STAMFORD BRIDGE MUST FALL

The footballing gods decided to shine on us last night – actually not just us Man U aswell – and showed us that the chavs are not unbeatable as they dropped 2 points at Hull of all places.  I was too nervous to keep track of what was happening in that game so if anyone knows anything about it they can put us all in the picture. Who’d have thought the mood could be lifted so quickly? – already, if we win on Sunday we’re right back in the chase. Our boys must be prepared for battle – I hope Arsene has ordered in lots of red meat. But more of that later in the week.

Just for a change the Spanish press have taken advantage of us losing last Sunday to report that Cesc will be leaving this summer – I don’t think he will – I think when its good its so good that Cesc will want to stay and win something with Arsenal. He looked pretty unhappy in the 2nd half I must admit but he loves our club so lets hope its only temporary.

Some very serious over-reaction around yesterday on the blogs and whilst on here we were all very upset, we did manage to enjoy a bit of fun courtesy of Irish and Rasp exchanging one-liners in the middle of the day.  If you weren’t around then, have a look, it was very funny.

Other news, Sanchez Watt has gone on loan to Southend, Nikki describes the  hell of being injured and is looking forward to coming back stronger, Arsene has identified a young defender from Montenegro –  Stefan Savic who has been on loan for 10 days and has obviously impressed because Arsene wants to buy him but is now balking at the price – a new saga will unfold and he’ll probably end up going to the spuds 😦

Have a nice day all

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SO WHAT’S NEW?……….

We didn’t sign a striker even though Arsene told us that he was shopping for one. I wouldn’t want to be married to him “Just off out to buy your Valentines present darling, the diamond bracelet we discussed” how disappointing would that be on the day? – a big nothing.  We’re going to have to make do with what we’ve got, the ‘surprise purchase’ was Sol Campbell – and even that was a disappointment, on Sunday as he was knowhere to be seen.

Still, I’ve put Sunday behind me. Arsene has the whole of this week to work on some tactics to make sure those schoolboy errors don’t happen again next week at Stamford Bridge. Kidnapping Almunia and Denilson is definitely a good start I reckon.

On to the new blog. We are thinking of referring to the founder members – that’s all of us – as ‘The Board” in keeping with the Arsenal theme. The Board will all have access to  the admin and shared responsibilities over keeping an eye on the blog and looking out for each other. New bloggers can be invited onto ‘The Board’ if we think they are of the right calibre. I may carry on being the bossy one just cos I’m very good at it and to make sure we know who’s writing a post when.

We hope to find a way to leave each other messages or discuss matters out of the public eye rather than on the blog – a virtul Board Room,  possibly on one of the other sites that are in your dashboard.

We’ve set the test site up as ‘Arsenal Arsenal’ but will take a vote on the name in a couple of days.  You are all in admin now – you need to be logged in through wordpress and if you have a look at the top of the blog there should be a grey line that has several headings. If you hover your cursor over My Dashboards you will have access to Peaches Pad, Arsenal Shorts and Arsenal Arsenal. Go onto either of the new ones and click on ‘visit site’ – you can go backwards and forwards between all the different sites in this way. If you want to leave any comments put them on Arsenal Shorts for now.

Rasp and I will be around to help out and London and rico know their way around the Dashboard too.

Any good Arsenal news would be more than welcome………………………………

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Too Little, Too Late.

Out fought, out classed, out paced and given a lesson in desire and determination. Losing three one to manu at home is bad enough but what makes it worse is the fact that they aren’t even that good; somehow, collectively, we managed to play so poorly that we made them look better than the average team that they really are.

I didn’t have a problem with the team selection; in fact, I was quite excited about it. The opportunity to watch Fabrégas, Rosicky, Arshavin and Nasri in the same team was something that I have had high hopes for since the pre-season, I know this is not the first time that they have played together and I also remember that their last outing did not live up to expectation but I figured that with this amount of individual talent in the same team it surely only had to be a question of time before it clicked into gear and became an unstoppable unit – the problem was that, sadly, today was not that day.

