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Sagna and Fabianski Reject New Deals: Thoughts on their Futures with the Club

Lukasz Fabianski and Bacary Sagna are poised to leave Arsenal

The exodus from Arsenal continues

Arsenal has been renowned in recent times as a “selling club” following the high-profile departures of key players in recent seasons. Unlike a club like Atletico Madrid that replaces a high-profile departure with an equally exciting new signing, Arsenal usually replaces their stars with cheaper options that won’t match the player that left for greener pastures.

For instance, Arsenal lost two creative talents in the forms of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in the same summer but the manager chose to favor an Aaron Ramsey that wasn’t ready at point in time, so he struggled for fitness and form. More recently, the Gunners lost a perpetual goalscoring machine of the first kind, Robin van Persie, and replaced him with Olivier Giroud, a forward that combines his purple patch of good form with goal droughts.

This summer, it looked as if the Gunners finally got it right in the transfer window, as the club was a deadwood-disposal campaign which saw the likes of Gervinho and Vito Mannone leave for meager amounts while Andre Santos, Denilson, Andrey Arshavin, Seb Squillaci and Marouane Chamakh left for nothing. The Gunners went on to sign a progidal son, Mathieu Flamini, and a world-class talent in Mesut Ozil, which gave everyone a lift.

Since then, Arsenal has mounted an impressive Premier League campaign (currently in second place), awaiting a FA Cup fifth round clash at home to Liverpool and they have a double date with the European champions, Bayern Munich.

Just when we thought we were having a bad start to the week after the decimation at Anfield, the Daily Star has reported that the club’s most consistent fullback, Bacary Sagna, and reserve goalie, Lukasz Fabianski, have rejected new deals with the club and are set to leave on a Bosman this summer.

According to the Daily Star, Fabianski said,

 “I want to be No.1 in the club and in the Polish national team. I have learned a lot at London during very positive and challenging periods. With biggest respect to this great club, I didn’t accept the extension offer as I am looking forward to a new challenge in England or abroad.”

Since his arrival as Manuel Almunia’s deputy in 2007, Fabianski has made just 71 appearances and has kept 22 clean sheets. That’s an average of just 10 games per season and for a young keeper in need of consistent game time, that’s not good enough. His cause isn’t also helped by the fact that he’s been benched by his Polish compatriot, Wojciech Szczesny, and with Artur Boruc doing well in Southampton, Fabianski is unlikely to add to his 21 caps for Poland.

Fabianski’s save of life against Wolves in 2010

The Polish goalie has expressed his dissatisfaction over lack of game time in the past and there was a time when he instructed his agent to find him a new club. Lukasz Fabianski arrived at Arsenal on the back of two Polish League Goalkeeper of the Year awards for 2005 and 2006 but he was a deputy for Manuel Almunia. Wenger offered the Pole a chance in the Cup competitions but he continued to push hard for a first team place.

It was fabled that Fabianski kept like a goalie with eyes behind his back on the training ground but he couldn’t replicate that form on the pitch. When I think of his top-notch calamitous moment against Porto in February 2010, I always give myself a few fits of laughter but Fabianski matured as a player in the 2010/11 campaign. Manuel Almunia let complacency creep into his game and Fabianski came in his stead and grabbed the bull by its horns and its balls.

Goalkeepers' Union: Szczesny congratulates Lukasz Fabianski at the end of the 2-0 win at Swansea on Saturday

Fabianski benched Szczesny, albeit temporarily, at some point last season

There were times when Fabianski would have had the chance to make the No. 1 jersey his, but he has had some bad luck with injuries. After usurping Almunia in the 2010/11 campaign, Fabianski played consistently and put up some great performances notably against Everton (away) and Wolves (away). However, a shoulder injury paved the way for Szczesny to make his Premier League debut. Last season, Wenger reinstated Fabianski ahead of Szczesny in the crucial encounter against Bayern Munich and he kept his place against Swansea recording two clean sheets in a row. Unfortunately, a rib injury suffered in the game against Norwich cost the Pole his place.

