Arsenal: We’ve Got Our Bottle Back

October 31, 2011

How are you feeling this morning?

Still glowing?

Yeah, me too.

We have kind of forgotten what it’s like to enjoy a BIG win; a meaningful win; a surprise win against the odds.

Most of our surprises in the last six months have been nasty ones – the kind Mrs Gary Neville has every morning when she wakes up and sees who’s beside her.

But Saturday was different. We went to one of the bookies’ favourites for the title and gave them a spanking in their own back yard. And just because it’s a Chav back yard full of old piss-stained mattresses and wrecked cars, that doesn’t make the win any less sweet.

Make no mistake, Chelsea were seen by many as the real dark horses (whoops, sorry JT, I meant pale horses) in the championship race. Even in defeat to QPR last week they earned plaudits for almost nicking a result with only nine men.

But in the second half of Saturday’s fine win we completely dominated them, winning the half 4-1, taking a stranglehold on midfield and defending well (we only conceded because the ref missed a blatant foul on Santos).

The first half was a different story, with both teams attacking like panthers and defending like pandas, but enough has been said about that in all the match reports.

The point is, we found ourselves in a game that, several times, could have gone away from us – at 2-1 and at 3-3 in particular. But we refused to allow it to do so.

Having hauled ourselves level at 1-1, then gone in one down at half time thanks to another soft goal conceded from a set piece, heads could easily have dropped.

If this had been last year’s Arsenal team, with the homesick Spaniard and the fat French trouble-maker, I think that’s exactly what would have happened. Our heads would have gone down faster than Dani Alves on ice.

But this is a different group of players with a much better mix of vim and experience. It’s interesting that our best performers on the day (with the exception of Prince Robin) were the younger ones: Koscielny, Ramsey, Gervinho and Walcott.

But I have no doubt that they felt enabled to play their best game by the presence of older heads like Arteta, Mertesacker and Santos (as well as Rosicky when he came on), all of whom added an air of stability to the team.

We now have players who do not panic when we’re leading with 10 minutes to go. Indeed, against a dangerous Chavski side we looked very solid in the final stages (the BFG making up for a poor first half by dominating the box in the closing minutes).

We were calm enough and confident enough to see the game out – and bold enough to take our chance to really kill it off when it arrived.

Someone has clearly been to Lost and Found and reclaimed something we mislaid about two years ago: our bottle.

No-one really knew where it had gone. Pat Rice went all up and down the Holloway Road stapling little notices to trees and lamp posts saying “Missing: Our Bottle: Answers to the name Vieira or Adams. Reward if found.”

There were no takers, but now it has turned up of its own accord, just when we needed it most after the most disastrous start to a season for 58 years.

There is still everything to play for this season. The Mancunian lottery winners may be streets ahead at the top of the table but there is a long way to go and anything can happen.

Next up for us in the league are West Brom (H), Norwich (A) and Fulham (H). With the players we have, and with the fact that we now have our bottle again after such a long time, everything is possible.

Keep believing fellow Gunners.

RockyLives


A bridge not so far, as Arsenal’s recovery gains pace and Player ratings…..

October 30, 2011

Since April 10th we have lost 5 and drawn 3 games away from home, a dismal and painful run of games that has seen our defence and confidence take knock after knock.

The abject display in August at Old Trafford saw a very humbling score line result in cries for Wenger to walk now, before we fell apart at the seams was the cry of the naysayer’s. Then at Ewood Park we saw the worst team in the premiership, come from behind and beat us, the wheels were well and truly off………

So yesterday, we tipped up at Chelsea, our recent Nemesis, who seemed to always get a result against us, especially at the Bridge even when we play well. Our actual recent form though had given us a little belief back, with 7 wins out of 8games in all competitions.

The defence has been slowly improving, the team were slowly coming together and at the sharp end, the boy wonder had been on fire, so why couldn’t we get a result……….?

Trust me or do one……..

Well after the first 5mins, there were so many reasons why we couldn’t get a result; I lost count of how many times, Chelsea just seemed to stroll through and around our defence, Chelsea had 3 or 4 gilt edged chances to take the lead, better crosses and they might have been out of sight.

Mixed in between there was some moments for Arsenal, when Ramsey had broke into Chelsea’s area and dragged the ball back, but no one was up with play. Then another clearance by BFG fell to Theo and a one-two with Ramsey, saw Theo away but he failed to get the ball down, another bad at the office loomed……..?

The attacks continue with Sturridge been afforded far too much room, but from been on the back foot, Ramsey intercepted a weak ball in from Lampard, he strode out of the box and lift a chip pass into Arteta, who headed it back to Ramsey, who took it on his chest and then volleyed a delightful ball out wide right to Theo…….who pushed it

passed Cashley and then sprinted round the other side of him and left him in his wake, Cole has more chance of getting Cheryl back than catching Theo……

Theo looked up, stepped forward and delivered a sublime ball across the area, as Ivanovic stretched out but couldn’t get the ball, Gervinho, somehow did a Torres….a woeful miss from 5yds.

Moments later, Santos cut in from the left and laid the ball to Song, who moved it onto Theo, a couple of light touches, a look up and a even more sublime pass arching in over the Chelsea defence, curling to the far post, Van Persie came in, but the ball raised just that little too high and he couldn’t keep it below the crossbar. Two very good chances to take the lead.

The Chelsea fans couldn’t help themselves as they berated our Boy Wonder, for missing the chance, he who laughs last………………..!

Anyway, normal service resumed, we miss, opposition score, how predictable was that, as John “Colour Impaired” Terry, sent a ball out wide to Juan Mata, who turned back on Santos and delivered a ball not to dissimilar to Theo’s, but in came Fatboy just behind 6ft 6” BFG who must have thought he was in a limbo competition, as he got under the cross allowing Fatboy to head pass Sir Chez……..

Arsenal improved slightly, but the game was still ebbing and flowing unpredictably, as players from both sides, made mistakes and gave cheap balls away, but there were no real clear cut chances…….But the worrying thing was that Arsenal’s back door was seeing more action than George Michaels…….

