Daily Archives: December 11, 2011
November was a month to remember as Arsenal continued the form of October with a good run unbeaten run that was ended by a defeat in the hands of Manchester City. Arsene Wenger’s men began the month with a nervy 0-0 draw against Marseille and this was followed with a scintillating performance against West Brom.
Robin van Persie inspired a 2-1 win over Norwich City with a brace and he continued his hot streak with another brace against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
Thomas Vermaelen was left red-faced when he scored on the wrong end of the pitch when Fulham visited the Emirates but he atoned for his error with a commanding header on the right end of the pitch to salvage a draw for his team. The month ended with an unfortunate 0-1 loss to Manchester City in the Carling Cup quarterfinals.
I made a series of polls on the blog and I also engaged my followers on Twitter as well as the fans on Facebook and a voting sequence took place for some special Gooner Daily awards and the winners have emerged.
SAVE OF THE MONTH
Arsenal played six games in the month of November and conceded four goals. In terms of goalkeeping personnel, Lukasz Fabianski was reduced to just one Carling Cup game against Manchester City while Wojciech Szczesny kept in the remaining five.
The nominated saves Wojciech Szczesny’s save from Loic Remy’s shot when Arsenal drew with Marseille, Wojciech Szczesny’s save from Moussa Dembele’s shot when Arsenal shared the spoils with Fulham and Wojciech Szczesny’s save from Nathan Pickington’s free kick when Arsenal beat Norwich.
The results were:
Wojciech Szczesny from a Loic Remy shot (Marseille) (01.11.11): 47.73%
Wojciech Szczesny from a Nathan Pickington free kick (Norwich) (19.11.11): 29.55%
Wojciech Szczesny from a Moussa Dembele shot (Fulham) (26.11.11): 22.73%
ASSIST OF THE MONTH
Arsenal smashed in 13 goals in September and went one better with 14 goals last month but the goals dried up a bit in November as the Gunners recorded only eight goals. The nominated assists were Alex Song’s cross to Robin van Persie when Arsenal beat Dortmund, Theo Walcott’s cross to Thomas Vermaelen when Arsenal drew with Fulham and Song’s pass to van Persie when Arsenal beat Norwich.
The results were:
Alex Song’s cross to Robin van Persie (Dortmund) (23.11.11): 84%
Alex Song’s pass to Robin van Persie (Norwich) (19.11.11): 5%
Theo Walcott’s cross to Thomas Vermaelen (Fulham) (26.11.11): 3%
“…Arsenal got the breakthrough in stunning fashion. Alex Song invoked the spirit of Lionel Messi and singlehandedly took on five or more defenders showing quick feet before sending a cross that was headed home by van Persie”
GOAL OF THE MONTH
Arsenal banged in eight goals in six matches in November and the goals where shared amongst three players; Robin van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta. The nominations were Mikel Arteta’s placed finish when Arsenal beat West Brom, Robin van Persie’s impudent chip when Arsenal beat Norwich and Thomas Vermaelen’s strong header when Arsenal drew with Fulham.
The results were:
Robin van Persie’s chip against Norwich (19.11.11): 65.22%
Mikel Arteta’s placed shot against West Brom (05.11.11): 21.74%
Thomas Vermaelen’s header against Fulham (26.11.11): 13.04%
“Van Persie scored what proved to be the winner when he chipped the ball over the goalie after receiving a carefully-weighted pass from Alex Song.”
MATCH OF THE MONTH
Arsenal won three games in the six they played and the nominations where Arsenal’s commanding 3-0 victory over West Brom, Arsenal’s impressive 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal’s away 2-1 win over Norwich.
The results were:
Arsenal 2 Dortmund 1 (23.11.11): 66.67%
Arsenal 3 West Brom 0 (05.11.11): 21.43%
Norwich 1 Arsenal 2 (19.11.11): 11.9%
“At the sound of the final whistle, the crowd that had a certain Thierry Henry and Roger Federer watching celebrated as Arsenal were heading straight to the knockout phase as the leaders of the group so Platini won’t be able to pair the club with Barcelona till the quarter final at least.”
