Monday, 31 March 2008

Let's bring the ruckus

Liverpool have not set the world on fire this season, but they are a pragmatic side and will be hard to break down on Wednesday night. It will be interesting to see how they line up, will Benitez play a more attacking 4-4-2 or will he try to bore us with a more defensive 4--5-1? I don't think this should affect how Arsene approaches the game, I feel we should line up with a standard 4-4-2 as follows against Liverpool's possible 4-5-1:

Toure Gallas Senderos Clichy
Eboue Flamini Fabregas Hleb
RVP Adebayor

Skrtel Hyypia Carragher Riise
Kuuyt Gerrard Mascherano Alonso Babel

Obviously the two predicted line ups are two very big ifs indeed. Arsene may well stick RVP on the flank, not the best place to put him in my opinion as his sharpness in front of goal is criminally wasted. Benitez may gamble by playing Crouch with Torres, however I suspect he does not have the balls to do this, Torres on his lonesome with Kuuyt ploughing a furrow on the right flank is more likely. And will Wenger go with Walcott or Eboue on the right hand side, or will he play Diaby on the left with Hleb on the right?

I think width will be important, Eboue will need to provide this on the right while Clichy's forward runs will be needed on the left. It's crunch time for Alex Hleb, his quick feet and trickery may be vital in what will be a rather congested central midfield area. Toure will have his work cut out against the erratic but talented Ryan Babel, while Gallas will need to use all his experience to shut out Torres. The midfield battle between Flamini/Fabregas and Mascherano/Gerrard/Alonso will be pivotal.

Liverpool are not a frightening proposition, but they will be hard to beat, but if we are top of our game it is a game I am confident we can win. Here's hoping, come on you Gunners!

David Rocastle - the legend

David Rocastle was no ordinary footballer, he joined Arsenal in 1983 and went on to be a key part of George Graham's side that won two league titles in 1989 and 1991, he was also capped 14 times for England. Having left Arsenal for Leeds in 1992 his career never took off as many hoped, constantly plagued by injuries he struggled to maintain any kind of form and after several transfers he eventually retired from football in 1999.

Tragically in 2001 David was struck down a particularly aggressive form of lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, and he died on the 31st of March 2001. Aside from the football, the real reason that David Rocastle is remembered so very fondly by one and all is down to the nature of the man himself. David Rocastle was the consumate professional, modest and loyal to the extreme, attributes that are rarely seen in football of the modern era.

As we are approaching the seventh anniversary of Rocky's death, the website Rocky7 has been setup in order to give Arsenal fans a place to leave their tributes to rocky, as well as doing some valuable fundraising for some very worthwhile charities. Rather than listening to me waffle on about someone I never knew I suggest you take the time to read the personal tributes from some people very close to the man.

Rocky captures so much of our imaginations because he represents so much of what is missing in the modern game. The world would be a much better place if we all aspired to be that little but more like David Rocastle. In a modern society in which so many things are seen in terms of only greed and economics, we would all do well to remember that it is not just the end product of anything that is important, the way one does things and the way one conducts oneself is just as important, if not far more important. RIP Rocky.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Intuitive is one word for it, I can think of others

"A lot of what I've written about Arsenal here is intuitive, impressionistic, off-the-top-of-my head stuff and that is risky. It's written in the moment for the moment. You can come a cropper doing that, as I've done many times. Mistakes creep in at the best newspapers, despite armies of editors and sub-editors, so it's hardly a surprise that Myles Palmer goes off the rails almost every week.

By the way, you should question my knowledge of Arsenal. I'm one of many football pundits. I do my best to write honestly and tell you what I think. But it might be be healthier if you questioned everybody's knowledge."

So here Myles Palmer tries to justify his so called journalism, it would seem more sensible for him to think and consider what he writes, before he writes it; as then his pieces would not be filled with so much ill informed junk. I would not be proud to be impressionistic myself :"impressionistic - of or relating to or based on an impression rather than on facts or reasoning". The rather mixed reviews to his attempt to write an Arsene Wenger biography must have irked him somewhat I'd imagine, he was probably expecting a standing ovation:

"Palmer comes out with nothing but his own opinions but tries to make us believe that we can get more of an insight into Wenger's mind by listening to them as he's had a few 'chats' with various people. I've come out with remarkably similar opinions at around pub closing time on a Saturday night without the benefit of having media buddies getting me into the backrooms of Highbury. Just a bit too pretentious and self-indulging."

