. You must accept it.'

Effectively he was acknowledging that he had forsaken the free role he had been given at Arsenal which had used his gifts so successfully for the team role at Barcelona.

You can find the same conflicts at Arsenal as Walcott's contract wrangling supposedly highlights but Santi Carloza relishes the freedom he now enjoys in what, for a time at least, was Cesc's role:

'They paid a lot of money for me and the role they have given me is the one that I like. I am not finding it hard to adapt. I like the way the team plays,' our new Spanish recruit says. 'Wenger's philosophy is to have control of the game and I like being in contact with the ball. The boss is putting me in a position behind the striker with all the freedom that I like to have. I had practically always played on the wing with freedom to come inside. Wenger put me straight into the position off the striker. He does it so we gain more possession.'

An earlier recruit Arshavin, while admitting that he was 'baffled' by having to play a more defined role, perhaps regretted the restrictions on his game. 'The year and a half in England has significantly changed me,' Arshavin said a couple of seasons back. 'I became calmer, more professional and spend more time with my family. As for football I can say that my style has also altered - it is more effective, but less sparkling.'

Those wondering whether Cesc was in some way criticising the coaching at Arsenal will understand that the free role also exists at Barca but, in the current team, that's for Messi. Maybe there's a tinge of regret among the acceptance of his more junior role in Cesc's explanation 'Now, my team-mates are more experienced than me and I trust them - they have told me to be calm, to stay in my position.'

A successful team needs a blend of abilities and qualities but the highest profile is for those individuals blessed with the talents and the responsibility to play the role many would want to play but few can.




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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday October 8 2012

