Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Flam tames the Toon

Its been pointed out that some of my so called 'short' posts are, in fact, not short at all. Well, I'm busy today so this one actually will be short.

Newcastle have been beaten 3-0 twice in the last 4 days. On paper, they have some decent players and I have to agree with 1979Gooner, our beloved creator on Another Arsenal Blog, that N'Zogbia is the pick of the bunch. Although he plays at left back most of the time for the Toon, he actually seemed a better player in the middle of the park on saturday. He could do a job for us, but is genuinely going to get in our side - not at the moment. I also don't think he is a winger.

Anyway, back to my main man, the Flamster. What a goal. Fully 25 yards out, he smacked it with his right peg into the top right hand corner of the goal. I haven't seen anyone work it out Sky Sports style, but it was from quite an angle and the total distance travelled by the ball must have been nearer 30 yards. Shay Given didn't even touch it.

It was the best goal I have seen at the Emirates. Ever. I think...

Monday, 28 January 2008

Tabloid style blogging

I was browsing the arsenal headlines on newsnow and noticed:

"Wenger tried to pinch Jonathan Woodgate from Spurs

Arsenal News Review 11:59 28-Jan-08"

It seemed strange that the above piece did not exist on ANR, while Arsene Wenger denied any interest in Woodgate today. Has someone been sucked in by a baseless rumour and had their fingers burnt?

Anyways good to get back to winning ways with a solid win against Newcastle, it seems that we always win when we play badly in the first half without going behind. Eduardo is looking sharp and Ade has certainly zeroed his shooting boots.

It always a bit strange when you have to play the same side twice in a short period, as both teams know exactly what to expect. However I suspect we may be too strong for them again, even if they do wheel that young criminal Barton out of his cells for the occassion. Touch wood.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Slack jawed hacks and Cole amusement

I would recommend that everyone has a read of this Arsenal analysis piece which neatly outlines just how much pap is being spouted in the press regarding the Adebayor Bendtner 'incident'. Let's just remember that there were umpteen cameras and photographers at the lane, and no one caught anything conclusive on camera. The Sun has been making up quotes as usual and trying to destabilise the Arsenal camp, no change there then.

The Daily Mail is up to its old limp tricks of pretending to be objective but reporting baseless rumour as fact yet again:
'No doubt remains that Bendtner was the victim of an attack by Adebayor at Tottenham which would have produced a red card had it been spotted by referee Howard Webb'
Horseshit. If there was no doubt about it then the FA would have charged him you cretinous halfwits, the FA are always keen to throw the book at Arsenal for things that they routinely ignore Manure doing. Some interesting stuff from someone who actually saw what happened:
'What I saw was the two seem to have words in the box (it seemed to me as though there was confusion over which should take which run) and then, maybe 30 seconds later they squared
up. There was no headbutt, although Ade did seem to catch Bendtner with his hand in a kind of jabbing motion. Seemed to me that he was making a point with his hands, certainly not a punch or anything. That's when it kicked off and Gallas jumped in.'
This is a mountain out of a molehill. The brain dead hacks who choose to stir this up should know much better, it seems that nothing much really happened and there is certainly no evidence that something violent was done. Let it drop and stop rumour mongering. On past records, Ade has shown a great temperament game in game out, whereas Bendtner has shown petulance and arrogance in abundance, I know who I would choose to believe. If you want to read something to cheer yourself up then have a peek at this on Cashley Cole, even if it is probably made up.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Round up of events

It appears that young Carlos Vela is showing some exciting glimpses of his ability at Osasuna, a nice goal at the weeekend and hopefully we'll be seeing him play a bit more regularly for the rest of the season. This time of year seems to be when the papers and other media outlets like to make up some rather fanciful bull to get people to read their drivel, for example there have been numerous baseless rumours about Walcott going out on loan, even to Liverpool, please spare me this kind of rubbish. There is some interesting news of a match between Arsenal Reserves and Trevor Mputu's side, a striker Arsene has been casting his eye over.