A superb pass from fatboy, put Sturridge away, as he allowed the ball to drop and run forward, he arched his body and for some reason hit the ball with the outside of his foot and away from the goal and Sir Chez, that would have been difficult to come back from……….

The midfield of Arteta, Song and most notably Ramsey were working very hard to sustain a footing in the game. Santos in from the left into Gervinho, who lost the ball, fell back to Santos, who fed Ramsey an inside turn, Gervinho had got up and run into the area, a great pass from the Welsh Wizard found Gervinho, the touch was heavy and the ball ran towards the on coming Cech, but just as you thought Gervinho would clip it into Cech’s body, he slid it to the grateful Robin, who just calmly stroked the ball with his left peg into the empty net……1-1 game on…….36mins.

Moments later Ramires completely sold Santos, into the box and across the area for Sturridge to stab home, but the young forward had strayed offside, tight but a good call by the assistant referee. So nearly we conceded after scoring, frustrating weakness.

On 41, Robin took a free kick just outside the Chelsea area, could he? No it wasn’t to be as we drifted to half time with Robin’s effort curling just over…….

But, hold it, Chelsea get a late corner, Fatboy delivers a ball into the mix, Terry, out muscles the BFG, (is that F for friendly?), and knocks the ball limping into the goal, Arteta had moved from the post, less said. Half time, 2-1 to Chelsea.

We had looked dangerous going forward, but in defence, we had the look of an Essex girl on a night out, carefree and not bothered who got in behind……….

The only player who defensively was sharp was Koscielny, who reputation is growing…..

Second half; more defensive qualities were needed, surely?

Why bother, as we came flying out the traps, first Van Persie and then Ramsey had early opportunities to get us level.

On 49 minutes, Djourou impressed me with his strength and desire to keep the ball; he came inside and got the ball to Song, with a little help from a Lampard tackle. Song, who reversed stepped back across the ball and then picked Chelsea defence apart with a gem of a pass, through to the left where Santos, took the ball in his stride, one touch in front and then drilled it with his left foot across Cech, 2-2…..Get in there….

To celebrate Santos then decided to show the Brazilian Version of the “No dad Samba two step”, maybe he wants to go on Strictly Come Dancing? Who cares, finally we have a left back who knows where the net is…….

Almost immediately, Arsenal tried to let Chelsea back into the game, a looping ball up and over our back line, saw Cashley bear down on the area, an out rushing Szczesny leaped out of his area and sent Cole into a spin, a yellow and a free kick. Should it have been red? Well even our young pole tweeted after the game (not a bright idea) that he wasn’t sure how he stayed on the pitch. For me, it was an either way call, but the referee chose luckily for us only a yellow.

The resultant free kick was sent to the far post by fatboy, but our pole stretched his frame and tipped the ball around the goal, super save.

Arsenal seemed to be getting the upper hand in the middle with Arteta and Song pressing and Ramsey probing.

A long ball out from Szczesny, to Theo, who was bundled over by Cashley. start of a bizarre passage of play. A quick free kick by Robin into Theo, who drove forward, as he did, he stumbled and fell over, but somehow kept his momentum going, in the middle of 4 blue shirts he got up, jinked pass and powered into the area and drilled a shot to Cechs near left post, with some real venom. 3-2 up, to come back twice showed some real bottle and then to get in front, Arsenal were controlling the game now.

Theo, Simply Brilliant……..

A plethora of substitutions on both sides saw Lukaku and Dodgy Barnet on for Chelsea, with Rosicky and Jenkinson replacing Walcott and Djourou respectively. The game got a little scrappy, on 80mins Santos as he came out, gave the ball away, but as he went to atone for his mistake he was clearly blocked by Lukaku, the ball then broke for dodgy barnet and he fed Mata, who managed to unleash a thunderbolt, just before Song despairingly tried to block him, to Szczesny’s right side. 3-3 game truly back on………Subs too early? Should Walcott have stayed on? No time to think…..

Not quite as powerful as Essien’s drive a few seasons ago, but Mata’s just as damaging, as Chelsea seemed now to be in the ascendancy. Were we going to blow it, after all the effort in the 2nd half?

But on 85, an innocuous back pass from Malouda, to Terry, saw John Terry slip, or did he throw himself down in a very defeatist manner?, who cares, I am sure Wayne Bridge had a chuckle, as Robin Van Persie, ran onto the loose ball, as Cech came out he step round him and slotted in his second, what a game………..

John Terry Slipping Over……

+4mins of injury time and Chelsea threw the lot at us, please hold on you could the silent thoughts of every Arsenal fan, with Vermaelen now on, I felt safe, ok maybe still a tad nervous…

Malouda, then Mata kept putting the ball into the area, eventually Jenkinson headed it out, it bounce in front of Rosicky who bravely won the ball from dodgy barnets high foot with his head, Rosicky brought the ball out, moved it onto Arteta, he shifted it across to the left and Van Persie, who drove an unstoppable left foot swerving drive into Cech’s right hand side, 5-3 game over, the fans were in dream land………..

Boy Wonder settles the nerves

What a game, it had it all, finally away from home, the Arsenal boys had grabbed the 3points. Defensively it was a horror show at times, from both sides, but with some tricks from Robin, Theo, Aaron and GMan, saw the Arsenal fans treated to a result we have been deprived of by the feet of Drogba too many times…….

Ratings: (STC: Subject to Comments)

Sir Chez: 7: Still Raw at times, but he has that edge that sets him apart, some good saves, little chance with Mata’s shot, but he’ll be disappointed with the other two.

Djourou: 6: Quite truly dreadful first half as he was dragged around, but he improved in the 2nd half, having a good contribution to the 2nd goal.

BFG: 6.5: Was at fault for both Chelsea’s first half goals, but he did defend better in the 2nd half. Need to be stronger and more aggressive.