Myles Palmer responded to some of this criticism by writing it off as 'ridiculous', his response reminded me rather of his book's style, it was more about name dropping than any decent insightful and analytical journalism, it was more about someone's self indulgent opinion than any attempt at objectivity. Overall one gets the distinct impression that the author is so conceited that he rates his own footballing opinion higher than that of Arsene Wenger, and that the book has become his own footballing mouthpiece rather than a decent analytical biography.

In fact ANR frequently uses unsubstantiated transfer rumours to suck readers in, unsurprisingly these frequently turn out to be nothing more than baseless gossip. In fact one blogger even set up camp because of a difference of opinion with Myles, ironically his blog was far more insightful and readable than ANR ever has been.

"On the day of Arsenal's AGM, over two weeks ago, I posted this report. Yesterday, more than two weeks after the AGM, Myles Palmer on ANR posted this report. Spot the difference. Of course I have emailed ANR and asked them to explain so I'll report back when I hear something. In the meantime you can always check out the real ANR archives here on Arseblog. Leopold may be many things, but a copy-stealer he is not."

ANR and Myles Palmer never replied to arseblogger as regards this rather strange coincidence, if one can call it that. Taking another blogger's work without linking to it or acknowledgement is just plain below the belt, but that didn't appear to stop the great Myles Palmer.

It is also rather strange that ANR does not routinely publish all reader comments, surely the best way for any author to keep in touch with reality is to be accountable to his or her readers? I can only assume that after all these years of 'intuitive impressionism' quite a few genuine gooners have seen Myles Palmer who he really is, a trendy media type who likes to think of himself as being a tad more important and knowledgeable than he really is, meaning that he is more than happy to continue to subject us to his own self indulgent opinion without thinking. I think this little quote taken from a recent ANR piece does the talking better than I can:

"I sometimes think Bendtner is the best striker at the club."

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Have that Bolton

The first half at the Reebok summed up our last few weeks, somehow we contrived to be 2-0 down in a game that we shaded, to put it mildly. Bolton rarely threatened, but managed to open the scoring against the run of play with a well taken headed goal and then fluked a second with a rather fortunate deflected effort.

At the other end we had missed chance after chance, Van Persie shooting straight at the keeper when it would been easier to score, Flamini blazing over towards the end of the half and numerous other decent half chances. In between the penatly box profligacy Diaby was sent off for a bad tackle that merited its punishment, it's just a shame that so many equivalent tackles by Bolton under Allardyce's regime were not punished like this. Meanwhile Gavin McCann was allowed to foul with relative impunity for the whole ninety, good old English football I suppose.

The second half was contrasting to say the least, Bolton missing a couple of half chances before we finally made some of our chances count after Walcott and Adebayor had come on for Senderos and Bendtner. First Gallas snuck in at the back post to slot home, then RVP dispatched a penalty after Hleb had been taken down crudely in the box. We then had a few chances to win it, before Fabregas fluked in a effort that took more than one deflection on its way into the Bolton net.

We bloody well deserved a bit of luck at long last, and a lot of credit must go to the players who had the belief and character to come back with only ten men. There are still some glaring deficiencies in our side that must be remedied in the close season, the lack of goals from wide midfield and the lack of width have been there for all to see of late. Not to dwell on the negative, it is especially satisfying to turn over Bolton in such a manner, given their negative style of play and rather pathetic hatred of all things Arsenal that had been drummed into them by the fat walrus Sam Allardyce. This one was for you big Sam, I don't know if us gooners could live with ourselves if we end up helping send Bolton down a division.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Gooner blogging round up

A cultured left foot has some interesting views from Terry Neill that give a fresh perspective to recent events. Highbury1913 reveals next season's money making new kit to all the world. Insidearsenal counts down to rocky day and wants some noise! LG makes a point about luck that I agree with, lady luck has gone missing for us in the last month or so.

Arseblogger speaks a lot of sense in his stout defense of the mighty Emmanuel Adebayor, while I am inclined to agree with him that Toure should replace Sagna at right back, with big Phil returning in the centre.

Cesc has dumped his agent, leaving the path clear for us to have to endure yet more unfounded banter from the tabloids, Wrighty7 reckons Barca should do one. Gunnerblog summarises a few transfer rumours of interest and outline the importance of keeping our current crop of top talent at the club. Young Spanish defender Ignasi Miguel has been described as the new 'Thuram' by UD Cornella's sporting director, praise indeed. While Tim Sherwood ably makes the case that he is one of the most stupid men to have ever plied their trade with the scum.

