[Football Talk] 2014 FA Cup: Finally!

Finally! That must’ve been what was on every Gooners mind on Saturday (or early Sunday if you’re in my timezone.) After nine painfull trophyless years, Arsenal won their 11th FA Cup title.

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I was restless during the few days before the final. I have lots of faith on the team, but, with our track records in the past few years, I knew that it won’t be easy. And that was what happened. During the first 13 minutes of the game, when we were 2-0 down, my heart sunk. I started to imagine the worst case scenario. Arsenal seemed to always get caught in a tangled web of misfortune on important games.
A tiny bit of hope emerged after Santi Cazorla’s amazing free kick. But it stil wasn’t enough to calm my nerves. The lads were amazingly patient in building their attacks. But Hull City was also smart enough to know how to block them.
When Laurent Koscielny somehow managed to turn around and get the ball in around the 70th minutes mark, the hope grew. “We can make it,” I said to myself.
Yaya Sanogo made me nervous again. My personal opinion of him is that he needs more experience. He  To me, he looked a bit awkward on the pitch and couldn’t really control the ball (It’s only my personal opinion.) Until Aaron came along with that beautiful winning goal. I felt assured that we could do it, although I knew that the danger isn’t over yet. That moment when Per fell and Fabianski moved forward? It almost got my heart leaped out of my throat!
When the final whistle was heard, I’m sure all Gooners felt the same, a wave of relieve and happiness washed over me. I was almost brought to tears to see the Boss smilling. It’s been a while since the last time he smiles so brightly.

To me, this victory is the beginning of something bigger, the beginning of a comeback. It made me believe even more that Arsenal still got what it takes to be a big team that competes for big titles. It put an end to our nine years of agony. Plus it’s an amazing birthday present 😀

Will it put to rest all of that bad and hideous headlines that the press often targeted Arsenal with? Maybe, but maybe not. The boss said that with this victory, we forced them to be more creative and that he’s sure they will be. Nicely said, Boss!
Well, I hope that this FA Cup title will mark the comeback of a stronger and better Arsenal. May this be only the beginning.
Cheers to all Gooners!

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[Football Talk] Aaron Ramsey: The One Who Refuse to Give Up

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Aaron Ramsey…
Prior to this season, what did I think of him?

1. That he is, by far, the most handsome Arsenal player.
2. … I think I’ll go back to number one.

Yup, not much I could say about him back then. Even though he’s really handsome and all, he wasn’t actually an Arsenal player that I enjoyed watching. I even felt a lurch in my stomach everytime he got into the starting XI or came in as a subtitute player. Why is that? In my humble opinion, he often loses the ball too easily. At crucial moments, I saw him lose ball posessions to opponents that ended up into a goal scoring chance or even a goal.
I often prayed, whenever the scoreline was thin and was endanger of tipping over for Arsenal, that the boss wouldn’t let Aaron play. You know how the boss loves to do a substitution on the 70th minutes or so? That’s when I started praying.

However…
Look at him this season. To me, it’s as if Aaron is a completely different person. As the boss, the media and even Aaron himself put it, he is now a lot more confident in front of the goal. Agree. Totally agree with it.
The season is only halfway through, but Aaron has already scored 8 goals! Before this season, it took him five whole years to create five goals. Spot the progress?
Since Aaron made his transformation, Arsenal’s midfield has been dangerous. The work of Mesut Öezil, Aaron, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla put on the midfield has been one of the finest I’ve seen so far in Arsenal in the past couple of years.

No one would’ve thought that Aaron can come back even stronger like this. Not after the broken leg he suffered a couple of years ago. I mean, come on, a leg is the most treasured part of the body for a football player. Having it injured, letalone broken, must be pretty devastating. But, apparently, not for Aaron. He just refuses to give up.

And look where it got Arsenal? Top of the league for several weeks and running.

These past two weeks, I’ve seen a little deteriorarion on Arsenal’s performance. Yes, maybe the players are tired due to the hectic schedule. Maybe, just maybe, Arsenal’s old sworn enemy, the inconsistency, come back to haunt them. But I do hope that the team, with the confidence they have shown this season, will be able to pull through and give the club a brighter future.

