Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Porto await

A few blades will certainly be sharpened should we not respond to the Hull defeat in convincing fashion, making an important game against Porto even more crucial. Nasri is expected to return, while a hip niggle keeps the impressive Alex Song out of the action.

Wenger has some interesting decisions to make. Does he move Eboue to his favoured right and Nasri on the left? Or does he keep Theo involved and drop Eboue? He could even leave Nasri on the bench but I doubt that. Our lack of strength in the centre of midfield means that Denilson and Fabregas will continue there.

There are also choices up top and at the back. Should Arsene stick with the erratic and lethargic Adebayor and RVP? Or should he plunge either Bendtner or Vela into the mix? While at the back many of us would like to see Djourou play ahead of Gallas, but Toure is the more likely to be dropped, so will Wenger make a change in this department?

Choices, choices.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Arsene admits - we are too small

There has been a lot of reaction to our recent defeat to Hull, most of it pretty sensible, even if some of it has been a little over the top and out of perspective, that's only in my humble opinion after all. Arsene has had some strong words to say and even admitted that he was made 'physically sick' by the performance. Maybe Arsene is referring to his hangover that was forced upon him after losing to the not so mighty Hull City FC, maybe not.

"What we delivered today was not good enough and we know that. What was the most disappointing is that we were 1-0 in front and still lost the game, after having struggled in the first half to score."

I agree that the delivery was indeed not good enough, we created plenty of good clear cut opportunities which we should have done better with. I'm not quite so sure about the next bit:

"We were not at the level we should have been. I believe that's more down to the mental side than anything technical. If we had had the same level of commitment as Hull, we would have won the game, as the technical advantage is with us."

If the thirty yarder had been a little less accurate and if we had decided to put away a couple of our sitters then would that have made our commitment so much greater? I am playing devil's advocate I know.

"I don't know if they were complacent, it's difficult to say. Are they subconsciously thinking, 'It's OK, we will do it.' It can happen. But where we are guilty is after a difficult first half, we went 1-0 up and then let it go again."

Here I am starting to agree with Arsene, once we were one nil up it appeared that the players thought they had the game won, they wrote Hull off. How wrong they turned out to be.

"I believe that we have more a size problem than quality in our defending problem. Our centre backs are not very tall. I don't know what we can do. It's not only centre backs who defend. As a team we are a bit short."

What a statement, especially the 'I don't know what we can do' line. This is something that has been eminently apparent for a long time now, it it not a problem that has cropped up overnight. Gallas and Toure have been our first choice centre backs for quite some time. Something could have so easily been done in the close season about this obvious lack of size.

As some have said, would it not now be sensible to drop Gallas and throw big Johan into the mix? Ted also observed that Song's appearances have coincided with a bit more solidity in the side, I'm sure that's more than coincidence. It's a bit of a shame that a hip injury keeps Song out against Porto, hopefully he'll be back soon. One also wonders whether the front two need to up their game, as there are some rather bright striking talents waiting to pounce.

The problem is that Gallas cannot be dropped, this is because Arsene has made him club captain and signed him with the promise of playing regular games at centre back, what an error this now looks in retrospect. I hope the reaction is positive against Porto, fingers crossed, but I suspect that our lack of size will remain a problem all season and the only cure is a radical Gallasectomy.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Complacent and unfortunate

It was by no means a great team performance yesterday, but I have seen us play much worse and win, and it was certainly nowhere near the low of the Fulham away game. However we still contrived to lose three points to a rather average side by giving away a hard fought one goal lead, there are certainly some explanations for this slightly sloppy capitulation.

One should still see the defeat in perspective though, we were incredibly unlucky to lose the match, we had countless excellent chances and Hull did not threaten our goal to anything like the same degree. The first half saw Hull create nothing at all, while despite not flowing as we can, we still created a few good clear cut opportunities. Adebayor had goal strangely ruled out, for what I am not quite sure, Walcott had three excellent chances, one he fluffed, one he took too long and the other he allowed an excellent recovering challenge to nip the ball away from him when through one on one. RVP and Ade didn't really work hard enough all day, and this was especially so in the first forty five.

So in we went nil nil at half time, it wasn't awful, but it certainly wasn't great. It still didn't excuse the rather petulant and almost Manu like behaviour of a small minority of fans who seem to think that their incessant moaning helps, why not support the team? We are supporters after all.