Time: 9:17AM

Your Comments

Cazorla is a 30m type player that we've managed to sign for 15m, absolutely outstanding talent. Walcott at the weekend only reinforced my view that his best position is coming off from the right, and running into the space/exploiting the high line, people that think his goal on Sat helps to reinforce his "i'm a striker" view I think are wide of the mark, if he was playing up top he wouldn't have scored that. Giroud was quality, again. Give him more game time Arsene.
shewore
Can't wait to see Jack and Santi play togather. Agree with you shewore that TW's best position is on the flanks, he will score from there and create lots of goals for the others. Giraud is a class player that will get us 20 + goals this season if he gets the playing time.
Armory
I will put both Cesc's and Henry's comments (at the time) to responses given with a tinge of regret at what they are missing. It may have been intended to come across as a criticism of the style at Arsenal but the underlying emotion is a sense of irrecoverable desire. Who won't like to have a free role and be the orchestra master at a big team as Arsenal? Cazorla deserves the role and can only get better for us. If Diaby can keep his fitness, we would have an awesome trio to pick from, for the role of box-to-box midfield pairing with Cazorla: Jack, Ramsey and Diaby.
Naijagunner
Assuming Jack works his way back into the starting line-up, we could conceivably start 6 left-footed players at the same time (Verm, Gibbs, Jack, Poldi, Giroud, and the freakishly dual-footed Cazorla). I don't know if statistics are kept for such a thing, but starting 6 left-footed outfield players out of 10 has got to be pretty rare for any team.
Arsene_Wonder
in Arsenal's setup, any above average player will revel in the 'free role' just behind the main forward as he doesnt really have any of the negative 'chores' to worry about.. Cazorla has looked good, but I'm not sure the team overall hugely benefits. the Offence looks stale at times and its easy for good results against smaller teams to disguise this fact. I'm not sure now that Arsenal will be in the Top4... the winter month's will expose this Cazorla-centric Offence to be a false-dawn, tho' I realise it's hard for many to see that now.
Viyyash-Ramosh
I don't know, Viyyash... I could see that happening, just don't believe it will. We have Santi doing that job, and doing it well; in some games he'll be marked tightly, making space for others; other games/months he'll be out of form. That's when we bring someone else into that role. Someone who too is 'above average' - like Andrei Arshavin, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby...
damiano_tommassi
Rather than looking stale our offence looks rather too fresh at present. Only Walcott and Gervinho of the front forward players have played together before this season and even then not all that often. The 'third' midfielder isn't yet settled either. I think a little more time should pass before claiming our attack is stale. It hasn't really yet settled down at all.
Amos.
most of the better teams have players yet to settle down too... I don't think its that important about this '3rd midfielder', but without Diaby, I do feel the balance in midfield isnt nearly as good (even with Coquelin)... I hope Arsenal dont end up swapping 1 demigogue on the pitch for another now that RvP is gone.
Viyyash-Ramosh
I'm not sure that so many other teams have rebuilt their forward lines to the extent that we have but in any case it still doesn't validate any claim that our offence looks stale. Nor that our team is really 'Cazorla centric'. Our first two goals this weekend were created by players other than Cazorla. It's clear that he is very influential in getting others to play but not more so than Arteta though his role is a little different. as the '3rd midfielder' Diaby brings the physical power (when he's physically fit) in midfield that we otherwise don't have but there are other options that can bring energy as an alternative.
Amos.
Well, time will tell, but I think he has the ability to dominate a top team - but if they all do a number on him like Chelsea did then we're going to have to alter our game plan a bit, which Arsenal don't tend to do
shewore
If you look at the stats it's hard to claim that Chelsea successfully 'did a number' on him. Especially as their own midfield were barely able to create much themselves (their goals coming from set pieces) so at the very least he must have kept them occupied which still didn't prevent us scoring from open play. The only alteration needed to the game plan employed against Chelsea is to defend set pieces a little better.
Amos.
How many attempts on target or goal scoring opportunities did he set up? They're the stats that would matter in his role in the team.
shewore
According to the stats he created 4 goal attempts but I'm not sure that's all that matters. He clearly keeps possession well, always looks to play forward, moves play quickly, creates space for others, can go past people and shoot, pass and crosses with either foot. It's all about the balance of midfield and getting other players to play. Whatever criticisms might fairly be levelled at us for the Chelsea game we weren't outplayed in midfield.
Amos.