There are not many second-choice goalies that are as good as Fabianski and with his heart made up with an imminent departure, I wish him all the very best. I hope he moves to a Premier League mid-table side so that at least, I can get to watch him on a consistent basis, and when he comes to the Emirates, his songs will be in full voice.

****

I’ve shared my thoughts about Bacary Sagna’s future and I won’t drawn into making more words on it but all I can say is that losing a player like Sagna would be disastrous, but if the club can replace him with quality players like Lukasz Piszczesk, Seamus Coleman, Sebastien Corchia or some random bloke from outer space, the blow would be softened. I don’t believe that Carl Jenkinson has what it takes to replace Sagna yet but he’ll get there soon.

Jenkinson v Sagna

According to the Daily Star, Sagna is upset that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal did not approach him sooner about a new deal, leaving talks until his final year at the club – in sharp contrast to their approach to other stars. Arsenal wants Sagna to sign a contract extension with the same amount of £60,000 a week but the defender feels that he deserves more.

For a player that has served this club with all dedication even to the extent of breaking his leg twice, it would be a shame if Arsenal loses Sagna because of a few extra pounds. Teams like Galatasaray, Paris St. Germain and AS Monaco will be willing to break bank for Sagna and for the fact that we haven’t heard any info about them signing a pre-contract with the fullback, it means that he still wants to stay but he believes that he has earned a pay rise.

Sagna would be 31 on Friday and this protracted saga would continue till the end of the season. However, it doesn’t look as if it’s affecting his game, even though he and the rest of his teammates had an off day in Anfield.

I’ll keep you updated as the situation unfolds.

Sayonara.

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Rating Arsenal’s Performances in the 2012/13 Season – The Goalkeepers

Wojciech Szczesny - Sunderland v Arsenal - Premier League

Save of the season?

This season, Arsenal conceded 37 goals in the Premier League, 10 goals in the Champions League, seven goals in the Capital One Cup and five goals in the FA Cup. Unlike last season where the Gunners opened the floodgates with consummate ease, a more cautious approach was taken after the defense struggled badly against Tottenham. In a run of ten games after that defeat against Tottenham, the Gunners conceded only five goals winning eight games and drawing two.

Over the course of the season, Arsene Wenger used his available playing personnel in the goalkeeping department.

Wojciech Szczesny has been synonymous with first-team football but an ankle injury in Autumn, coupled with Lukasz Fabianski out of action as well, paved the way for Vito Mannone to strut his stuff but the Italian didn’t convince Wenger enough to command a first-team berth. A dip in form from Szczesny in Spring saw a fit-again Fabianski take his spot but another injury allowed the younger Pole to reclaim his spot.

This article is focused on rating Arsenal’s performances in the 2012/13 season. This is the first installment of four posts and today’s post is entirely focused on Arsenal’s custodians between the sticks.

Feel free to share your comments.

Wojciech Szczesny – 33 Apps, 13 Clean Sheets

With Manuel Almunia leaving the club when his contract expired, Wojciech Szczesny took over the No. 1 jersey and great things were expected of the young Pole working his way up the food chain. He began the campaign with a clean sheet against Sunderland and an ankle injury halted his progress for a couple of weeks before he returned to the fold with a howler against Southampton.

Even after his errors coupled with fairly average performances from his deputy, Vito Mannone, Wenger returned Szczesny into the team and even used him in domestic cup fixtures, clearly showing that he had little or no faith in the deputy Italian. This brought an air of complacency into Szczesny’s game which saw his form wane, much to his team’s detriment.

He got a wake up call when Wenger dropped him to the bench against Bayern Munich (away) and the fact that his father blasted the boss for his poor form didn’t help his cause. A rib injury to Fabianski allowed the younger Pole to return to first-team action and this saw a change in his fortunes as Szczesny kept clean sheets against Everton (home), Fulham (away), Queens Park Rangers (away) and Newcastle (away).

While he may want to forget his antics against Southampton (home) and Aston Villa (home), he can look back with pride when he reflects on his performance against Sunderland (away) as well those vital saves he made against Queens Park Rangers (away) and Wigan (home).

