If Things Don’t Change, They Will Stay the Same.

August 31, 2009

So it is the last day of the transfer window, last year I sat up until midnight and joined in the frenzy as the window closed, believing that Arsene would make that last minute signing.
I wanted Alonso badly. I was to prove correct in my admiration for the player, Liverpool’s best player of last season and since he has joined Real he is outshining Ronaldo by a considerable mile. It is no coincidence that the Dippers have started off the pace without him.

Does anyone really think we will sign anyone? All the trails we were pursuing seem to have hit a dead end. The difference this year is we have got used to the fact that when Arsene says it is unlikely we will sign anyone, he sort of means it’s unlikely that we won’t sign anyone.
Before he was being coy and always gave us a little something, now unfortunately that little joke between Arsenal supporters has worn thin.

But the good news, I feel that the old Arsene is back, that glint in his eye is back, he looks 10 years younger than he did last season. Perhaps Lazy bones and Toure were affecting him too and now he is happier in his work. The interview that he gave to Sky after the Man U game was pure comedy, although he was disappointed he was in charge of the situation and he was toying with the interviewer last year he may of said something out of place.
At the end of Saturday’s game where Arsene was sent to the stand was pure classic too, he reminded me of Michael Jackson in the Earth Song video, first he stood like Jesus, then crossed his arms in a show of defiance. What bottle it must of took to stand up there in front of the baying Man U fans who have been abusing him throughout the game…. Er as usual.. er FA. anyone???

So my fellow Roadsters…. Is there anyone you fancy or have we been linked to anyone with just over 24 hours to go until we know the squad we are going with to win the Premiership and Champions League double.

Man Utd for the title. Ha, don’t make me laugh, they didn’t beat us we beat ourselves

August 30, 2009

A fixture at Old Trafford so early in the season was a good opportunity to show that we had learned the lessons of last season. It was regarded as our first real test of the season and judging by the fixtures we’ve had so far I would have to agree.

The focus of our new style of play is our work rate and what we do without the ball. The reward for this was 4 wins out of 4 and 15 goals. What more could you ask for and never in so long have I felt so confident going into a game with the champions of England. I felt we could match them and beat them and without Ronaldo, who was a regular thorn in our side, their attacking threat was not going to bother our new found defensive strength. Fergie also knew this and it was no surprise when he changed his formation to match ours. Fergie never changes his tactics for teams,especially at Old Trafford. He knew as much as the rest of us that we were the favourites.

The game started of nervy, with both teams showing off their attacking skills and taking it in turns to launch attacks at each other. If their was ever a test for the Gallas and Vermalaen partnership this was it and with Song anchoring the midfield and offering the pairing protection, our new found defensive strength this season was as strong as ever. Man Utd looked out of ideas, they couldn’t break us down and if anyone looked like scoring it was going to be us, and score we did.

It all started after Arshavin was hacked down in the penalty area by Fletcher, who proceeded to commit a double foul by handball. It looked a definite penalty, in real time and on the replays but decisions like that are hard to get at Old Trafford, so it was no surprise that the appeal was turned down and Fletcher had got away with it. Or had he?? Minutes later with frustration running through his veins, Arshavin picked the ball up in space and blasted a screamer from 25 yards that almost ripped through the back of the net, taking Fosters finger tips with it.

For me that was the game. We had it won. Man Utd were offering nothing when they were going forward, our back 4 were solid and this was emphasised by the fact that the Mancs didn’t get a shot off in anger in the first half.

We started the second half the much better side. creating an early chance when Arshavin scurried into the box and cut a cross back across goal only for Robin to force Foster into a good point blank save. With Man Utd still not offering anything going forward, that was the chance to put the game to bed, but chances like that always come back to haunt you,especially in the big games.

Until the hour mark, Man Utd still hadn’t forced a save from Almunia. So where did it all go wrong?

