Archive for the ‘Arsene’ Category

Adebayor (48)
Cristiano Ronaldo (53)
Owen Hargreaves (73)

That certainly was an entertaining piece of football. Too bad we lost though.

We came out with one big surprise and one small surprise. Alex Song playing in central defense and Walcott stuck on the bench. Gilberto came in as expected for Flamini who is out for three weeks. Almunia suffered a wrist injury and Jens started the game.

On to the game. It started brightly as Arsenal came out guns blazing in Old Trafford. Brown’s half hearted clearance found Cesc who shot over. Eboue had a good run which culminated in a cutback to Adebayor but his stab at goal was turned out by Ferdinand who hardly knew what was happening.

It was hardly all Arsenal as Manchester United hit back at the counters. Two Rooney chances were saved by Jens. The first a close range “make yourself as big as you can” save. The second, an old school diving save

Our best chance of the half came when Hleb again went on one of his magnificent runs to end up feeding a wonderful ball to Ade who woefully shot straight to Van Der Sar. You can’t help but be reminded that the chance was one of those Henry-esque moments where Titi would easily dispatch the ball goalbound by curling it past the keeper.

Halftime, with the scores 0-0

Second half and something had to give. The ball was bouncing around the box after Van Der Sar had a save from Cesc. Robin picked it up and crossd in for Adebayor to sort of headhandled it in. Ferdinand and Van Der Sar looked at each other in disgust due to the miscommunication and nobody noticed that it was more of a handball than a header. A break I gladly took but knew it was too good to last, especially since our bad run of it recently. I silently urged the team to be more mindful as we didn’t want a repeat of the Liverpool scene when too much celebration caused the penalty.

Jinx. The penalty came after 5 minutes this time. Gallas handled the ball when it went pass his armpit. He was trying to avoid it and it brushed his hand. It was a penalty you get when the referee plays by the book rather than on logic/sporting mindset.

Some mind games by Jens; Ronaldo shot and it went in but was asked to retake it as his own stuttering run up made his teammates confused who infringed. He retook it, same spot, same result. Jens guessed correctly both times but did not manage to make the save.

We had our chances later on too as one particular chance had Brown trying to clear the ball but it went straight to Van Der Sar who just managed to deflect it off the post. Theo cam in and had a few good runs but there was no finish from the receivers.

A Gilberto tackle found us in desperate times with Cristiano Ronaldo hovering over the ball. The wall was set up and Hargreaves duly made it 2-1. A brilliant goal but there are questions as to why no person was asked to guard the far post.

Bendtner was brought on and he also shot straight at Van Der Sar for his clearest chance.

We played well. This was illustrated by Ferguson’s act at the end of the match, consoling Wenger. I give him respect for that; acknowledging that the best team of the day lost. We have to pick ourselves up again and the hope of a brand new season is all that will illuminate our dull days especially since our brilliant run until it was dramatically halted in the last two months. I say Ribery. What say you?

I thought that I would put my two cents in seeing that there is so much official news and views coming out in the past few days.  This match will be shown at 1.15 am here. First up, Wenger makes the same comments that he had been dispensing for a while.

1) We have a large squad and even top class players have to compete for their places. Diarra too.

2) Beckham will train with the team in January – It ‘s nothing really. Just a player looking for some peers to train with. The youngsters might benefit from his technique for crosses

3) We will not buy anyone in January – he cheekily adds a remote probability of doing otherwise

Moving on to real match preview stuff. Gallas is fit and ready for the match although Walcott, Robin and Eboue won’t be traveling with the squad. Walcott is rested after his recovery from flu. Eboue because he has played a lot of games. Robin still suffers from a “little” muscular problem. I wonder how little that is because he has already missed the Spurs and Pompey ones and will also not be in the Everton and West Ham matches. Will he make it/risked for the Burnley away game in the FA Cup? I think even Arsene doesn’t know the answer to this one.

