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Written by Mean Lean on Saturday, 05 May 2012 07:40

All the talk in the last week has been about Lukas Podolski, but the German's goals, power and deadly left foot cannot do anything to help us at lunchtime this afternoon. The two remaining games of the season for Arsenal will decide whether the new recruit and his Arsenal colleagues will take a place amongst Europe's best next season.

Tottenham and Newcastle sit in the long grass one point behind, waiting for an Arsenal slip before they pounce. Two victories will assure a clean get away but failure to do so will mean that fate will not be in our own hands,

As Arsenal are the only one of the Champions League teams to play today, it is a great chance to put the pressure right back onto our challengers.

I always get rather nervous when all and sundry write off our opponents, whether that be due to form, quality or both. How many times have we seen a team lose to everyone they face until it comes to us. We stick on the shades and the fluffy slippers only to leave the field red faced and have to hear half our squad talk about complacency in the post match interviewers. In a game of such importance, complacency would be utterly criminal. I trust that this more mature Arsenal side will be far too sensible for that.

While we must respect our opponents today, we should be good enough to score more goals and concede less than our opponents today and we have to go out and do that.

If we do what we need to do then third place can be wrapped up if Aston Villa can take something from their game against Tottenham. Has anyone told Alex McLeish that Tottenham don't like it up em? McLeish seems to think that is the way to go about beating Arsenal so it will be interesting if passing team Tottenham get similar treatment. A victory for the Villains will keep them safe for this season so just in case they were not aware, I think they should go out and do all they can to get a result. Newcastle United whilst in wonderful form have to face Manchester City who have the title in sight.

Back to us, Arsene has stated that we will have the same squad as against Stoke City minus a calf strickened Abou Diaby.

We have not played two direct attacking wide forwards in the same game since we beat Aston Villa at home in early March, that day Gervinho and Walcott terrorised Villa. I would love for us to be that direct today and really go at Norwich from the start. That would mean Oxlade-Chamberlain starting on the right and Gervinho on the left of Robin van Persie. I suspect Yossi Benayoun will retain his place in the team and if you are going by his last performance you would have to say fair enough.

The only other possible selection choices would be Santos over Gibbs as well as Francis Coquelin over Aaron Ramsey but I see neither of those changes happening, so I assume the same folk who started at Stoke will do so again this afternoon.

Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:

We have not quite been at our best in recent weeks but we have played well enough in patches to have beaten all of our opponents since our 1-0 victory against Manchester City. I just hope we do not look back at the end of the season and beat our hands over our foreheads when looking back at Koscielny hitting the crossbar against Chelsea, van Persie having his header saved at Stoke or Gervinho not connecting with a cross in the same game.

At least we are currently in the position where we can look forward and ignore recent results. As Arsene would put it, at top level sport you want to be in the position of your own destiny and we can do that. Those behind us cannot do the same and would love to be in our position.

What would be fantastic is the Arsenal support providing the energy that the players can feed off. We are best when we play at a high tempo and we often play at that tempo when the crowd are on song.

They will have something to cheer about as Pat Rice has his last home match alongside Arsene Wenger as he prepares for retirement at the end of the season.

Thank you for everything Pat. Often overlooked, he has given so much to this club since his playing days to all his hard work on the training ground today. Let us hope the players give you the send off you deserve.

Three points today, nothing more, nothing less.

Comments (34)

  • 'desi'gner gooner  - We will do it.....
    I expect us to overcome Norwich today and with a bit of a cushion. There could be the odd hiccup but this squad doesn't give me the jitters like some of our squads have in recent seasons. And I think RVP will score today - most probably a brace.....

    I wish Diaby was fit for the game today but heck we will have to wait and hope that he finally gets a run of some sort next season. Coquelin also hasn't played since long, otherwise I think he is a better option in the deeper role than Ramsey - who can then come on as sub later on and create havoc with his maniacal work rate....

    Yes Norwich and West Brom are teams which we should win against and it is always easier said than done but I have faith in the Arsenal and I Believe they will do it.....
  • Diesel  - The only team who can stop us finishing 3rd is our
    i just hope and pray their goalkeeper does not have the match of his life. I am not worried about norwich's outfield players. Neither does the west broms players concern me , but goalkeepers???

    DO NOT LEAVE IT LATE ARSENAL!! Finish the game early and a lot of pressure would be eased. If we are not winning by 2 goals by half time then a lot of time wasting and break up in play will ensue in the second and it will be likely that we will not win.

    i expect arsenal to dominate the game but we must be clinical and convert our chances as im sure there will be many.