The answer? We have big game bottlers in our side and they reared their ugly heads once again in another big game. The main culprit was once again Almunia. Giggs slipped a hopeful through ball into Rooney’s path. Rooney was going nowhere, he was heading into no mans land on his weaker left foot with a defender up his backside. Almunia had a rush of blood. He came rushing out,sliding across the floor offering his whole body for Rooney to fall over. We’ve seen Rooney do this before so it was no surprise when he took and early tumble over the outstretched Almunia and won the penalty. Yes it was a dive. Yes there was contact. Yes it was a penalty. A cheap penalty, but a penalty. Rooney proceeded to blast the ball home and once again a mistake had cost us a lead.

Not happy with just that. Giggs once again looped a hopeful cross into our box from a free kick. It lacked pace and had plenty of height. It was a perfect opportunity for any commanding big game keeper to come and collect and ease the pressure, but Almunia failed to see the chance, once again leaving it to a defender to clear and from only  yards out and the helpless Diaby got himself in a muddle and headed the goal into the back of his net.

We had self destructed. We were the better side and Man Utd were 2-1 up without having a shot on goal still. it was very disappointing, we didn’t deserve to lose in such a way but at least we showed what we can do. We were unlucky and it was mistakes that cost us, but you cant make mistakes at Old Trafford and expect to come away with the three points.


Almunia..4..oh dear oh dear. The two mistakes against Barca in the 2006 final gave us insight into Almunia’s big game bottle. Last year he let a 45 yard free kick squeeze past his near post and yesterday he made two mistakes we all know he’s capable of making and lost us the game. He was at fault for Everton’s goal, he shouldn’t have been beaten for the Celtic goal and he’s made two major cock ups again. Our keeper is a good shot stopper but every other aspect of his game is suspect. What was he doing taking a free kick 40 yards away from his goal out on the touchline for??? Did anyone notice that? We have an eccentric goalie who’s a big game bottler and that’s why hes never played for Spain.At any level. Should he be dropped?? Hes making mistakes already, but then again, who do we replace him with?

Sagna..7..solid and strong. how many times do we say that?

Gallas..8..good display again. Solid and dominating. He’s back to his best.

Vermanator..8..hes formed a formidable partnership with Gallas and hes a great defender. Along with Gallas we need him to stay fit if we want to challenge for honours.

Clichy..7..like Sagna

Song..7..good strong display. the defensive triangle in the middle of the park of Song, Gallas and TV is becoming a giant brick wall. He’s another who we need to stay fit all season. Good display.

Denilson..4..a bad game. Regularly lost the ball, never tracks back. Useless going forward. Song was a one man army yesterday in the middle and Denilson is another big game bottler. Good against the Pompey’s but a liability against the big teams..but we said this last season too!!

Diaby..6..an enigma, with quick feet and deceptive pace,he still cant get the hang of this midfield position. Weak in defence and some sloppy passing. Hes better further up the pitch. He got himself in a terrible kerfuffle in our own box, forgetting which way he was supposed to be shooting. Then missed a perfect opportunity to put it right at the other end. Operation Vieira mark 2 should have been abandoned last year. Big game bottler.

Eboue..6..always tries hard and gets himself in some good positions but never knows what to do when he gets there. His games based on heart and desire and as we saw with Kolo it only gets you so far. A decent display but the dive let him and us down.

Robin..6..found it hard to get into the game. The main battle was in the midfield, but without Cesc we lacked creativity and Robin was constantly coming back into the midfield to search for the ball. Opened up a few doors with good quick passes but he should have scored too.

Arshavin..6..he never ceases to amaze me. Hes one of those players who can do nothing all game and then hit 4 goals or a 25 yard screamer. Alot of sloppy play but hes capable of changing a game in the blink of an eye.

In retrospect. We were brilliant. The result has left me crushed but the performance from certain players leaves me with no doubt that we have enough to challenge this season. We were unlucky and we threw the game away, but we really do need Cesc, Rosicky and Nasri back quickly. We need the big game players back. Its early in the season so we have plenty of time to recover from this.

Lets get the Citeh game out of the way and then go on one of those 20 game unbeaten runs.

Have a good day guys,I know it will be hard but chins up.

“Is It Coz I is Arsenal?”