One thing though, with Eboue and Walcott not playing, would we revert to a 4-4-2? The most obvious right midfield candidate now is Hleb and that would release the forwards position to either Dudu or Bendtner. That is what I would like to see though. In truth though, I believe Dudu or Diaby will be in the left while Rosicky takes up the right. I really hope Arsene surprises us on this one.

Oh, and Arsene has given the green light for Jens to go off and seek a place in Germany’s Euro 2008 team elsewhere.

Diaby (8), Bendtner (42) 

Zaharia(69)

Match Gunner: Robin Van Persie-Still brilliant after the long lay-Off. (special mention to Theo)

  

We came into this match needing to win and Sevilla to lose to Sparta in order to top the group. Wenger had a touchline ban for this match due to the altercation in the Sevilla game.
Before the game, Wenger hinted on his team for this match by announcing that Arsenal is not afraid of “big” teams. Lehmann got his start and Wenger suggested that Jens would be off sooner than later.

Surprisingly, Van Persie, after that bone crunching injury sustained during international duty, was named on the starting line up. Diaby was another surprising inclusion after his injury. Everyone’s favourite, Song was also named in the starting 11.

This is how we started

GK-Lehmann
DL-Traore
DR-Sagna
DC-Gallas
DC-Senderos
ML-Diaby
MR-Walcott
MC-Song
MC-Denilson
ST-Van Persie
ST-Bendtner

We were expected to stroll to a victory here and for once in recent games, the expectations were realized, although the scoreline failed to reflect that.

2nd minute and a good chance arrived when Robin’s pass found Theo on the right and he pulled his shot just wide. Minutes later, his ran past a few defenders but skied his shot.8th minute and the goal arrived. Robin started the move with a smart turn and found Sagna. Sagna’s cross was brought down by Diaby under immense pressure . His first touch took a lucky bounce off the pitch forward and his second touch found the top corner of the net. 1-0 and we were looking nice and comfortable with a second Diaby goal only denied by a nice save by the Steaua keeper.

We were looking threatening and the outstanding players were Theo and Robin. Theo’s pace on the right wing was causing problems and Robin’s excellent technique and turns were a joy to behold. It didn’t seem like his first game back. He was directly involved in the second. An exquisite goal. He made a bewildering turn that left the defense for dead and angled a pass to Bendtner on the right. Bendtner had all to do then but took his goal like a seasoned pro. He went pass the closing defender and slide in the shot pass the onrushing keeper. 2-0 up.

 

Second half came and there were a few chances here and there.
Suddenly Steaua were looking dangerous and it was our turn to do some defending
Robin was brought and Dudu in. Steaua made a few changes of their own and both their subs were involved in their goal. A looping header which left Jens with no chance.

Diarra and Eboue were brought in for Diaby and Sagna. Theo, Bendtner and Dudu had a few chances between them but failed to convert and the game finished 2-1. Nice. The 3-0 win from Sevilla meant that we finish second in Group H and will meet another group’s winner in the knock out phase. I say, bring them on. That is what Champions League is all about. Champions against Champions.

Moving on to the match against Chelsea. Wenger had some thoughts on the players available paricularly Hleb,Flamini and Cesc. I would suspect Flamini and Hleb/Cesc to be involved.

Downing(4, pen), Tuncay(74)

Rosicky(90) 

Match Gunner: Arsene Wenger?

Fourth away game on the trot after Sevilla, Villa and Newcastle and we lost our first Premier League game of the season. All thoughts were on us getting the three points againt a mediocre Boro side who was in relegation zone. Funny how it turned out. We crashed to a resounding defeat after maintaining a 15 match lose-less streak in the Premiership.

Did not watch the game but by the sounds of it, we were not at the races at all. Boro played well and won. We started with Diarra and Gilberto in midfield. Eduardo started as well. It seemed like Dudu had a dud and was quickly replaced by Bendtner at half time. You have to wonder why Arsene insists on putting him on the wing when the Crozillian is obviously very good as a finisher as is evident in his contributions to the Croatian national side. Wenger threw Walcott and Denilson for Diarra and Eboue to add extra impetus to the side but it was ultimately unsuccesful. Again we were outplayed and rarely had a shot on goal. Very untypical.