Mate i'm not saying he can't do all of those things, I only remember a couple of real chances against Chelsea and the one that sticks out is Giroud's miss, which was set up by Chamberlain. He was subdued against them, they defended really well from the front and from the 2 they placed in front of the defence
shewore
negated a lot of our midfield, and by extension Cazorla's threat. We didn't really look that dangerous and a lot of that I put down to Di Matteo's tactics.
shewore
Sure they sacrificed their midfield creativity to try to stifle ours so it's hardly surprising that our midfield found it hard going but Cazorla coped well enough. Even if our whole midfield didn't achieve as much as we would have hoped for we still had more goal attempts, more on target, more possession and scored the only goal from open play. Cazorla was a big part of that. As I said at the time, on their performances in this game you wouldn't swap Cazorla or Arteta for any two of their midfielders. Maybe Di Matteo's tactics were to score two soft goals from set pieces but if so he was taking a bit of a chance in relying on them. In reality his tactics were designed just to win a point - and what they did they did very well - but they won because we messed up not perhaps they outplayed us.
Amos.
In terms of altering the game plan, if Cazorla is being marked out of the game, that is what Giroud offers. Even him dropping a bit deeper to hold the ball up so Poldi, Cazorla etc. can overlap...as we saw with Walcotts goal.
No 10
I agree with shewore on this.... its great that Cazorla has been very influential in the team but my worry is that this is a double-edged sword..... too much emphasis on Cazorla will incline players to go 'thru him' too much and could make the play predictable (especiallly when not leading games)....it could make for easier stiflying tactics to be deployed (Chavs game?).... with Diaby in the team from the 1st game vs. Sunderland, Cazorla was dragging his marker away , Diaby iunterchanged well into the 'hole' and it worked v.well.... without Diaby providing the midfield physicality AND this ability to thrust into the 2nd striker slot, it could be v.different.... I just dont 'feel' that goalgetting certainty when Arsenal attack, that comes thru with teams like Utd, Citeh and Chavs.... AW needs to be more gungho and grab games eg. Utd. 1st half at Newky... otherwise...
Viyyash-Ramosh
You claim to be agreeing and then go on to disagree. According to shewore Cazorla wasn't able to play an influential role in the Chelsea game because he was stifled (look a little closer at the key moments and that would view need to be revised) but you claim that there's a risk that too much of our play goes through him despite the fact that the majority of our goals are created by others. You need to better understand midfield play to appreciate what both Cazorla and Arteta are really contributing.
Amos.
Still struggling to remember Cazorla really having an impact on the Chelsea game.... i'm not talking about Denilson type stats where it's pass to 5 yards away. To be honest it sounds a bit bitter when you say Chelsea were lucky etc, they kept us at arm's length when they went 2-1 up, we were hardly creating chance after chance. Of course they were soft goals but on the balance of play we didn't deserve much from the game, although I know it's rare for you to admit such a thing :)
shewore
You just need a little less tunnel vision to see the pattern of the game and Cazorla's role in it. You've only focussed on the result - but that's standard practice for you to ;). I'm not alone in my view of the game. While not exactly unbiased (but no more biased than disappointed supporters) it seems Arteta sees it in much the same way “We have played probably against some of the best teams in the league and haven’t been battered or overplayed at all,” he said. “I think we’ve been better than Chelsea in the 90 minutes so that’s very positive."
Amos.
Someone who played for saying that don't make it so matey, what did Chelsea say "we were lucky, we didn't outplay them"? I was just a bit annoyed with the match, cos I know we can play better, it wasn't like the Mourinho years when they just knew how to play us all the time, we could've won this game, but I think Chelsea got it just right and got the right amount of luck to win the match. I expect us to beat Norwich - although this is Arsenal we're talking about, anything can happen - and then the next real test is Old Trafford, if the same thing happens again up there, i'll start groaning and think "here we go again"!
shewore
maybe the goalchances are created when the play is less predictably not going thru Cazorla, but Cazorla still influences the pattern of play overall the most... the 2 are not mutually exclusive.... I think after 2 months of the season we are getting a sense of which teams can change gear and get a goal when the pressure is on.... in the 40%+ of games when Arsenal dont get the 1st goal, they seem less likely to create good chances than other top teams.
Viyyash-Ramosh
I wonder if you give much thought to what you're posting Viyyash? So the chances of Arsenal creating the equaliser against City at the Etihad were less than other top teams then? Or even the equaliser before half time against Chelsea perhaps? Despite the loss there were also a few chances created in the second half against Chelsea too. Who would have thought we would have been able to create 3 goals after going one down at West Ham eh? That quick brace against the French champions in the CL must have been out of the blue too.