August 29, 2009

Eduardo gets his leg stamped on and Taylor gets a 2 match ban.. Dudu takes 18 months to recover. That is like a ban, only Dudu’s only crime was according to MOTD ” he was a bit too fast for Taylor”
Instead of being happy for our little Croatian Gooner to be back playing at the top level and enjoying what he can bring to English football, the media have picked on him big time.
Now I am all for getting this cheating out of the game, but any action should be done before the season starts and not retrospectively picking on one player who let’s face it has been through the worst two years of his life.  If you are going to clamp down on it let the clubs know where they stand BEFORE the event.

The press want Eduardo to serve more time than the Lockerbie bomber for doing what Steve G and Ronaldo do every game they play in..
The facts are Man U would NOT have won the League last year or the year before if it wasn’t for Ronaldo’s diving. So when one team are allowed to get an unfair advantage, how can it be wrong if Dudu evens up the playing field, I mean cheats always prosper when they are Manc or Scouse cheats. We all know why.

Here is an idea, what about get a few referee’s to study footage from the last 3 or 4 seasons in all the games played by the so called big four and take away any goals scored directly as a result of the cheating. Then change the results accordingly.. . Who would have the most goals taken away? I may be biased but even the most unfair referee would deduct less points from Arsenal than any of the others.
Now UEFA have got involved directly.. I honestly didn’t know how much Arsenal are hated in this world. UEFA… WHAT ABOUT ASHLEY YOUNG?????

And don’t forget you are now setting a dangerous precedent, you had better stick to it.

There seems to be three types of player that the media abuse to different levels. There is the all good, super dooper  lashings of ginger beer, do no wrong Englishman like Gerrard.. now what did that commentator say when he dived ?. “He went over because he anticipated the tackle”..

There is the foreign player.. We don’t like there sort around these parts, “this is a local League for local people”.
Then there is the biggest criminal of all. The foreign Arsenal player the fact that he dares to walk onto a football pitch in a red and white shirt the press perceive him to be a Jack the Ripper type character worse than any mass murderer.

I can only remember two other famous dives by us  (I know Vieira was no saint) .. The one where we beat Portsmouth by Sir Bobby P in our invincible season and in the Champions League final by Eboue that led to the free kick where Campball scored. I can remember ten times  more against us. Rodney, Babel, van Nistelrooy the list is endless. The financial and prestigious penalties are endless too.

Why not go further Arsene don’t give any interviews to that second rate TV company ITV, they started all this with constantly showing the replay of the incident and the bunch of tossers (experts) that they had commentating and on the panel.
Go all the way UEFA deduct us a couple of points from our qualifying group, then will the real Arsenal please stand up.. Please stand up..

This evening we have a trip to Old Trafford, a difficult game that we have avoided so early in the season recently, but this may be an advantage to us as Man U never seem to get out of the traps as quick as us, but they seem to creep up on the league towards the end of the season..
The most mouth watering part of the game for me is going to be how our centre backs handle the threat of Rodney, Berbatov or Owen. For the first time in three or four seasons I feel that they should be in our defences pocket, I have never seen Gallas in such great form, if it was my choice now he would be the captain, how things change but fair play to the man, he has won me around. And he is standing next to the mighty Vermaelen. Not one person has said we miss the man with Arsenal running through his veins.. Kolo who? (Arsene cannot choose a defender can he?)

Will Mr Wenger OBE pick Dudu? I would .. If  there was ever a strong character then it is this man.. Who would bet against him scoring the winner. I can feel my chest puffing out as I think about it.. Those are the dreams of what being a Gooner is all about.

I think we will win by 2 goals to nil have faith my fellow Gooners..

Dudu’s Dive! Was it?? Wasn’t it? Who cares!!

August 28, 2009

I’m a little angry this morning with all the negativity surrounding the club and our assassin with regards to the ‘dive’ incident that occurred against a well beaten Celtic in Europe. The game finished on Wednesday, its now Friday and we are still hearing the same old stories that we are cheats and Dudu should be banned. In my opinion its over  exaggerated and totally biased. It takes the gloss away from a crushing performance against a side that apparently would make the top four in the PL (at who’s expense).So I thought I’d  jump to the defence of our Crozillian.