It is as if you take the finest Russian caviar, the freshest French oysters, the most mouth watering Spanish ham……you knew that I was going to get stuck when I came to the Czech Republic’s cuisine, didn’t you? Let’s give our Eastern European neighbours the benefit of the doubt and say that they have fabulous fillet steak. Individually all this foods are delicious but put them on the same plate and for some reason they just don’t work.

It all started well, Arshavin was making Evans and Brown look like two carthorses standing on their hind legs. The Russian was up for this game and was clearly giving everything he had but it was more head down and drive forward rather than create space and find a team mate better placed. Nevertheless, we looked like the team most likely to score first — this lasted for all of ten minutes until the tables turned and in next to no time we had used up eight of our nine cats lives before United inevitably got the break through…..Clichy was made to look a monkey by Nani before he lobbed a cross in that Almunia was only able to palm into his own net.

Naturally, we tried to respond but ten minutes later United broke from one of our corners and raced forward at Henry–Pires speed, sixty thousand Arsenal fans screamed in unison: watch Rooney, watch Rooney, watch Rooney but Denilson failed to hear; in fact, Denilson failed to do anything of any use — and surprise, surprise Shrek scored. Two down at half time and being without hard liquor or class A drugs the break was tough going, most people were walking around in silence with a shell shocked stare.

The second half got underway and one of my friends, returning late, said, as he sat down, it can’t get any worse; tellingly, no one turned around in agreement. I suppose we tried to rally, there seemed to be a bit more urgency about us but, whereas, our interplay was flicks and tricks their passing was crisp and purposeful. Before long, and by this time, unsurprisingly, they scored a third, I can’t even remember who it was, just a blur of black pouring forward at speed past helpless red and white shirts, this was game over and we hadn’t even had a shot on the United goal that had forced Van de Sar to make a save.

Yes, we scored and for five minutes we deluded ourselves that there might be a miracle on the cards but that bubble was burst when Almunia made one of the most pathetic clearances I have ever seen a keeper make in all the time I have been watching Arsenal, it was humiliating as was our afternoon.

I am not bothering with player ratings; it would just get too depressing, I would, however, just like to say that out of the tiny minority of players that had the right to hold their head up as they left the field, Alex Song was one of them.

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United we win, United they fall

My favourite memory of Highbury was seeing George Graham score a scissor kick against Man Utd in front of the Clock End in a 2-2 draw. George Best having scored an equally brilliant goal in front of the North Bank. It was 1969.

That reason that that goal remains imprinted upon my memory is due to the opponents. Manchester United were and are the glamour team of English football. Liverpool may have an equally spectacular history, Arsenal have collected a mass of silverware over the years, but MU are the team football fans know throughout the world.

Before I started my football love affair MU were already in my head. My parents used to take the family on driving tours around Europe in the early 60’s; whenever I met a friendly child and  said I was English, the first thing they said was “Bobby Charlton”, not Bobby Moore, not Geoff Hurst and certainly not Iain Ure!. Throughout my childhood Sir Bobby was the most famous player in the World. Had he played for Everton, he would have been a fine player but not a World superstar.

And then along came George Best. By this time I was a staunch Gooner, season ticket holder and North Banker, but George was the man. We had Stroller and Raddy, Geordie Armstrong and Storey, but in the schoolyard, everyone wanted to be Bestie. He summed up Man United; Glamour, swagger, style and brio.

There have been so many great MU memories; McLair missing a penalty in front of the North Bank, Ruud doing the same (prompting Keown’s wonderful response), Cantona getting sent off for kicking Nuttie, PV & Keane’s tunnel incident, TH goal of the season at the Clock End, Wiltord’s EPL winner at OT, and countless more. All are legendary because of the opponents. Beating MU is the best because MU are the true Arsenal rivals – let’s be honest, THFC are local rivals but hardly true rivals in a footballing sense, after all they last won the League in Black & White!