The malignant Daily Wail's pathetic attempt to spin the Gallas story was nicely mocked by the Arsenal FC blog. Nacer Barazite continues an impressive season with another goal, this time for the Holland under-19s. The Cannon rounds up the week's international action.

LeGrove speculates on a couple of transfer rumours and brings up the topic of Henri Lansbury, having read a certain story on Young guns about the former's alleged party lifestyle. Having a quick peek at Henri's myspace profile I wonder just how wise it is for young footballers to have so much information about themselves in the public domain, do their agents have brains?

Meanwhile Eduardo is recovering well, and hope remains high that he will be back to football at some point next season. And finally here's another reminder to pop by David Rocastle's memorial site.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Bad news regards Bacary Sagna

A recurring theme of this season seems to be our form players being struck down with significant injuries, from RVP early on, to Eduardo and Rosicky later on, and now Bacary Sagna who is likely to be our for around three weeks with a rather unfortunate ankle injury. With three huge games against Liverpool coming up and a rather big fixture at Old Trafford all within the next three weeks, Bacary 'the rock' Sagna's injury could not have come at a worse time, not to mention the fact that with him on the pitch for the full ninety against Chelsea we may well have escaped with more than zero points.

Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy have been two of our best players this season, they are arguably the best two full backs in the premiership. They have been consistently solid, both so pacey that they very rarely get beaten defensively, but also rather useful raiding forward down the flanks. What are the options without Bacary fit?

One option is to convert Eboue back to right back, against this would be his propensity to being caught napping defensively, however he has done a decent job there in the past. Another option is to bring in Justin Hoyte, however he has been shown up regularly against decent opposition when playing for the first team. An option that could also be considered is to switch Big Phil back in at centre back in place of Kolo, and move Kolo to right back.

There remains a lot to play for this season, and this injury to another key player could not have come at a worse or more critical time. Big decisions need to be made by the manager. Will he play both RVP and Ade up front or will he go for 4-5-1 with Hleb floating behind the striker? How will he deal with Sagna's absence and will he bring big Phil back in to add a bit more physical power to our back four? Our season may well be decided by these decisions.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Thoughts after Chelsea

Sunday was a depressing day all round and there is no escaping it. However, we are not out of it yet and if Chelsea can play at that same tempo against ManUre, then I reckon they will drop some points. However, our biggest problem is that our form is now terrible - 4 points from 5 games is desperately bad. Unless we get 3 points at Bolton then we are out of it for sure.

Watching the Chelsea game on TV, the strongest impression I got was that we simply can't deal with Chelsea's physical game, and Drogba in particular. I don't know if he raises his game against us, as this is not the first time, but Drogba's scoring record against us is pretty impressive. Not to mention the countless headers and knock-downs that he creates that led to chances for Lampard and Ballack. He is by no means a silky Arsenal-style player, and I wouldn't want him at Arsenal, but I had to admire the fact that he almost completely dominated Toure and Gallas with his physical presence. When Anelka was introduced as an added distraction, our defence was simply all over the place. Drogba also smashes the ball towards goal when he gets a chance. Our boys politely tap it at the keeper most of the time.

A lot of the post match press has focused on Gallas' captaincy and its the usual Daily Mail led crap. But for me, the weak link at the back on Sunday was the mighty Kolo Toure. Now lets be straight - King Kolo is a legend and I love him to bits, but he struggles a bit against a big powerful centre forward who gets a lot of ball in the air. On the ground, Kolo's pace and technique mean he is a match for almost anyone, but in the air its a different matter. His missed chance from a corner in the first half is also perhaps telling - 6 yards out with the keeper to beat, Kolo's header was half hearted rather than thunderous.

Is Big Phil up to the job instead? Well maybe. On the positive side, I firmly believe that Phil and Gallas is our strongest pairing at centre back. On the negative side, Phil's form against Drogba is also pretty poor (Carling Cup final last year springs to mind). However, Phil is probably the only centre back we have who would have relished the challenge of splitting skulls with Drogba for every header. Instead, Drogba was virtually unopposed for most of the second half on Sunday.