OK. I don’t think it was a foul, therefore I don’t think it was a pen, but the opportunity was there to go over and that’s what Dudu did.  In that type of situation, 8 times out of 10 the foul is given. What gets me the most is that at least he just fell. Gerrard does double back-flips…Ronaldo somersaults through the air and rolls half way across the pitch like hes just jumped out of a moving car. Drogba does pirouettes and gets more injuries from the grass burns than what he does from the ‘tackle’. Anyone would have thought these players had just been shot by a bazooka, hit by a high speed train and crushed by a falling meteorite the way they go down half the time and whats the response???? That’s football. The intent was there so it must be a foul. Well let me tell them that there was intent there with the Celtic goalie, Porridge. Like I said Dudu just fell. It wasn’t even a dive. There was minimum contact. The un-ironed crease in Porridges shirt brushed Dudus leg hair, Dudu was given a reason to go over and that’s just what he did. Any striker with natural striking instincts would do it. Dudu did it and we got the decision..Whats the response?? We are cheats!! Dudu should be banned. Poor Celtic.

Are they having a laugh or what??? I firmly believe that they are  just taking the piss because we trashed Celtic 5-1 over two legs when teams like Barca and their beloved Manure have struggled to do so….

It was a battle between an English team and a Scottish team, yet the English media have taken sides with Celtic not just after the results and the incidents but before the games too….

“Celtic were a threat”, “Celtic were unlucky”, “we were cheats”. For crying out loud Celtic had two shots on goal over two legs and they are trying to tell the world that they didn’t deserve to lose??? Get out of here. The tie had been won long before the penalty so I don’t agree it changed the game either. We were the better team and we deserved to win, we did win and would have won, penalty or no penalty so whats all the fuss about?? Next we’ll be hearing the stories the game should be replayed..

This attitude is totally against the norm as English teams are always supported by the English media in Europe, well they’ve made their agenda clearer than ever and I hope Dudu scores a hat trick of pens all from dives against Manure at the weekend  because  it couldn’t happen to a nicer team and it would piss the media off.

We’ve been too nice over the last few years, suffering from the cheats and the dives and the offsides and the bad decisions, all in the big games at vital times. I still remember the Kuyt penalty two years ago, which was given and he dived. Then Hleb goes over and was fouled and it wasn’t given. We lost a game we should of won and we were cheated. That’s football right?

Its about time we started giving some back and getting the decisions and I’m behind Dudu 120%.

Everybody knocks the “Sendersaur”

August 25, 2009

What the hell has gone wrong with Phillipe Senderos?.. Once he was going to be a future Arsenal captain, the next Tony Adams. Now no one wants to entertain the man.
I like the guy, he is a very good defender he just lacks a bit of pace. But so does John Terry. So why is John Terry so good and Phillipe Senderos so bad? I would say Phillipe is an unfortunate victim of Wengerball, We need Centre Halves who can recover quickly, they need to not only cover their own position they also have to cover the full back who has gone charging down the wing and are struggling to get back. Where as Chelsea just sit back and counter attack, not as pretty as us but very efficient.
So Senderos has been turned and cannot recover mainly by Drogba.. Once this has happened a few times, Phillipe’s confidence has dropped and he is a sensitive chap, so he will suffer from that more than most.

Back in 2005/06 Phillipe was a part of the back 4 that has the record for games without conceding a goal, so there may be a solution.

Keep him. With this new system that we are deploying with a holding midfielder, that keeps our defensive numbers up when the full backs are attacking, play him next to Gallas against the smaller teams who are an aerial threat to us we could even play Vera Lynn as a left back.. Gallas to his right, Vermaelen to his left, build up his confidence again.

I would have given this a go in pre season if I was Arsene, the worst that could have happened is it would have put him in the shop window so the likes of Everton would have had more confidence in buying him as their system would suit our dinosaur more.