I am not a fan of people jumping on Ade's back. Adebayor may have done wrong the other night, but I suspect Bendtner is not entirely blamefree, if things were that clear cut then I think FA charges would have been brought, they always love charging Arsenal players with something. Everyone should be allowed the odd mistake, other than that error I think Ade has been impecably behaved in his Arsenal career so far, often the peacemaker in fact when others are losing their heads. Taking things to the extreme, some bloggers reckon Bendtner is ten times better than Adebayor, he is not half the player that Adebayor is, he does have promise but Adebayor has been awesome this year, the all round striker that we have been waiting for.

Scary news from the ACN with Toure being stretchered off with a possible groin injury, hopefully it will keep him out for the remainder of the ACN but he'll be fighting fit for just after the competition ends, fingers crossed. Some great news on the Flamster's contract, some promising sounds emerging, so touch wood there too. Onto Newcastle on Saturday, I agree with the Cannon and reckon it will be a pretty strong side, but not quite full strength. I expect Clichy, Flamini and Senderos to return, with Adebayor and Eduardo renewing their partnership un top. It won't be easy as Keegan wil fire up the Toon army, but I feel we'll be too strong for them, especially in midfield where I think they are particularly weak aside from N'Zogbia. We'll need to be fired up though, as more lethargic complacence could see us undone again.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Musings after the drubbing

It would not be right to let the week pass without some form of casual reflection after the 5-1 pasting that we took at Spurs on Tuesday. However I will try and keep it short, partly in order to keep things in persepective, but also because so many column inches have already been devoted to it this week already. For example, Henry Winter of the Telegraph shows his true colours in this over-the-top drivel.

So, here we go:

1. Spurs were the better side in both Carling Cup games and were unlucky not to win at the Emirates as well. In fact, Spurs were unlucky not to get at least a point at the Emirates in the Premier League game in December.

2. Before Tuesday, Spurs have not beaten Arsenal in any competitive game since 7 November 1999. That is a ridiculously bad record for Spurs against their biggest rivals. 1999 is also the last time that Spurs won a trophy - the (then named) Worthington Cup. Also, these last two achievements were only achieved with George Graham at the helm, so its bittersweet for them in any event.

3. The period 1998 to 2008 has been the greatest in Arsenal's history, so far. In this period, Arsenal have won the league 3 times, the FA Cup 4 times, reached the Champions League Final and the UEFA Cup Final. That is going to piss every Spudder off a lot.

4. The same period has seen Arsenal generally regarded as playing the best football in the country, if not Europe when the press gets really excited. However, "sexy football" used to be the saving grace for the Spudders, but they didn't even have that accolade any more to fall back on. Indeed, Spurs' chaos in the boardroom has been often reflected by chaose on the pitch.

5. The result on Tuesday was better than any Spurs fan could possibly have imagined. Beating Arsenal 5-1 is like finding a winning lottery ticket in your pocket that you don't remember buying. Plus, I reckon a healthy number of die-hard Spudders would take Tuesday's result over a poxy lottery win. Well maybe not, but it definitely means a lot to them, and who can blame them?

6. The Spudders will not be put off their stride by Gooners saying that it was the reserves, we don't care about the Carling Cup etc etc. It was a competitive game that no Gooner wanted to lose and it only makes us look like bad losers by making excusses. Instead, we have to stand up and take it on the chin. Plus it was only the reserves and we don't care about the Carling Cup.....

7. If Man Utd stuff Spurs this weekend in the FA Cup and we do the double over Newcastle, then no-one will give a shit about last Tuesday.

8. Spurs record against Chelsea is only marginally better than their record against us, so the chances of Spurs actually winning anything since 1999 are still not good. I am also quite happy to say that I will be supporting Chelsea in the Carling Cup final and I hope they win at least 100-0.

There you go - feel better already?