Its been commented in previous seasons that Arsene's substitutions can be suspect. For me Sunday was a return to that past - with Sagna injured I didn't see the logic of bringing on Diaby. Instead, had Big Phil been installed alongside Gallas, Kolo could have switched to right back. That would have been a pretty powerful back line that may just have weathered the storm. Moving Eboue to right back just made us defensively weaker. I suppose that Arsene was gambling on winning the game, but that's hindsight for you.

Lastly, and I don't have a solution yet, our midfield remains lightweight. They are so much better at the physical stuff this year, but the four who started on Sunday - Cesc, Flam, Hleb and Eboue - weighed about 5 stone between them compared to the muscle of Lampard, Ballack and Essien. Lampard alone weighs more than our entire midfield. Even Joe Cole looked strong and stocky compared to our lads. Plus Makele maybe small, but he is nails defensively. When we were 1-0 up we simply didn't have the strength to defend deep against that power. The inclusion of Rosicky (assuming he ever leaves his sick-bed) does not solve the problem at all, so its hard to say who should be left out, or who should be brought in. The obvious candidate is Gilberto, but his season has been poor. He is also not a long term solution.

I am not saying for one minute that Arsene needs to change his philosophy and bring in some thugs, but on the day it was Chelsea's brawn that won them 3 points, not their technique, and that's been a long standing problem for us.

I just hope that Bolton don't do the same to us. Otherwise its rain-coat and bitterness time......

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

The ignorant start hacking

It is entirely predictable following the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea that some rather ill informed rumour mongers would start to spread their rot. The Sun is invariably at the centre of any story that is based on zero fact and all rumour, as is shown by this lame piece of journalism which tries to create an Arsenal 'revolt' out of nothing.

This weak piece from Steve Howard demonstrates quite nicely how the Sun like to dress up their own vitriol as a story, he lays into William Gallas without mercy. Apparently William Gallas is a red card waiting to happen as Steve Howard relies upon David Platt's wondrous insight for his story. Oh dear Steve it's pretty embarrassing you can't come up with anything better than that, I know your readers are not the brightest and have reading ages of just over ten, but really you should be able to muster up something a little more insightful than this utter pap.

Meanwhile the Guardian also seems to reckon that Arsenal's performance this season means that Arsene Wenger needs to modify his footballing philosophy, whatever that means. The title race is not quite over, and whatever happens, it should be remembered that Arsene's 'failing' philosophy has meant that Arsenal have been competing with clubs that have spent many millions more on players year in year out. For example the Chelsea side that gained the fortunate 2-1 win cost well over a hundred million pounds more than Arsene's Arsenal side, what a failing philosophy it is that enables miracles to be achieved year in year out. Tim Sherwood's words are so stupid that they mock themselves, I don't really feel the need to respond to such ignorant xenophobic rubbish.

Things have not gone according to plan in the last few weeks, following Eduardo's injury and a couple of refereeing shockers at St Andrews out title ambitions have faded away fast. Undoubtedly our squad needs strengthening, while there is a definite lack of directness and width on the flanks of our midfield. However we still have a lot to play for, all is not yet lost; while Arsene's work is still miraculous when put into perspective and compared to the clubs around us. Those in the media should think a little harder before they put the boot in, it is very easy to sell papers by appealing to the lowest common denominator, however that does not make good journalism.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Pipped by the classless chavs

An exciting game, no doubt, Chelsea coming out of the encounter 2-1 winners, leaving us with a very significant hill to climb if we are to win the title this year. The game earlier had been swung by a slightly controversial piece of refereeing, as a lacklustre Liverpool were seen of by Manchester United, but there was no doubt about the key moment that swung today's game Chelsea's way.

The first half was nip and tuck, some good chances at both ends, Gallas hitting the post for Arsenal being the best of the bunch. Frank Lampard routinely demonstrated that he knows not how to tackle, as he slid into challenges getting nowhere near the ball, somehow escaping censure.

A brilliant header from Bacary Sagna at around the hour mark put us one nil up, we then looked very comfortable in the lead, looking more likely than Chelsea to score the next goal of the game.

The linesman then went missing. Drogba and Anelka were both clearly a metre offside in the centre of pitch when the ball was lumped up towards them, Drogba then scored in the proceeding melee, a goal that never should have stood.

The game then turned, Chelsea had the momentum. Anelka missed a good chance when again over a yard offside, before Drogba scored the second. Notably there was also a good little push on Toure by Drogba which allowed him the space to shoot low to Almunia's right hand side.