Amos.
Wet Spam are not a great yardstick but even if they were, 1 match here or there can be used to illustrate any perspective.. Overall, I think Arsenal are good when they lead in games but far more laboured than other top teams when behind... only time will tell which opinion is nearer the truth.. maybe Xmas..
Viyyash-Ramosh
You seem to be happy to have taken very few games to have formed your opinion so can have few complaints if the same criteria are used to dismiss it. I think last year we were 'comeback kings' but even on the few games played this season your opinion doesn't really hold much water. We have and can always create chances it's just a matter of whether we can keep from giving too many away.
Amos.
any team can create enough chances, if they take wantonly huge risks at the back.... the whole point is to create good quality chances without leaving the back door open. THAT is essentially what I mean by creating quality chances under pressure of being behind... not sure when Diaby is back, but I doubt the good results will be sustained without him.... you have other pl;ayers that can replace the hyped Cazorla eg. Jacque Wilshere, but the real main component of the team will not be so easily replaced.
Viyyash-Ramosh
It's plainly nonsense to suggest that you can create enough good chances simply by not defending. You wouldn't have the ball often enough to create many chances whether good or bad. A proper balance between both is the key component but for sure you won't create many if you only defend. I've already set out that we've always sort to create chances even when behind - not always as successfully as the 5 we put past the Spuds after going 2 behind last season - but we do continue to create such chances as I've illustrated. Wilshere isn't a replacement for Cazorla but he might be for Arteta one day. Rosicky would be back up for Cazorla in the current squad. As for Diaby, as commendable as your championing of his qualities is, it is really absurdly blinkered to describe him as anything like a main component. You really need to watch more football - but then you wouldn't be a spurs supporter if you did I guess.
Amos.
LOL the ole Spuds supporter knows nowt angle, with the 5-2 turnaround quoted eh (didnt Spurs come back to win from 0-2 down just a yr earlier?) ? almost Cazorla-centric in its predictability... in football you watch the teams and eventually get a sense of there overall strengths and weaknesses. with Arsenal I feel that if they take leads then the team has confidence and the game flows more freely, but when behind the team changes in the quality of patterns of play more than other top teams. this can be despite short-term results showing the opposite..Diaby is more important to the TEAM than Cazorla, tho being in the easy-street slot Cazorla will continue to get all the plaudits.
Viyyash-Ramosh
Reading your posts you're providing plenty of fuel for the 'spud supporter knows nowt angle'. Your issue is that Arsenal don't create many chances after going behind so the fact that other teams have done so doesn't help your argument at all. All teams gain confidence from going a goal ahead. You don't even have to watch football to reach such a hackneyed conclusion. Cazorla is getting the plaudits because the stats support those plaudits and because he has settled into the PL so quickly. Having done so he has the 2nd highest of attempts created, 5th most prolific passer (most prolific passer for someone playing as far forward), 4th in PL for most shots, has played most through balls as well as featuring very highly in numbers of dribbles and crosses. It's the facts that determine who currently more important, not ill- informed and under-supported subjective opinion.
Amos.
LOL x 2...... its interesting to note that all the Cazorla stats show how well the team maximises his chances to shine, but not the cost of doing so .......only the 'nice' bits to being a footballer in the 'Manager's Son' slot of 2nd striker... I think the team's heading the same way as last 2 season's now: in substituting Persie Utd for Cazorla Rovers, so what happens when teams just put a DM marker on him... not saying that you dont have the players to overcome such a challenge - but as a team overly reliant on a particular conduit, you just might
Viyyash-Ramosh
I reckon your LOL count is growing in proportion to your embarrassment - an increasingly nervous lol methinks. For you to claim that we're overly reliant on Cazorla you'd need to show that he created most of our goals. In fact, as influential as he is, he is only influential in a team sense rather than as an individual, which, of course, for knowledgeable observers is why he is earning the plaudits. In terms of influence Arteta ranks alongside him and, in terms of our ability to replace him, ahead of Cazorla. If you were to claim that we're overly reliant on Arteta for what he does for the team then I'd have to agree with you. In order for you to make that claim you'd only need to have some idea of what you're talking about.
Amos.