    Norwich have nothing to play for. They lost 0-3 against an out of form liverpool so i expect arsenal to score that amount before half time.
  • S. Christian Genue  - Life-time Gunner
    Today will se a massive 5-1 win for Arsenal! Watch out Norwich RVP is on the way
  • irish gooner
    i think we will win today,and i think villa will get a point 2morrow,im worried about the hawthorns next week,and newcastle!
  • arsenal will flop today  - arsenal will flop today
    :roll: :arrow:
  • Gino92  - Shocking display so far in defense
    What the fuck is going on? Our defense looks shambolic and non-existent. Norwich looks like scoring every time they come forward. Are the players nervous or what? This is a game we absolutely have to win and we don't seem to be up for it. Where is the display we saw against AC Milan, Spurs, and Man City at the Emirates? For the second goal, both Ramsey and Song were jogging back instead of busting a gut to disrupt the play. Shocking display so far. It easily could've been 4-1 Norwich City, but as it, we are still in this thing and we need to shift gears very quickly in the second half. To make things worse, it looks like bad for Sagna.
    Can we find it within ourselves to impose our game on Norwich?

  • Gino92  - Unbelievable defending... Again!
    Where is that fucking mental strength that Arsene loves to talk about so much? I am so gutted right now? Vermaelen picked the wrong to go missing in defense. Thank goodness for Koscielny, or it could have been a lot worse. Just watched the replay of the goals again and I cannot believe that Ramsey was just jogging back for the first 2 Norwich goals instead of sprinting. It reminded me of Denilson against Man U a few seasons back, allowing Rooney to burst right past him for a goal. What fuck is wrong with Arsenal and end of season collapse? They have just ruined my day. Heck, my weekend for that matter. I expect Newcastle to lose to Man City, but I am worry about Spurs. Can Aston Villa muster the courage and determination to do us a huge favor by beating Spurs tomorrow?
    We shall see...
  • Spectrum
    Norwich - a team with nothing to play for, foil a team with everything to play for. What another gutless performance from us. The pressure's on and we choke. A.K.B.'s - can you explain why your all wise, all knowing manager doesn' t have the sense to SHUT UP SHOP when we're leading 3-2 with SO MUCH at stake ? I'll tell you why. Because Wenger hates the word "defence". It's the antithesis of his footballing philosophy. And here we see the result on display again. And certainly not for the first time. This naive and pigheaded view of his cost us this game, and could well end up costing us champions league qualification as well.

    Based on this, and our recent performances, we don't deserve finishing third. Too many players not up for the fight. And of course Ramsey gets preferred over the Ox yet again. Wenger's stubborn insistence on picking his favourite regardless of his form, over the aggression and enthusiasm of Chamberlain, underlined why his decision making hinders the team rather than assists it. RVP was the best of our bunch of spineless laze-abouts - as is often the case. Where would we be without him ? For your sake Robin, my advice is leave for a club that can better cater to your ambitions.

    The annual end of season collapse has simply arrived later than usual this year. May is here - and isn't that supposed to be Judgment Time ?
  • Anonymous
    Wenger is definitely manager of the season. Don't blame him, blame the ref, blame the early kick off. sod it blame the pitch! In Wenger we trust.
  • Anonymous
    12 months on and what's changed?

    Lets look at what the manager and players were saying at the end of last season for some clues.

    Wenger was quoted saying on the 26th April 2011 "We don’t attack the ball enough, nobody’s commanding" blaming his defence after the loss at Bolton.

    Vermaelen said on the 15th May "Our mentality needs to improve" after the 2-1 home defeat to Villa.

    Speaking after the same match Wenger said "We have lacked focus in the smaller games"

    You make up your own minds Gooners.

    Facts are we have conceded 47 goals this season so far and this compares to 41 after the same number of matches last season.
  • Anonymous  - A season to reflect
    Here are some thoughts from certain contributors to this blog from back over the past few months;

    Starting with ML;"You have to admit that things are not quite as bad as you thought they were."

    Pika (RIP) wrote; "you probably think that a succesful manager is someone like ferguson" - nuff said!

    Richie commented;"Loyalty to the club has nothing to do with winning! Winning is a bonus". Shame on all you Gooners who wanted success.

    Oh and another beauty from Pika (RIP); "well you cant blame him for not winning titles when his emphasis is on grooming youngsters for the future"

    or perhaps this gem; "if you didnt realise back in 2006 that the move to emirates equalled a period of shit results for a while then thats YOUR FAULT , not wenger;s."