At two one down we never looked like equalising, the offside goal had completely transformed the game, our obvious lack of width was made more prominent by Sagna's injury and Eboue's consequent shift to right back. The Ivorian did actually have a decent game giving us some much needed width, especially first half.

Two incidents stood out for me today, both of which demonstrated the complete lack of sportsmanship and class that Chelsea possess. In the second half Eboue had put the ball out when he saw that Joe Cole was down injured, when play resumed Chelsea deliberately kicked the ball into the corner and pressed us there, in fact they scored not long after this incident in which play was shifted from one end to the other by our sportsmanship and their complete lack of it. Then in injury time on the the Chelsea coaching staff refused to give the ball back for an Arsenal thrown in, utterly pathetic stuff.

I'd be embarrassed to be a Chelsea fan given these two incidents, mind you most Chelsea fans lack the necessary grey cells to realise their own lack of class; they certainly demonstrated their lack of intelligence and loyalty in the second half by barracking their own manager for the umpteenth time. What a fickle bunch they are.

Our players gave everything today and it wasn't quite enough, small decisions change games as was shown by Drogba's offside goal. Who knows what would have happened if this goal had not stood, maybe Chelsea still would have won, or we may have killed the game off with a second. Either way money cannot buy you class or respect, something Chelsea would do well to learn.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

An uphill battle

Having returned from a fantastic week of holiday, I fed my Gooner paranoia my watching the highlights of the Arsenal Boro game from last weekend. I came away with the distinct impression that lots of little marginal decisions may well cost us dear, and these are decisions that very rarely go against the likes of Manchester United.

Firstly Adebayor had a good goal ruled out incorrectly in the first few minutes, secondly Aliadiere was clearly offside for Boro's goal, and thirdly Eboue was clearly hauled over by Pogatetz in the penalty area. These kind of decisions turn games and may well have cost us another two points in this case.

The same has happened many times previously in the Premiership this year, just one example was the Birmingham game in which the referee gave Birmingham two goals with very very poor decisions. I am not saying that we get no favourable decisions at all, however overall we do not get a fair share going our way over the course of the entire season.

This goes in stark contrast with Manchester United, against whom it is made especially tricky to score when referees disallow goals for no apparent reason, as happened against Bolton the other night, while penalties are dished out for blatant dives by the likes of Ronaldo.

We need to start playing better, no doubt, however we do need to start getting the rub of the green from officials if we are to pip Manchester United to the league this year. Chelsea will be tough to beat on Saturday, but it will be eminently possible if the referee sets the correct standards by punishing cynical play appropriately from the off. However if he allows tackles like Ashley Cole's irresponsible straight legged lunge to prosper, then things may well conspire against us again. Come on you gunners.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Happy St Totteringham's day!

That lovely day has come, sweet joy, St Totteringham's day is here, and Tottenham cannot finish above Arsenal for another season. Tottenham are 31 points behind us with ten games to go, I'm afraid that's it for the sorry spuds, even though it does pain me to say it.

This excellent St Totteringham's database is worth taking a look at, brought to us by Mike Pitt, many thanks Mike. Interestingly one has to go back as far as the 1994/5 season for an absent St Totteringham's day, long may this continue.

It does put into context the rather pessimistic predictions of many so called 'experts' who widely predicted that Arsenal would struggle to finish in the top four, and that they may well be eclipsed by Tottenham's sparkling young English 'talent'. It's good to see that these idiots were well wide of the mark and that Arsene continues to work his magic, long live the king.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

A rather slow week

It's not that I have no life outside of following the mighty Arsenal, but weeks with no action like this do pass that little bit more slowly than the action packed ones. Liverpool made it through to the quarter finals last night, completing the English quartet, and raising the odds of Arsenal drawing an English club to almost one in two.

Alexandre Song, a sometimes maligned and frequently forgotten player, has certainly made some progress this year. I wonder whether he'll be converted into a centre back in the long term, remember his dominant performances at that position in the Carling Cup this season. Young Guns has an interesting view on his development.

Psycho has quite rightly backed Theo Walcott's development at Arsenal, adding further weight against views of the mentally challenged David Bentley who seems intent on having digs at his former club whenever he is interviewed. There are some interesting rumour regarding a talented young Brazilian forward by the name of Dentinho, I regard these as bullshit until proven otherwise.

Is this our kit for next season? If it is, I won't feel the need to buy it, I'd rather spend money going to games than on club merchandise. It seems that many respected voices in the world of football, strangely from outside the UK, have spoken out calling for more severe punishment for Martin Taylor, Dunga is the latest in the line.