Theo burst down the right and caused panic in the Hull box and the ball somehow squirmed over the line, fortunately the lino's size able belly didn't prevent him from observing that the ball had definitely crossed the line, one nil up we were. We should then have gone on to bury Hull, but we did not, so what were the reasons for this?

Certainly a lot of supporters seemed to think that going one nil up meant that we had won the game, chants of 'You should have stuck to the Rubgy' and others demonstrated a slight lack of awareness of Hull's several remarkable comebacks from a goal down so far this season. We also had a few great openings which we did not take advantage of. RVP in particular looked more lively, but he did not have his shooting boots on, he was also far too selfish on a couple of occasions.

Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up to a great goal as well, and Hull's first came from a position that didn't initially appear that threatening, Giovanni cutting inside from the left wing position to fire home an awesome thirty yarder that left Almunia without a prayer. There was not enough pressure on the ball, however those do not often nestle in the top corner.

Hull's second came from a set piece, a good whipped corner from the right was expertly headed home by Daniel Cousins, our man on the line didn't appear to do much. It was rather worrying that Hull looked so very dangerous from their set pieces, we are a very small side and there is just not getting away from that. Toure is our only defender or midfielder who is remotely tall, the rest are medium sized at best, it just leaves us so exposed to set plays and the long ball.

We continued to huff and puff, Fabregas forced a great save, Gallas looked a better striker than defender as he headed against the underside of the bar, while a few other efforts flashed just wide. It finished 2-1 to Hull, fair play to them, they were organised at the back and despite riding their luck, got their tactics spot on.

I'm not sure I completely buy the comments from Arsene after the game, I agree that we were a tad complacent in some ways, especially with our slack finishing and the wasting of so many gilt edged chances. Personally I don't think Hull defended that well, if we had finished well then we could have had at least four or five goals, it was our sloppyness rather than Hull's excellence. There was also not quite enough movement, especially from our strikers, however I did think that the rest of the side looked pretty motivated.

One aspect of Arsene's explanation does not wash with me, as regards conceding from corners (again):

"It is a weakness in our team but that’s as well linked with the level of concentration. You can work for hours on the training ground but if you don’t attack the ball on the day of the game it will cost you. We were caught already the corner before when the guy got infront of Adebayor. I believe that's more down to how much you want the ball."

There is an element of lacking concentration here, however if you have such a small side then no matter how motivated and determined you are, it's still very hard to outjump a much bigger side. In particular a lot of this problem is rooted in the Toure-Gallas combo, and personally Gallas is the weaker link for me. He was completely outmanoeuvred by Marlon King yesterday, who is at best at average top division player. He routinely lost the aerial contest, even when he was in a stronger starting position. Gallas is a very good defender, however a strong back four is made by having four players who complement each other's games, Gallas does not complement Toure's game.

Our back four does not look right and this has been apparent for a while. Gallas was great for Chelsea when playing at full back or when playing alongside a beast who could win everything in the air, however he has never been an aggressive centre half who will dominate the aerial challenges, he is a clever mopper upper of danger and needs players around him to make up for his weaknesses. Gallas left Chelsea because he wanted to be a permanent fixture at centre back, it seems that they realised what we can see now, that Gallas is not really a true centre back.

In perspective we should still have dispatched Hull, even with our problems at centre back, and we must improve our finishing if we are to sustain a challenge for the title this year. I still don't think it was an awful performance, we created enough to have won; I certainly don't think the small minority of Arsenal fans who indulged in taking their frustration out on certain Arsenal players help the team and they certainly don't make the game more enjoyable for the majority of loyal fans around them. We do have some problems, but please let's see them in perspective and let's try to be constructive rather than behaving like small children who didn't get the Christmas present that they saw as their divine right.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

FA - muppet mayhem

I suppose if referees made less mistakes then we wouldn't have quite so much to talk about throughout the football season, the shocking refereeing on show this season has certainly left plenty of room for improvement for the rest of the season.

Unbelievably the FA have had the gall to charge Watford's boss Aidie Boothroyd for having the audacity to be angry when a goal was awarded against his side instead of a corner. It really has to be seen to be believed just how bad this decision was, have a look here.

So on a weekend we have blatant dissent from the likes of Ferdinand which goes unpunished, then in the week we see yet another shocking leg breaker get off with just a three match ban, while poor old Adie Boothroyd is hauled up in front of the FA for having the nerve to be pissed off when a referee makes an inexcusable error.

