Chambers to target 32 games in 2014/15 – CC the new GG!


There has been much debate among Arsenal supporters about Calum Chambers since his arrival in July. It surprised many, so shortly after the signing of an experienced International right back. Living in Southampton, having spent a lot of time around the youth football scene in Hampshire, including the academies and knowing so many regular at St Mary’s I probably had more knowledge than some. For me and for many of the Southampton fans I know Chambers was always going to be a centre back and many around here though he should have got more game time there for Saints, particular has Clyne is such a proficient right back and Yoshida and accident waiting to happen. I would go as far as to stick my neck out and say he will play centrally for England regularly within 2 to 3 years. Interestingly though Wenger has also hinted that he sees him getting game time at the base of our midfield and with his pace and evident game reading this is an exciting prospect to me rather than a scary one. If the strong transfer rumours linking us with Greek International defender Manolas prove genuine that possibility is even more likely. Continue reading

“Arsene Wenger: 50 Defining Fixtures” – Advanced taster

My good friend Layth Yousif gave up the day job to chase his dream and become a full-time writer. He now regularly features in the Islington Gazette, the Standard. the Huffington Post and the Gooner  Fanzine, amongst others. Before the month is out however he will be a publishing his second book “Arsene Wenger: 50 Defining Fixtures” is out on the 28th of August and is available to pre-order here

Layth is having a book launch at Piebury Corner Saturday August 16 from midday. Follow him on twitter @laythy29

Arsenal v Aston Villa (H) 19th August 2006

A new dawn
A new dawn

The opening game of any season is significant but this match against Aston Villa whilst being important was also a hugely symbolic moment in the history of Arsene Wenger’s tenure – not to mention the annals of the long and illustrious history of the Arsenal Football Club. For the game marked the first competitive match at the newly built Emirates Stadium and the commencement of The Emirates era.

The club had decided at the end of the previous decade that evocative, atmospheric, homely Highbury with a capacity of 38,000 was too small to match the boards and Wenger’s ambitions to make Arsenal into a domestic, European and global powerhouse.  Arsenal and Wenger had to learn to balance budgets more than ever as funds were diverted to building the £390million project which took 123 weeks to build and finished on time and within budget. It was an incredibly bold step to take and one the visionaries within the club and Wenger himself should be lauded for.

On scedule and on budget
On scedule and on budget

As Wenger proudly said on the eve of this game: “The new stadium project provoked a lot of discussions and debate at board level. We spoke about how far we could go, how unpredictable it would be, how risky it was for the club. Can we put the club in danger for this? So when it finally happened, it was a bit of a dream turning into a reality. You couldn’t really believe it.”

“”I’m not a guy who looks back too much. You have to survive and deal with the challenge you have taken. You know that in the history of the club, that will be an important moment where the club moves forward. Some clubs that still have to do it will suffer later. For us it was vital. The landscape of English football has changed in the last 10 years. Today, we could not survive being at Highbury anymore.”

The stadium was to be initially labelled ‘Ashburton Grove’ before Emirates airline bought the naming rights for 15 years in a sponsorship deal which included an eight year shirt deal that was to be worth £100 million in total. The money was a godsend to the cash strapped Gunners at the time even if many hardcore fans still refuse to call the new ground anything other than ‘Ashburton Grove’, or more simply ‘The Grove’.

The stadium’s first game was actually on July 22nd 2006 when it played host to Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial match between Arsenal and Ajax Amsterdam. The match would see Arsenal triumph 2-1 with Ajax’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar credited with scoring the first ever goal in the Emirates Stadium. The first Arsenal goal netted at the Emirates was scored predictably enough by Thierry Henry. (Gunners fans still hold Giles Grimandi in eternal esteem for chopping down Edgar Davids as he shaped to score – thus forever denying an ex-Spurs man the chance of striking the first goal in the new ground.)

Nice one Gilles
Nice one Gilles

At a capacity of 60.355, the Emirates stands as the third biggest stadium in England, after Wembley and Old Trafford.

And every one of the crowd assembled on the day of the Villa game sang Arsene Wenger’s name in praise of the miracles he had worked for their beloved club – on and off the pitch.

Layth’s book “Arsene Wenger: 50 Defining Fixtures” will be published on August 28 and is available to pre-order here

Layth is having a book launch at Piebury Corner Saturday August 16 from midday. Follow him on twitter @laythy29

Congratulations Layth it promises to be a superb read! Dave.


Wenger settles on perfect system to play Ramsey and Wilshere

I'm with you skip!
I’m with you skip!

There are many questions being asked by Arsenal fans at present with two of the common themes surrounding the arrival or otherwise of a new DM and how that impacts our new captain and also Jack Wilshere. Now I cannot pretend that I did not want a new deep lying midfielder and regular readers will know that I have wanted Schneiderlin to be that addition for about 18 months but my guess is that addition may not now arrive.