So, right now, what can I say about Aaron?

1. He is, by far, the most handsome Arsenal player.
2. He is an amazing football player.

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Arsenal: This Season So Far

Let’s talk about football!

It’s been quite a while since the last time I talk about football. Half of the season already gone, and Arsenal is… to me they’re still quite frustrating. It’s love and hate about their performances so far this season.

First, let’s talk about Arsenal’s newest ammo additions: Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud. I think they are the dynamic or fantastic trio. So far they have been the soul of Arsenal in every performance.

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The Dynamic Trio: Giroud – Podolski – Cazorla
Picture copied from Lukas Podolski Facebook Page

Lukas Podolski is a strong player who is highly skillful both in offense and defense. If I’m not mistaken, he has saved two goal scoring opportunities when Szczesny’s already in a helpless position. Remember the last match against Liverpool at the Emirates? Arsenal could’ve lost big time! He’s also a strong player with deadly strikes. Several of his goals this season came from powerful strikes and free kicks.

Olivier Giroud… What can I say about him? He’s a late bloomer, I guess. He started the season not so good, but he’s been awesome this past few weeks. 5 goals in 3 games isn’t something you can ignore about him. Indeed, he’s good in winning balls in the air. Most of his goals came from a header. But sometimes he’s a bit passive. In several games, I think he’s not active enough in creating chances or breaking through the opponents defense. He just wait upfront for someone to pass him the ball. When he did play a more active roll, man, he is a serious threat. I guess he still needs to be a little bit more consistent in his performance. So far so good, though.

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Olivier Giroud’s Deadly Header
Picture copied from Arsenal Official Facebook Page

Now, talking about Santi Cazorla. As what I’ve heard from one of the commentators tonight, he’s been magical. I totally agree with that. Ever since day one, on his debut against Southampton at the opening game, he has shown everyone that he’s a fantastic player. He has the ability to create chances, to provide great passing and strike some beautiful goals. Although he hasn’t score that much this season, but to me he’s the only player who never lets me down. He’s a keeper! (I don’t mean goal keeper, obviously)

Oh, there’s one new addition in the left back, Nacho Monreal. At his debut tonight he’s pretty good, I would say. But need more time to see the best or worst in him. On season’s end, maybe?

Next, let’s talk about the table so far. We’re in 6, which is not so good, although the point difference between the 3rd to the 7th isn’t that much. Being in 6 is enough to make all Gooners restless. “Can we make it to the Champions League next season?” is in every Gooners’ mind right now. Nerve wrecking, totally nerve wrecking. Seeing how inconsistent Arsenal has been this season (every season, actually) is pretty much planting a bit of fear in my heart. Last season, Arsenal played well in every first half but crumbles in the 2nd half. This season, they’re so frustrating in the first half, but glorious and amazing in the 2nd half. The problem is, giving awesome 2nd half performance is not enough to secure 3 points, not always enough. In every game, I’m like holding on to dear life. When Arsenal score, I desperately hoping they won’t conceive any. When the opponent scores, I desperately hoping for Arsenal to bounce back. When the game ended up with a draw, I feel disappointed that Arsenal could’ve done better.

There were times when I feel a bit of… I don’t know… maybe anger towards the boss. At times I feel he could’ve chosen other players to start or could’ve substitute someone with another but he didn’t. That’s frustrating too. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s how I feel. However, I do still believe that he’s an amazing manager and wouldn’t trade him with anyone in the world… just yet.

Ah, it’s never easy to be a Gooner.

What about some new bright star this season?

I would say that the first one is Kieran Gibb. He’s young, he’s talented, got pace, good defending skill etc..etc.. He totally deserves his spot in the main team. And then, of course there’s the return of Jack Wilshere. Dear Jackie has been awesome ever since his comeback a couple of months ago. He can opened up the opponent’s tight defensive play and create lots of chances. He’s always so active and aggressive and livens up the game.