No other team in the Premiership has a better set of centre halves than us. Gallas, Vermaelen, Djourou and Senderos.. Can Chelsea or Man U boast a better four than that?

Just don’t play him against Chelsea..

As I was editing this I noticed London was doing one too.. I am going to post this anyway because it was a pure coincidence and I am interested if London has similar points.. so go ahead and post yours too London no problem mate..

Please read the previous post too.


Do We Need Another Centre Back?

August 25, 2009

Someone, I can’t remember who, posed the question ‘Could we cope with a serious injury to William Gallas?’ It didn’t take long to come to the conclusion that any team, no matter who, would suffer if they lost their most experienced defender; although, in our case, the problem is compounded by the fact that he is not only our most experienced defender, he is also our main goal scorer.

Djourou would seem the most likely candidate to get the nod; he has the one thing that Wenger values more than anything and is the reason that his national team partner is up for sale and not he – Djourou has pace.

When Gallas got injured last year and Djourou was called upon, he took his place along side Toure and being the respectful Swiss young man that he is Johann looked to his more experienced partner for guidance, the result being comical: a football version of Dumb and Dumber. Kolo can’t organise himself let alone anyone else, it was screamingly obvious then and even more so with the objectivity that wearing a sky blue shirt gives.

There is, however, a new reason to be optimistic. If Gallas gets injured then it is reasonable to assume that Djourou will once again be the first choice replacement but this time he will be along side someone who knows about organising defences — Tomas Vermaelen. It is noticeable on telly and even more reassuring from first hand reports from Jonjon at the Everton game that this man is very confident and knowledgeable when it comes to organising the defence and it takes a very small leap of imagination to envisage him helping Djourou enormously.

There is of course the possibility that both Gallas and Vermaelen could get injured, in this scenario I would expect Djourou and Song to play. This partnership was very successful in the CC last season. The funny thing is that when Djourou is the more experienced central defender of the two he takes on a very different persona; he becomes very…..well, like Vermaelen…… organised and commanding.

It’s gets a bit scary after this if we carry on playing the “what if game” as we start getting into Silvestre territory.

Will we buy a new defender? Much depends on Swiss Phil, I get the impression that he would prefer to work in Italy or Spain. Once these CL qualifiers are sorted out it will be clearer who will have extra money to spend. Fiorentina showed some interest in him earlier, maybe they will renew it if they qualify. But if they don’t then he may chose to stay and as back up; I reckon he would be fine, after all he certainly knows the system and what would be required of him. What do you think?

Wenger: Our first week was very successful

August 24, 2009

Dear Supporter,

We have now scored 12 goals in our first three games this season. We always feel we can score goals. The information we got after the two first games is that we scored 10 goals, we could have scored more, so that’s a brilliant start. It should create confidence and momentum. The first week was very successful with two difficult away games. Now we have another week, it is another test with Celtic and Manchester United. It looks to be exciting and interesting.

I feel we create good space for our midfielders to run in and to go into the box. On that front we look more dangerous than last season. If you analyse our goals at the moment our strikers provide more than they score. That is maybe down to the way we play as well.

I think you will see the Premier League’s first trend after 10 games. We have a break after Manchester United and then we go away to Manchester City. I am not completely convinced by the organisation of the Premier League and the whole schedule because after two games, one half of the table already has one game in hand. I think maybe we should have done it in a different way.

I was very pleased with Abou Diaby’s contribution against Portsmouth. I think if he decides to play defensively he is exactly like Patrick Vieira. He is a guy who has a quick transition from defence to offence, from box to box, that is his fantastic strength, to change quickly. Nobody can go with him when he has that, when we are on the counter-attack. He is fantastic.

He has been out for nine months. He has been here three years and I have seen that today he played his 100th game so that means he has been out for a long, long time. He has had little problems and he worked very hard this summer. This could be Abou’s year, it could be his season because he prepared well, he looks very sharp, very strong, he has all you dream to have to play in the Premier League.