Szczesny is not a finished article but there’s certainly some room for improvement.

Rating – 6/10

Lukasz Fabianski – Five Apps, Two Clean Sheets

Lukasz Fabianski has been a back up goalie for as long as he can remember.

Since his arrival in 2007 despite being the best goalie in the Polish Ekstraklasa for two consecutive seasons in his time with Legia Warsaw, Fabianski has played second fiddle to Manuel Almunia and currently, his compatriot, Wojciech Szczesny. Like Abou Diaby, injuries have become part and parcel of Fabianski’s career with the Gunners and the meager five appearances he managed in the entire campaign is a testament of that.

Notwithstanding, the Pole has been a breath of fresh air in his somewhat brief return to the squad. When I saw Fabianski step into the Allianz Arena with his teammates, I feared for the worst but the goalie was in imperious form, saving efforts from Toni Kroos and Arjen Robben despite being out of the game for over a year.

How’s that for your first performance in a year?

This was followed with another clean sheet against Swansea (away) and if Nacho Monreal had tracked Hal Robson-Kanu well in the thumping of already-relegated Reading, Fabianski would have had three clean sheets in a row. He went on to concede from a penalty against West Brom (away) and was rooted to the spot when Norwich’s Michael Turner headed the ball past him. He still went on to make a vital save in that game to keep Norwich at bay.

With his current contract expiring this summer, Fabianski will have to review his future with the club. His cameo performances have shown that he can be a dependable goalkeeper but he needs to back it up with consistency and at least, staying fit to be available for selection.

Rating – 7/10

Vito Mannone – 13 Apps, Two Clean Sheets

Since arriving at Arsenal as far back as 2006, Vito Mannone has still failed to convince anybody that he has what it takes to be the custodian between the sticks for a top side like Arsenal. This season, injuries to Szczesny and Fabianski paved the way for the big Italian to stake his claim for a first-team berth and clean sheets against Stoke (away) and Liverpool (away) must have done wonders to his confidence.

He was wrongly benched for Szczesny against Southampton (home) and conceded from a penalty on his return to the first team when the Gunners played Montpellier (away). When he was tested against bigger opposition, he failed to impress as he was caught in No Man’s Land when he came to claim a cross against Manchester City (away), allowing Joleon Lescott to score an unguarded net.

His performance against Chelsea (home) didn’t inspire confidence in his back line and despite the fact that Thomas Vermaelen clumsiness played a role in both fouls that led to Chelsea’s goals, Mannone should have done better in both set pieces, as he failed to dominate his area in Fernando Torres’ goal and was caught out as Juan Mata’s free kick from Planet Jupiter crept into his net.

While he could be blameless for all goals conceded against Schalke 04 in both legs, he gave his manager a cause for concern when he failed to deal with a cross against West Ham (away), allowing Andy Carroll to head the ball narrowly wide.

In my honest opinion, Mannone is a decent goalkeeper but I don’t feel that he has a long-term future with the club, and it would do him some good if he seeks a move elsewhere, where he doesn’t have to be under the radar all the time.

Rating – 6/10

So there you have it, the first of four posts focused on different playing positions in the team. My take on the defense comes up next.

The voting sequence for the 2012/13 End of Season awards is still ongoing, so feel free to make your votes count in the polls.

Sayonara.

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Injury woes, FA Cup draw and Arsenal trio immortalized with statues

Arsenal’s last Champions league group stage fixture was a contest that was filled up with many moments that will dwell in the minds of football fans for a short while at least. It unveiled a part of the good ol’ Lukasz Flappyhandski we all knew, more putrid football from Andrey Arshavin, a classic comedy moment from Vito Mannone, a brilliant technical volley from Yossi Benayoun and most importantly, more injury worries for Arsene Wenger.

The Greeks needed the game more than their illustrious counterparts from England so they fought really hard to win every ball and be on the end of every tackle. Fabianski received a nasty gash to his knee following a clash with Thomas Vermaelenas early as the 25th minute and he was replaced soon after by Vito Mannone.