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Plan B comes into effect

The win against Fulham was the perfect cast study in Arsenal's development over the last couple of years, from a slightly predictable side into a multi-dimensional side that can score more than one type of goal. Adebayor's headers were awesome, the crossing from Clichy and Hleb to supply the ammunition weren't half bad either. Rosicky was bright and has been one of our best players in recent weeks, while the defense has look solid enough without Kolo, so far.

The only bad news this week was the Ivory Coast's victory in the ACN, I was selfishly hoping that they would go out early on, unfortunately they must be favourites to win with a very very strong squad indeed.

The squad for tonight's game versus Spurs is rather stronger than I would have predicted, Fabregas, Gallas, Hleb, Flamini and Adebayor all feature. If we can keep it tight and not concede in the first half, the jitters may set in, and then I would fancy an Arsenal win, however if we concede early then I think we will find it tought to recover.

ps for anyone that hasn't found Arseblogger's hilarious pisstake of ANR, have a look at this

Friday, 18 January 2008


Who exactly does Lassana Diarra think he is? He leaves Chelsea last summer for more first team action and within roughly 5 months decides he doesn't fancy fighting for his place. Did he really think he would walk into the Arsenal midfield just because he's played a few times for France at right back (by the way, how long is it going to be before Clichy and Sagna are France's regular full backs?)??

We have central midfielders in abundance at the moment:


What bothers me most is that, Fabregas aside, Diarra has the potential to be as good as all of the above. Yet instead of biding his time he has decided to move on. He even had a superb example in Flamini to follow. The Flamster has had to sit by and watch Gilberto play regularly for the last few seasons. He has responded to the challenge and rightly been given the plaudits for his wonderful contributions this season. Flamini is less naturally talented than Gilberto and Diarra but who cares when he is putting in twice the effort?? Why could Diarra not have done this?

I doubt very much that any Arsenal fans will be particularly sorry to see this departure and I hear that Pompey fans are not actually that chuffed with their new recruit. Not surprising when Diarra has already announced to them that he will be off as soon as a bigger club comes in for him. What a joker.

On to another point: it looks like Arsene is keeping his wallet shut this transfer window. Fair enough given our position but most of us know that if Gallas gets injured in the next few weeks we are up the creek without a paddle - Senderos/Gilberto at centreback anyone?

I hope that this summer Arsene has a top class centreback, goalkeeper and winger (is anyone convinced by Rosicky as the successor to Pires?) on his shopping list....

RVP out again!

Team news for the Fulham game is that Djourou is out, which is mildly disappointing, and that RVP is out "... for a few weeks” with a thigh strain, which is hugely disappointing. How is he injured AGAIN ?

Whilst the absences of Toure, and maybe Eboue, means that we could never field the 1st XI against Fulham, RVP's injury reminds me once again how infrequently we have been able to put out our 1st XI this season. In fact, and I haven't checked every game yet, I don't think we have put our 1st XI out once this season!

Ok, that pre-supposes that we actually know what the 1st XI is, which is probably debatable this season, but I would say that the "current" first choice line-up would look something like this:

Alumina, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Hleb, Fabregas, Flamini, Rosicky, Adebayor and RVP.

Even ignoring the change of goalkeeper during the season, I don't think that team has played once this season. Now we were pretty close to that team in August, but Adebayor was injured throughout, Gallas and Rosicky were absent in September and much of October and then RVP has been out pretty much ever since. Cesc has also been injured in November and December.

Now why does this all matter? Surely we have a big squad and its naive to think in modern football that you can survive with 14 players etc

Well yes to an extent. Its all well and good to have 42 first squad players and clearly big squads are important to allow rotation when required to rest players and to cover for injuries. However, its also true that the great teams, the really successful ones, always have a consistent "first XI" that the manager wants to play in the big games.