Kozzer: 9: Immense, read the game well, blocked, tackled and was everywhere, without him in the first half, I think they would have been out of sight.

Santos: 7: (that is a 5 for 1st half and 8 2nd half), Defending in the first half was comical, but he gained composure and got into the game, his goal was well taken and gave him confidence. The third goal although came from his mistake, he was fouled attempting to block the ball.

Arteta: 8: Thought his stature grew as the game wore on, did the simple things really well, gave little space, pressed and moved the ball quickly, slowly starting to feel at home.

Song: 8: Powerful and energetic, press and close down Chelsea midfield, some of his passing was sublime. Gave some needless balls away in first half, he is though very important to us.

Ramsey: 9: Super Welsh Wizard, truly a special player who gave his all today, his range of passing was fantastic, he has a great engine and never doubts himself.

Walcott: 9: Proved all those doubters wrong, showed he deserves to wear our shirt, capped a great display with a stunning goal, no football brain? Waddle talking Twaddle…

Boy Wonder:9: Captain’s performance, one on one there was only one winner, clinical and deadly from anywhere.

Gervinho: 7.5: Energetic and difficult to handle, makes things happen, missed a very easy chance, but worked his socks off, unselfish in laying off Robin.

Man of the Match: It could have gone to anyone of 4 today and others like Arteta gave a good account as well. 4 players got 9 off me, a truly fantastic team performance and as Robin said share the champagne between the team……If you were to push me to a choice, between the four 9’s, RVP, Koz, Theo and Aaron, I would go for Kozzer, at times he was on his own, but he held firm………..

Subs:

Rosicky and Jenkinson :7: Little time but got upto speed quickly and helped see us to the line.

Vermaelen: Only on for minutes, great to have him back……….Best defender in the Premier League……..

The Manager: 8:

Big decision to leave TV on the bench, nearly bigger one to take Theo off, all came good in the game in the end, Wenger and his team deserved this bit of luck that has so far been missing this season, he has asked for the trust in him to remain, well after today, he has mine fully back, not that I lost faith………….

In summary:

That could of gone either way at times yesterday and we still have a lot of work to do, but we have put ourselves right back in the mix, the team seem together and really up for it, lets really get behind them now and see where this crazy journey goes this season……. God I love being a Gooner, thanks Dad……..

Ps. Sorry if that was a tad long…………try writing that up in less!!

Written by Harry


Kings of the Road: Chelsea preview

October 29, 2011

Another away London derby and one which has always been special to me.

When I was “maturing” the Chelsea side were terrific, no, not just terrific they were Glamourous. The Kings Road, Osgood, Tambling, Charlie Cooke etc etc they were seriously cool and going to their ground had a certain frisson which was  very different to going to Highbury (Fulham Rd v Holloway Rd – you get my drift?). I can still recite that Chelsea side from Bonetti to Houseman.  Plus there was “The Shed”. In these blissful days of seats and bagels it is hard to conceive of how dangerous it was going away to Chelsea and wearing your colours. Packed standing terraces, a running track around the pitch, violent meathead fascists, few stewards and hardly any police, no segregation on the terraces – just “ends”; it was a recipe for the violence which inevitably occurred. Yes, Stamford Bridge was a frightening place and as a lad that violence was titillating.

It remains a glamourous club with a squad of big name players who would walk into any CHelsea team of the past. Let us not forget that Chelsea will play the most expensive player ever in English football today.

This is going to be controversial on an Arsenal site but hey, I am writing it, so  here goes. I watched the Chav/QPR game last week and what really hit home was how fantastic Chelsea’s superstars really are – deeply unpleasant men but what spirit they have on the pitch. Lampard, Terry and Cole led from the front, they covered every blade of grass and gave everything to their team to avoid defeat.  JT was getting forward on every possible occasion to find an equaliser, Fat Frank showed energy that Arshavin (a younger man) certainly cannot, and Cole showed why he is the best English full back ever – yes, ever. They wanted it so much that 6 of their 9 players remaining on the pitch got yellow cards. They do not lie down and that is why they are brilliant footballers.

As to today, Chelsea have such a big squad they will not be affected by suspensions. Drogba is out but Torres returns as does Ramirez. We know their strengths and Chelsea have a 100% record this season at SB. In our last 6 fixtures at SB we have won 1, drawn 1 and lost 4 , losing 2-0 last season.

My chief concern is Mata, a lovely player and one who cuts in from his left sided position to create a midfield 4. If he stays out left he will be up against Djourou  …  frightening.

Will Mr Wenger give Vermaelen a start? Surely not. We have started to look more secure in defence and BFG and the superb Koscielny are developing a good understanding. How they cope with Chelsea’s pace will be the key to the game. We match them in midfield though the return of Ramirez is a blow – he is a much better player than Mikel.

Gervinho was very good against Stoke but he will find Ashley a different kettle of fish, how he copes could determine our attacking threat. Robin will attract all the attention which will hopefully create some space for the Gerv and Theo. Theo owes us and Mr Wenger a goal or two, he has been anonymous in recent weeks and in such a tough game has to show his quality.

My team:

We can expect a battle and self-discipline will be important; it is no surprise that our improved form has coincided with the ability to keep eleven players on the pitch.

Inventor from Chelsea – there must be one – how about John Gamgee who built the world’s first artificial ice-skating rink just off the Kings Road. It was called the Glaciarium.

So a tough game today and a rigorous test of our new found fighting spirit. I have a sneaky feeling that Arsenal will give good account of themselves today.

COYRRG

Big Raddy


Can’t Buy Me Love

October 28, 2011

Back in January 1964 the Beatles released a track called “can’t buy me love” which considering the money they have  made since then and the fame they have enjoyed,  probably wasn’t strictly true.  Certainly they have enjoyed a kind of loving, revered by millions of people in countless countries worldwide.

The same can be said  for a select few football clubs, whose names are for ever lodged in the hearts of lovers of the game, even those football fans too young or too far away to have seen them play, in those pre satellite days, knew of them by reputation.