The atmosphere on Saturday was brilliant. I feel the fans were positive. We had some fantastic moments in the game, as well some moments when we were a little bit flat. You felt that the crowd was always behind the team. We are trying to create something special at the stadium, to make it more warm, to warm the whole place, and the scarves are a part of that. You will see much more – it is not up to me to talk about that – but we want to make this place very special. There is more we will do.

Thanks for your continued support

Arsene Wenger

Oh – and is there a new Freddie in the Gooners hearts, well done England 🙂

It’s Official: We’re Good.

August 23, 2009

There is always something special about the first home game of the season: making your way along a familiar route to the stadium, meeting up with friends, drinking cold beer, getting excited about forthcoming fixtures, shaking hands with acquaintances, all of which you may only ever see at football.

As I took my seat at the sun baked Emirates, everything was following the usual pattern; that is, except for one noticeable difference: I felt no tension at all. We were playing Portsmouth, a team who after only two games were everybody’s favourites to be relegated and even more so after three — this team are poor.

I can only assume that they arrived at the Emirates from the South Coast by train because there certainly did not have what it takes to park a bus in front of the goal.

Wenger made sensible changes bringing in some of the Carling Cup team probably with one eye on the midweek game against Celtic, although, certainly with both eyes on the United game next Saturday. Gibbs and Eboue were drafted in to give Sagna and Clichy a breather. Song was also rested in favour of Diaby and Bendtner was moved to the bench to make way for Eduardo.

With 60,000 red and white scarves being waved in the air, the team took to the field brimming with confidence and proceeded to give a master class in control and accuracy; they stroked the ball around the pitch with Bergkampesque precision. It wasn’t high speed Wengerball but the more controlled training ground version.

Everybody had read the script, nobody doubted the out come and we all knew that goals would come — and so they did: after 18 minutes Eduardo performed a trick I didn’t know he possessed on the left wing to, not only, go passed the right back but to make a complete fool of him, before cutting the ball back for the on rushing Diaby to power it home for our first.

Diaby was our ideal goal scorer, no other player on that pitch needed his confidence lifting, in the way that a goal would do, more than him; in fact, it was lifted so much he repeated the feat, four minutes later when he scored another equally good goal.

This was my favourite of the day: it has been a while since we scored on the break, this kind of goal used to be a regular part of our repertoire but has become more and more of a rarity in recent times: Fabregas played a pass of such accuracy, that, well only Fabregas can do, to Eboue, moving at speed down the wing who slid a perfectly weighted pass to Diaby who, bursting forward, slotted it past David James.

The game was over as a competition, players like Arshavin were having trouble keeping interest and concentration; it was show boat football with more back heels and flicks than an exhibition game. If this game were a heart machine it would have been flat lining; Portsmouth scoring was the necessary shock that the game needed to bring Arsenal came back to life.

Unable to kick on, Portsmouth offered no real threat in the second half, Ramsey, replaced Fabregas, which is our only cause for concern; we can afford to do without him against Celtic but we will obviously want to be at full strength against the mancs. Gallas got a tap in which makes him our leading goal scorer and Van Persie played a deftly weighted pass to split the Portsmouth defence for Ramsey to very coolly slot the ball past James.

So, that’s ten goals in two games, I can’t wait until our attack starts gelling.


Player ratings

Almunia: 6 only seriously called upon once this afternoon when a high ball was lofted in to the far post but instead of punching it clear, to prevent Kabul from scoring, our Spanish waiter dropped the plates.

Eboue: 7 playing in his preferred position he put in a very competent performance.

Gallas: 7 our top scorer with three goals to his name, although, from where I sitting it looked as though he was lucky to still be on the pitch. I was imagining the team of tossers on MOTD rubbing their hands in glee at how they were going to be able to lay into Arsenal and Gallas for not being sent off and also how gutted they must have been after studying the incident from every angle and realising  that he didn’t actually trip the Portsmouth player.

Vermaelen: 8 yet again, another commanding performance.

Gibbs: 7 did everything right including making a goal saving challenge mid way through the second half.

Diaby: 8 so the answer seems to be to spend the summer in the gym, I wish he had popped down there a bit earlier.