Finally on a rather more serious note, I have to agree with this the sentiments expressed in this rather worrying piece by the Online Gooner which talks of some appalling behaviour by gooners in Milan. It provides yet more evidence of how one should never become complacent about racism, as it will then rear its ugly head when one least expects it.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Sinking to Wigan's depth

It was never going to be pretty on a ploughed field in Wigan, but we did enough to have won today, I hope that our missed chances do not cost us dear come May. Wigan huffed and puffed but didn't create anything clear cut, Almunia only had one real save to make from a decent twenty yarder in the second half.

Adebayor had a couple of great opportunities, a one-on-one at the beginning of the game when Kirkland did well to close down the angle and block, and the second early in the second half when he would have done better to have opted for a chip over the keeper instead of powering it straight at him. Fabregas was also thwarted by another excellent Kirkland charge late in the second half.

The pitch made it tricky, and this cannot be used as an excuse, I feel the pitch showed up how we lack a cutting direct edge wide in the midfield. Bendtner linked the play well, Adebayor spluttered, but we lacked that Pires or Overmars type player bursting through from the wide positions. Hleb is a great player, but is no wide man, and certainly not a left winger. While our lack of width on the right was there for all to see, Eboue does provide this but is the long term answer? His lack of end product pushes me to say no. Apart from Fabregas I cannot see many goals coming from midfield, meaning that when the strikers or Cesc do not score, it will be rare for us to win.

It will be a close title chase this year, and these kind of missed opportunities may cost us dear. However there is cearly room for improving the current 1st eleven, a top notch wide player with pace, directness and goals would make us that bit more formidable, and would probably convert a few of these draws into victories. Perhaps Carlos Vela is the answer, however next season may be too late for this year's title.

Another youngster snared and Wigan preview

Arsenal have snapped up another young talent from Barcelona's feeder club, Ignasi Miguel, a centre back of some pedigree. This story was first broken by the Telegraph. Obviously there is a long way to go for the lad, and very few of these highly rated youngsters make as first team regulars, however it's still promising for the club, as Arsenal is seen as a club that will put young players into the first team and not stifle their development, like Chelsea for example.

The Professor of trauma surgery who operated on Eduardo's ankle talks of the injury and on his chances of making a good recovery. Gilles Grimandi reveals some interesting details of our scouting policy, and the long term nature of the decisions that are made in this area. The Mail highlights some filth that is coming our way at the JJB today.

On the blogging front I have to agree wholeheartedly with this rant on LeGrove, which excellently dismantles the rather unpleasant xenophobic and sometimes racist attitude that is present in a lot of garbage spouted by the tabloid media, especially the gutter radio Talksport which seems to be a mouthpiece for the BNP at times. Ian Wright is an utter embarrassment in most things he does, I'm sure he just sees himself as a good old Englishman who is entitled to be rude and offensive to anyone foreign. I also enjoyed this mocking of the annoyingly patronising git Mark Lawrenson, stick it where the sun don't shine Lawro.

On paper we should just have to turn up against Wigan, but football is not played on paper, I feel it will be a very tough test of our title winning credentials. The pitch is a joke, it will not be easy to play our one touch game, and Wigan will try to drag the game down to their level. I hope the referee clamps down on filth early on, as otherwise kit will just become a kicking contest in the JJB's ploughed field. Three points are needed badly today to put some pressure on the mancs, but it will definitely not be easy.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Pipe down you unemployed imbecile

The small man who masquerades as a rather vain egotistical Portugese by the name of Jose Mourinho has been shooting off his dysmorphic mouth yet again. He really is so foolish and petulant that he continues to insult those he used to compete with in an immensely bitter and disrespectful manner. Some things never change, some people have absolutely no class at all, and that appears to never change. The likes of Mourninho are hypocrites of the highest order, behaving like a 3 year old with an ASBO while aiming cheap pathetic insults at everyone else. His latest comments aimed at Arsene Wenger included:

"A unique team - their coach hasn't won for years, but he's an idol," said Mourinho. "There are no pressures at Arsenal. But do not say he's growing young players into talents, because he takes jewels and polishes them."

Oh dear, he has once again spoken without engaging his small and rather lonely brain. His solitary grey cell must be in desperate need of some company. It is quite amazingly stupid to criticise what Arsene Wenger has achieved at Arsenal with such limited resources, he only makes himself appear ignorant and bitter. Mourinho himself spent millions and millions, brought through no young talent, and then bottled in when things got tough, hardly a strong position from which to speak out.

