Archive for the ‘Premiership’ 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?

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Crouch (42)
Bendtner (54)

This was the second of our triple header with Liverpool. Too bad about the result really.

Liverpool started with 8 changes from the Champions League side. Us 5. Hoyte, Traore, Walcott, Gilberto, Bendtner came in for Senderos, Clichy, Hleb, Van Persie, Adebayor and we started with a negative 4-5-1. Funny, that. Both teams also had a player who made their full Premier League start. Eboue with us and Plessis for Liverpool.

We were pressed from the start with Liverpool the dominant party in the first half. Almunia made a good save from Crouch and Benayoun dragged a shot wide. We were always losing out in the midfield even without the presence of Gerrard in their side. There was a small spell where we were dominating. Bendtner wasted a clear chance by shooting straight at Reina while Eboue’s cutback found Finnan sliding in to deny Cesc. Their goal came from a long punt from Reina.Crouch cushioned it down to Benayoun who flicked it over. Crouch took it and somehow scuffed a shot in which eluded Almunia and went in. 0-1 and we had it coming to be honest. The players all looked tired apart from Walcott and Traore.

The second half was much better as Toure missed a open header and Traore was causing a few problems for Pennant down the left. One of which created the opening for the equaliser. Cesc lobbed a free kick in and Bendtner found himself in the clear and headed it in. It was game on and Arsene send Adebayor on to replace Hoyte. Bendtner went to the left and Theo back to his normal right position. 4-3-3?

The next 30 minutes or so was exciting as Arsenal continued to press on for the winner while Liverpool was still reeling from the goal. Walcott and Flamini both had good chances. Adebayor was causing disarray in the Liverpool back four and nearly fed Hleb for a open goal only for the Belarussian Wonder to have a very bad touch and lose the chance. Irony. Torres and Gerrard made cameo appearances and Voronin missed a open chance by volleying way over.

After the match, Wenger said something about a clear penalty on Cesc but I didn’t see that. Theo was bullied towards the end but again, I wonder why no one backed him up.

That’s our chances of winning the league up in smoke then. Champions League is the only decent chance we have left. Let’s at least get something other than another 1-1 draw with the Scousers.

Senderos (4), Adebayor(90)

Match Gunner: Alex Hleb

We went in with the knowledge that Man Utd has somewhat slipped up as they lost to Man City. With that a win against Blackburn will give us a 5 point advantage at the top with 12 more games to go. We started with a slightly peculiar lineup as we were short on numbers. Cesc was placed on the right while Gilberto occupied the vacant central midfield position left. Lehmann retained his run in the squad due to Almunia’s injury. The most peculiar thing about it was probably the bench, we had three fullbacks(Gilbert,Hoyte,Traore), one forward(Bendtner) and a goalkeeper(Fabianski)

We started off really brightly, Eduardo kept Blackburn busy and in the 4th minute provided an assist to Senderos via a corner.Nice movement from Senderos to free himself from his marker and he was left wide open.

After that we continued to lay siege on the Blackburn defence but could not find the second goal as Friedel made a couple of saves. Halfway through the first half and Blackburn sort of got into the game with more possesion of the ball and one or two shots. Most notably a Benni McCarthy missed header and a half chance for Santa Cruz.

Second half and a Bentley free kick that was going wide but was brilliantly palmed away by Jens anyway. Arsenal was once again controlling the tempo. Sagna and Hleb were the outstanding players on the pitch. Hleb nearly scored a wonderful 2nd for the team but the shot bounced off the post. Friedel was again impressive and Arsene decided to switch to a 4-5-1 formation with Eduardo coming down and Fab given a more central role. We were the most likely to score but we did not until the final minutes when our in form striker came out of game limbo to net his goal to make it 9 consecutive games with at least a goal.

5 points was what the press was harping about before the game and we duly delivered. As Wenger pointed out in his post match interview, we would be foolish to not think that we can win this with 12 games to go. Anyone in the lead would do so. The important thing is to not think about the point difference as a buffer cushion but instead build on the momentum

I don’t want my team to focus on the difference between us and the rest, I want them to focus on strengthening our lead and going to every game to keep that momentum going and assert our authority and to win every game, play like real challengers

A break in the Premiership now and onto the 5th round matchup with Man Utd in the weekend. C’mon you Reds!

Adebayor (40) , Flamini (72) , Fabregas (80)

Match Gunner: Mathieu Flamini (An all action performance and the brilliant goal helped!)

Our second match against Newcastle in a week and Wenger put out his first team to the plate. Rosicky’s injury meant Diaby came in on the left.

The was more or less like the FA Cup game. Newcastle started out cautiously and were disciplined leaving only Owen up top. Could not really remember where Smith was though. We were on top all the way. First twenty minutes and we had plenty of opportunities; unusually via crosses into the box by our fullbacks and wingers but all of them were turned out by last ditch tackles or clearances. Given got into the act too as he made a freak backheel clearance as Adebayor was closing in. Fear not, as finally our Match Gunner ran down the right and sent a teasing cross for Adebayor to head in yet another goal. There just ain’t no stopping the Togonator nowadays.

Second half and the same old story. Newcastle came off strongly from the blocks but were worn down by our possession football and slick passing and movement.

Late on, Eduardo was replaced by Bendtner and it was interesting to see that none of the acrimony from the League Cup poured into the field his as first decent touch on the ball tried to find Ade. Flamini had a moment of pure magic as he found some space after being fed by Cesc and just let fly. Given could do nothing about it.