Fabregas: 8 the orchestra leader is starting to get his band to hum in unison. Please let him be fit for the mancs.

Denilson: 9 statman is my Man of the Match today, he patrolled the area just in front of the back four with authority; his tackling was crisp, his passing precise, this man arrived today. I don’t care what it looked like on telly, this was a very, very commanding performance.

Arshavin: 8 another classy performance from our Russian gun.

RVP: 7 ten goals and our main striker hasn’t even scored…..but he will. The Boy Wonder is getting better and better as he becomes more familiar with his new role.

Eduardo: 8 I don’t remember him being so good on the left, I always got the impression that he was frustrated that he wasn’t playing centre forward, perhaps his injury has taught him patience, today he showed us all what we had been missing.


Ramsey: 8 yet another first team appearance that will do his confidence the world of good and a goal to boot.

Merida: 7 well done Fran, more of the same please.

Bendtner: 6 we were the ones in red, Nikki.

Portsmouth Will Come Onto Us. Lol. There Is More Chance of Scarlett Johansson Coming Onto Me.

August 21, 2009

I think it is safe to say that Wenger chose the team he did to play Everton because he expected them to come onto us; and, for the first twenty minutes, this is exactly what they did, until, as we all know, not only did their effort stall — it crashed and burnt.

Anticipating a typical high energy charge from the Scots; Wenger, logically stuck with the same team selection, this is also exactly what happened, although, in the case of Celtic they did manage to hold out for forty minutes before they too succumbed to the realisation that they were playing a far superior side.

But Portsmouth will be different, if ever there was going to be a game in which our opponents attempt to “Park the Bus” this will be it. I can only assume the rationale for employing this system is that they believe it gives them a remote chance of getting a draw; whereas, if they attempt to play football the score line could end up making Everton away look like a close run thing.

“Parking the Bus” is, of course, typically what all the lesser teams try to do when they come to the Emirates. This happened so often last season and we, equally typically, struggled to find a way through. The congestion that this strategy causes renders Walcott’s speed useless. Robbed of his principal asset and lacking in the close control needed to operate in tight areas Theo’s only attempt at a solution was to send in high balls for Adebayor and Bendtner. The problem with this is that the lesser teams usually have strong tall defenders whose speciality, if they have one, is dealing with an aerial threat. The result being that all too often we failed to break the opponents down. We were, of course, desperately missing one man:

Eduardo Alves da Silva

Well now he is back, our fox in the box has returned, raring to go and already with one goal under his belt. But, ironically I don’t expect him to start; in fact I don’t expect him to start most games. Eduardo is the man to bring on when the play gets congested; he isn’t fast but he has an eye for goal the likes of which we haven’t seen for years.

My guess is that Wenger will go with the following:


Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy

–Fabregas, Song, Diaby

—Bendtner, RVP, Arshavin

And I will go for a 4-0 with Eduardo on the score sheet.

The Tie Might Not Have Been Put To Bed But It Certainly Has Got Its Pyjamas On.

August 19, 2009

Arsenal got a deserved victory against what was quite simply an inferior team. Celtic played the best they possibly could and only mustered one shot in ninety minutes, whereas we played well below the level that we all know we are capable of and scored twice.

Wenger opted for the same team that annihilated Everton on Saturday almost certainly in the hope that they would start with the same swagger as they left off at the weekend. But this was not to be, Arsenal started nervously; Celtic, as expected, chased everything down and made it difficult for us to get into our stride but it didn’t take too long before the gulf in class began to show.

The player I was most worried about at the start of the game was Vermaelen; I wanted him to do so well that I was biting my nails every time the ball went near him for fear that he might make a mistake. I know he had played extremely well on Saturday but I needed more proof. I worried that an error would send his confidence plummeting exposing a weakness for opponents to exploit. Well, I think we can safely dispel any of those kinds of concerns from our minds, by the end of the game I was as comfortable, when the ball was in his vicinity, as I was when Tony Adams was at his peak. This guy is the nuts as Jonjon would say.