WORST MATCH OF THE MONTH
There were some games that disappointed the Arsenal faithful in November and the nominated games where the stalemate against Marseille, the disappointing 1-1 draw with Fulham and the 0-1 loss to Manchester City.
The results were:
Arsenal 1 Fulham 1 (26.11.11): 56.1%
Arsenal 0 Marseille 0 (01.11.11): 31.71%
Arsenal 0 Man City 1 (30.11.11): 12.2%
“Arsenal’s draw against Fulham has dented the impressive run that saw the Gunners win eight of their last nine games. It’s true that players are meant to rest in some games but Arsene Wenger of all people should know that you should never change a “winning team” especially when they are all fit.”
Culled from Thomas Vermaelen cleans up his mess
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE MONTH
October has been a month were many Gunners stepped up the plate but three Gunners improved more than the rest in November.
The nominations were Laurent Koscielny, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The results were:
Laurent Koscielny: 51.11%
Theo Walcott: 31.11%
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 17.78%
Koscielny didn’t play against Marseille, he had an 8.0 rating against West Brom, 7.5 against Norwich, 7.5 against Dortmund, rested against Fulham and 7.5 against Manchester CIty thereby earning a Gooner Daily average rating of 7.625.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER
The usual suspect Andrey Arshavin was nominated again for a place in this position but he had the likes of Gervinho and Aaron Ramsey to keep him company.
However, the results were:
Andrey Arshavin: 82.5%
Aaron Ramsey: 10%
Arshavin had a 6.0 rating against Marseille, he had no rating against West Brom, an unused sub against Norwich and Dortmund, had a 5.0 rating against Fulham and no rating Manchester City thereby earning a Gooner Daily average rating of 7.625.
PLAYER OF THE MONTH
My pick of the bunch, the prestigious award given to the best Gunner of November. Three Gunners were in blistering form last month but a certain Gunner was the best by a far mile.
The nominations were Thomas Vermaelen, Robin van Persie and Alex Song and the results were:
Robin van Persie: 60%
Alex Song: 25%
Thomas Vermaelen: 15%
Van Persie came off the bench against Marseille, he had a 9.0 rating against West Brom, 8.0 against Norwich, 8.5 against Dortmund, 7.5 against Fulham and he was rested for the Manchester City game thereby earning a Gooner Daily average rating of 8.25.
I want to reserve special thanks to everyone that participated in this exercise. I believe that my end of the season review as well as season awards will be fun to write knowing fully that my esteemed readers had a hand in it.
Let’s do this again at the end of December.
The pre-match celebrations of Arsenal’s historic 125th anniversary made me bless the day I decided to support the club eons ago. Almost everyone I’d watched while growing up (and those when I wasn’t even born) wore black suits with the sacred Red and White mufflers. To top it all off, the great grand children of the founding father of the club came unto the pitch with “Danskin 125” boldly written on their jerseys to hand over the match ball to Howard Webb.
Despite the entire hullabaloo, there was an important game to be played and three points were paramount because it handed Arsenal a chance to get a sniff of the top four for a day or two at least. As expected, the stats before the game were staggering.
Robin van Persie had scored 32 Premier League goals in 31 games this calendar year; Arsenal had a meager seven points in their first seven games but a change of fortunes has seen Arsene Wenger’s men amass 19 points in the next seven. Arsenal had also gained more goals, wins and points against Everton than any other team in the Premier League.
The fans weren’t going to expect a Wigan-like performance against an Everton side that has been renowned down the years for their ruggedness and dogged style of play. With basically every Arsenal full back out of action, concerns were raised when Louis Saha and Johan Djourou had a clash that left both players seeking medical attention.