Even later on, Fab found himself on the receiving end of a nice cutback from Bendtner and made no mistake to slot the ball into the net for the finishing touch.

Honestly, I think we have two of the finest fullbacks in the Premier League at the moment. Sure, Clichy is better at attacking and Sagna at defending but they can both do the opposite function just as well. Adebayor can’t stop scoring and Eduardo still looks a good buy for us. Top of the league again and time for Man Utd to catch us.

Adebayor(22)
O’Connor(48)

Match Gunner: Eduardo(Luck just wasn’t at his side today but he made the most of what he had)

A stroll in the park? Hardly.

We started off interestingly with Walcott instead of Rosicky. Eduardo’s form earned him a place in the lineup and Senderos replaces Toure who is off on African Cup duty.

We started brightly enough. Eduardo’s header went just wide. Almunia made a great save form Jerome and Gallas nearly slotted in a goal after a scramble at the goalmouth.

Eduardo got tackled from behind and up stepped Adebayor to finish the penalty. 1-0 and everyone sensed a thrashing in the making.

It was not to be however as although we played superbly, you could sense a feeling of deja vu from seasons of old where we dominated the game but just did not finish them off and paid the price for it. Eduardo’s header met the keeper and Cesc’s shot was blocked.

Second half barely got started and we went down via a set piece. What else? Ex-Gunner Larrson swung a corner in to be met by O’Connor whose header got deflected off Cesc for a goal.

In all truthfullness, in my opinion, Flamini failed to track him at the last moment and Adebayor would have cleared the ball if he had been a defender. I can’t blame anyone of them. However Wenger came out with this comment.

I don’t believe that Senderos was caught in the set-piece, there were two or three other players involved who didn’t jump for the ball and that’s why we got punished

Was Senderos supposed to be his marker? Anyhow the goal initiated some action from the players as another few half chances came and went by. It didn’t look promising. Walcott was replaced by Bendtner. The change made an immediate impact as we were now really pushing the Birmingham defense. Eduardo nearly fed Adebayor in but he passed it to Sagna who missed. Bendtner, Hleb and Flamini had their share of chances. Sagna was removed to be replaced by Diaby. Nearing the end, we had two very near misses. Hleb’s ran to the end and stroked the ball into the goal area. Gallas was nearest but just missed the ball by a whisker. Cesc’s long range shot was just wide of the. post. Frustrating stuff.

It was evident that Arsene was disappointed with the boys and it showed in his comments.

I feel the situation is so tight up front, every game is important, you know? It’s very difficult to say what months will be crucial. The only thing I know, today we lost two points we should not have lost and I’m confident that the team will refocus, because they are really disappointed. We need sharply to refocus because that kind of focus we have shown today is not sufficient

With the draw and with Manchester United piling the misery on Newcastle, we have conceded the top spot to them via goal difference. Hard to blame anybody in particular as we just did not perform as a team. Walcott had an off game. He must forget about it and move on. Senderos did enough to show that he can fill Kolo’s boots, temporarily at least. His perfectly timed tackles overcome the lack of pace. Eduardo had another good game. Adebayor’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performances keep coming. Hleb is almost back to his tricky best and Cesc; well Cesc will be disappointed with the match. Any other day and we could have got two goals. He has not been able to recapture his brilliant goalscoring form since his injury. I pity the lad. People expect too much from him; me included and if he has an inconspicuous game, it sticks out like a sore thumb. His look at the end of the game brings me hope.

This is the first time in many that I have seen Arsene publicly telling off his players. Not in the Ferguson or Keane outburst per se as he is well known for his moniker “The mild mannered Proffesor” but I have a bold prediction to make, we will thrash Fulham. You’ll see. Cesc will turn in a man of the match performance and Adebayor will bare his teeth for all to see. C’mon you Reds!

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.

Match Gunner: Tomas Rosicky for his creativity  

Portsmouth entered the game with a gameplan. Portsmouth had three ex-Arsenal first team players in their first team. Campbell, Lauren and Kanu. Lauren just looked like a 80’s rapper with the hairstyle he adopted(see top pic). They started with a lone striker which more or less stated their intention to adopt a defensive approach to the game. Fair enough. We are the most feared attacking side in the Premier League. We started as we were against Spurs; also with a 4-5-1.

The first half was forgettable apart from a few good chances that fell to Cesc and Rosicky. Adebayor’s continues to bear the brunt of frustrated Arsenal fans across the world. There is no doubt that he is a good player but he has to modify his game to suit the situation. Throughout the whole first half, he tried a multitude of flicks and tricks that just didn’t work. He is a good player for us but I am not convinced that he can make it as a lone striker.

Second half and the game started to open up. Eboue was replaced by Diaby and the sub most fans were waiting for after his marvellous winner in the derby, Bendtner came in to great effect. Cesc and Rosicky started to have more space to work their magic. Clichy also made a great last ditch safe from Benjani who had already evaded Almunia. We nearly got a last minute winner as first Gallas missed from 6 yards after a great turn(Campbell might have clipped his ankle) and secondly Rosicky fired a shot inches wide with the last shot of the game.

We all know how extra motivated and dangerous players are when they meet up with their former clubs. This was no exception. Campbell was on form and was the arguably the best Portsmouth player that day, barring Benjani. With the scoreless draw, we have conceded the lead to Manchester United. Frankly,  you must have seen it coming. We have stuttered since Hleb, Flamini and Cesc were injured and they have not rediscovered their form since. Coming up is another tough match. Everton away. Let’s do this.