So clubs like Real Madrid who dominated the emerging European cup for years, whilst  introducing the world to a new breed of footballer, led by the legendary pair, De Stefano and Puskas. Herbert Chapman perhaps the first of the great managers assembled the Highbury heroes who elevated our club to greatness.  The Manchester Utd of Busby babe’s fame, Cloughies Forest, Shankley’s Liverpool and even the Spurs in their push and run heyday. Our own invincible’s of recent times would be included as would Fergies Utd  and their dominance of the Premier league since its inception, along with today’s European club champions the exhilarating and exciting Barcelona, who include every fans dream player the superbly gifted Messi goal poacher extraordinaire in their ranks.

All have earned their place in history by style, grit, skill and pure entertainment to be read, remembered and talked about by football fans of all hues and nationalities with admiration and respect wherever our beautiful game is played and studied.

How sad then that on Sunday, whilst watching the Chelsea and City millionaires perform, I felt no admiration or respect, just a kind of pity that these magnificent players had succumbed to the power of the oil buck. The very fact that Fergies finest had been done for 6 by his so-called noisy neighbours, after themselves doing us for 8 a few weeks ago didn’t cheer me up. Nor seeing Chelsea’s arrogant superstars have their nose put out of joint, by a combination of questionable refereeing, a bunch of hastily gathered journeymen pros and a manager who is reputably about as welcome in football circles as a fart in a space suit. None of these facts raised even a smile.

Rather it produced a degree of real sadness, especially for those loyal City fans including my own son who have been waiting a lifetime to win the league and here they are excitedly watching their newly purchased heroes showing the ability to do just that. Whilst the rest of the football world looks on with a kind of studied contempt, that the glories that others have earned by patience, hard work  and natural progression, could well be short circuited, devalued and sullied by the excesses of individuals who possess the kind of wealth that many nations would give their eye teeth to have as their GDP.

How frightening therefore to realise that a significant number of our fans would gladly, see our own lurking Russian unceremoniously installed in a position of power in the boardroom at the Emirates. This, his reward for a promise to sign the cheques and superstars we supposedly need to compete, distributing his oily roubles across the football world. For the love of the club I wonder or with the sole purpose of basking in the reflected glory of the myriad trophies his supporters say we are guaranteed to win?

What these individuals who call for such change seem not to understand is, we like John, Paul, George and Ringo, don’t have to buy love,  because we with our tradition and style have already earned it.

Written by dandan


Are Teams Starting To Fear Arsenal Again?

October 27, 2011

One of the saddest effects of our poor form during 2011 has been seeing how lesser teams no longer fear us.

The psychological advantage of having most opponents assume they would get nothing out of playing us has been whittled away by a series of unfortunate events.

Throwing away a four goal lead at Newcastle; losing to relegation-bound Birmingham in the Carling Cup Final; league defeats to the likes of West Brom, Stoke and Bolton:

All these and more have turned our shiny armour of invincibility into a tattered and battered old coat of rusty chain mail, pock-marked with holes.

Do you remember how it used to be?

From Arsène Wenger’s first Double-winning side right through to the best free-flowing days of the ‘Fabregas era’, most other teams were terrified of playing us.

They would look at the fixture list for the following weekend, see that they were up against The Arsenal and immediately go weak at the knees.

On match days, as they lined up in the tunnel alongside the likes of Bergkamp, Henry, Pires, Vieira, Adams, Bould, Campbell, Seaman, Keown, Ljungberg, Overmars, Lehmann, Fabregas, opposition players would have involuntary wee-wee incidents in their shorts.

It is rumoured that some managers had to use a cattle prod to get their players out of the safety of the dressing room when we were in town.

And I have it on good authority that at least two EPL clubs considered switching to brown shorts precisely to avoid the embarrassment of having what you might call “fear stains” on display.

Any sports psychologist will tell you that if you can win the battle in the mind, you will win it on the field of play.

We used to be so good at getting inside our opponents’ heads that most teams were beaten before they walked onto the pitch – you could see it in their eyes (and their shorts).

Lately only the Manchester branch of Surrey United have had that aura, although their own grip on the Fear Factor may take some time to recover after the humiliation at the hands of their lottery-winning neighbours.

Indeed it is the Sky Blue half of Manchester that can now truly be said to make opponents quake at the mere prospect of playing them.

So, having lost our fearsomeness, can we regain it?

I believe the answer is ‘yes’ – and, further, that we have already made some encouraging baby steps on the path to once again being truly dreaded by the opposition.

Crucial to our ability to inspire terror is one man. You won’t be surprised to know I’m referring to our very own Prince of Strikers, Robin van Persie.

Mid-to-low ranking teams usually set out with a game plan to stop Arsenal rather than outplay us. And with our recent history of defending set pieces (where we’ve been as watertight as a pair of paper knickers) they rightly feel that if they succeed in stopping us, they have every chance of grabbing a goal or two at the other end.

But there are some strikers, at certain periods of their careers, who are simply unstoppable.

Thierry Henry had it for years. Ruud van Nostrelflair had it for a while. Cristiano Ronaldo had it in England and now Spain. Drogba used to have it. Lionel Messi has it.

And Prince Robin has it, because no striker in England comes close to matching his hit rate right now.

And that inspires fear – even terror – in the hearts of opposing managers and defenders.

In the days of TH14, no matter how well set up a rival defence was, they knew that if Thierry wanted to play, there would be little they could do to stop him.

Of course there are other ways you can inspire fear in your enemies (and I don’t mean the Barton approach of stubbing out a cigar in their eye).

Having a genius midfielder, for example, whose passing can unlock any defence; having a team so technically gifted that they can one-two their way round the most resolute of opponents.

And a rock solid defence can also terrorise the opposing side.

The chant of “one nil to The Arsenal” emerged during the period when we had the ‘famous back six’ of Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Adams, Bould and Keown. The meaning of the chant was not to point out the score for the hard of thinking (there was a big score board screen to do that). It was to let the opposition players and their fans know that they had already lost because there was no way they were going to penetrate our back line.