Which brings me to Sunday’s game. Sir Alex has perpetuated the United mystique, he is without question the best manager of all time (even surpassing Busby and Shankly), but and it is a large but, the current Man Utd team is a pale shadow of the former teams. Where is the panache, the swagger and the style? This United is a reflection of the worst sides of SAF’s personality. It is aggressive, streetwise, functional, dare I say common. It is full of snarling, vicious thugs. What must Giggs think when he takes to the field alongside Vidic, Anderson and Fletcher.? Whilst one could never say that United have been a team that doesn’t use hard men, (from Stiles, to Robson, to Keane,) all the previous enforcers had skill, could find a pass and create space for themselves. Fletcher, Anderson, Carrick and the very ageing Scholes are the worst midfield United have fielded in 15 years. What possessed SAF to bring a touch player like Berbatov into this team? It is a team built upon the strengths of Rooney – power, athleticism, simmering violence, and arrogance – though to be fair to Rooney, he is also a wonderful footballer.

There is an ethos to Arsene Wenger’s teams. He insists that all his players are well versed in the “beautiful game”. Opposition fans could point at PV4 and say that he was aggressive, well he was, but he was also one hell of a player, possessing pace, awareness and huge skill. There would never be a time when AW accepted the way this current MU team play. Where is MU’s Cesc, Arshavin or Rosicky? Who is their playmaker? They don’t have one because they rely so heavily on one player’s creative ability. Compare our goalscorers; So far MU have 4 players who have scored over 3 goals in the PL. We have 10 players who have scored 3 or more in the PL. To me this is a shameful reflection upon the state of MU. And a testament to Mr Wenger.

The key battles on Sunday will be Fletcher/Fabregas and Rooney/Gallas. If we get a fair ref (hardly likely versus MU), Cesc will run rings around Fletcher, but if as I expect there is a systematic rotational attack upon Fab and we get the usual weak ref, then we will have problems. Can WG control Rooney? We shall see, what is certain is that WG is having his best season in the shirt, so I am hopeful.

We have big game players in Arshavin, Fabregas and Gallas. Should Song be fit to play, we have the strength to outpower Utd. I feel confident that Clichy and Sagna are capable of nullifying the threat of Nani and Valencia. A raring to go Bendtner, and Nasri. The boundless energy of Rosicky, and the ageless Sol. What chance have United got?

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“TV – NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED”

 

From despair to doom to encouragement to relief. Thats how the saga of  Thomas Vermaelens injury affected us in the last 36 hours. From the moment he hobbled off the pitch at Villa Park on Wednesday night to Arsene Wengers statement on Thursday afternoon that he was unlikely to play on Sunday but that his leg was not broken was pretty torturous.  Having our Sol back felt good but knowing that TV would not be sidelined was just as important.

There was some lively debate on here yesterday about our medical team yet again and I’m still wondering how a possible broken leg becomes a sore leg but hey it must be a man thing. Many words have been written about how well he’s fitted into the team and what a find he was for us. London – I think –  made a great point a few weeks ago that the best news would be that he had a couple of brothers or that Arsene had perfected his cloning machine and TV was to be the first in.

Other centre back news that caused a chuckle was that Rio Ferdinand having appealed his ban for violent conduct had an extra match ban added to the 3 already given – he won’t be appearing on Sunday either.

Site naming reached a new level last night and anyone who hasn’t read through yesterday evenings comments should have a look, we now have a very very long list – ARSEBUNNY appeared as a new favourite – I’m not too sure about that one although I reckon it would get lots of hits. A very complex voting system is being compiled which we’ll bring to you soon.

I can’t imagine why I’m feeling so jovial we play the Mancs on Sunday.

I have to say thankyou to Rasputin for his amazing headline……see you in the comments.

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Robbed by the Wood Work

Have you ever watched two people fencing? The only time I get to see this is in the Olympics; as for some reason, Britain always seems to win a gold medal and as a result it is always shown on the news. Two people dressed in white wearing a bizarre mask that looks like the eye of a fly, stand in front of each other trading lightning fast cuts and thrusts of their rapiers both seemingly taking it in turns to push forward, slowly at first, then speeding up forcing the opponent back. Well, I hope you have seen one of these competitions or this analogy is in trouble because that was exactly what the last night’s game felt like to me. Two evenly matched teams on the night, alternating waves of attack.

