Arteta thanks fans after Henderson assault

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Mikel Arteta has thanked fans of Arsenal and Liverpool after he suffered a severe concussion when Jordan Henderson momentarily thought he was playing the NFL.

The Arsenal midfielder took the full impact of Henderson’s sly shoulder to his jaw and was stretchered off with an oxygen mask to generous applause from the home fans, considering his Everton past.

Arteta described the incident as ‘terrifying’ although said he remembered little of it, but made a point of acknowledging the reception he got at Anfield on Saturday.

“I’ve since looked back at the TV images of when I was being taken off and just want to show my appreciation to the Liverpool fans at Anfield,” he said. “It is touching to receive that response from the fans of a great club when I am leaving the pitch injured. Thank you.

“I also want to thank Pepe Reina and the Liverpool players who have sent me messages of support and friendship, this again is really touching and just shows class from a great football club.

“And very importantly, a message to all the fantastic Arsenal fans, not only all those at Anfield on Saturday who were brilliant, but also those who have sent me many messages since Saturday. It is hugely appreciated.”

The Spaniard could well be in contention to play against AC Milan tomorrow night having declared himself ‘fine’, but Arsene Wenger should confirm his availability soon when he meets the press ahead of the Champions League tie.

Update: Arteta is out of tomorrow’s game, Arsene confirms at his press conference.

Henderson, meanwhile, seems to have escaped punishment despite replays which seem to illustrate contact with Arteta was deliberate. While he clearly wasn’t expecting his opponent to turn face first into him, he should still be held accountable for the damage he did.

You can see a GIF of the incident here.

Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal: By the Numbers

Before we get down to the Liverpool v. Arsenal numbers I wanted to show you all something. There’s been a lot of talk about Song’s through ball numbers this season and how he’s top of the League in terms of through balls per game with 0.7.

Arsenal play a Barcelona style of football which means that they play a large number of through balls per game. In fact, Arsenal and Man City have been battling it out for supremacy in that category all season with the Citeh team just edging Arsenal with 8 per game to Arsenal’s 7 per game.

Predictably, Barcelona destroy both of those teams with their whopping 13 through balls attempted per game. And as a result, Barcelona have four players in the top 15 in Europe’s top Leagues for successful through balls per game (Messi 1.5, Cesc 0.7, Iniesta 0.7, Xavi 0.6).

And then there’s Song. The only player on an English team who is in the top 10 and nestled between Cesc and Iniesta in 8th place with his 0.7 per game.

But you know what’s even more striking? How similar his other numbers are to Cesc.

It’s pretty clear by these numbers that Song has to do more defensive work than Cesc (tackles and interceptions) and doesn’t get forward as much as Cesc (goals) but those other numbers are eerily similar.

I’m not saying that Song is Cesc’s replacement but it’s pretty clear that in the absence of Cesc and Wilshere, Song has stepped up his game. As we witnessed up close on Saturday.

Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal

10 – Fouls called for Liverpool
6 – Fouls called for Louis Suarez
1 – Blatant dives by Suarez to win a penalty
10 – Fouls called for Arsenal
1 – Two-footed tackles by Spearing that Halsey missed
1 – Elbows to the face by Kuyt that Halsey missed
1 – Concussions suffered by Arteta when Henderson challenged him off the ball that Halsey missed
1 – Times the Scousers sang “same old Arsenal, always cheating”

38 – Crosses attempted by Liverpool
8 – Crosses attempted by Arsenal
12 – Corners attempted by Liverpool
0 – Corners attempted by Arsenal
20 – Successful clearances by Arsenal
8 – Successful clearances by Liverpool
8 – Successful crosses by Liverpool
3 – Successful corners by Liverpool
18 – Interceptions by Arsenal
6 – Offsides by Liverpool