Mind you if you thought that refereeing error was bad, then have a look at this one, again it has to be seen to be believed with the ref waving play on despite the fact that the ball cannoned into the old onion bag and then out again due to the ferocity of the shot. Maybe the manager concerned was punished for daring to get a tad angry at this incompetence.

Elsewhere the delightful Platini has admitted he was 'too hard' on Arsene, there appears to be no sign of a proper grovelling apology then. Platini seems to dislike the fact that Arsene signs up young talent, quite legally I may add, at the age of around 13 or 14. Perhaps he should concentrate on criticising those who actually routinely break the rules of the game with their illegal tapping up of players, or on those clubs which threaten the sustainability of the game with their reckless spending. It would be too much to expect a proper apology from this arrogant self obsessed half wit, no wonder the game's not moving forward with this kind of muppet at the helm.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Platini, Pogatetz and double standards

Firstly what a fantastic performance last night, it seems unfair to highlight individuals in what was a magnificent team display. Even the youngsters on the bench are great talents, it really does demonstrate what magic Wenger has done over the years in developing our youth. Those who like to blame Wenger for England's woes would do well to notice the fact that Wilshere, Gibbs, Hoyte, Randall, Lansbury and Simpson are all English.

Moving on to other controversial matters, the lovely selfless Platini has been spouting yet more manure without engaging his brain. Platini is either very jealous or has a remarkably small wanger:

"I like to talk about football, him (Wenger) about business. We must stop with Wenger and all that," Platini then said he hoped video assistance would never come into football, adding: "It would make me happy that Arsene Wenger never sees it."

Later in the interview, Platini again targeted Wenger when asked about his thoughts on Romanian side CFR Cluj's unexpected victory over Roma in the Champions League last week.

"That is what makes football so great," Platini said.

"It is what people like Wenger do not want, little clubs beating the big clubs, because they want their business."

The LMA have quickly stepped to Arsene's defence, quite rightly, it is quite appalling that someone in Platini's position should stoop to such a level in launching such a bitter personal attack, not only are his words irresponsible, they are also completely inaccurate and lacking coherence. The LMA rightly point out that a majority of people are for the use of video technology and the likes of Platini in their ivory towers are the ones losing touch with reality. Arseblogger nails Platini as only he could.

Amazingly the Sun has hit the nail on the head in pointing out the completely pointless pretence at action that is the FA's 'respect' campaign. Not only have their been numerous shocking examples of violence and ill discipline to far this season, but the FA have yet again failed to act and punish these incidents retrospectively, all they have done is let John Terry off a red card for a rugby tackle. Kevin Nolan's words are a disgrace and make Megson's denial of intimidatory tactics appear nothing but a blatant lie:

“I have never seen anybody as quick as Theo Walcott in my life. I said to Jlloyd Samuel ‘Give him a little kick and see if he comes back at you!’

“At the end of the day, it is a physical sport. We don’t want to be like basketballers. We are in the gym four or five days a week to build ourselves up to try to stand up to challenges like that.

“We are in danger of losing that side — the roughing up of people.”

If we are in danger of losing that Kevin then I am not upset at all, because it is precisely this kind of medieval approach to football that enables donkey-like thugs like yourself to prosper. I really wonder why England struggles to produce skillful technical ball players, it couldn't be anything to do with this routine thuggery that we have yet to stamp out.

Pogatetz was guilty of committing a very bad tackle last night against Manu, it's interesting to note the media response to this and compare it to their reaction to Davies' very similar tackle on Clichy from the weekend. Contrast the reaction of Gareth Southgate to that of Gary Megson, Southgate must be commended for not attempting to defend his player, while Megson is a disgrace. I'm sure we won't see Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson laughing at Pogatetz's challange in the same way that they guffawed at Clichy's injury. Double standards me thinks.

The Kids are Back in Town

Great news last night with the Gooner Kids putting six unanswered goals past Sheffield Utd.

However, when you bear in mind that Gallas and Almunia practically double the average age of the rest of the first XI, and that Bendtner, Vela, Song, Ramsey and Djourou are already full internationals for their countries, its clear that these kids are a class act, and are very close in standard to the other kids who play for the first XI.

Still, its good to see players like Jack Wilshere, Kieren Gibbs, Mark Randall , Fran Merida and Carlos Vela get a proper run out for the team and do well. Its a massive feather in the cap for AW and allows us Gooners one of those nice days when you can gloat at anyone you see and say something condescending about why Arsenal didn't need to replace Flamini, Hleb and Senderos over the summer because of the talent coming through.