However, he calmed everyone one’s nerves by saying that he’ll be fine:

“I think I am fine, it’s just a really deep cut.”

“It was really unlucky but hopefully all the ligaments in my knee should be OK. Hopefully nothing will come out tomorrow or in the next couple of days.”

Arsenal’s Andre Santos wasn’t as fortunate as Fabianski because he has suffered an ankle injury and he’ll be sidelined for a while. With Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson still out of action, Wenger will have to go back to the drawing board and it seems as if Arsenal might play Everton this weekend with four recognized center backs.

Thomas Vermaelen will probably be deployed to the left flank while Laurent Koscielny will partner Per Mertesacker in the middle. Johan Djourou will continue in the right back position. Another player in contention for a possible start is the youngster Ignasi Miquel and he recently spoke of his pride in making his Champions League debut for Arsenal.

Still sticking with tidbits from the Olympiakos game, Fabianski has credited Olympiakos’ desire to win the game while Arsene Wenger has labeled the defeat as a good lesson:

“It was cruel the way we have been left out of the next phase because in the last five minutes we thought Dortmund were winning the game. We can’t talk about justice in football, just success at the right time. The good thing is we fought until the very last moment.”

I actually had some sympathy for Olympiakos when I learnt about the score line in Germany but I couldn’t hide my elation on Twitter following the way both clubs from Manchester stormed their way into the Europa League. The climax of it all was a tweet by a Mikel Arteta fan page directed at Samir Nasri:

@MikelArteta08: “Have fun playing in the Europa League @samnasri19, great way to get that Ballon D’Or you’re after.”

The draws for the FA Cup are out and the pick of the bunch will certainly be the Manchester Derby in the Etihad Stadium. Arsenal got drawn against a side that almost embarrassed them when they locked horns last season, Leeds United.

In a day where Wojciech Szczesny talked about his hatred for the pink goalkeeping kit, Leeds’ Robert Snodgrass scored a goal that would have been enough to put the Peacocks in the headlines as giant killers but a Cesc Fabregas penalty late on paved the way for a replay at Elland Road.

In the replay at Elland Road, the captain of the night Samir Nasri opened the scoring when he used his left leg to bring the ball forward, shoved off a challenge and placed the ball past Kasper the friendly ghost. Bacary Sagna launched a surface-to-goal rocket to make it 2-0, Lee scored a screamer to reduce the deficit but Robin van Persie headed in the match clincher.

The FA Cup was the last trophy Arsenal won eons ago and the memories of that faithful triumphant evening are fading with passing trophy-less campaign.

Arsenal was formed in 1886 and the club has decided to mark its 125th anniversary in grand style by unveiling statues of one of its greatest football managers, one of its most dedicated and loyal servants and its greatest goal scorer.

Sir Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry are candidates that are worth honoring with monuments. Sir Chapman managed Arsenal from 1925 to 1934 achieving legendary status at the club with the way he handled the team off the pitch as well as the trophies he won on it.

Tony Adams served Arsenal from 1983 to 2002 winning four league titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, three Community Shields and on Cup Winners Cup. He made 672 appearances for Arsenal in total and scored 48 goals.

Thierry Daniel Henry is one of the greatest forwards to ever grace the Premier League and world football and he still holds the goal scoring records for both club and country. He scored 226 goals and made 92 assists in 369 games for the Gunners and he also scored 51 goals in 123 caps for the French National Team.

Sir Chapman won’t be around to see his monument but Henry and Adams will probably grace the Emirates this weekend in the ceremony before the kickoff against Everton.

Thierry Henry scored 226 goals in eight seasons and a statue has been erected in his honor. With Robin van Persie’s amazing goal to game ratio that currently stands at 113 goals in 251 games, a statue of Liberty replica will probably be constructed when he hangs his boots after giving Arsenal the best years of his career.

That’s if he agrees to sign a new deal this summer though.

Sayonara.