Wenger,

We lost the game because we deserved to lose it. Middlesbrough were sharper in the fight. They were a team who lacked confidence and we missed something at the start of the game because we gave them too much room and that caused the penalty. After that it was down to us

Boro had an early penalty when Kolo brought down former boy Aliadiere.

 

Downing completed the formality

 

Tuncay finished up an Almunia block from O’Neill to make it 2-0

Tomas provided a consolation goal for us in the final minute and that’s about the gist of it.

 

We were well beaten and we can hope that the boys will bounce back stronger and better after this. First up is our last group Champions League match against Steau Bucharest. I would expect the team to stay the same as Wenger has dismissed individuality and saying our form was due to the team as a whole as:

I don’t like to speak about the players who are not here, I always have confidence in the players who play. When you go into a season you know you will miss some players at some stage. 

Quite right. Losing players to injury is not an excuse. Long term injuries have hit all the top teams. Man Utd is missing Scholes. Chelsea is missing Drogba. Liverpool have been without Agger and Alonso.

Particularly looking at how we can bounce back as the next Premierdhip match is against Chelsea match as Fab and Hleb might miss that one too. Van Persie and Flamini have a good chance of making it though with Robin probably starting on the bench due to the lack of fitness.

Adebayor(4)

Taylor(60)

Match Gunner: Manuel Almunia

A midweek game which is the second in a series of three away games for us in the Premier League. The team were without Hleb, Fabregas, Flamini and of course, Van Persie. Four of our first team players. Nonetheless, the team facing Newcastle still looked solid enough. Diarra and Gilberto in the middle with Eduardo slotting in the left and Eboue on the right, Rosicky playing in the hole and Adebayor playing as the lone forward. Backline has been consistent all season long with Sagna, Toure, Gallas and Clichy. Newcastle were coming into the game with demoralizing defeats against Portsmouth and Liverpool and were on a 4 games out of 5 losing streak.

The game certainly started brightly. We were ahead on the fourth minute with a stunning goal by Adebayor right off Henry’s books. In between two defenders; ball brought down on chest via a Eboue cross and bam, it hit the back of the net with conviction; the ball that is.

After that, the game slowly turned in Newcastle’s favour. They were certainly bossing the game with relentless pressure and grit. Only some good saves from Almunia especially the one from Geremi kept us in the game. Their goal came from a failure to clear our lines. Ade had the ball at the back, decided to pass it to Dudu and ran forward waiting for the one-two. It never arrived as it was intercepted on Dudu’s pass back to him and straight away a cross found Taylor who turned it in off the post. No one was to blame for this goal as it is the way we always play. Swift counter attacking motion which is often praised when it works which is more often than not.

After the game, Sam Allardyce had the balls to call us conmen. Papers have picked it up to refer to Sagna’s clutching and rolling around after a follow through after an attempted clearance hit Smith. It indeed looked exaggerated and a yellow was given. Fair enough. Allardyce knew what he was doing when he gave this comment. It will make referee’s think twice before giving a foul against them the next time around. What a thick typical English manager’s mind games. Oh and I’m sure that when Newcastle meet Man Utd, they will just roll over and wait to be demolished.

Just wanted to mention the two very dodgy calls late on in the game. One involving Beye and another Taylor. Nothing was given. The second foul by Taylor was especially obvious but you certainly always get the rub of the green when at home. I understand that. Anyway, here’s a video link of Taylor for you. Totally out of topic but just for a little fun after the way he scored a goal and got away with murder(Unlike the clumsy fouls that Senderos commits once or twice per season) courtesy of arseblog

Taking nothing away from Newcastle. They deserved something from the game. They have it. A point. Nice point for them and a nice point for us. Some people are making this draw seem like a loss. It was an away game against the person who has the best record against Arsenal under Wenger. A draw after being dominated for the majority of the game? Sure, why not?