And for today at least, its 100% true.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

This is England

For anyone that's seen the film, you'll know what I'm on about, for those who haven't read on and I shall try to explain. This is 'good old' English football and it's not for 'jessies' as the grinning Shearer and Lawrenson love saying. This is 'good old' England where we just laugh as the reckless straight legged tackles fly, where we just get on with it as the tibias crack, where we don't see leading with a swinging elbow as a foul, where our regressive and violent game holds technical football back, where we blame those nasty foreigners for holding our cultured game back, after all it's much easier to live in denial than admit to yourself that you're just uneducated and xenophobic. This is England, be proud, support the BNP, drink nasty fizzy lager and read the fucking Sun.

As you can see I didn't agree with the ignorami on MOTD, Kevin Davies' tackle was shockingly bad, it was completely reckless and out of control, I'm just thankful Gael Clichy's bones are intact this morning, how on earth the moronic Shearer and Lawrenson can label it 'fair' on MOTD is beyond belief. It was irrelevant that Davies made contact with the ball, the ball doesn't matter when you show that much malice in the challenge, it's just typical of weak referees like Steve Bennett to bottle that kind of decision by failing to show the red card. It is this kind of limp refereeing that holds English football back. It wasn't the only decision the over sized gnome choked, Davies' nasty elbow on Toure was completely ignored as well, I'm sure Alan Shearer was proud of that kind of 'old fashioned' centre forward play; no wonder Bolton tried to bundle Almunia into the goal, Bennett was refereeing as if it was the 1920s, apart from giving free kicks for Bolton's theatrical dives that is.

Having got that out of my system, it was most enjoyable to hammer Bolton in such convincing fashion, I can't feel too much sorrow for one of the most negative and violent teams in the land, who else would comically reduce the size of their pitch in such a manner? Our youthful side did very well to stay strong and refuse to be intimidated by the typically over physical Bolton tactics. Bolton got their goal in the only way they know how, by fouling, firstly Almunia was barged in the back to win the corner, then Davies climbed all over Toure to win the header, lovely stuff Bolton, what lovely football.

The response to Bolton's finely crafted goal was breathtaking, the passing was suddenly incredibly direct and crisp, only a pitch one metre wide would have saved Bolton. First Adebayor hit the inside of the post when clean through one on one, then Song hit the inside of the post with a solid header from a corner, then the first goal, the direct Eboue slotted home nicely from a neat through ball. The second goal was the pick of the bunch, a brilliant little network of passes in midfield led to Denilson breaking through into the box in the inside left position, he then squared for Bendtner to slide it in from the edge of the six yard box. We looked comfortable until half time, Bolton did rally after the break, and were considerably helped by the inept Bennett who ignored numerous hacks from behind and flying elbows from Bolton. It's strange how the likes of Kevin Davies are happy to fly into tackles with studs up and a straight leg, but when tackled themselves they go down as promptly as if someone had left their pork pie on the turf.

So unlucky Bolton, maybe without a referee you might have had a chance, but with a decent one you'd have been looking a much fairer and more embarrassing scoreline. The most encouraging thing for me was holding things tight in the second half when Bolton had a fair bit of the game, the defence held firm, Almunia led well from the back and the midfield worked hard to keep Bolton under pressure. Song and Denilson are getting better with every game, while Eboue seems to have been reborn this season, Bendtner must be pushing RVP very close for a regular starting slot and Theo is simply sparkling. I hope we can keep this kind of performance coming, we need to stay motivated and if we are to work this hard every week, who knows what may happen come May.

Same old Arsenal

As Ted pointed out yesterday, there is certainly no cause for concern as regards our financial situation, and given the global financial disarray that is excellent news indeed. If our club had been run a la Risdale we could be in a very different position to our current one that looks both solid and secure. There's no way it would have been sensible to throw money around in a reckless fashion like the Chelseas of this world, unsustainable spending cannot go on for ever, gravity will out in the end, I hope.

Armand Traore seems to be having quite an impact down on the south coast, and is flourishing in his attacking role. No wonder Pompey are keen to try to steal him, if this is the case then I only hope that they are met with a firm 'bugger off' from Arsenal. In my opinion he has the ability to go all the way to the top and is not someone we should be letting go until he's been given a few chances at the Emirates, luckily he's only just signed a long term contract with us. It turns out that Cristiano Ronaldo was rather unfortunate in his early days, he missed out on the opportunity of working with a manager who would have taught him about humility and modesty, unfortunately I doubt the arrogant twat would have listened.