my LOLing is more to do with your constant assumption that 'influence' is only positive in nature. the 'Boss's son' could have much influence in a small business setting, but it doesnt necessarily follow that this 'influence' is overly productive nor that its not resented by the other workers.... it seems to me that the better chances that lead to goald stem from when the other workers leave the Boss's son well out of it...I think Arsenal are beginning to be overly-reliant on Cazorla in their playing patterns, even tho' other avenues evidently are more productive.... not unusual in cases where teams are subsumed into the sphere of just 1 player.... happened with Persie with some team 1 whole season ago.
Viyyash-Ramosh
Your assumption that I am constantly assuming that 'influence' is only positive in nature is just that - in itself just an assumption - and completely irrelevant to the point at issue. That Cazorla is a positive influence on the team play is clear to any observer - that we are are overly reliant on him, for the reasons given is absurd. All you are doing is reacting to press headlines and haven't given any thought to your assertions at all. Arsenal's playing patterns have not altered to accommodate Cazorla he has changed his position and playing style to suit the teams needs. He has simply been very good at doing so. If we were reliant on RvP last year (if he hadn't been scoring the goals someone else would have) then we were reliant on Fabregas before that and Henry or even Adebayor before then. We'll always have players grabbing headlines and winning plaudits but it's Arsenal that makes the players which is why Cazorla's profile has jumped since he joined the club and Cesc's, Adebayor's , Henry and others have generally waned since they left. We're not overly reliant on anyone (with the exception of Arteta at the moment). All our stars are simply replaced with other stars that we make.
Amos.
I agree with your last sentence.... as for Cesc, Henry and Ade, I'm not sure their 'waning' is due to not plkaying for Arsenal but for widely differring reasons of age, player pecking-order, etc... tho' not sure Ade has really waned even at Citeh he was producing goals/assists but I guess the 'experts' there wanted more bignames there instead he has matched his overall Arse level at Spuds last season and counting, IMO..... I had hoped with some expectation that Arsenal would challenge for the title this season, now (despite their impressive recent record) I dont sense that will now happen... mainly due to 'Cazorla et al', and fitness issues with Diaby.... I now think Spurs will finish above, due to AVB evolving his methods to suit the terrain at WHL. Spurs for 75% of the season were actually better, then had a disastrous season-end not in keeping with form and probably due to Arry rocking the boat with Engerland.. expect Spurs to be....sorry, stay.. ahead by Xmas
Viyyash-Ramosh
Haha! An early season spud giving it the large one about how they're finally going to excel this season - who would have thought it? - or next season maybe? - or the season after that perhaps? - after just one more change of manager? - when the year ends in one? Will they never learn just to keep quiet until the season is over? They wouldn't be spuds if they could I suppose.
Amos.
Haha hilarious, spuddie gets thoroughly spanked and humiliated in an argument so comes out with the classic line "we'll finish above you this season!". Good one spuddie, it never gets old, always guaranteed to give you a laugh.
bowiecokemirror
we both know that for the last season or so, the 2 clubs are virtually at the same level.... I respect Arsenal and AW's way of developing teams,pity you seem to lack the same foresight and/or sportsmanship.... Spuds will improve on current form now that Adebayor has returned and we dont have a structural flaw with a lack of an outball when closing out games.... I'm not sure Arsenal can improve as much, even to keep up
Viyyash-Ramosh
In Spuds minds the two teams have been virtually at the same level for years - except pre-season of course when the Spuds ultimate triumph is always certain. Each new manager, barely settled and a with any brief run of decent results, heralding a team without structural flaws whose dominance is assured. To borrow your rather prosaic language - it's all delusion-centric in its predictability. Any boasting is best done when the season's over.
Amos.
was I boasting ?.... did I not say that for the last year, not years, Spuds and Arse have been at the same level ?... I think that if Arse dont finish above Spuds this season, then there's a very real chance of AW leaving (which would be a pity) due to all the sheep taking the Usmanov line and the Media jumping all over it... should be interesting how the true fans react to this along with Dein and Stanley
Viyyash-Ramosh
You're following a well trodden Spud path in predicting superiority a few games into the season after a brief run of decent results (wasn't AVB's start to last season, as Chav's manager better still?) so it doesn't matter whether you made the same claims last year or the year before, you're still reverting to type now - sheeplike in fact. Wenger's contract expires in 2014. Despite your ill-founded prediction there's no chance that he will leave before then.
Amos.
What's a "true fan"?
shewore