    Gino92 said what everyone was thinking; "does anybody know what is going on with Abou Diaby? Seems like he hasn't been seen around the Emirates for ages!". sad state of affairs

    Ed was straight to the point after the Blackburn defeat; "What a mess we are in!! ". How observant Ed, shame it wasn't picked up by the boss and acted upon.

    CH Gooner wrote"Wenger is the cause of our problems. Straightforward. Get him out and we can win something, keep him and we can't."- hum, controversial.

    Richie got all serious with this entry;"its the same old storey our defense is all over the place. There´s no one to come in and wave a magic wand but there is a lot of work to be done on the training field.
    Its all far too similar to last season its like an orchestra without a conductor out there. Bottom line, someone needs to organise our defense." watch your spelling there Richie!

    back to Pika with this one;"lol..relax people..its still bloody september ..and we are with new players and a very low confidence ..". Mistic Meg he wasn't!

    I would like to thank ML for running such a great blog and keeping the quotes for us all to cherish.

    It'll be interesting reading the comments next season- a case of Deju Vu perhaps?
  • luis zelaya
    our run of "bad luck" with referees is as consistent as say, manure's run of "good luck" with refereeing decisions. i give up, we cannot challenge for this league as long as that old fart ferguson is still there moving the strings. The fa is a joke, and an old one. for years that team has kept others from winning the league by getting dodgy decisions in their favour when they need it, and the other teams simply don't get decisions in their favour. wenger? i... just don't know anymore. Europe? same shit, but the name is barcelona. you simply can't compete against the machine.
    we should have two more leagues. not that we can complain this season, we deserve fourth, or fifth, but ahead of that scum that just might manage to steal the league. Again.
  • MeanLean
    Here is the thing Mr Anonymous,

    You are swimming around in a pool of 'I told you so' clearly revelling in it. Go ahead knock yourself out. Here is the thing. You are preaching to Arsenal supporters who do not only sing when we are winning. You go around jumping onto the blog when the team lose and point the finger at supporters who back their club. Why? What does it prove? What exactly are you expecting from supporters who choose to support the club/

    If we were in the Championship we would still be hoping for the best, hoping for improvement and supporting what we see on the pitch. People get frustrated by different things, some have unreasonable expectations, some are more tolerant while some will for the most part only comment when the team are not doing well.

    What exactly are you trying to achieve? You have absolutely no influence on which manager is in charge of Arsenal FC. None, zero, zlinch. That is a fact, that is reality. Deal with it.

    If you don't like where the club is, then it is very simple. Don't read blog's, don't comment, don't watch the games. If you want to compain then go ahead complain about the team, I have during most defeats but what exactly does it have to do with other Arsenal fans? Why the strange obsession?

    What will not happen is fans like myself, taking your lead and knock every single bit of enjoyment from supporting Arsenal football club. That isn't going to happen so this whole 'I am right' thing is just a waste of your time. You are preaching to the wrong person.

    If you are not happy, write to the club and send them quotes of what players have said. That might be more productive. I am not sure what you want me to do with Vermaelen's quotes of old. Tell me, what do I do with it? What do I do with my old quotes.. 'You have to admit that things are not quite as bad as you thought they were'

    When was that? When you said we would get relegated?

    If you get your enjoyment from going through old quotes and saying 'haha told you so' then go for it. Roll around in it and I hope you sleep well.

    That is not me and I won't be joining you in those games.

    As for Arsenal, awful day at the office. We really must do a lot better than that but regardless I will always love my club. Some people can pick and choose when it suits, I cannot and will not.
  • kenn  - i HATE to see ramsey in starting line UP
    huhuhu...he so arrogant...always get starting lineup... he not support defense...slow brain after get the ball...lack of urgency thinking...
    how many game we can win but he spoil it....F**Kup thais player...
    i hope next session he cant get a chance...we have arteta and WILSHERE.. ..
  • Anonymous  - luis zelaya- a fault with your argument
    It seems as though you believe in this crap that every man and his dog has it in for Wenger and our club. This is nonsense. Our problems derive from within.

    It may have escaped your attention but it's possible that Fergie won't win the league this season and Mancini will prevail. Same in Europe - "the machine" Barca were knocked out in the semis.
  • Anonymous  - ML - a response
    I don't revel in defeat or dropped points. That's for SPUDS.

    The point about "I told you so" - applies to both camps. You need only look back at the comments posted after a victory or especially after the period earlier this year when the team managed to win a few games on the spin at the finger pointing vile which came from some of the contributors listed.

    Your hypothetical reference to us being in the Championship is, well just hypothetical so not worth a comment.