"Almost every team that comes here knows it will be physical because that is the way we are. Teams know we will be in their face because that is what we do."

Fabrice Muamba has been speaking before today's trip to the northern Mensa confederation that are also known as Bolton Wanderers. He's done very well since proving himself in the premiership with Birmingham and then being snapped up by Bolton in the summer. Bolton are a team that few would miss if they were relegated, they typify everything that is regressive and negative about 'good old' English football. They routinely foul, bully and intimidate, while playing their own unique brand of dire long ball football. Their side is also full of some very negative and over physical players such as McCann, Davies and Nolan. The Bolton crowd love indulging in their 'Same old Arsenal always cheating' chanting as their team of hatchet men go about trying to break our players' legs, they either have a great sense of irony or they are incredibly stupid neanderthals.

I have no problem with being pressed and hassled when it's within the rules of the game, however with Bolton it's consistently been done outside the rules, McCann's studs, Nolan's lunges and Davies' elbows have frequently been guilty of this excessively violent approach. Steve Bennett is in charge of today's game and needs to clamp down on any filth early on if a decent game of football is to be encouraged, rather than Bolton's usual brand of negative clogging. However if he lets the Bolton filth go without punishment early on then we may well be left in an unfairly tricky position, hopefully he's be as strict today as he was with the lippy Diouf in 2005. I hope that Arsene goes for Eboue and Walcott in the wide areas, playing three in the middle leaves us without enough width going forward, the choice will be between Song and Denilson in the middle.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Arsenal - the best run club in the world

Morning all. Its been a turbulent few months off the football pitch for the business world, but it is perhaps worth taking stock of reports (The Times) that Arsenal are set to announce impressive financial results for the year ending on 31 May 2008, including turnover figures up over 12% to £225m, which generated a profit of over £50m.

It was rumoured over the summer that Arsenal's finances were not as steady as they could be, and that this was the explanation for AW's reluctance to go into the transfer market. However, these figures, along with Danny Fizman's confirmation in August that AW would be given whatever financial resources he asked for, show that the rumours of Arsenal's demise were somewhat premature.

This also confirms that whatever dealings AW makes on transfer activities, they are really his decision alone. I don't believe for a minute that the club has limited AW's activities on transfers. This is a stark contrast to other clubs who have someone in the "Director of Football" role, whatever that might be, such as Spurs (who have Damien Commolli), Chelsea (who have Frank Arnesen and Peter Kenyon) and the Toon (who bizarrely have Dennis Wise), who seem to be hell bent on undermining their managers' wishes as to transfers. We should all be thankful that the board of Arsenal Plc places sufficient trust in AW that it does not feel it necessary to have a Director of Football and long may that continue.

Whilst this is pure speculation, it may also explain why Arsenal have struggled somewhat to find a new Chief Executive, as the job is clearly mainly a commercial role with limited direct authority on footballing issues, on which AW makes all the decisions. You can therefore understand why someone who wants to meddle with the transfer activity would be reluctant to join.

Strong noises were made at the end of the Summer expressing their doubts that AW was still the man for the job at Arsenal. Whilst that debate may well still run on, I am happy to pin my colours firmly to the mast and say that the day we replace AW, Arsenal will almost certainly have to find two people to replace him - a first team coach and a director of football. Its a recipe that no-one seems to be able to work properly and I hope it doesn't ever happen to us.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Referee forgets glasses as Kiev bully

I know we didn't play at our best, and I also know that Arene might have got his tactics slightly wrong, but I still need to vent my spleen regarding the pitiful standard of refereeing on show. Playing three central midfielders didn't give us the greatest width, and it also resulted in RVP being deployed wide left at times, somewhere I feel he is far less effective than when in more advanced central areas.

The first half consisted of a few very good Arsenal chances, a lot of huffing and puffing from an average Kiev side and no goals. RVP forced their keeper into a decent save early doors, while Ade broke clear to see his shot flash agonisingly wide of the top corner, near the end of the half RVP hit a crisp first time right footer that flashed just wide. We didn't play well, we didn't play badly, but we should have taken one of these chances. Song did well in defensive central midfield, but the lack of width on the left was rather obvious.

The ref had started poorly, missing a clear yellow card offence on RVP as he was cynically dragged down having skinned his man with a neat turn, and he continued in this vein. As the Kiev players realised that they would not be penalised for shirt tugs and clips of the ankles, they persistently left the boot in every single time they saw the back of a yellow Arsenal shirt. The ref must have left his spectacles in Spain, as he only gave free kicks if a player went to ground, which then encouraged some rather theatrical Kiev diving. Having said that RVP should have been in the book, losing his temper due to some rather close Kiev attention.