320 – Completed passes by Arsenal at Anfield (worst of the season so far)
337 – Completed passes by Arsenal at Swansea (previous worst)
77 – Percent of passes completed by both Arsenal and Liverpool
100 – Percent that kicking people and not passing the ball suited King Kenny to a tee
90 – Average pass completion rate by Arteta so far this season
78 – Percent he completed against Liverpool

1 – Touches by Andy Carroll
1 – Aerial duels won by Andy Carroll
28 – Minutes by Abou Diaby v. Liverpool
56 – Abou Diaby minutes for Arsenal 2011/2012
55 – ‘000 £/minute that Abou Diaby has played this season
173 – Abou Diaby minutes for France 2011/2012
00 – Pounds Sterling that France pay in Abou Diaby’s Arsenal wages
1343 – Abou Diaby minutes for Arsenal since 2010/2011

2 – Shots by Robin van Persie
2 – Shots on goal by Robin van Persie
2 – Goals by Robin van Persie
25 – League goals by van Persie
30 – League goals by Liverpool
5 – Years since Arsenal had a player who scored more than 20 League goals in a season (Adebayor -24- 2007/2008).

Qq

Boss ready to ‘go for it’ against Milan

Arsenal face AC Milan in the Champions League tomorrow evening, 4-0 down from the first leg, and with qualification looking rather unlikely.

There are those who suggest we play a weakened team in order to avoid injury to our most important players before we head into the final stretch of the Premier League campaign, while others would point to the fact that we don’t play again until Monday so should put out our best team possible.

It does appear as if some change is inevitable, but whoever is selected, the manager is ready to try and claw back the four goal deficit. Speaking to the official site, Wenger said, “We want to make the impossible possible. From the first leg it looks impossible but we have to have a real go, play with belief and think we can do it.

“You never know. Maybe I will change the structure of the team to go for it and see if we can put them under pressure and score some goals.

“We have nothing to lose. For us to find the right balance between having to completely go forward and not concede a goal will be the difficulty for us because they have talented players.

“We have a lot to answer for and to respond to in the second leg. Everyone expects us to be out, but we are not yet, we are still in there.”

And he joked that the injury problems, and knocks picked up at Anfield, might force his hand when it comes to the team selection.

“We look decimated after the game. I don’t know who will be available on Tuesday night. Maybe I will play with six strikers as we have to score goals!”

Unleash the 4-0-6, Arsene!

 

Wenger cautious on Wilshere return

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Arsene Wenger has revealed the latest news about Jack Wilshere is positive, but says his return to first team action is still some way away.

Jack has missed the whole of the season thus far with an ankle injury which required surgery back in September. He then suffered a further stress fracture to his heel in January when on the verge of getting back to full training, forcing another period of rest and rehabilitation.

“We have good news but Jack isn’t close to a ­comeback,” said the boss.  “The last scan was good and he can start to jog again so he is on the way back – but we have to be very cautious with him.

“I hope to have him back before the end of the season, but we go step by step.”

There are those who say Euro 2012 is a realistic target for Wilshere but Arseblog News could not care less about his involvement with the England team. Seeing him in red and white is far more important and you have to hope that any selection for England is based on him proving his fitness with us first.

Meanwhile, Abou Diaby, who lasted just 28 minutes of his latest comeback, came off due to a ‘tight hamstring’ and not because of a recurrence of his ankle problems. It means he’s unlikely to play against AC Milan on Tuesday night although his presence in the squad would be a boost due to the injury suffered by Mikel Arteta (GBH), and the fact that Coquelin and Frimpong are missing through hamstring and cruciate injuries respectively.

There are doubts over Kieran Gibbs and Yossi Benayoun too as the manager looks to find a team that will balance our need to prove something against Milan with the need to rest certain players ahead of a taxing league schedule.

Van Persie bigs up Song and Szczesny

Despite his two goal salvo winning the points for Arsenal at Klanfield today, Robin van Persie was keen to ensure that the praise was evenly spread.