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A brief review on Arsenal’s ambassadors on international duty this weekend

I guess that I’ll have to start by apologizing for some of the content in my last post. I wrote that I was probably going to get some stick by putting Eduardo and Carlos Vela in a list that had Pascal Cygan, Denilson and Mikael Silvestre and boy, did I get some stick or what. Many gooners expected names like Francis Jeffers and Sebastien Squillaci to be in the list but as I wrote in that same post, the list is endless..

Moving on from that minor setback, this weekend turned out to be a boring affair because I was forced to watch some countries bore me to tears with 0-0 draws as well as a 1-0 England win in a game that I anticipated to have a boatload of goals at least. From a neutral point of view, it was an interesting match between two football heavyweights but Vicente del Bosque had to succumb to just his sixth loss as Spain’s manager which is pretty impressive if you ask me.

The most important fixtures from a European perspective where the European Championships playoffs that took place between eight teams with only four joining the remaining 12 that have already qualified. In other parts of the globe, Arsenal sent 16 ambassadors to represent their national teams and here’s a full list of the Gunners in action:

Aaron Ramsey

The Welsh captain led his fellow dragons as they breathed a baptism of fire past Norway in a resounding 4-1 victory. The world’s best left-footed Chimpanzee opened the deadlock before the fastest hobbit currently playing in Liverpool made it two. Wolves Sam Vokes completed the rout with a brace.

Laurent Koscielny

The Kosinator has been in inspired form this season and it was only a matter of time before he was going to be called up by Laurent Blanc. He finally made his first cap for France in their 1-0 victory over the United States. Fulham’s Clint Dempsey was ubiquitous on the pitch and Everton’s Tim Howard made an unbelievable save from Karim Benzema’s free kick. Marseille’s Loic Remy scored what proved to be the winner with a placed effort from an over the top pass.

Tomas Rosicky

Little Mozart captained his side to put one foot in the European Championships after a 2-0 win against surprise package Montenegro. Rosicky was voted as the Man of the Match as he pulled all the strings in the midfield.

Theo Walcott

The pacey winger played 45 minutes in England’s 1-0 victory over Spain. As expected, the Spaniards dominated possession but the Lampback of NotreDame bellied his years and came up with the goods again.

There was so much talk at the start of the season that the Lampback was past his prime but he has been impressive in the Premier League since AVB handed him another chance. He even got a goal and gave an assist when Chelsea played Arsenal but the pick of the bunch was the performance of Captain Van-tastic.

Gervinho

The fore-headed one was in action when the Elephants took on last summer’s World Cup hosts in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium at Port Elizabeth but it ended in a 1-1 draw. Sibuniso Gaxa scored an embarrassing own goal to put Gervinho’s side ahead but a Katlego Mphela free kick leveled the contest.

I will never forget Mphela’s free kick against Spain in the 2010 Confederations Cup. It left me screaming so hard that my mum came out of her room to check if anything had happened to her beloved son. I would like you all to scream like me so I’ve decided to put the video of the goal in this post.

Andrey Arshavin

Russia’s football czar led his country to a 1-1 draw against Euro 2004 winners Greece. Roman Shirokov gave the visitors a quick lead in just two minutes but the experienced Kostas Katsouranis leveled the tie. Arshavin played all 90 minutes.

Robin van Persie and Johan Djourou

This lethal forward got injured for five months in a fixture against Italy last year so Arsene Wenger took out time to talk Bert van Marwijk about the striker’s availability in the friendly game against Switzerland. He played the entire match and shot blanks in a 0-0 draw but he was sent back home on a Red Ribbon as Holland is set to play Germany tomorrow without the Flying Dutchman.

Johan Djourou was on the other end of the pitch for 90 minutes and he was among the players that made sure that van Persie and the rest of the Dutch attack remained quiet throughout the game.

Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski

Both goalies were called up by Poland’s coach but Wojciech Szczesny got the nod when Poland took on Italy. Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini scored for Italy in the 2-0 win but Szczesny can be happy with his performance because he kept the Italians at bay several times.