    Now here's the thing ML- you said "People get frustrated by different things, some have unreasonable expectations" - mine are quite simple. I expect Arsenal to be able to perform better than they have managed over recent seasons and not be done over by the likes of Swansea, Blackburn, Liverpool, QPR FFS.

    Our defence has been our problem for years but nothing gets done. We've conceded more goals so far this season than Sunderland, we share the same record as West Brom and only three less than Villa. How can that be right?? Why isn't our defence improving?

    I don't have an obsession with other fans. I do aim to strike a balance though and it seems that the only fans who are allowed to voice an opinion on this site are the AKB's. Well, not EVERY gooner is a AKB. Those who do not 'believe' anymore in Wengers broken project are just as entitled to express themselves. I serve to do that and to prove with stats that the project isn't delivering the results we have a right to expect nor the quality of football the club was once so famous for.

    You can remain loyal to the manager- that is admirable perhaps- but not every supporter has to agree with your opinion.
  • MeanLean
    Life Line!
  • Gunner
    YESSS! Arsenal now back in control. Better do the job at West Brom next weekend
  • paspartu
    ahahah to the anonymous mug and his leader spectrum both spoke too soon :lol: :lol: :lol:

    now who looks silly ?

    so anonymous and speccy it bothers you that in an important game 19 year old chesney chocked and gifted them two goals huh? what about the multi epl winner rio effing ferdinand together with his world class teammates effing up the TITLE against wigan, everton etc etc....

    its ok boys you have one final chance , so get your hopes up and start singing west brom;s anthem.
  • paspartu
    Well, not EVERY gooner is a AKB.

    in that case he/she is an idiot or mad. 8)

    of course arsene knows best is a very logical statement.

    those who claim differently should bring forwards their titles and cv and we can compare 8)
  • IndiGooner  - 90 minutes
    WoW #northlondonisred! Glad that we still have a chance to fight! If we were cheap rest were even cheaper :lol:

    Hey Anon! You claim you try to strike a balance! :shock: go lie to some one else! I read see you pop up after every defeat yeat hide when we win! Only agenda you have is to critisize every blog who stand by AFC no matter what!

    I am an AKB! So whats wrong with that!, How many fantacy leagues have you won? None! If AFC was sooooooo poor that you claim we would have been 7th or 8th! but we are 3rd and if the cocks and dicks dont take there chances not our problem!
  • paspartu
    and no anonymous theres no fault in luis arguement ...0 penalties in 19 home games my friend....19 x 90 = 1710 minutes . not one penalty.

    last year at newcastle werent we top of league at half time ? and then dowd ....
  • paspartu
    Every year some manager gets praised for saving a hapless team from going into relegation (watch as people will suck on Martin O’Neil’s two incher at the end of this season), Moyes gets a blowjob from every pundit for doing so well with so little, Harry gets mad props for having the best Tottenham side in decades but Arsene who consistently gets his team in the champions league, has won more silverware than any Arsenal manager and has his team in third currently (this despite playing most of the season without his top back four intact) gets a big old “fuck you” from some Arsenal fans.

    And while I suppose it’s fair to carp about losing to some shitty teams, anyone with any sense of fairness might want to stop and think “yeah, but this team bet Manchester City, Chelsea, Spurs, Everton, Milan and managed to finish top of their champions’ league bracket which featured this year’s Bundesliga champions. But, you know, like any manager can do that and stuff…
  • Spectrum
    Well Mean Lean, you're certainly displaying your bias and inconsistency. You banned pika for his moronic and offensive comments before, but now he's shown up under yet another name ( paspartu this time ) you refuse to remove him.

    I pointed this out to you days ago, yet STILL you have not acted. And not even a comment from you either. If you won' t set the example, and follow YOUR OWN rules why should I, or indeed, ANYONE ELSE on here ?
  • paspartu
    Well Mean Lean, you're certainly displaying your bias and inconsistency.

    LMFAO ..look whos talking about bias and inconsistency .....youre the number one biassed person towards wenger.. your critique on him is based on YOUR personal dislike of him and has nothing to do with facts and his work.


    lol....nice to see you being a man of your words ......... now stop begging mean l;ean to save you from the humble pies i throw in your face you spud troll
  • paspartu
    lol mean lean let the peasant boil in his frustration :lol: :lol: dont do him any favours...if he wants to trash wenger just cause he has a personal fixation agianst him then we reserve the right to retaliate 8)
  • paspartu
    do the right thing mean lean ...set the example...give us spectrum;s ip 8)

    that way we can all have a live discussion and laugh in his face when he talks his usual crap.