Mikel Arteta faced his former club for the first time since his move on the transfer deadline day and he almost supplied the assist for the first goal when he won the ball from Marouane Fellaini before teeing up Theo Walcott. The Englishman used his pace to create a chance for himself but he chose to pass it to Aaron Ramsey that wasn’t ready for it. Gervinho tried his luck with the follow up but a great chance went begging.
Theo Walcott’s last goal at the Emirates came in the 3-1 victory over Chelsea in Boxing Day last year and it seems as if that run won’t come to an end anytime soon. Alex Song waltzed forward to create a lovely chance for Ramsey but the Welshman swiveled on the ball before sending it over.
In a game that was marred by countless offsides, the next clear cut chance came to Gervinho but the Ivorian’s effort was blocked by Tim Howard in goal. The injury alarm bells began ringing again when Thomas Vermaelen’s ankle was clipped by Tim Cahill.
The second half was a bit reminiscent of the previous 45 with more profligacy in front of goal from the home side and a bit of sloppiness too. Walcott brought the game back to life when he executed an inch-perfect one-two with Ramsey to sting Howard’s hands with a fierce shot. Wily old Phil Neville produced Everton’s first attempt on target with a dipping shot that had some swerve on it but it went over.
When the chips were down and it seemed like it was going to be one of those days for Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny picked the ball further up the pitch before feeding Alex Song. The Cameroonian gem looked up to see his captain before lofting a carefully-weighted ball that was executed magnificently by Robin van Persie.
It was a goal that epitomized everything van Persie stood for in 2011; technique, precision and class.
Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky were stripped and ready for action but the boss made them wait a bit after van Persie’s superb effort went in. Vermaelen was on the wrong end of an elbow from Fellaini so he was withdrawn for Ignasi Miquel for “blurred vision”.
Rosicky also came in for Gervinho and exerted himself on the pitch with an exquisite blind pass to van Persie but the Flying Dutchman effort couldn’t match the lovely buildup. There was a scare late on with an Evertonian debutant called McAleny fired his effort just wide.
At the sound of Howard Webb’s whistle, the fans activated their party mode and for the first time this season, Arsene Wenger and his troops had moved up to the promised land and are now two points above Chelsea who are presently in 5th position.
Szczesny (7.0) was relatively untroubled but he answered admirably when he was called.
Djourou (7.0) put up a better performance in the right back position and went forward a few times.
Mertesacker (6.5) had a much unperturbed evening.
Koscielny (7.5) was a fighter at the back and put up a number of quality headers to break play.
Song (8.0) was rock-solid in the midfield and supplied an inch-perfect assist for the match clincher.
Arteta (7.5) put up a very decent performance against his previous employers. What David Moyes will give to have him back?
Ramsey (6.5) was sloppy at times but did okay in general.
Walcott (7.5) gave the Everton defense a torrid time but his decision making was quite questionable.
Gervinho (6.5) ran at the Everton defense with his direct style of play.
Van Persie (8.0) scored a goal that was reminiscent of his finish against Charlton in the 2006/07 campaign.
Rosicky (7.0) made a good cameo performance.
Miquel (6.5) deputized well for Vermaelen in the dying minutes.
Emmanuel Frimpong didn’t play long enough to get a rating.
The victory also meant that Arsenal had won seven in eight games and would have been the most in-form team in the Premier League with nine straight wins had Fulham not put a dent with that draw. The club also kept back to back clean sheets and the stats of the day undoubtedly belonged to Robin van Persie.
For starters, he is a goal short of equaling Thierry Henry’s all time record for most goals scored in a year but he had also scored the total amount of goals Everton had scored all season long which stands at 15. Before last week’s kickoff, he had scored 13 goals while the entire Wigan squad had amassed 12.
Say all you can about Arsenal being a One-Man team but,
Van’s the Man and Arsenal can always count on him to deliver.
Arsene Wenger and his men will face a true test next week when they visit the Etihad Stadium next Sunday to play the table toppers and it promises to be a great spectacle.
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