Lukasz Fabianski will probably get the nod when Poland plays Hungary on Tuesday.

Thomas Vermaelen

The Verminator enjoyed some good time out at the dugout as Belgium defeated Romania by a 2-1 scoreline. The man-mountain Daniel van Buyten put the Belgians ahead and an own goal from Rasvan Cocis but Vermaelen’s side two up. Romanian veteran Daniel Niculae reduced the deficit for the visitors but it wasn’t enough as the game ended like that.

Vermaelen has followed the Belgium side that will play France in Paris and I’m pretty sure that Vermaelen will want to get him some French fries on the pitch on Tuesday.

Alex Song

Alex Song was in the starting lineup when Cameroon brushed Sudan aside in the LG Friendly Cup. The game ended at 3-1 in favor of Cameroon.

Per Mertesacker

Arsenal’s beanpole defender spent time on the bench like his defensive counterpart Thomas Vermaelen. However, it was a free scoring contest as Ukraine and Germany ended the game with three goals apiece.

Andriy Yarmolenko opened the scoring for the hosts and Yevgen Konoplyanka made it two. Bayern’s Toni Kroos pulled one back for the Germans but Serhiy Nazarenko brought Ukraine back to their comfort zone as the first half ended with a two-goal advantage for the Andriy Shevchenko captained side.

Joachim Loew probably went haywire in the dressing room as the Germans came back strongly in the second half. Bayer Leverkusen’s Simon Rolfes made it 3-2 before Bayern Munich’s Young Money singer turned footballer, Young Mueller Baby scored what proved to be the final goal of the fiesty encounter.

Park Chu-Young

Everybody expected Park Chu-Young to score again when Korea Republic visited United Arab Emirates and he duly delivered. Park has been a goal scoring machine for his nation this season and his goal against Bolton was a thing of beauty.

With the present form of van Persie, Park and Marouane Chamakh will have to be content with a place on the bench and they’ll have to strut their stuff when deployed in Cup matches.

As for the Under-21 level, youngsters like Francis Coquelin and Alex the Chambered Ox continued their fledgling careers.

We have one more week before we go back to civilization n the form of club football.

Till then,

Sayonara.

Lukasz Fabianski wants out, Van the man and Marseille preview

The gooners had something to smile about last weekend and the football games are coming thick and fast. The Champions League has reached the stage were teams engage in double home and away dates with each other and these games change the shape of every group.

Arsene Wenger and his Gunners will take a trip to the Riviera in the South of France to take on French juggernauts Olympique Marseille. The French outfit has its fair share of talented players with the likes of Andre-Pierre Gignac, Andre Ayew, Loic Remy and Lucho Gonzalez. I’ll give a preview of tonight’s game but I’ll start with news dominating the headlines in a world called Arsenal.

Lukasz Fabianski arrived at Arsenal on the back of 2 Polish League Goalkeeper of the Year awards for 2005 and 2006 but he was a deputy for Manuel Almunia. Wenger offered the Pole a chance in the Cup competitions but he continued to push hard for a first team place before getting his wish last season.

When everything seemed peachy and creamy for Fabianski, injury paved the way for a younger protégée and he has matured into one of the finest goalies in the Premier League at such a young age. This season, Fabianski has been reduced to one Carling Cup appearance against Shrewsbury Town and he has vented his frustrations on his new role as Arsenal’s Number two goalie.

It was reported that Fabianski approached his boss over his present situation and it seemed as if Wenger gave him an answer he didn’t like. The goalie’s contract expires this summer and he has made it clear that he’s not going to renew his contract with the club so he has told his agent to find him a new club.

Fabianski will definitely be a leading star for any decent club and I hope that his agent will find a club that can reach a decent agreement with Arsenal over his services. Vito Mannone is still waiting patiently for his chance to shine so Fabianski’s potential exit will not make Wenger press any panic button.