my thinking that Spurs could well finish ahead of Arsenal stem from them being overtly superior for more than half of last season.... the sudden collapse in form was so pronounced it can be written off for the most part as due to externalities eg. Arry courting the FA via the Media and that causing waves in the Spurs setup leading to the drop in focus... I had my doubts that AVB could maintain the level but it seems that he has learnt not to impose a system but to evolve it as required (keeping Bale and Lennon out wide for longer, rather than his usual 4-3-3 pressing game is just 1 example of this...Arsenal maybe shouldnt feel too complacent about Spuds this year
Viyyash-Ramosh
Viyyash-Ramosh the only thing more embarrasing than your arguments is your childish need to register on VA and plead respect for your club. Also embarrasing is you pretending to know much about Arsenal's players - clearly your bias against Cazorla and Giroud gets in the way of any sane analysis. Having put all your eggs in the Villas Boas basket you better hope it works and that AVB doesnt end up like Ramos did at Spurs. When that happens its likely you will register a new username on VA like you have done numeous times before and again beg for respect.
Deltaforce
who was he before Delta?
shewore
His arguments are the same as the abomination that was Tony Rocky Horror.
Deltaforce
lets see the facts shall we :- 1) I never said Cazorla or Giroud were bad players, quite the opposite.... good players that in Cazorla's case has led to a certain over-reliance tactically.... not just my opinion but shewores too (see further back in the thread). 2) I hope Arsenal win the league this year, cos I think AW deserves that for his way of building teamd rather than buying them...I'd be happy just for Spurs to get Top4 again. 3) I've stuck up for Chamakh in another thread, and Diaby at the season-start when more were doubters of him 'replacing' Song and wanted a bigname to be bought..... doesnt sound like Arsenal-bashing to me
Viyyash-Ramosh
Overtly superior for more than half a season??? Really??? Comparisons over part of the season are pretty pointless really as two teams don't play the same fixtures but let's take a look at whether such a claim can be substantiated even on the fixtures played. No matter how Spuds ended last season it's clear enough that Arsenal got off the the worst of starts and by this time last season we were 6 points behind the Spuds. By the half way stage this had narrowed to 3 points behind and had been eliminated once all fixtures had been completed - despite our own end of season slump following Arteta's injury. At the most, other than in the deluded Spud mind, you could claim superiority over the first half dozen games of last season only. Clearly it was a mistake to think at that stage you would end the season ahead of us as many Spuds were claiming at the time.
Amos.
Spuds had a 9-10pts gap with Arse roughly at the time of Arry's acquittal I think when we routed Newky 4-0.. which was more than halfway thru the season. I may be wrong here as I havent checked the stats on this....I'm glad Spurs got 4th in the end as otherwise you wouldnt be in the CL now (with Chavs winning it), and AW would now be just a dot on the horizon and his philosophy on building over buying discredited by a Media waiting for him to fail and thus able to trumpet the new wave of the 'Sugar Daddy Doctrine'
Viyyash-Ramosh
.... and as for Arse's bad start last season, didnt Spuds have to play Utd then Citeh in their 1st 2 games ?...
Viyyash-Ramosh
That just shows that you could also claim superiority for the month of January and simply illustrates the foolishness of such extrapolations based on a handful of results in differing fixtures - and what on earth has Spuds opening fixtures of last season got to do with our poor start? Your contributions are getting ever more meaningless. Superiority can only ever be determined at the end of a season and as long as we'd got third it didn't matter who got fourth.
Amos.
Owned! (Runs off, tail between legs).
Naijagunner
Show the poor spud some love. He's clearly looking for some..... Lolz!
deledudu
I think Spuds were superior for most of the season, then Arry and Ingerland got in the way... this season Spuds tried to play the ubiquitous 4-3-3 that AVB loved so much and looked ordinary in August. AVB then did his homework and played Arry's system of keeping Bale & Lennon out wide but with a twist of getting the fullbacks especially LB to attack down the inside-left channel and playing Dempsey slightly more withdrawn.... for the 1st half against Utd Spurs looked the better team, due to recent history against Utd the team did well when defending the lead in the 2nd half and held on without having an outball without Adebayor... now Ade's back the team should have no structural flaws and progress further this season.... I'd hoped Arsenal would improve and challenge for the title this year, but I don't think that will now happen, they won't get any stronger as the players returning will be like for like in quality (incl. Jacque)
Viyyash-Ramosh
Very poor and baseless (attempt at) punditry. You don't learn, do you?
Naijagunner
I think with Ade in the side and hopefully playing 'upfront' with Defoe, it should galvanise the team further (I remember when Spurs took Liverpool apart with this duo upfront, amongst other games).... Arsenal will improve too, but just not as much.
Viyyash-Ramosh
Usain Holt...LOL.... on a serious note, is Vermaelen reallly as good as he's reputed , especially with the slow Sack as partner ?.... time for Djourou methinks..
Viyyash-Ramosh
 

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