    " teacher save me...that boy is bullying me ..wont let me trash wenger like i want to" :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
  • paspartu
    spectrum, wenger is our spiritual leader, he is our father , he is Zeus, he is the ONE who took us from the pits of underachievement and anonymity and turned us into a 21st century world class football club...somehting arsenal never was in its 106 previous years of existence 8)

    " Forgive them father for they dont know what theyre saying"

  • Spectrum
    Golum ( paspartu ) @9;40 - I rarely stoop low enough to argue with an immature juvenile minded bigot such as yourself, but you're distorting and falsifying my comments. My "critique of him" IS based on facts and his work. And I've provided plenty of reasons as to why that is, in my many posts on here over a long period. My personal dislike for him has developed FROM THAT ( over time ), it is NOT the prime reason why I criticise him so much. But you in your rabidly zealous defence of him ( extreme, even by A.K.B. standards ) , only focus on what he did in his EARLY YEARS with us, and NOT the steady decline of the team and him personally ,over the last seven to eight years since.

    This fallback to the "good old days" is the same tired and standard defence that is commonly used by all A.K.B.'s in their attempt to ignore reality. You're all so blinded by your loyalty to him, that you CANNOT and will not recognise that he's no longer the man he used to be. And that the team's fortunes have suffered as a result.

    And I never said that "if we do qualify, I'd shut up." Your tiny unbalanced mind is confused again. What I DID say was if Wenger wins THE LEAGUE again, I'd change my opinion of him ( highly unlikely given his recent record ). That's the HUGE difference. So get your facts right.

    Oh, and think yourself lucky that you're even able to post comments on here, if it wasn' t for Mean Lean indulging you in your hatred and vitriol to all who have a differing opinion.
  • Spectrum
    O.k. "paspartu" or whatever name you like to hide your venom and insults behind, answer this ; "Arsene Wenger IS Arsenal. In fact, he's bigger than Arsenal ". True or false ?

    A '"leading" question, and I suspect we already know your answer, based on your previous doctrinal rants. ( And inevitably I feel another one coming....) But I just thought it would be revealing for all to see how out of touch with your priorities and loyalty you actually ARE. Sad how anyone can be so wrapped up in personality worship, that they can elevate an individual ( ANY individual ) above and beyond the club's proud reputation and history.

    While we're on the subject, how many other of you A.K.B.'S believe the same to be true ? It wouldn't surprise me if there were lots. No wonder the club doesn't progress.
  • paspartu
    shhh puppy ...the only venom and insults in here come from you and have our LEADER , GOD , MANAGER as target .....

    the club doesnt progress? ahahha only an idiot would say something like that...i remember arsenal finishing 12th and 7th with 30 year old experienced epl veterans, plus the club didnt have a 450 investment burdening them with transfers ignorant sh*thead..pmsl...

    personality worship ? hahaha... no maybe we should let you with your personality hatred trash the greatest manager our club has ever known

    wind your neck in sonny ......we are smarter than you and we know more about football than you ..... and i will humiliate you wherever i find you .....for that there can be no doubt... :lol:

    as you were 8)
  • Spectrum
    "paspartu" - Oh I'm so scared. But you didn't answer the question, mug. True or false ? Arsene is more important to you than the CLUB ITSELF. Right ? You even call him "God" F.F.S.. Try taking that stance with a group of your ( non A.K.B.) Arsenal drinkers in the pub. Ha, I'd like to be there to see you get cleaned up.

    You see in your deluded abstract little world, not everyone believes he is the messiah you think he is. Oh hang on, maybe he is in a way. He led us into the wilderness, but he's still looking for the way out after seven years of trying. l.o.l.
  • paspartu
    hey puppy who told you we value or read what your questions are ? lol u interrogating us ? sit down puppy and yes he is GOD , MAKER, CREATOR of our football club :lol: :lol: :lol: if it wasnt for him wed still have those beer drinking neanderthals who secretely support spurs like your hero gg who even coached them... :P :P :P

    P.S oh bunny...sorry ..oh puppy ...why dont you tell us in which other era and under which manager has arsenal attained positions 1-4 for 16 straight years ? come on ...cookies await..

    MEAN LEAN ... bring out the graph please .....spectrum missed the class last time .... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
  • paspartu
    "He led us into the wilderness"

    ahahahah 3 epl titles, one unbeaten season ( historical record and triumph) 4 f.a cups, some other little cups too ( com sh , cc? ) a state of the art stadium, champions league constantly , training facilities, pires, henry , vieira, cambell , fabregas vanpersie

    LOL ....shut up mate ....if you call arsenal;s golden ACME as wilderness then what the fuck were all our previous years as a football club ? are a spud !!! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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