The skipper kissed the boot of Alex Song after another delicious pass led to his incredible winning goal, and in the first half Wojciech Szczesny made a brilliant double save to deny Kuyt from the penalty spot after the diving buck toothed racist won the spot kick for the home side.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, van Persie was quick to praise Song for the assist which many have compared to his ball for the goal against Everton.

“It was the same pass from the same guy, Alex, an unbelievable pass,” he said. “This one I hit with the inside of my foot, but again it was an unbelievable pass.

“Alex is a really good player, he can see it and actually do it. And I have to thank Szczesny as well.”

Arsene Wenger was also happy to praise his goalkeeper, saying, “There were two men of the match today, Wojciech Szczesny and van Persie.”

The victory means Arsenal have opened up a 10 point gap over Liverpool, and should Sp*rs lose to United tomorrow it means the gap to them is just 4 points.

“It means a lot, to score at Anfield is big because Anfield is a massive ground,” said the captain who, in case you didn’t already know, scores when he wants.

“I’m proud of that, but even more proud of this win. I don’t think we really deserved it to be honest because Liverpool played better.”

“I think we are 10 points ahead of Liverpool now and we can wait to see what Spurs do tomorrow (against Manchester United). It’s a big win, a massive win.”

 

Match Report: Liverpool 1 – 2 Arsenal

Robin van Persie secured a vital three points for Arsenal in the race for a Champions League spot with an amazing injury-time volley as the Gunners overcame a dominant Liverpool side at Anfield. The home side missed a penalty, hit the post twice and took the lead thanks to a Laurent Koscielny own goal before surrendering to the brilliance of the Gunners striker. First the Dutchman headed a first half equaliser from a Sagna cross, then he caressed a glossy strike past a helpless Pepe Reina in the dying moments.

Despite worries being aired on Friday about the fitness of Robin van Persie, Thomas Vermaelen and Alex Song all three made Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up, as the Gunners fielded the same team that hammered Spurs.

Liverpool threatened with a couple of early corners in the opening exchanges, but the first shot in anger was from Theo Walcott. Latching onto a long ball by Mikel Arteta, Sunday’s two-goal hero, arrowed a volley from a tight angle which forced Reina into a smart save.

At the other end Szczesny was forced to tidy up behind Koscielny after a long ball over the top was misjudged by the Frenchman. The Pole heading the ball from outside his box, not once but twice after a minor panic at the back. Liverpool continued to press as the game reached the fifteen minute mark and both Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna were forced into fantastic last-ditch challenges.

The pressure told eventually and after a neat one-two between Dirk Kuyt and Suarez, Szczesny took down the Uruguayan who was closing in on goal. It was difficult to tell how much contact had been made, but the Liverpool man didn’t need an excuse to go down like a gunshot victim. The penalty was awarded just like last week, but this time there was to be a different outcome.

Diving to his right Szczesny saved Kuyt’s spot-kick and despite the ball falling straight back into the path of the Dutchman the Pole managed to grapple a second effort out for a corner. It was a fantastic double save, arguably his best moment since saving from Di Natale in the Champions League qualification match against Udinese.

The joy was short-lived. On 22 minutes Liverpool took the lead and again it was an Arsenal man who did the hard work. A cross by Henderson was flashed across the six yard box after a swift break by the home team and Laurent Koscielny accidently crashed home an attempted clearance. We were lucky it wasn’t 2-0 a few seconds later. Suarez hit the post after a save by Szczesny from Henderson. We were really on the ropes, struggling to string passes together.

Out of nothing we equalised and who else could it be but Robin van Persie? A superb cross by Bacary Sagna found the captain and he tidily headed home at the near post past a stranded Reina. It was his 30th goal of the season and his celebration was nonchalance personified.

Despite the goal, parity at the break was only maintained thanks to more great work by Szczesny…and the goal post. You can say what you like about Luis Suarez as a person (racist cunt springs to mind), but as a footballer he’s one tricky customer. Five minutes before half-time he wriggled through the entire Arsenal defence and slid a low shot goalwards. It took a sprawling dive by our number one to again push the ball past the post – it was goalkeeping at its best

In injury-time another low ball across the six-yard box was met by Kuyt who nipped across Vermaelen and Koscielny to clip another effort against the post. There could have been no complaints if the players had headed to the dressing-room losing by at least a couple of goals. Battles were being lost all over the pitch while when we did get possession the likes of Song and Arteta too regularly surrendered the ball again.