The penalty changed the game and what a shocking decision it was. The cheating Kiev player grabbed a fistful of Sagna's shirt and pulled him down, because of the referee's poor position and the Kiev player's cynical exploitation of it, a very undeserved penalty was given and dispatched by Bangoura, a player who otherwise would have struggled to hit Gordon Brown's fat Scottish arse with a sack of haggis. Kiev were then infused with a new found confidence and thanks to some rather impatient and rushed Arsenal build up play, threatened to add to their solitary goal on the break.

Emmanuel Eboue came on for the unfortunate Sagna and added some extra directness and impetus on the right. A neat move a couple of minutes from time led to Theo stroking a lovely ball across the Kiev six yard box, Adebayor prodded the ball on a couple of yards and Gallas slotted home, it appeared offside at first glance, but replays showed that the Kiev left back had player Gallas onside. The referee then proceeded to add on only three minutes of injury time, despite several stoppages for injuries and numerous substitutions, a truly bizarre decision to cap his woeful night. No wonder Arsene was fuming.

Not only did the referee get the big decision wrong, he also appeared to lack the bottle to inject some discipline into the game. Theo had to take far too many dangerous lunges for my liking with no protection from the ref, while he allowed Bougara to kick the ball away to waste time whilst in full view, he had already been booked for a comedy dive. The ref also failed to spot several blatant fouls, one example was when Fabregas turned neatly in the second half and he was then yanked back two of three times in rather blatant fashion, the ref did precisely nothing just because Fabgreas stayed on his feet. Anyways a draw is not a bad result away from home, I still feel a slighty more attacking side with Eboue and Walcott on the flanks would have been a more profitable tactic, but there's still a long way to go.

Monday, 15 September 2008

FA have no balls: so violence will continue to prosper

There has been no shortage of shocking tackles so far this season, we had Faye's two footed shocker a couple of weeks back, and now Cattermole's pair and Guthrie's leg breaker this weekend. This has coincided with the hot air surrounding the FA's rather vacuous 'respect' campaign, of note there was no shortage of players surrounding referees last weekend, Manu and Chelsea players being yet again guilty of this deliberate intimidation of officials.

The lessons from Eduardo's leg break do not appear to have been learnt. There has also been some rather ridiculous talk about Guthrie being banned for as long as the Fagan is out injured, this is not a fair or practical solution; players do break their legs after very innocuous fouls, where would this leave the offender?

Dangerous tackling is rather similar to drunk driving. In this I mean that a drunk driver who crashes into a lamp post should be punished exactly the same as a drunk driver who mows down a child on the pavement, the luck of the offender should not come into play in my opinion. The same should be true for dangerous tackling, unfortunately referees do not consistently enforce the rules of the game and they are not helped by the FA's complete disinterest in this issue.

For example a dangerous two footed straight legged tackle that makes no contact with the opposition player should still be a red card offence, however referees frequently do not even give a free kick if no contact is made, an example of this was Alonso's lunge on Giggs with an out of control straight leg with studs up. Arseblogger also noticed some dangerous tackling going unpunished in the Arsenal Blackburn game. Reckless tackles that do not injure the opponent should be punished the same as reckless tackles that actually injure the opponent, luck should simply not come into the equation.

Cattermole's dangerous lunges were both reckless and only resulted in two yellows, it was merely fortunate that the opponent managed to escape serious harm on both occasions. Cattermole will apparently not change his violent game, while his managed trots out many of the same old lame defences of these thuggish tackles:

"Lee is a competitive player and he just wanted to win the ball. It's in his nature to try to win the ball – he's been doing that since he was a young lad. With the second challenge, he's probably won the ball but also caught the man. There was nothing malicious."

It was malicious by its very make up, it was reckless and out of control, winning the ball doesn't even come into it I'm afraid. Until referees start punishing this thuggery consistently then players will continue to be confused, while violence will randomly escape proper punishment. Referees need to understand what is dangerous and what is not, and they need to be backed up by a governing body that actually shows some genuine desire to stamp violence out of the game.