We’re a long way from inspiring fear defensively or in midfield (although the more victories we accrue the more that will come). But at least at the striking end of things we are on the way.

And if we can get any kind of result at Stamford Bridge this Halloween weekend, we’ll be even better placed to put the frighteners on the (relatively) easy run of opponents we have between then and Christmas.

We need fear to be our friend again.

RockyLives


Hide Park? – no longer

October 26, 2011

Last night saw Bolton put out of the Carling Cup by an Arsenal team containing a mixture of  new young players with the added bonus of the experienced Arshavin, Benayoun and the return of the Verminator. Many supporters had come to see if Ox, Park and Young could live up to their hype and whether they were ready for the first team.

These were the players that started the game Fabianski in goal, a back four of  Yennaris, Vermaelen, Squillacci and Miguel, a mid-field of Frimpong, Coquelin and Benayoun with a front three of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin and J Y Park.

Surprisingly, Bolton played pretty much a first team and when they lined up it was difficult to know how the game would go.

Yennaris was really impressive at right back and Miguel – who I think is a great footballer – was played out of position at left-back and was very solid.

Bolton had the first shot on goal which Fabianski handled very well. Throughout the game his shot stopping couldn’t be faulted and he made some great saves but his distribution was appalling. Kicking up to Arshavin is never really going to work and he could have taken a bit of time to choose his man more carefully. Still, he kept us in the game on quite a few occasions and he’s good cover as a keeper.

Once Bolton had a shot our boys decided they would also like to join the party and there were some rasping shots from outside the box. The link-up play between Arshavin and Park was a pleasure to watch with Benayoun doing a lot of the running to keep control of the game.

Frimpong and Coquelin were not having the best game in mid-field. Coquelin seemed to pick up an injury early in the first half but played on with too many of his passes going astray. He’s a terrier so when he loses the ball he fights to get it back. Frimpong we know can be a bit rash in the challenge so maybe his game was affected by the famous ‘hand-brake’.

The first half ended 0-0 which was pretty fair.

The second half started badly as we looked like we were half asleep and soon went behind – Coquelin and Frimpong were exchanging passes deep in our half and Muamba stole in to nick it off  Frimpongs foot and after a quick exchange with Tuncay slammed the ball into the roof of our net.

But, it was to be Arsenal’s night and within 10 minutes the tie was turned on its head.  Arshavin was having a great time playing in the middle behind the striker and soon got his chance to put us level, collecting a pass from Ox and drilling his shot into the bottom corner.

Within 5 minutes Park received another great ball from Arshavin and unleashed a curler into the top corner 2-1. This is what Arsène had to say about Park

For me I am very pleased with his performance. He had a very, very good game. He has shown intelligence in his link play with others. The quality of his movement was exceptional and his finishing is absolutely fantastic. He has shown tonight that he is a very, very good player. He is ready to play in league games, yes.

Compared to the player who played in the first match [against Shrewsbury] where he was a bit inhibited, tonight I felt he played with freedom and has showed what a good player he is.

So, it looks like Park really is the real deal. I was at the Shrewsbury game and he did look terrified to receive the ball whereas last night he played a big part in the fluency of the team and he has a great connection with Arshavin.

Vermaelen was subbed with four minutes to go which was really strange but I’ve read that he had tight calves and wanted to come off. He is such a classy player, he could have been on his own in central defence and we’d have been just fine although Squilacci played well too.

This is the ninth year that we have got to the quarter finals of the Carling Cup, whether you think it’s important or not we seem to always have a good run. Maybe we should just forget that we got to the final last year and see it a chance to win some silverware. The draw for the next round should be interesting.

It’s been said before but we do seem to be marching on.

peachesgooner

Some comments and player ratings from Harry

Morning all, sorry Rasp / Peaches just got into office and have a meeting at 10am, so havent time to write anything……

Shame because comments like Park isnt ready for the PL yet, are so far of the mark……….

I have read a couple of write ups and comments across the blogs, I am amazed of some of the comments………

So many positives out there last night……………….

I read somewhere that Benayoun was quite and had an ineffective game? what match was he watching……….?

The only player who had a poor game was Ox, he seemed to get annoyed with himself when he messed up a chance and he didnt regain his composure, his time will come…….

All others had good games, yes made some mistakes and misplaced passes which was our biggest weakness last night, but overall, everyone for me gets a 7 minimum except Ox probably a 6.

TV gets a 9, outstanding display………MotM, dynamic and powerful, name me a better defender in the premier league……?

Miquel and Yennaris both get solid 7.5………Take into account age and out of position for Miquel…….Squillaci gets a 7 for me, for all his criticism did ok………

Fabianski 7, did ok, some good saves, got down well and quick, one swerving shot was vicious and nearly caught him out. His weakness was his distribution which was scattergun effect…….gets a 7.

Frimpers and Coquelin, both get 7.5, hassled and worked hard throughout, soem great tackles, both were guilty of giving cheap possession away at times……..which is where their goal came from.

Arshavin 8 is an enigma, desperately lacking interest one minute to the sublime, stepped up when needed, gets a lucky 8 for me…..

Benayoun 8, was excellent throughout, gets a solid 8. always probing and driving forward.

Park 8 was excellent, his movement excellent and if the linesman knew the offside rule would have more chances. His touch was sublime and his goal, well if messi had scored it, the media would be creaming their pants…………

Subs didnt have time, but Ozakup looked as good as the reviews I have heard about him……..time will tell. Ryo is so fast and will definitely add a dimsension to our squad. Boateng was only on for minutes……

Overall, a good team performance by a mixture of youth and experience, held their own and rarely looked troubled…..Goal against was unfortuante, perhaps didnt quite get into gear from the whistle. But apart from that, the team defended ok. some great blocking and tackling,led by the imperious Vermaelen…..