Theo..Theo..Theo Walcott. He has gone from good to great to amazing! It’s not been a pleasant several months with his contract extension postponement and stuff, because Gooners are of course traumatized from loosing important star players 2 seasons in a row. But during those suffocating times, he has given Arsenal the prove that he can be a player worth keeping and worth a raise for. 100,000 a week is the highest paycheck ever to be given to an Arsenal player. Theo wants it, Theo gets it. But everyone’s happy, that’s for sure.

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Theo Walcott – TH14
Picture copied from Arsenal Official Facebook Page

One player who I think deserves more chance is Carl Jenkinson. When Baccary Sagna was absent because of his injury last season, Carl has been an amazing replacement. He’s strong and work hard in the defense area. Too bad that the boss been constantly putting him on the bench this season. I’ve only seen him once at the FA Cup match against Brighton Hove Albion a couple of weeks ago. Would really love to see more of Carl.

Then, there’s a couple of players who’s not really a comfortable sight to see, in terms of their performance.

There’s Sagna. Yes, Sagna. He’s a superb player when he moves forward and giving passes and crosses to Theo and Santi, but back in the defense area he’s just not as superb. It’s my personal opinion, though.

And then, there’s someone Gooners been ranting about. Yes, it’s Santos. I have no idea what happened to him in recent games. Is it because of his last injury? Or is it because he hasn’t played much since his comeback from injury? Sorry to say, I think he has gone from average to worst. He did things he wasn’t supposed to do, but didn’t do things he really should do, I’ll just put it that way. He’s received plenty of harsh criticism from Gooners in his instagram account, which I happened to follow, especially due to his frequent post of food pictures and self pictures in restaurants. Hm… I have no say about that. I still believe that he could be a much better player, but only time will tell.

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Picture copied from Andre Santos Instagram account

The last thing I want to talk about is Arsenal after RvP era.

Why would I wanna talk about that? Well, just to make a point of something. In terms of Arsenal’s position in the table, yes, it’s no better than last season. But in terms of goal, we’re doing a lot better, I’d have to say. People said that Arsenal will lose their goal machine after last season’s top scorer left for Manchester. They were questioning the goal scoring ability of the Gunners post RvP. People, you are wrong… dang wrong. This season, there are several games where Arsenal win big. The 5-3 against Newcastle Utd, 7-5 against Reading, 5-1 against West Ham Utd (was it? I think so) has proven that Arsenal is actually doing so much better in terms of goal scoring productivity. And in addition to that, the goals Arsenal have scored didn’t only come from one name. Giroud, Podolski, Cazorla, Gibb, Wilshere, Walcott all have their name on the score board. That’s a relieve to me. Arsenal have overcome RvP’s departure with grace so far.

It will be one heck of a season if Arsenal manages to finish in top 3 just like last season. With a tight race to the very last second of the season, Arsenal had pull through in 2012. Can they do it again this season? Creating miracles for us, Gooners? Hell yeah, I sure hope so! Cos it would be a great feeling when I meet them in July at their Summer Tour to Indonesia (fingers crossed, I hope I can really go and meet them!) XD

Vaarwel, Captain!

Once again, Gooners all over the world must face a bitter news. After our failure in earning trophies again, for seven consecutive seasons, last season, Gooner must now accept the fact that they might, or rather will, loose their captain.

Yes, a couple of hours ago, Robin van Persie ended speculations about his existence in Arsenal by announcing in his website (www.robinvanpersie.com) that he will not extend his contract with the club. Shocking? not really. It goes to show that what I have mentioned in my previous post about him is true, that aside from his loyalty with the club, he will sure want to know how it feels like to be on the other side, winning titles and lifting trophies.

“I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.”

Robin will throw away his Arsenal shirt for good

As a Gooner, of course, I am disappointed with his decision. But who am I to complain? If I put myself in his shoes, I’m sure that I would have the same feeling. However, I can’t help but feel that he has let me down, let the fan down, with his decision. We’ve got high hopes with him as the captain, but he chose to backed out instead.

One thing, though, that made me feel an equal disappointment towards the club is Robin’s statement below:

“As announced earlier this year I had a meeting with the Boss and Mr. Gazidis after the season. This was a meeting about the club’s future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed, since that is not my priority at all… but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.”