However, there are two players that will be awarded new contracts pretty soon. Alex Song has been in the club for a while and he has become better with each passing season so Wenger feels that it’s high time to repay him for his scintillating form with a new deal. Andrey Arshavin is another player that will be handed an extension to his contract because he has reached the dreaded 30-year old mark and we all know how Wenger reacts with players in this age range.

New contracts for Song and Arshavin come in a perfect time for both players for more reasons than one. A pay-rise for a player like Song will be a motivation while in Arshavin’s case, it would show Wenger’s commitment to the player and that’ll mean a lot to the Russian.

Speaking of commitment, there’s a Gunner that has reaffirmed his commitment to the club. He’s currently Arsenal’s most prized asset and he’s leading the club’s scoring charts with seven goals. Robin Van Persie has put his name in Arsenal’s history books for the fastest goal scored in the Premier League but he has reassured the gooners of his faithfulness to the cause:

“I had seen loads of comments about a story like that, I thought after one or two days it would go away, but it didn’t so I felt it was time to explain things and I did that.

“I’m committed. This is my eighth year. If you can say of one player that he’s committed, it’s me.”

Let’s face it.

This Gunner has spent the best part of eight years with the club and the picture has been painted vividly. Injuries have played a major part in his progress as a player but he’s stronger than ever and the added responsibility of the Arsenal captaincy is something that he has utilized well to great effect.

Robin Van Persie has become an all-rounder for the club and his influence has been rubbed off on his teammates. When Arsenal played Dortmund in Germany, Van Persie defended better than Silvestre and Squillaci put together and still did his own business in the right end of the pitch with a well-taken goal form a brilliant Theo Walcott assist.

Wenger also had a few words to say about the captain’s commitment:

“It depends what you call commitment.  For me commitment is not about how long you are at a club.”

“People speak about the length of contracts but what you want from a player, as long as he is at the club, is to give absolutely 100 per cent.

“On that front you cannot fault Robin. He is committed, every day he is focused in training, and I am pleased that he got two goals again.”

Wenger also said that the win against Sunderland was good for the club’s confidence but Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn believes that new signings in January will make Van Persie stay at the club.

Arsenal’s new signings also took out time to talk to the media Vultures in the wake of the club’s victory over Sunderland. Mikel Arteta hopes for the club to start a winning run and like Wenger, he reiterated that the win was a major boost to Arsenal’s confidence.

Per Mertesacker on the other hand believes that a top four finish is going to be vital for Arsenal:

“It’s vital that we reach at least the top four in the league, but at the moment we don’t have the points to speak about that. It’s important to perform well to make sure we move up the table. The supporters have to feel we are giving everything to succeed.

“I am here to play football, to play in the Champions League and I want to be successful in all the challenges we face this season.

“Therefore we have to play hard games twice a week and that’s the challenge of being an Arsenal player.”

I’ve been very pleased with the contributions of Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker to the team and I hope that they continue to do well in their fledgling Arsenal careers. Mertesacker brought a new approach to Arsenal’s defense and Arteta has steadied the ship in the middle of the park.

In other Arsenal related news, Arsenal has been linked with Juventus’ Miros Krasic, Kieran Gibbs and Aaron Ramsey are still doubtful, Tomas Rosicky believed the Larsson’s free kick was destined for the net and Mercenary William Gallas visited the Emirates to hang out with his buddies Bacary Sagna, Robert Pires and the Gunnersaurus.

Moving over to tonight’s match, Arsenal has to avoid defeat against the Group leaders because Borussia Dortmund stands a chance of beating the group’s whooping boys, Olympiakos. I expect a nervy encounter in the Stade Velodrome and the French crowd is going to be as hostile as ever.

I expect Wojciech Szczesny to be Arsenal’s custodian between the sticks. Carl Jenkinson was impressive against Sunderland and I expect him to keep his place too. Andre Santos will start ahead of Gibbs pending his fitness test while Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny will play in the heart of Arsenal’s defense.

Alex Song will play the holding role while Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta will provide adequate support in the middle of the park. Robin van Persie will spearhead the attack and will be supported by Gervinho and Theo Walcott.

Here’s to a happier post tomorrow.

Sayonara.

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