Despite our struggles, Arsene persisted with the same team at the start of the second half. A change wasn’t long coming though. After an innocuous collision between Arteta and Henderon, our Spanish midfielder hit the turf and seemed to be knocked out cold. He was down for an absolute age as both medical teams worked on reviving him. After five minutes he left the field on a stretcher, an oxygen mask on his face – Abou Diaby came on to replace him and straight away had a strike at goal.

Liverpool’s pressing of our back four continued to make life very difficult for us. Too often Koscielny and Vermaelen were rushed into long lofted balls forward which inevitably ended back at the feet of an opponent. Our passing game was non-existent.

A quick throw saw Rosicky given enough room in the Liverpool area to hook a dangerous cross along the six-yard box, but with nobody making a run to connect with it, the chance went begging.

One of the major problems seemed to be our unwillingness to close down Liverpool players in wide areas. Time and time again the home side found themselves with time on the ball in the final third and able to whip dangerous balls into the penalty area. It forced a series of last-ditch challenges which could easily have seen us concede.

The game was becoming far more stretched in the final twenty minutes. Walcott had a great chance after a pull-back by Gibbs, but his deflected shot was well saved. The quiet Benayoun was then replaced by Gervinho as Wenger looked to add more pace to the attack. Walcott had another chance after a deft chipped ball by Rosicky but his header was very tame.

Abou Diaby’s afternoon last only 30 minutes; if it wasn’t so sad, it would almost be comical. The French midfielder hadn’t done badly since replacing Arteta, so I can only assume he was injured when Wenger decided to throw on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain into the centre of the park for the final nine minutes. You really fear for Diaby’s career now.

As the game reached the 90 minute mark Arsenal looked good for a draw, but when eight minutes of injury-time were announced you feared an onslaught from the home side.

Then Robin van Persie did what Robin van Persie does.

Remember that goal against Everton? A lofted Song pass and a RVP volley. Well he did it again. What a goal it was. This time the finish was more cushioned and at the near post, but it was no less fantastic. He kissed his Cameroon teammate’s boot as a thanks for the assist.

It was a real smash and grab. Could we hold on? Chamberlain fancied a third and flashed just over. Liverpool couldn’t muster another effort and then it was over. How the hell did we win that?

Who fucking cares…

The gap on Spurs is down to four points and we’re nicely ensconced in the top four.

 

Roller coaster February ends with accolade for Wenger

Arsene Wenger has been crowned the Barclays Premier League Manager of the Month for February after his Arsenal side took ten points from a possible 12 and regained their place in the top four.

Starting the month with a frustrating goalless draw at Bolton Wanderers, the Gunners thumped Blackburn 7-1 at home, before snatching three points at Sunderland thanks to a last gasp Thierry Henry winner. Then of course there was last week’s North London derby – an uneventful game which resulted in another routine dismantling of the Spuds.

In truth I’m sure Arsene will look back on the last 29 days with mixed emotions. While regaining momentum in the league has been vital, watching his side succumb to their ‘worst ever’ European loss (the boss’ words not mine) and then limply succumbing to Sunderland in the FA Cup will not sit well with a man who always takes defeat to heart.

It’s the 12th time that Wenger has won the Manager of the Month accolade since arriving from Nagoya Grampus Eight in 1996 and his first since this time last year.

With an early game against Liverpool tomorrow, Arseblog News crosses its collective fingers hoping that talk of a MOM curse is a load of old cobblers…

Liverpool v Arsenal stat pack and betting preview

As with every Premier League game, our friends at kickoff.co.uk have provided us with a fantastic visual stat pack infographic ahead of our game against Liverpool at Klanfield tomorrow.