Yes, I am nothing but an everyday football supporter, but that statement has somehow bothered me. If it’s not about money nor contract agreement, then what in the world could not be agreed about? Was the club’s strategy and policy that bad that has taken the Captain to make such decision? Meanwhile, just yesterday, I read the boss’ (Arsene Wenger) statement that the club will do everything to keep him and that the club would want him to end his career at Arsenal. Curious….

Although Robin did wrote that in two weeks time he will have another meeting with the club, but I’m afraid that there’s a really, really slim chance of him changing his mind. I love and respect such talented and amazing player, therefore I want the best for him. If it’s best for him to leave the club, then, although with tears pouring down and heart crushing beyond belief, I wish you good luck.

Read Robin’s complete statement here.

He Scores When He Wants! Robin van Persie….

he scores when he wants… he scores when he wants… Robin van Persie… he scores when he wants!

That is the song that Gooners (that’s what you call the Arsenal fans with) chants everytime the captain, RvP, hit home. All Gooners worship him. I know he may have started his days in Arsenal in the wrong foot, due to issues about his angger management, but it’s all in the past now. In this post, I just want to say a little bit of my own thoughts about the Captain Vantastic.

Robin van Persie was born on August 6th, 1983, in Kralingen Rotterdam. Sport, especially football, has always been his passion in life since he’s very… very young. He started it by playing with other boys in his neighborhood, in little competition they called Goal to Goal and Amerikaantje, and later at a club called Excelsior.  He also attended high school that is, in cooperation with Feyenoord, dedicated for teenagers talented in sport. He already showed superb performance at the age of 17 in Feyenoord. But due to his so-called bad attitude that drives him to clashed with the manager, he was demoted to the reserves team.

Robin’s career at Arsenal began in 2004. Despite issues with his behavior, Arsenal signed a deal to get him from Feyenoord in order to find a successor to fellow Dutchman, the legendary Dennis Bergkamp (which happens to be my most favorite football player, ever!). It was the year of the Unbeaten 49s, where Arsenal was crowned the winner plus one of the very few clubs that’s able to finish one season without loosing a single point. A truly memorable moment for me, because the crowning took place on May 15th 2004, right on my birthday. However, I didn’t really pay too much attention on Robin at his first few years, although he managed to score several goals and even ended up playing for Holland national team.

Image from diehardx.blogspot.com

Robin’s been with Arsenal for eight years now. In that period of time, I think I only started to really notice him for the past three years. I know, I may not have been a good Gooner, because several years back I was up to my neck with school and work that I didn’t even get the chance to have my weekly football nights. However, I did think that he’s going to have BIG name, maybe even be as legendary as Mr. Bergkamp.

When the 2010-2011 season was a few months away from the last match, I got the chance to re-kindle my lost flame of football passion. I started to paid a lot more attention in games and also to RvP. I realized that he has developed into this fantastic players. But back then, he shared the spot with Cesc Fabregas, the captain at the time. Both of them are the cannons of the team. Both gave amazing performances. And I have to admit that I dreamed big last season.

After Cesc decided to go home to Barcelona, and Robin was chosen to be the captain, I noticed a little bit of change in him. Maybe it was just me, but I see that he’s holding the responsibility with great care. He showed the world, has been showing the world, how he’s doing a great job in leading the team to victory after victory, although Arsenal was hit tremendously hard at the start of the 2011-2012, but we pulled through from one of our most painful defeats. A small step after another, Robin started to turn into a goal machine. Yes, it’s not enough to take Arsenal into the top of the league, but to be able to get up, and took the whole team with him, from such a crazy headlong fall and finish in the 3rd spot was what I would call amazing. I know that this result was not achieved by him alone, but he’s the leader of the team, the one that played such an important role, the one that stood in front of the team. I sincerely think he deserves a big chunk of credit for his captaincy this season. Not only from the PFA, but also from people like me, the Gooners.

It’s been several years without a single trophy in Arsenal. Speculations of Robin’s future started to go crazy. Gooners all over the world are being driven to the edge with the postponement of his contract talk with the club. We have Euro to entertain us, but the fear of losing our captain will always stuck in the back of our mind until decision is finally made, especially with so many clubs that are rumored to have huge interests on him, clubs that can offer him everything he didn’t get in Arsenal yet.