Although, in fairness, every member of the defensive unit put in a very reassuring performance and that certainly includes Alexandre Song; he, along with Vermaelen, was my man of the match. I have long since stopped biting my nails when Song has the ball; I worked out ages ago what this player was about and always knew that it was far too early to write him off and so it has proved: his passing was excellent, his positioning superb and his tackling crisp and effective; he is well on course, even at this early stage, to be the player of the season.

As happy as I was with how well the defensive unit operated I was as equally as worried that offensive unit has still not gelled. There was not much Wengerball on display, perhaps I am being greedy, it’s not as though they played badly it’s just that we know that they are capable of so much more. Only once in the first half did the attack go through the gears and look like a real threat, all too often passes were being over hit.

The big plus about the attack was the defensive role that it was playing: closing down high up the pitch, never letting Celtic settle but with so many passes not finding their man I thought that we would go into the break on even terms. The dead lock was broken by a set play that Wenger had insisted that the team practice on the training ground all week.

Two minutes before half time we were awarded a free kick about thirty yards out. The angle made it impossible for Van Persie to blast, so he rolled the ball to Fabregas who drove it purposely against Gallas’ back , like a skilfully played snooker shot, making it cannon off into the corner of the goal. Luck, pah, people just don’t realise the accuracy of our captain.

With our tails up we started the second half with renewed hope, creating three really good chances that if they had arrived on Saturday we would have scored each one of them and this game would have been well and truly over but alas they went astray. This wastefulness lifted Celtic as they realised that they were still in the game and ran at us with renewed belief. The defence held firm, the only real scare coming from a fiercely hit, low cross that Gallas had to clear to the side of the post, the fear was that it could have easily have been an own goal.

With the game still not secure and the attack playing like strangers in the dark, Wenger took off the unusually less than perfect Arshavin and replaced him with Diaby. Within two minutes Diaby had performed a piece of quick footed skill and sent Clichy charging down the left wing before cutting in. Anticipating the soon to be out stretched leg of Caldwell, Clichy drilled the ball across the box hitting the Celtic captain and forcing the ball into the net for our second goal. Clichy doesn’t score many goals but he can be proud of this one.

A couple of observations: as much as it is rumoured that we will only reinforce the squad if we qualify for the CL, the same must be true of Fiorentina who I guess will renew their interest in Eboue if they also qualify, this I assume was the reason for his absence last night.

I thought Eboue was missed on the right hand side. As much as Bendtner has improved his defensive duties Eboue is better and what’s more Eboue can accelerate away which we were lacking last night. This theory works until he gets in front of goal but then we all know who we would prefer.

The other thing that I am still confused about was why we felt the need to wear Scotland’s national kit, was it a sign of some kind of bizarre respect?

“Come On You Blues” Naah, sorry, I am never going to get used to that.


Player Ratings

Almunia: 7, he was his usual comfortable self, gathered well when called upon and cleared well when needed, with only one shot to save all game he had a very cushy night.

Sagna: 7, usual commanding performance down the right hand side

Gallas: 8, looking more and more solid, clearly very comfortable playing alongside his Belgian partner

Vermaelen: 9, joint MOM, if Vidic raises his game the mancs might just find themselves with their own Vermanator. TV was class; he looked like he had been playing in our back line for years.

Clichy: 8, one of his usual high octane games down the left hand side and a goal to boot

Denilson: 6, not bad but not good; although, he was not alone in not performing to his highest level.

Fabregas: 7, looked a bit leggy, possibly had other things on his mind.

Song: 9, the other MOM, this man was our colossus tonight; he stopped every thing coming through the middle and his range of passing is going from strength to strength

Arshavin: 6, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is on the bench on Saturday, Wenger will try and instil a bit more want and desire in him. I only say this because his talent is so high he mustn’t be allowed to rest on his laurels.

RVP: 6, it just wasn’t clicking tonight, it’s not that he had a bad game it’s just that we know he is capable of so much more.

Bendtner: 6, yet again not a bad performance but he set the bar very high for himself after Saturday. The big plus tonight was his defensive work,