I was planning on writing a lengthy analysis of yesterday’s 3-1 victory over Blackpool, however, news of Stan Kroenke’s takeover of the club has cast a shadow over Sunday’s win.
If you want to read my thoughts on the game, however, you can click here to be taken to my article on The People’s Sports Blog, a site to which I regularly contribute. If not, you’ll just have to settle for a short review of the game later in the post.
Before I begin, I just want to say sorry for my prolonged absence. My wireless adapter seems to have broken, so I’ve been unable to access the internet for a while. Luckily Dan was able to fill in for me the other day, writing a good preview for the game.
Now, onto the big news. Stan Kroenke has agreed a deal to take control of Arsenal. He was obliged to make a formal takeover bid after purchasing the shares of Danny Fiszman and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith. The board are seemingly comfortable with Kroenke taking over, and the Club have issued a statement saying that he will respect the Club’s ethos and continue to support our sustainable model.
So there doesn’t seem to be much change in the way our Club will be run. The board will remain in place – including Peter Hill-Wood as chairman, which I can’t say I’m thrilled about – and Kroenke has moved to reassure fans that Arsene will remain as manager.
The only thing that will change is that we’ll be able to compete financially more and pay big money if Wenger feels the need to do so. The decisions in terms of football will remain Arsene’s to make – Kroenke is nothing like Roman Abrahimovic, for example. Or Gillett/Hicks, who were at Liverpool for a short and terrible period.
In fact, I’d say he’s more like John Henry, the new man at the helm of Liverpool. He brought stability to the club, and made some smart appointments including Kenny Dalglish as manager; the man the fans wanted. I think Kroenke will bring something similar. The AST have said they are optimistic that Stan will want to work with the supporters and the fanshare. You can follow @timpayton on Twitter for more on the AST’s future concerning Kroenke and more.
It’s important not to forget the reason for the swiftness of this move – the declining health of Danny Fiszman. He’s been suffering from cancer in a while, and it seems that his condition has deteriorated. He’s always wanted the best for the Arsenal, and was a pioneer in our move to the Emirates. I’m sure he and his family will be in all of our thoughts and prayers.
There’s also been a buzz about David Dein returning to the board. Some are pleased about the rumours, while some don’t want him back. I was lucky enough to meet him just a few days before he left the board, after our 2-0 win over Bolton a couple of years ago.
He and Fiszman fell out over the proposed move to the Emirates. Dein wanted us to move to Wembley, while Fiszman was firmly against that. However, it must be remembered that Dein was the one to bring in our most successful manager ever, Arsene Wenger.
After some digging I’ve found an interview with Hill-Wood in which he makes it clear that he and Dein will not do business together if it can be avoided. It all comes down to who Stan wants at the helm – it’s one or the other. At the moment it seems like it’ll be Hill-Wood, but things could take a twist. You never know with Arsenal.
As for yesterday’s victory, it was a terrific victory against a tough Blackpool team. You have to respect the way they play football. They’re not like Birmingham and Blackburn, they don’t pack their entire team behind the ball. They go out to win football matches and in style. Fair play to Ian Holloway for that. It may not have worked against us, but it’s worked before against the likes of Liverpool and Sp*rs.
Jens Lehmann was well and truly thrown in at the deep end, and he did really well. He made some vital saves, and commanded his area well. I thought Abou Diaby also had a good game, the only sour moment being a booking for stupidly booting the ball away in petulance. He did really well for his goal, and played a key part in the third. If he plays like that more often and shows that kind of attitude (the yellow card aside) I’m happy for him to play whenever Song is injured.
That was actually our first victory this season without Song, believe it or not. It not only shows how important he is, but also how we can handle his absences if Diaby pulls his socks up.
Cesc Fabregas returned to the starting eleven, and was marvellous in midfield, spraying balls over the top for fun. Blackpool let him play, and as Thierry Henry once said; if you let Fabregas play, he can kill a team. That’s exactly what he did.
Arsenal face Blackpool on Sunday in a very important game for both sides.
This is a must win game for the Arsenal, and against an attacking Blackpool side we should be able to win comfortably like we did at the Emirates back in August. We scored 6 against Blackpool at the Emirates but I’m not expecting such a comprehensive result this time. It will be a tough game but we have to win to keep alive our slim chance in the title race. After all we are seven points behind but if we win our game in hand and beat United the gap will be reduced to just a single point.
As is typical for the Arsenal we have three new injury problems with Bacary Sagna, Alex Song and Theo Walcott all major doubtsfor Sunday’s match. In other injury news Denilson and Ramsey are very likely to miss out as well as our other long term absentees including Szczesny and Djourou.
Last weekend against Blackburn the team never got out offirst gear and we failed to defeat a Blackburn side we are very capable of beating. It is bound to have had a negative effect on the side but the players need to bounce back and if they play close to their best we will beat Blackpool on Sunday. There were some promising signs last weekend with Andrey Arshavin especially appearing to be returning to the form we all know he is capable of. He shouldn’t have been substituted as he was one of our best players against Blackburn.
Wenger has confirmed in his press conference today that he will stick with Manuel Almunia in goal. This is a brave decision by Arsene and one that could very easily backfire. The Spaniard clearly has no confidence and against an attacking Blackpool side he could be found out once again. It is clear he has the talent to be a top class goalkeeper but as an Arsenal fan every time the ball gets near him you fear the worst. Hopefully Manuel can perform to his best ability at the weekend.
Bacary Sagna has today been confirmed as doubtful for the match, but Koscielny, Squillaci and Clichy will make up the rest of the back four. Arsenal’s forgotten defender Emmanuel Eboue will start at right back if Sagna doesn’t pass his late fitness test. Cesc Fabregas has been confirmed as fit to start the game and will hopefully be joined by Alex Song and Jack Wilshere. Song however has a knee problem and is facing a late fitness test. If he isn’t fit Abou Diaby will be his likely replacement alongside Wilshere in the heart of the Arsenal midfield.
Theo Walcott is a doubt for the game and Andrey Arshavin is likely to start on the right hand side in his absence. Robin Van Persie will start through the middle and Samir Nasri will start on the left of Arsenal’s forward trio. Bendtner and Chamakh will both feel hard done by as they’ve hardly got a game recently but Van Persie is in red hot form and is the key to us challenging for the title.
Sunday’s game is by no means going to be a walkover but the Arsenal faithful should be confident of victory. Blackpool have been struggling recently and are well and truly in a relegation battle. They won’t be expecting to win on Sunday but due to their attacking philosophy they will still attack and this could play into Arsenal’s hands. They will leave plenty of space in the midfield for the likes of Fabregas to exploit. I’m predicting a 3-1 victory for the Arsenal that would keep us in with a chance of winning the title.