If Rvp wants to go, I can say that I understand why. Of course, a player will have loyalty and even love for his team, but the longing of a trophy can steer him to leave the loyalty and love behind. Football is a game, there’s a winning team and there’s a losing team. I bet Robin would want to know how it feels like to be on the other side. BUT, I do have a hope that he’ll stay. He’s been a Vantastic captain all season, and I’m sure he can lead Arsenal to earn something big in the future. We do need changes, we do need trophies, and if there’s anyone capable of taking us to achieve all that, I’m sure it’s him. One thing I beg him to consider is that changes are needed, but changes couldn’t happen overnight.

RvP’s era is the era of change, every Gooner would agree with that, but it’s only the beginning. If he doesn’t stay and find out what path he can lead the team to walk in, then he’ll never know what he’s capable of.

Captain Vantastic
Image from http://www.arsenalhf.com

Sources: http://www.robinvanpersie.com; Wikipedia

2011-2012: One of Football’s Most Interesting Seasons

As someone who enjoys watching football very much for the past fifteen years, I find this season of 2011-2012 as one of the most interesting season’s I’ve ever witnessed.

I have been a Gooner, which means that I am a HUGE fan of Arsenal Football Club, for fifteen years now. And in that many years, I have never follow their journey from the very beginning of the season to the very end. I used to have school or work that interfere with my love of football. But this season, since I’m a full-time freelance translator working at home, I get the privilege of managing everything on my own and get A LOT more free time to satisfy my addiction.

And since this season is no more than 3 weeks left, I feel that it’s safe for me to make a conclusion of this whole season in one word: Interesting.

Why would I call this season interesting?

First of all, I have seen a few teams that has just been promoted to the BPL this season that is actually putting up quite a fight against the more settled BPL teams.
They are Queens Park Rangers and Swansea City. Both teams can make several BPL’s top teams such as Chelsea and my own Arsenal running for their life in their own defensive area. They have shown quite a confidence and beautiful football to make them stand tall in the BPL for next season.

Queens Park Rangers vs Chelsea FC (image courtesy of bbc.co.uk)

Reason number two, at this time of the year where this season only have 3 matches left, teams in the lower rank of the table managed to give a shock therapy to the teams sitting at the top five of the table. Just several weeks ago, Wigan Athletic has successfully beat not one, but two of the top five teams! Their shocking 1-0 win against Manchester United comes first. A week later, they managed to break through the fortress of the Emirates stadium and defeat Arsenal by a 2-1 score. Amazing! Several weeks before that, they give Chelsea a furious fight before succumbing 2-1. Not just Wigan, Everton has been the talk of the town when they managed to lock the 4-4 score against Man.Utd. last week. They were actually 4-2 behind before they score 2 equalizing goal and forced Man.Utd. to battle their chance as the champion of this season’s BPL at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday night. These teams are so amazing that they managed to make huge teams look bad on the pitch. Ouch!

Everton vs Manchester United (image courtesy of liverpoolecho.co.uk)

Number three, in the European League such as the Champions League and Europa Cup, surprises after surprises happens. The big names are written off the league by the less-favored teams. Remember how Man.Utd. got beat up by Basel? Remember how Manchester City have to fight for their life with Bayern Muenchen? And just last week, Barcelona got ditched from the Champions League title race by none other than Chelsea. It didn’t stop just at that. When both Manchester teams played in the Europa Cup, both of them also surrender from a less-favored teams of Sporting Lisbon and Athletic Bilbao. The less-favored teams shown a fantastic performance and successfully made the games far more interesting to watch.

Barcelona vs Chelsea at the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg 2 (image courtesy of bleacherreport.com)

And last, definitely not least, with just 3 weeks to go, the BPL’s title race is still open, at least until the Manchester Derby is over, and the fight for a ticket to next season’s Champions League is still on, too, with Arsenal, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea together in the battle.

I have never seen such intense title fight, shocking games performance and unpredictable results as what I have seen so far. 3 weeks to go, yet plenty of drama to watch.