Next up, Quarters, Palace at the Emirates would be nice with United playing City……….


The Young Ones: Carling Cup Preview.

October 25, 2011

Another night of stress-free excitement tonight. We love to see the kids play and we love to see them beat PL opposition even more.

Of course we have selection problems due to some of the second string being forced to become first string. For example, who plays RB? Can we rest both our CB? Is Squillaci fit and if so does he play? And what about LB? Dare we risk Santos? In fact I have no idea who AW will play at LB.

Mr. Wenger instructing our new Left Back

If we have selection problems what do Bolton have?  6 points from 9 games, rooted in the relegation zone and away to Swansea on the weekend. Dare they play a full first X1? Cahill was missing when we thrashed them a few weeks ago and I expect he will be absent tonight. And …. what will happen to their fragile confidence should they lose to what will be virtually Arsenal’s C team?  You are right …. who cares!

We have already scored one against them this week albeit through one of our loanees. Nik got a tap-in to consign Bolton to a home defeat versus Sunderland. Bolton have some good players in their squad who didn’t feature at the weekend – Muamba, Klasnic, Kakuta and Tuncay among others

As I said this is a difficult team to predict but   ….

I think this team has a decent mixture of youth and experience  and should win tonight depending upon how seriously Bolton take the tie.  The Ox/Park combo is exciting.

It would be good if the ground was more than half full; perhaps the club could give away tickets to local schools in order to create a decent atmosphere – it would start some kids in their Goonerdom and become a regular feature of Arsenal in the Community.  It worked at Wembley and I believe would be beneficial to the club in the long run.

Is there another inventor from Bolton? Yes there is! Samuel Crompton who invented the Spinning Mule which revolutionised the  spinning industry. No pic because he is too ugly (not even sporting a handsome beard) and would not only frighten the horses but give the more sensitive nightmares. Google him at your peril.

It is 9 years since we failed to reach the quarter finals of the Carling Cup. Let’s keep up the good run.

COYRRG

Big Raddy


Orcs! You shall not pass!

October 24, 2011

Written by oz gunner

How they lined up:

Arsenal (4-4-3)- Szczesny, Djourou, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Song ©, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Gervinho, Chamakh.

Subs: Fabianski, Frimpong, Rosicky, Benayoun, Arshavin, Park, van Persie.

Stoke (4-5-1): Begovic, Wilkingson, Shawcross ©, Upson, Wilson, Whitehead, Whelan, Delap, Ethrington, Walters, Crouch.

Subs: Sorenson, Huth, Shotton, Diao, Palacios (ex-scum), Jerome, Jones

Pennant failed to come up thankfully as he normally creates problems for us

Pre-Match Thoughts:

RVP needed the rest, so I’m glad to see MC lining up against the orcs (hopefully he can create room for Walcott and Gerv to work in).

Walcott needs to step up. He can’t fall behind the ‘youngster’ tag anymore, it’s time to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Gerv needs to start hitting the target.

I’m glad Crouch and Upson are starting because I feel they are a lot less dangerous than Huth and Jones.

I’d like to see Arshavin come off the bench and deliver another great cameo.

I’d like to see a great defensive display against one of the most dangerous set dead ball teams in the league.

Lastly, no more injuries.

How it happened:

5’         Djourou sends in a poor cross (used up his good one in the CL).

6’         Ramsey picks out a great run by Walcott, however it’s just over hit.

9’         Corner sent in to a free MC…GREAT chance squandered. No pace or direction in the header really should of done better (that’s 2 goals in 31 matches for MC).

11’       Ambitious pot shot by Walters…fizzes wide. Song caught out in position but recovered well. Shot from distance by Arteta pulled wide.

12’       Crowd relatively quiet.

15’       Another great ball by Ramsey. Too hard for Gerv to control.

16’       Still no set piece for Stoke or Delap throw in.

17’       Spoke to soon. Boooooooooooo! BFG sorts out the danger.

19’       Great bit of skill by Theo (he needs to play to his strengths more often we’d all agree). Good cross, just a touch to high. Whitehead puts in a lousy slide on Arteta.

21’       Stoke are sitting deep and tight, it’s hard to get our passing game going.

22’       Arteta’s free kick spills to Gerv who tees up Ramsey who fires in a shot…just wide.

23’       Free kick to Stoke (Arsenal have conceded 5 goals from free kicks this season). Djourou headers clear.

26’       Hard to break down a well drilled Stoke team, conversely they are finding it tough getting forward.

27’       Ramsey chips a beautiful ball over the Stoke defenders, Gerv controls well with his chest and slots the ball under Begovic…GOAL!!! First goal at home for Gerv, Ramsey has been great.

28’       Fouls: Stoke 6, Arsenal 0

30’       Whitehead YELLOW CARD after another shocking slide tackle that just missed Arteta.

31’       Gerv great burst of pace, and a beautiful low cross, unfortunately no-one is there for the tap in.

33’       Stoke are playing very compact. Shawcross has the ball and Boooooo’s rain throughout Emirates and my living room.

34’       Stoke get a free kick after great and fair Kozza header (funny how Crouch rides over people all the time, yet when he’s on the receiving end he gets the foul. Ball sent wide to an unmarked Shawcross who headers the ball to Walters, ball headed to Crouch who taps it into an empty net. GOAL. Well thought out set piece by Stoke, Gerv should have done better.

35’       Wilkinson wrestles MC to the ground (Hulk Hogan-esque). How is that not a penalty? Very unlucky there!

38’       Delap throw #2. Ball ricochet’s around the box -> Corner

39’       Walters stop whinging.

40’       Arsenal have dropped off a little since we scored, half time can’t come soon enough.

43’       Delap throw #3…come on hurry up get on top of it ref! Handled well but out for throw #4 which comes back out to Delap who sends in an abysmal cross (shows just how one dimensional he really is, the rest of his game is poor).

44’       Great defending by Kozza who gets Gerv out of dodge.