Arsenal took to the field looking confident in the knowledge that they had not lost at Villa Park in over eleven years and determined to extend that statistic to twelve. The good guys kicked off and commenced the first wave which unfortunately came to nothing. It was then Villa’s turn, their wave of attack led to the ball falling to Agbonlahor who fizzed a low shot, goal bound, which produced a fine, reaction save from Almunia. These alternating waves continued in fact for the whole game, some getting closer to breaking the deadlock than others, most notably in the first half Fabrégas’ mazy run from the half way line, from which he unleashed a low drive across the area which looked like it was heading for the corner of the goal only to strike the post at the last second, bouncing to Ramsey and Rosicky who messed up the rebound by getting in each others way.

The other most notable event of the first half was the worrying site of Vermaelen hobbling off which gave Campbell an opportunity to make his first league appearance for Arsenal in I can’t remember how long. His entrance was met with cautious optimism but he quickly put us all at ease with a very commanding header followed by some reassuring passing. We supporters may have needed persuading but the players already knew what Campbell could add and seemed to be lifted by his infectious determination.

The second half kicked off and the alternating waves of attack continued our best opportunity was created by Arshavin from yet another slalom run from the halfway line that was only thwarted by Friedal diving at the Russian’s feet, the ball bouncing kindly to Rosicky who with a rasping shot unfortunately hit the bar.

A draw, I suppose was a fair result but it does now, I believe, put us in a position of having to beat Man U and Chelsea to stand a chance of winning the league……a tall order but not impossible.

Almunia: Coco seemed a bit better today but that might have more to do with Fabiabski’s performance at Stoke still ringing in my head. 6

Sagna: needs a break; I hope Eboue replaces him on Sunday. 6

Gallas: Agbonlahor is one of the few players that can bring a nervous look Gallas’ face; the Frenchman contained him but only just. 6

Vermaelen: let’s just hope he was taken off as a precaution or so I hoped when I wrote this last night but I have just heard from Wenger that he is a bit worried about the expected outcome of the intended x-rays.

Clichy: a very skittish performance, Young gave him a torrid time; MOTD highlighted one incident in the first half when Young made a monkey of him but believe me there were many more like that. 4

Fabregas: very unlucky not to score when he drove forward beating what seemed like half a dozen players before firing a low drive that struck the foot of the post. Gave his all as usual, what would we do without him. 8

Denilson: every time I watch him on telly he looks frightening.  I am going to wait until I watch him live on Sunday against the mancs before I judge him but right now I am on course to join those fans that really cannot stand him. 4

Ramsey: the more and more he plays the closer and closer he gets to being more worthy than Denilson of a starting position although I expect that he will make way for Song on Sunday. 5

Rosicky: he is getting better and better and his confidence would have soared had he not been robbed by the bar.

Eduardo: was not able to get into the game; although, he didn’t receive any service what so ever, he has damaged his ham string and will certainly be out for three weeks. 5

Arshavin: very quiet in the first half but always capable of exploding into action at any moment and winning us the game. 6

Subs

Super Sol: seemed to add power and determination which lifted the whole team, a very commanding performance and boy did we enjoy singing all those great Sol songs in the pub, come to think about it, has there ever been another Arsenal player who has had so many positive songs made up about him…..da, da, da, da, Sol’s a gooner. 7

Bendtner: probably would have come on for Eduardo five minutes later any way, adds height and therefore becomes a target man but can still be so frustrating in a Diaby kind of not releasing the ball quick enough way. 5

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ARGUMENTS ‘R US………..

 London – this post is just until you put your match report up………….

So you all thought it was just an Arsenal blog but its an Arsenal blog filled with passion and fuelled by testosterone which simmers beneath the surface and every so often bursts onto the blog wiping the smile off my face. Poor me, I’m just trying to keep everyone together so that when we want to talk footie we have a place to do it.

One of my rules is that we don’t have unseemly arguments on the blog – if a blogger  has a non Arsenal related problem with another blogger then their comments will be removed. Yesterday ave and rasp got into a spat and I have removed all of their comments and those of a couple of others including me  that were around at the time.

I’m sorry if it spoiled the evening for the others who were around tryng to blog.

London – I’m looking forward to hearing how the fun was at the pub, please put your post up as soon as its ready, see you all in the comments.

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