Arsene as responded promtly
to Mourinho's ill informed raving, with his typical veiled digs that nicely put Mourinho is his lowly place:

“Winning cannot be everything,” Wenger said. “To destroy people can never be everything. I do not understand those who come out to destroy people, that is not what life is about. Why should you always have to kill other people to exist? If you do that then somewhere you feel you are not good enough.

“What is important for me is to play in a fair way and in a way that people will enjoy. A trophy is what you can show, but the way you play, the way you behave — these are also important. To win trophies is important, but that is not the only thing in sport. Moral integrity is important. For me sport is more than just winning trophies.”

Winning is important, of course, however winning is not everything as Arsene says, the way one does things does matter; Mourinho has showed us that winning at any cost whilst behaving like an uneducated moron and encouraging negative and cynical football is not something to strive for. The way in which Mourinho's sides behave as regards their intimidation of officials, feigning of injury and diving show Mourinho to be a man who has little moral fibre, a man who wants to win at any price, even if that means losing his self respect in the process. Mourinho has sold his soul and as a consequence is a very bitter and angry individual. Morals and ethics are important Jose, you may have a few trophies in the cabinet, however you will go down in history as nothing more than an arrogant spoilt brat.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Simply awesome

That was the best I have ever seen Arsenal play away from home in Europe. Ac Milan were made to look rather ordinary, not the mighty European champions that they are. It was a great team performance as well, true, some individuals were better than others, however everyone worked for each other and everyone showed immense discipline over the ninety minutes.

Milan started strongly with lots of early pressure, a few corners and a couple of near misses, Pato missing their best chance when he tamely pooped one into Almunia's hands. From around the twenty minute mark it was one way traffic, Milan couldn't get hold off the ball, and we tried to knock down their front door. Fabregas struck the bar, while Adebayor, Senderos and Eboue all had great chances to take the lead. Strangely as the game wore on, Milan didn't come back into it, Fabregas let fly from thirty yards and beat Kalac low down to his right, then Walcott skipped clear on the right to set up Adebayor for a well worked second. 2-0 to the Arsenal.

Tactically Wenger got it spot on tonight, we were defensively solid with Gallas and Sagna particularly good, while our pressing as a unit meant that Milan were forced into hopeful long balls time and time again. Our youthful energy and skill was too much for the Milanese veterans. Our central midfield trio of Hleb, Fabregas and Flamini were everywhere, using the ball sensibly and harrying the opposition. While Adebayor showed how to lead a line up front.

The referee's pathetic decisions do not deserve a mention this morning, it makes the win even more impressive as we had to overcome his incompetence as well as the opposition's efforts. Arsene will be proud this morning and rightly so, not many English sides can go away to the best sides and dominate in such a fashion. Magnificent.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Not a complete disaster

Bendtner's last minute goal may be crucial come the end of the season, and salvaging a last minute draw feels so much better than losing at home. Our morale would really have suffered if we'd followed on from last weekend's controversial events, when we deserved all three points, with nulle point at the Emirates. I do like to be positive.

As Arsene says it was a bit of a hungover performance, it was by no means a dreadful performance, but our standards are pretty high these days, so mediocrity can sometimes appear worse than it really is when put alongside excellence. Theo is not the finished article yet and who would expect him to be at 18 years old, but he has developed well this season.

Villa are a very decent side and have some real pace on the counter attack, they are certainly no push over. While our squad is not quite as strong as that of our challengers, we have also been rather unfortunate with injuries with Toure, Eduardo, Rosicky, Van Persie all spending considerable time in the treatment room. We also were not at the top of our game, I am sure a mixture of emotional fatigue following Eduardo's injury and the disappointment of conceding the dodgy last minute McFadden penalty contributed to this. These are not excuses, and we cannot perform at this level regularly if we are to win the league this season.

A special mention should go to Manuel Almunia who had an excellent game, making a couple of sterling saves that kept the score at 1-0, when 2-0 would have been a step too far. Manchester United are not going to drop many points between now and the end of the season, so we'll have to sharpen up if the league is going to return to its rightful location. Milan will be a much tougher game and a performance like this repeated will undoubtedly see us knocked out of the champions league. Big Phil will need to up his game, and we must keep things tight at the back, as an early Milan goal would be a disaster.