Even in the modern era, the Arsenal team practically picked itself in the 1997-98, 2001-02 and 2003-04 seasons, and others for that matter. Whilst there was still room for doubt on occassion, such as whether Ray Parlour should have played more in his later years, or Edu when he was playing well in 2004 etc, the point was that we all knew what team Arsene wanted to pick and that the first XI played regularly together. Man United have had the touch recently to keep their first XI fit and healthy most of the time, especially their important players, but we just can't seem to do it.

The result of all these injuries and illnesses is inconsistency in selection and results. Its a natural consequence. Such things are usually part and parcel of the game but my fear is that RVP is now joining the Sicknote ranks - this is the 3rd season where he will have missed a large proportion of the games.

Its especially frustrating as RVP is, for my money, one of the most gifted strikers in the Premier league who if fit, would be competing for the golden boot every single year. In other words, he will win you trophies and without him we are a shadow of the team.

However, since RVP seems to have a genuine problem staying fit all season, then I think Arsene has a tough choice this summer. Bendtner and Eduardo have promise, bags of it, but I don't think they are at the required level yet to lead the front line for a season and win the league. Arsene needs to be convinced by the end of the season that one of those two has the ability to be considered a world class striker during 08/09, (my bet is on Eduardo) but for this season I have a nasty feeling that the absence of RVP is going to cost us if it continues.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Round up before Fulham

There are some positive stories that Diarra may well be on his way out of the club, not long after his arrival from Chelsea for a knock down fee. Given his erratic performances and dubious temperament, I am sure we will be better off without his troublesome influence, and for a profit of around 3-4 million squid you can't grumble. Events certainly demonstrate Diarra to be nothing more than a mediocre player and a weak character, if he isn't willing to fight for his place at a top club then it shows how much belief he has in his ability, or lack of it.

Mark Randall is apparently a new confident man following his Carling cup debut, let's just hope Arsene continues to blood the likes of Randall, Gibbs and Lansbury. It will be interesting to see the side he lines up against the spuds next week.

Seeing as it's the transfer window, the papers are making up for list time with lots of baseless banter. Apparently a young Palace player by the name of Bostock has turned us down, just another story written with absolutely no facts to back it's claims up, no change there then. We're also interested in a young Russian defender, apparently, hmmm. Another of the bullsh*t rumours, let's concentrate on the players we have already.

Three points against Fulham will be essential. Tomas Rosicky should be back, so I suspect Hleb will be shifted to the right and other than this change, I predict the same line up as for the Birmingham game. RVP appears likely to be on the bench, given his injury wobbles it would seem foolish to start him when he is clearly well off full match fitness.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

A lack of balance

Two points dropped against a distinctly average Birmingham side, and many of us have seen this coming for a while. Almunia has taken a lot of unfair criticism from some rather stubborn and ignorant pundits, so where does the reason for these blips lie?

Obviously we can't expect to win every game, the more worrying aspect of this draw is its context in some rather average performances over the last couple of months. We did play well against West Ham but the recent performances against Tottenham, Middlesbrough and Newcastle in the league were rather poor.

Football is a collective game, so no one is free of blame, however I do see a few weaknesses in our side which do deserve a bit more of the blame. Eboue is raw and learning the game as a midfielder, but he does give us some genuine pace and width when he plays. Without him there is an ominous lack of width in the midfield, making it easier for lesser sides to defend against us as our play becomes rather predictable and too concentrated through the centre of the pitch.

Theo is not a midfielder
. I don't think he can judged to be an Elephant, when he is never played in the right position. He is also a young man learning the game and makes a lot of bad decisions on the ball, this combination of factors results in Eboue being a much bigger loss than most people acknowledge. We also do not have a great deal of width on the left, with Rosicky absent yesterday, we really had very few options available to us. Even with Rosicky fit there is an element of predictability to our play down the left, as we use right footed players who like to come inside frequently. Would Mark Randall be the answer? Well, I think there is a good chance that he would have done rather better than Theo did yesterday. Dimitrov might be a good idea, given the real lack of a left footed layer who can penetrate in a genuinely wide position. Personally I like N'Zogbia at Newcastle, he has everything needed in the modern game and Wenger could turn him from a young talent into a classy end product.