It’s jam-packed with info and figures and diagrams for you stats fans out there. Simply click the image to see the full, extended version (this image is just a snippet).

Paddy Power Arseblog betting

Paddy Power are running a money back special this weekend – If there is a penalty scored in this game Paddy Power will refund all losing 1st/last goalscorer, correct score & scorecast singles on the match.

Click here to register with Paddy Power and get up to £50 in a free bet!

Arsenal beat 14 clubs to Luton Academy starlet

It’s been quite some time since Arsenal have raided Luton Town’s Academy…fifteen years in fact. After moves for the talismanic John Hartson in 1995 and the legendary Matthew Upson in 1997 a third Hatter has become a Gunner with the news that Tarum Dawkins is set to move to N5.

What do you mean you’ve never heard of him? Shame on you! Turns out Tarum is something of a wing wizard and according to the official Luton website was wanted by 14 Premier League clubs before he decided to sign on at the Emirates.

The only problem for Gunners fans hoping for a glimpse of the new acquisition is that he’s only 16-years-old so, in all likelihood, won’t be seeing any first team action in the near future.

Here’s what Luton’s head of youth development, Gregg Broughton, has to say on his protégé and the manner in which Arsenal have conducted themselves in negotiations over the course of the last few months.

“He is very quick both with and without the football, can play off both feet and therefore he will fit in very well with Arsenal’s style of play,” he told Lutontown.co.uk

“Playing on either wing he is capable of beating full backs on both the inside and outside making him very difficult to play against.

“We never like to lose talented players from the club, but after sitting down with Tarum and his family last month we recognised that he was desperate to join Arsenal, and as I have said before, if players are unsettled and wish to look elsewhere, and the deal is right for all parties, then it is the most sensible way to progress.

“We would like to thank Arsenal for the professional manner in which they have conducted themselves and wish Tarum the very best for his ongoing career.”

Luton currently play in the fifth tier of English football in the Conference National division; an intriguing state of affairs given the success they enjoyed the late eighties making Gus Caesar play like Gus Caesar in the 1988 League Cup final.

For all you mentalists who make their mind up about players based on YouTube clips, here’s a video of some boys playing in the park. Apparently one of them is Dawkins.

Wenger underlines Arshavin move motive

It’s a week since Arsene Wenger sanctioned Andrey Arshavin’s loan return to Zenit St Petersburg and he’s still having to justify the decision after the raising of collective eyebrows across the red half of North London.

Speaking to the press ahead of tomorrow’s tough trip to Liverpool, a fixture in which the Russian scored five goals with six attempts in his first two games at Anfield, the boss added further weight to the theory he let the little winger leave the Emirates in order to get playing time ahead of Euro 2012.

“I just felt he needed to play. When you are 30 and you do not play regularly, you drop your form and when you come on every time you have to produce something special.

“At that age it is very difficult. I felt he just needed a bit of confidence to play again.”

A staunch defender of Arshavin, despite the player being roundly criticised as both lazy and ineffectual by media and fans alike, you can’t help but think that Wenger’s loyalty to Andrey has played a major factor in this decision. Indeed it strikes Arseblog News as the same kind of personal affection which saw Wenger allow Sol Campbell to leave the club on a free once the former centre-back declared his desire to play abroad (something he then didn’t do…)

While few would be surprised if Arshavin were to ever wear the Arsenal shirt again in anger, Wenger did stress that the return to Russia is only on a temporary basis at the moment.

“Things have not ended because he is still our player, he is only out on loan,” suggested Arsene.

With only a year left on Arshavin’s contract, Ivan Gazidis could still attempt to muster a half-decent transfer fee this summer for a player who is thought to have cost in the region of £15 million three years ago.

That being said, unless he wins Zenit the title and Russia become champions of Europe in Ukraine and Poland, it seems unlikely the 30-year-old will move for much more than couple of crates of homemade moonshine.