We are still unbeaten and 4 points clear of Manchester United. Next up is an away game to Boro. Fingers crossed, our creative force of Fabregas and Hleb will be back in this one. Flamini too. *Edit. Wenger has ruled this out

No Fabregas, no Hleb, no Van Persie, no Flamini will be back for the weekend

Unless No means Mr. in some language, we will have to be satisfied with Gilberto and Diarra in midfield again. Maybe Dudu and Ade up front together for once?

The good news is that Van Persie will be back in training next week

Van Persie and [Abou] Diaby are not far, From next week they will be back in normal training.We have to see how he [Van Persie] responds to contact training, don’t forget he has been out for seven or eight weeks and has had no contact until now so we might have to be a little bit patient.
We have no-one coming back for Sunday, and to put a date on that is very difficult. If you ask me who will be the first to come back then I think it could be Mathieu Flamini. Cesc and Alexander Hleb are on the same line but whether they come back next week or in two weeks I don’t know

Knowing Wenger, it will be no surprise if the quartet of Fab,Flam,Hleb and Robin is up and playing against Chelsea. Till the next post.

Gardner (14)

Flamini (24), Adebayor(36)

Match Gunner : Alex Hleb

We were just coming off our first defeat of the season. Villa were on a four game winning streak. It promised to be an interesting game and it didn’t disappoint. Game started at 1.15 am here and the majority of fans watching with me at the shop were either Arsenal or plastic Man Utd fans( Cheering the opposition when they score and leaving when they are losing)

Game started with the 4-4-1-1 that Wenger loves so much nowadays. Ade up front; Hleb in the hole, Rosicky, Eboue, Diarra, Flamini in midfield. Our backline of Sagna, Clichy, Gallas, Toure and Almunia rounded it up.

Villa were bullish and the noise generated by the Villa Park faithful was almost deafening. Either that or the mamak owner decided to pump the volume to the max for this game. Villa were buoyant with their consecutive wins and were in no mood to set up shop for a draw.

We had some decent chances and played the same style of football everyone loves to have in their team. Crisp passes. Nice one twos. Everything clicked. A long passing movement saw Eboue(getting tired of the pass) shoot a decent chance in and was saved by Carson. Hleb had a chance too when he was through in the middle but was dispossessed by Carson’s tackle. Then came their goal. Flamini lost the ball to Carew who powered on the left wing and put a cross in. It came off the foot of Toure, off the head of Gallas and landed perfectly to Gardner who just had to more or less slide it in. Against the run of play? You bet. The whoops and high fives were given by the aforementioned “fans of the game” It was the 14th minute and there was plenty of time for that to change.

The run of play remained in Arsenal’s favour. I recall the screen showing Arsenal 60% Villa 40% and before long, we had another brilliant chance when Rosicky’s shot was just deflected wide after fine play by Sagna. Ade and Hleb both had Laursen turn their shots out too.

The equaliser finally came when Sagna and Eboue conjured up a play on the right which was looped in by Eboue. Rosicky stumbled but managed to touch it to Flamini who cannoned the shot in leaving Carson with no chance. No chance at all. After scoring, he decided to dedicate the goal by pulling off his shirt to reveal a handwritten Katie* edit Katita on it seems like somebody has solved the mystery: afcblog via third gen via shusinogi oyabe Katita translate to fighter in Japanese and Arsene used to be nicknamed honorable fighter during his Grampus Eight coaching days. *Edit, it seems that this is not the whole truth. Ah, bugger it. Onwards to the Newcastle game!

Didn’t get yellow carded for it; luckily. He might have Ade to thank; judging from the picture to the right; he helped Mathieu keep his shirt on. Ade’s motherly look of concern is priceless.

The goal didn’t stop Arsenal from further controlling the game. A Flamini shot via Hleb was again deflected wide by the body of another Scandinavian Villa defender(Mellberg/Laursen??). Hleb and Rosicky had their shots saved by Carson too.