The FA are all talk and very little action, the 'respect' campaign is a classic example of this. It's about time they started differentiating between 'bad but safe' tackles and unsafe dangerous tackles that have the capacity to maim, the broad spectrum of offences that can now get lumped together in the three game ban bin is beyond a joke. The violent needs to be stamped out of the game, it's about time we came out of the dark ages and into the 21st century.

ps It appears that the FA are set to extend Guthrie's ban, this doesn't seem consistent to me, Taylor's tackle on Eduardo was far more reckless but was not increased, likewise Faye's from a couple weeks back was far worse than Guthrie's. In this context I feel a little sorry for Guthrie as his tackle was certainly no worse than several challenges this season that have only received yellow cards or no punishment at all.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Things take shape

It would be hard to have many complaints after such a convincing performance away to Blackburn yesterday. To be fair to Blackburn 4-0 does not tell the entire story, things could have been a little different if certain chances had been taken, however only a lunatic would claim that Arsenal didn't deserve the sound victory.

Almunia did everything in an accomplished fashion, the ball was rattled around very nicely indeed, while Eboue and Walcott gave us incisiveness on the flanks, with Denilson and Fabregas showing composure in the centre. RVP and Ade look far hungrier than they did a few weeks back, that Fulham debacle seems to have been a rather useful kick up the backside.

The first goal came after some brilliant Walcott jinking and weaving, his slide rule pass was taken on by RVP and dispatched beyond the hapless Robinson. The second crucial goal came on the stroke of half time, Denilson swung in a tempting delivery from the left flank and Ade nodded it home. In between these two goals, Toure had twice helped us out of pickles at the back. The only criticism of the side would be a few slightly dodgy moments at the back, having said that, Blackburn did set their stall out to attack and limiting them to zero chances may not have been entirely realistic given their unbeaten record at home this year.

The second half was one way traffic. Eboue's excellent direct run was unfairly ended by a reckless Warnock lunge, Ade put away the spot kick. There are some who reckon Eboue dived, I fail to see how they can reach this conclusion as on the replay one can clearly see Warnock's studs clattering Eboue's legs twice. Then the icing on the cake came in the form of a clever bit of play from Ramsey who fed in Ade, who then rounded fatty and slotted home. A good day at the office was complete.

Results elsewhere in the Premiership did not go the way of the Mancs. Liverpool worked hard for their three points against Manu, who put in a rather unexpected Fulhamesque performance. Vidic was lucky not to have been sent off with a straight red card, his cycnical last man foul and his reckless elbow were both worse than yellow card offences.

Personally I can't see Liverpool lasting the pace, they just don't seem to have enough quality going forward. Chelsea easily overcame City, whose fans will be coming back down to earth as we speak. How unfortunate for John Terry that a ref finally had the bottle to send him off, it's good to see that these kind of cynical professional fouls are somtimes given the punishment they deserve. Unlucky John, it couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Theo - what a waste of money

I'm amazed Theo Walcott can sleep at night, what a shocking season the lad's had so far, only one international hat trick and several first team starts under his belt already. But seriously, there has been a lot of unfair criticism of Walcott so far this season and his sterling performance last night should hopefully shut these idiots up for a few minutes. Walcott is a great talent, but he is still a kid, so he's bound to blow hot and cold for the next season or two, that's simply part of his normal development.

It's about time that the cumbersome tortoise called Beckham was dropped and some fresh blood was tried, Walcott's goals can only cement Beckham's seemingly inevitable place in the has been section. Some credit should go to Capello for this decision, but really Beckham should never have been allowed to painfully amble on to his massive 105 caps. It is also no coincidence that a decent England performance came without the Gerrard-Lampard combo and with the hard working team play of Emile Heskey.

Anyways enough of England, onto the game that matters and that's the away game at Ewood park this weekend. It's never an easy location to visit and I am sure Saturday will not prove an exception. Despite a poor result against West Ham, we should not be deceived as Blackburn could easily have taken all three points that day. Santa Cruz is expected to be missing which is a positive, however on the negative Nasri may be out thanks to a knee injury sustained whilst on France duty, hopefully there aren't too many other injuries lurking in the woodwork. There are no prizes for anyone who guessed that the rumours of a move for Appiah were based on horsey brown stuff, what a surprise.