46’       Arteta keeps it in well, great cross. MC misses it somehow and goes out via Upson.

47’       Wild shot from distance by Gerv, to no avail.

HALF TIME

Half time mullings:

A great start by Arsenal but we dropped off again after we scored. They are playing tight and defending well but because of it they are not creating much themselves.

MC we really need you to pull your finger out, yes your endeavour is there but as our second choice striker we need more out of you!

Bugger Chelsea away next week. If we play like we need against them last year we will be fine (oh how I miss that game. The full field press was amazing. Kozza will pocket Torres easy).

Gerv and Ramsey have played well.

Alarm set: 7 hours to work…mmm sick day?!

Second Half under way

46’       Poor effort from Walters, hit and hope if anything.

48’       Great ball through to Walcott, deflection, corner. Corner comes in and Kozza attempts a bicycle kick (love this kid).

49’       Cross sent in by Theo…ends up in row Z.

53’       Djourou sets up Theo to get flattened. Definently tell he is a CB playing at RB.

54’       RVP is warming up. How long before we see him? YELLOW CARD Wilkingson for holding Theo.

56’      Sixth corner for Arsenal. Orcs start falling over each other. Walters down after a tangle with Upson. Get up Walters two minutes have been wasted. Stoke appear to be playing for a draw. Stoke reconsider their sub.

59’       Whitehead is up there with Lescott in terms of ugliness.

60’       Song good hit on Crouch. Delap->off  Diao <- on. Well done Delap you have proved further just how pathetic of a footballer you are!

60’       Crowd chanting for RVP, only a matter of time you’d think as MC’s only contribution this half was a header to Crouch.

62’       Good build up play, bad pass by Song, crowd are getting restless. Kozza is playing great again. Unsure if these performances by Walcott can carry on. It’s surely only a matter of time before we see the Ox take his spot in the starting line-up.

65’       Stoke sitting very narrow and tight, Crouch still isolated. RVP is getting ready to come on. The crowd is shouting their love (please sign a new contract RVP… pretty please).

66’       MC->off  RVP<- on. MC was less than inspiring, guilty of wasting two great chances.

67’       Beautiful play by RVP, cross just too high for Kozza. Worlds #1 cheekily takes on Walters. Commentators condemning him saying he is naïve and has often made mistakes this season. Pretty harsh I think!

68’       Shawcross the sook forearms RVP in the head…no free kick given.

70’       Great pass by Song, RVP lays off to…no one.

71’       Theo->off  AA<- on. Hopefully another great cameo is on the cards.

72’       RVP’s cross splits the lot of them. We are controlling the game easily. BFG needs to assert himself better during our set pieces.

73’       Great run from Gerv, crosses into RVP who sneaks it past Begovic GOAL!!! 200th goal at the emirates in our 100th game. RVP’s positional sense is truly world class.

74’       Ethrington + Crouch-> off           Jones + Jerome<- on

76’       Gerv is looking great down the right hand side.

77’       Jones free header, Jerome goes for it but clatters into the World #1 (he’s not impressed by it). Nervous last 15 minutes coming up.

78’       Santos warned- Cool heads needed here. We don’t need to give away stupid free kicks this late into the game, especially not when Jones is on.

79’       Great piece of defending by Arshavin.

82’       Great pass by Arshavin finding Gerv’s run, he cuts back to RVP who taps it in GOAL!!! Begovic poor attempt at a save. 6 goals in 5 matches for RVP against Stoke.

84’       Two great defensive efforts by Santos. Great block by Kozza who was 1-on-1 with Jones.

87’       Arsenal is making a mockery of Stoke at the moment, passing it around like it’s a training drill. Stoke cannot get near the ball.

90’       RVP threads it through to Gerv, Begovic saves from a tight angle.

91’       Gerv-> off  Pong<- on

Arsenal control the rest of the game with great movement and passing. They can walk off the pitch with their heads held high after that one! The second half was all Arsenal.

FULL TIME

Player Ratings:

Worlds #1  6.5.   Had little to do, but was consistent when called into action.

Djourou 6.    Offered little going forward but did the job asked of him well. His extra height was needed against the Orcs.

BFG  6.5.    Consistent, keeps getting better each game.

Kozza  7.5.    Stand out performer in defence and is becoming one of the best defenders in the league at the moment. Love how he goes about his game. One on one he is a star, and controls the air well. Crouch had nothing all game

Santos 6.5.   Like BFG he is getting better as each game passes. Offers more attacking wise but is no mug defensively. Will be a great purchase once he settles in and lifts his cardio.

Song  7   You know what you get from Song, and he played well again today against Stoke. Stuck to his role well and allowed Arteta and Ramsey to go about their business. Hard to think this is the same Song who went out on loan to Charlton all those seasons ago.

Arteta  6.5.    Started every Premier League game for Arsenal this season. Delivered another good performance both offensively and defensively, unfortunately will allows be compared to Cesc.

Ramsey  7.5.    Amazing game from young Ramsey. Cesc-like passes (especially the assist to Gerv), great work rate and dangerous shooting. He is going to be an Arsenal legend no doubt about it. Glad Shawcross has not ruined the great career he will have,

Gerv  8.    Man of the Match for me. Showed Theo how it’s done with great drive and low crosses. When RVP came on he lifted immensely. Great control and finish from Ramsey’s pass, and two good assists. Another Arsene steal considering his price.

MC  5.   Endeavour is there, just not his finishing. As though he’s scared to shoot with his feet. Wasted two great opportunities. Fans are losing patience with him, me included. Hopefully he snaps out of it though, I want him to succeed at Arsenal

Theo 5.    Good in patches. However those patches were few and far between. He NEEDS to deliver more, and his high crosses are a waste especially when playing a team like Stoke. Ox is breathing down his neck.

RvP   8.   Amazing cameo, the fans got what they asked for and he showed just why we love him so much. Two goals thanks to good positioning and passing by Gerv. We need him to stay he is World Class and a great captain.