Our impetus and verve paid off ten minutes later when Sagna’s cross found Adebayor who made a delightful header into the net. Again, Carson simply had no choice but in honesty, the Villa defense could have been tighter.

We were controlling the game but could not find another goal in the half. Flamini hit another shot wide. You have to say that he is relishing his freedom in Cesc’ absence. This was the missing ingredient last year. Goals from midfield. This year Hleb, Flamini and Cesc have all stepped up to the plate in this regard in the absence of Gilberto. The score finished 1-2 at the half and could it get better in the second?

After the break, it was all Villa. Especially after Carew brought down Hleb to be replaced with Walcott. Luckily they had nothing to show for their possession. Two of their best chances came via Carew(more on him later) First chance came when Carew’s turn caught Toure flatfooted but somehow he scuffed his shot and the follow through was prodded wide by Laursen. The other one came when his header from Young lobbed and hit the crossbar. We hung on for the win and had to bring in Gilberto for Rosicky to stabilize the defense. The one thing that stands out in this current Arsenal side. Resilience and focus. Is this the effect of Gallas as captain? Maybe. Just maybe. I still have not forgiven him for ranting to the press last season. He is a great player and hats off to him for showing he is a great captain as well.

Going back to the part on Carew. The foul occurred when Hleb was in sight of goal. Cynical? Surely. Hleb wasn’t the last man but nonetheless, Carew had no chance in hell to get to the ball. He escaped with a yellow which is more than I can say for Hleb who was bleeding and had to be brought off. Achilles injury I hear. The whole game changed without Hleb on the pitch. Very limited articles on this. Setanta has a few Nice yellow banners.Goal.com has one Hopefully he will be fit for Wednesday’s away clash at Newcastle. We need him. * one more minute on the pitch and that would mean another point the the premierleague fantasy game.

Post match comments: Tale of two half’s.

O’ Neill

We totally dominated the second half. Arsenal are a very fine side, but we deserved to get a point.

We showed great character in the second half and I don’t think Arsenal have been put under that sort of pressure for some time.

The players just have to have that belief that they can win these type of games. Our attitude was magnificent.

Wenger

I think the first half was amazing.

We were quick and sharp on the move, while in the second half we were resilient and showed commitment and calm to deal with the pressure.

This was a big test for us. We were really tested when we were losing and we deserve a lot of credit. We wanted to extend our lead and we’re happy

Eduardo (11)

Keita (24), Luis Fabiano (34), Kanoute 89 (pen)

Match Gunner: Nicklas Bendtner

We went into this match without Adebayor, Gallas (both rested) and Clichy (injured).

All in all, the only regular first teamers on the field were Cesc, Kolo, Rosicky, Eboue and Almunia.

Bendner started up top

Gilberto, Rosicky, Cesc, Eboue, Eduardo in the middle

Hoyte, Traore, Senderos, Kolo at the back with Almunia rounding it up.

I didn’t catch this one as I had a late night. It seems like I missed an exciting match. Dudu’s goal was perhaps the highlight for us as Cesc had an off night and we were more or less WELL BEATEN. It seems like Cesc might have picked up an injury though.

Their goals came via Keita, a header from Luis Fabiano via an Alves set piece and a penalty by ex-Spurs player Kanoute

Sevilla played well and deserved their win. This is testified by both Wenger and captain Toure. It would have been even worse if the penalty against Senderos was not recalled by the referee.

This blip ends our “unbeaten in all competitions tag” and it is well worth it. Many might judge Wenger for sending such a radically changed team to Sevilla. I say why not. We have qualified. Sevilla is a top team and would benefit our reserve players greatly to play a competitive game against them. Our December EPL fixtures are crazy(Look below for details). Wenger thinks so too.

We had to make a decision because we have a very heavy programme. You could see some players who played all the games got injured. We have a very important December. I knew we had to make choice in the different competitions and, to me, December is based on the Premier League

Coming up in December, we have these fixtures. A mind boggling 9 matches with 6 of them away.

As Wenger says.

I don’t regret that. I wanted some players exposed to the top level and I am happy having done it