The stats make interesting reading, for those of us with anoraks that is, and we do have a decent record against Blackburn in recent years. I'm sure they will try to rough us up a bit, maybe even more than a bit, and hopefuly if they do then Mike Dean will get his cards out in appropriate fashion. It will be interesting to see the midfield line up in particular, the rest of the side selects itself really. Will Eboue retain his place, will Song come in to add a bit more muscle and will Walcott start? It's not an easy job that Arsene's got, despite what some may say from their comfy arm chairs.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Perspective from poverty of performance

Although the mighty Arsenal have not been in action, observing England's persistent failure to ever amount to anything remotely near the sum of its parts is a good reminder for me of just how easy it is to produce mediocre football, and how fortunate we are to have the quality of football that Arsene routinely serves up for us. Having said that Theo did pretty well on his full debut, his selection looked a good move from Capello, it's just a shame about a few other slightly less good moves.

The 'holic has been rightly pointing out the nonsensical nature of some recent transfer rumours, why would Arsene be so keen to bring in the likes of M'Bia when he already has a better player, Song, ready to break through. I can't see it myself, as for the Appiah rumours, even if he was fully fit I don't think he'd be of sufficient quality to really add to what we already have.

Arseblogger noticed William Gallas' amusing comments on the Nasri Barton molehill, my amusement is rapidly lost when I remember some of the completely ludicrous and overly severe punishments that the spineless FA have handed out in the past. For example anyone remember the 'Battle of Old Trafford'?

Numerous bans were meted out and a huge 275,000 pound fine to the club for just a bit of handbags, no punches were even thrown. It was essentially a massive over reaction brought about by the media's hyping up of the incident. Emmanuel Adebayor was banned for 4 games and fined 7,500 pounds for doing absolutely nothing in 2007.

Now we have Joey Barton seriously assaulting a team mate, he actually knocked him out with a punch to the head and then continued to beat the crap out of him while he lay unconscious on the floor, that's the kind of lovely chap Joey Barton is. His model behaviour can be seen on film here, his record of shame does not end there unfortunately.

The FA are proving themselves to be cowardly hypocrites of the highest order, William Gallas is spot on, there is absolutely no consistency in their judgements. On the one hand they will ban people for several games for no justifiable reason, on the other hand they fail to throw the book at people who treat their team mates as expendable punch bags. What a fine example they are setting, I wonder how long til Barton's next red card.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Money can't buy you love

I'm away from home at the moment and it's a little trickier to get hold of the old world wide web, but I fortunately did have time to stumble upon this great little Arseblogger rantique. We can all probably get a bit too introspective at times, and it's easy to cross over that line between good natured discussion and over the top attacks.

We've made no signings and that's a fact, so we just have to get behind the boys and do as well as possible, maybe the lack of expectation will help, I certainly hope so. What never ceases to amaze me is the completely hypocritical behaviour of other clubs and their fans.

Spurs and Manure must be the biggest hypocrites of them all, certainly in this country, while they have both been very keen to speak out at the tapping up of their own players by other clubs, they have also been caught doing the most blatant of tapping ups themselves. For every Berbatov there is a Ronaldo, and for every Arnesen there is a Ramos.

The most pathetic thing about Spurs in particular is the ease at which their vocal whinging is silenced by a prompt cash pay off, if they really had any morals or balls for that matter, then they would put their complaints in writing to the authorities, rather than bending over and taking a royal shafting in exchange for a few sweaty ten pound notes.

As the recent Manchester City takeover has demonstrated, there are unparalleled levels of money in the game these days, and there is still a rich vein of hypocrisy running through Manchester, it may well originate from fergie's back garden. Over the last few days how many Manure fans have we heard accusing Man City of trying to buy success? It's more than a tad rich coming from a club whose success stems largely from yes money, the only difference being that Manu have generated their own money and not relied on rich investors.

I may only be speaking for myself here, but in this game that is becoming wrecked by the ill gotten gains of a few corrupt individuals, Arsenal are beginning to stand out as a bit of an exception to the rule. Arsenal FC behaves with a remarkable amount of dignity and respect in all its dealings, especially when compared to the Manures, Chelseas, Tottenhams and Liverpools of this world (not forgetting the Real Madrids and Barcelonas too).

Chelsea may have been more successful in the last few seasons, but frankly so what? Their achievement is comparable to a grown adult beating the shit out of a small boy in a boxing ring, and then being incredibly proud of his performance. Maybe Man City will be of the same ilk, who knows. All I know is that I am still incredibly proud to be a supporter of a club that has not, as yet Usmanov touch wood, sold its soul to the devil. It is not only what one does that is important, it is the way one goes about doing them. Money can certainly buy you sex, but it can't buy you love, something Mr Abrahmovich would do well to realise. Cheers Arseblogger et al.