It's not all doom and gloom by any means but I see the lack of width in the midfield as our major weakness. We look strong in every other area of the team in terms of first team players and reserves. I am sure Arsene also realise this and has something in mind, I just hope he doesn't leave it too late, as the title may have slipped from our grasp by then.

Monday, 7 January 2008

New Year Honours... and Turkeys

Its been frantically busy on the Arsenal front in recent weeks. Whilst the results have been excellent overall, its been a tough few weeks with the results often outshinging the performance. Still, its been a while since that was the case for Arsenal.

However, we are now 21 games into the Premiership season and have obtained 50 points - a great return, plus very much alive on all other fronts with games against Spurs in the Carling Cup, Newcastle / Stoke in the FA Cup and the mighty AC Milan in the Champions League to look forward to. Fingers crossed for the rest of the season but who have been the stars of the show so far, and whilst it may be churlish to criticise, who has disappointed?

The early season plaudits went to Cesc Fabregas. If the press voted for Player of the Year in August he would have won by a mile. But who has made Ted's New Years' Honours List:

1. Matthieu Flamini. I don't know where the Flamster went on holiday last summer but I want to go. His level of performance this year has been truly heroic in midfield. The reason he is my no.1 for the half-term awards is the consistency of those performances and the determination he has to lift those around him. How many times has he tracked back and made a good tackle? How many times has he cajoled his fellow players on to win the game? Absolute class and he should be rewarded with a bumper new deal.

2. William Gallas. Hands up if you thought at the start of the season that Gallas was a bad choice for Captain? Me too. What a player he has been for us this season. 100% consistent in his performances and sometimes of incredible quality, especially on the big occassions - the games against Man United and Chelsea come to mind. I don't think Philip Senderos has become a bad player in the last 12 months, its just that we are now being spoilt by Gallas. Even the great Kolo is being shaded by him.

3. Cesc Fabregas & Emmanuel Adebayor. I trust that no explanation is needed for Cesc's inclusion on the list, but perhaps I do need to say why he is not higher up. My reason is that he has not been so good since getting injured against Seville in November. I also feel that a quiet game that results in a goal is fine for a striker, its not so good for a central midfielder. Whilst being admitedly ultra criticial, Cesc's headline goals have perhaps compensated for some decent, rather than exceptional, performances. Its a joint award with the Togonator because his workrate as a lone striker has been simply awesome, and without a peep of complaint. Big smiles and big goals from the big man. Every defender in the country is shit scared of him.

No obvious turkeys but we need something to talk about so here goes:

1. Emmanuel Eboue. I thought Eboue could be a big star this season but he seems determined to be the worst thing about the Arsenal team. Dives too much, doesn't take his man on enough and is simply appalling at getting stuck in. If I had a £1 for every 50/50 that Eboue pulls out of then I could retire. Plus, if it wasn't for Bacary Sagna's impressive first season (who is unlucky not to be on the list above) then we could have been exposed badly down the right hand side.

2. Lassana Diarra. I'm hoping that his failure to appear in the Burnley game means we have seen the last of him. Its a shame becuase he clearly has talent. However, he is also clearly stupid and isn't prepared to fight for his place in the team. Plus he has a dolphin's forehead.

3. Arsene Wenger. I know its a hugely stupid suggestion given what he has done, but AW is third on the list for insisting on playing 4-5-1 on too many occassions. It doesn't work for us, especially at home, but it seems AW is hung up on it after the Champs League run a few years back. Hopefully the recent form of Eduardo and Bendtner means that we have seen the back of 4-5-1 but I think it has cost us points. Let's not forget that we had only dropped two points in the entire season before the Liverpool game playing 4-4-2. We then switched to 4-5-1 and went on to drop points in games we could have won against Liverpool, Newcastle and Boro. We were also thoroughly lucky against Aston Villa and Spurs.

Banter switch off.