My thinking on this is only guided by Wenger’s own comments and not by any particular knowledge other than a hunch. The hunch however has been steered by a few actual statements, recent events and decisions and of course by the naming of Mikel Arteta as the new Club Captain.

So let me list the factors and observations first and then I will explain a possible conclusion we night draw:

1)      The Community Shield selection and player positions, notably around Ramsey, Cazorla and Wilshere.

2)      The selection of Mikel Arteta as skipper.

3)      The initial position on the right of Alexis Sanchez.

4)      The position Ozil in the latter stages of the victorious World Cup campaign.

5)      Wenger’s statement on Jack – At the top-level you need to be consistent with your presence. You can play six, seven, eight games and rest one or two but you have to play six, seven on the trot. I think he will be capable of doing it. He prepares well. He has no ankle problem anymore. It could be his year.” Continue reading

Does Wenger actually know how to rotate a squad challenging for the title?

Or does he want to rotate?
Or does he want to rotate?

A title to draw you in but a serious question that needs to be asked because whilst we as supporters are desperate for more signings are we ready for what that means for current favourites. I am not against strengthening the squad because it has quite obviously fallen short. Although, I do wonder how much of that is down to our luck or otherwise with injuries? We saw City win the league in 2012 using about 16 players and yet at the same time bemoaned or own lack of depth.

I have written on this subject a few years ago but the inspiration is the stock statement from many fans I keep reading, that we need the depth so Wenger can rotate the squad and keep everyone fresh. We need those who step in to be almost as good as those who hold the shirts when all are fit. My genuine question is will Wenger rotate the squad and what evidence is there that he has done so in the Premier League. We all know he has done it in the League Cup and to a degree in the FA Cup but does he actually do it in the league?

If he does not do so, does the stock piling first team players, particularly in midfield, actually make sense for the balance and happiness of the current squad? We all seem to want a brand shiny new player to play the deeper pivot or the DM role and I include myself in that. However I am not the one who happily says it is a squad game and Arteta, Cazorla, Rosicky, Wilshere, Flamini , Oxlade-Chamberlain and Diaby will still get plenty of minutes on the pitch. Will they, will they really? What all of them??? I am not so sure about that. You see the facts all suggest that when Wenger knows his best 11 and it is working he seldom moves to rotate or change the starters, particularly in the league and in Europe.

Regulars 2014/15??
Regulars 2014/15??

Maybe this is just my memory playing tricks on me as it is not what it used to be as I am not getting any younger. Let’s look at the evidence using our most successful campaigns this century under Wenger in the Premier League. Continue reading

The most important Arsenal blog of the day – Ignore Transfer Gossip and Click here

Many of you will follow @mj_afc on twitter and some will have shared beer with him. Most will have marveled at how he is an Arsenal season ticket holder and away supporter whilst living in the North East. We have all taken our hats off to him for his commitment and admired the quality of his insight and his writing on Angel2Islington and on my sister site Gunners Town.
However virtually all of us will have been unaware that behind the scenes he is working, studying for a law degree and at the same time as bringing up 2 young children, with his wife Rachel, the youngest of whom, Nate is severely disabled with a very rare hereditary condition called Atr-x syndrome.
I will allow Michael to tell the story from but he running the Great North Run to raise money for taking care of Nate and the details ate at the end of the blog. 
Thanks Dave
Nate was born via emergency c-section on 26th July 2010. Neither I nor my wife were expecting any surprises, and for the first few hrs of his life things seemed fairly routine. Then Nate was admitted to special care and within hours we were told that Nate may have a serious life limiting genetic condition.
I had left my wife and son in hospital for a couple of hours as we had promised our daughter that her brother would have presents for her. I shot to a nearby Toys R Us to get her some presents (mainly so she didn’t feel left out). During this time I was told that Nate had gone to special care, but it didn’t seem to be anything to worry about as they were just looking at his tone (Initially I thought this was his colour but they actually meant muscle strength).
Upon my return we were informed that the on-duty doctor needed to see us and we were shepherded onto a ward that had no patients and I started to realise all was not well. The news was broken to us, Nate was ill and they didn’t like his chances. Nate had presented three unusual characteristics; his ears were rotated more than expected, his eyes were too far apart and he couldn’t full extend his fingers, has wasn’t making any effort to do anything. Things were bad, very bad. They felt he had a serious genetic condition but the earliest we could see a geneticist was Tuesday (it was currently Saturday).
Meanwhile as the doctor was opening up to us ”had we noticed all of his unusual features?”, out of the corner of my eye I could see my parents making their way to see us, gifts and balloons in hand. Still to this day it breaks my heart to think that this moment of celebration was actually becoming more of a nightmare by the second.  He didn’t cry/scream, he didn’t feed, in fact he didn’t do anything.

Continue reading