Arshavin  6.5.    Good little cameo again. This might be how we get the best out of him for the remainder of his time at Arsenal.

Ref  4.    Didn’t get on top of the time wasting, missed a penalty and was pretty much poor all game.

The game was nerve racking for a moment there but we controlled it for the full 90 minutes. This team is getting better and better each game and looks very determined to give their all for the cause. I’m loving it, come on you mighty Gunners. Well played. Next up Chelsea.


Going Underground? Match preview

October 23, 2011

The arrival of the beetle-headed dung-munching orcs from Stoke will be the first real test of our newly found confidence. Can Arsenal overcome these mutants and gain 3 points without a slew of injuries? Furthermore, can Arsenal get through 90+ minutes of  battle with 11 players on the field – another red card for the good guys would not be a huge surprise.

Shawcross, Delap and Hoof go forward for a corner

Stoke are a different team this season having spent heavily in summer on another bunch of giants. With an average height of 1.83 they are the tallest team in the PL, and it is working for them, they lie in 7th, 2 points ahead of us. Stoke have also cleaned up their act (or more probably have become cleverer at rotational fouling) – they have yet to receive a red card and have only 16 yellows in 8 PL games; we have received 3 reds and 19 yellows.

Tactics are normal Pulis – long ball,  focus on set plays, Delap’s throw-ins and a solid defence allied to the pace and power of Kenwyn Jones who really should be in better company. The signing of Crouch says it all, with his thrust Stoke have managed to score just 6 goals in 8 games. Walters is a Pulis favourite and we can expect him to cause his usual problems. Pennant has been injured but could be back to test our full backs.

A depressing stat is that since we last beat Stoke 1-0 at the Emirates we have not won 2 PL games in succession (according to OPTA), a better one is that Stoke have not beaten us at home since 1981.

Which brings us to Arsenal’s team. Let us start with a positive, Thomas Vermaelen is back and available for selection; I do not expect him to start but perhaps he will get some minutes later in the game. Problems abound at right back with both our squad RB’s injured, as such we will see Djourou continue, I wish him well. At left back Gibbs is out for a minimum 2 weeks with a stomach strain, so Santos gets the shirt. Santos has been both superb and a liability in his short AFC career, he has pace, good control, can cross and has already scored, but he was lucky to stay on the pitch in Marseilles, has been prone to pass to the opposition and his positioning has been suspect, that said, he is learning the Arsenal way and IMO will prove to be a fine signing.

We looked better at Marseilles when Ramsey came on and despite Rosicky’s good form I would start the Welshman in a game which will have strong resonance for him. To make Shawcross look even more stupid will complete Aaron’s recovery. He will score if selected.

My team:

Despite Mr Wenger’s statements, Arshavin’s recent performances have been, what’s the word?  OK …. crap. A 10 minute cameo aside, AA has  been our most frustrating player. I would not even put him on the bench and allow him some time to recover his vim and vigour, because I can only assume his focus has been upon getting Russia into the Euro’s.

RvP or Chamakh? Sure Robin needs a rest, but now is not the time. We need pace to break down Stoke because we will not out-muscle them, however, Stoke have a poor record when returning from Europa Cup duty so we can hope they will tire.

An inventor from Stoke? Not many but stand up Sir Oliver Joseph Lodge. Involved in the development of wireless telegraphy, he also invented electric spark ignition for combustion engines.  Had a fine beard as well ….

This is a winnable game against a team who in recent years have become possibly more disliked than any team outside of Manchester and N.17. Despite being unconvincing we have been getting back on track, let us continue today.

Don’t forget the Victoria line is not working today. Stay and watch the Under-18′s strut their stuff ….

COYRRG

Big Raddy


In the line of duty

October 22, 2011

Written by MickyDidIt89

After logging off last night , I became the recipient of some most disturbing news. I have been ousted as The Chairman of my local Wiff Waff Club (Ping Pong to some). It is a very small select club which makes pinpointing the bad seed very straightforward. You see, a minor incident took place at a less than sober gathering of the local Cider Circle on Thursday night at which a close friend and member of the Whiff Waff Club let slip to Mr Baxter (husband of Mrs Baxter) that two last minute re-scheduling of Wiff Waff Club meets were as a direct result of my Arsenal commitments. Now call me vindictive, but I can assure you the next time I am swinging the bat with Mrs Baxter, I shall not hold back. I only reluctantly let her join as a result of her very fine nibbles (which have turned out to be, shall we say, at best inconsistent) and certainly not as a result of either her conversational skills nor those of bat and ball.

This tale brings me nicely on to the subject of today’s post. How far have you been in the line of duty?

Like many here, I eagerly await a new seasons’ fixture list for two reasons. One is to see how the run-in looks and whether we are likely to become Champions on home soil, and the second reason is to head straight for the diary thus rendering myself “unavailable” for other distractions for one or two days of the year.

Of course shit happens, as indeed it did this week. Twice. Firstly, I had Marseille down for the Tuesday (hence re-scheduling The Wiff Waff Club to last night), and secondly my AFC Fixture List had Stoke down for Saturday. This works in my favour as it means I can go tomorrow, but this only shows how easily difficulties can arise, thus heaving at the strings of one’s loyalties.

My own favourite took place one day in the autumn of 1997. I had recently become engaged,  and the previous day my then girlfriend and I had resolved to put a day in the diary for the momentous occasion in the Spring of the following year. She later found me on the phone to the FA enquiring about the dates of the Cup Final. When asked I merely explained that my wedding day was to be the most important day of my life (cough 26.05.89) and could she imagine how distracted I may be poncing down the aisle with ear piece in as we headed into extra time at Wembley while chasing the double. You never know, I said, it could happen.

So it came to pass that a short week after goals from Marc Overmars and DennisBergkamp against Newcastle at Wembley saw us take The Double, ‘err outdoors become ‘err indoors. So all in all a happy tale of dual commitment and loyalty.

My message to Mrs Baxter: Kiss my pert arse!


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