Classy Arsenal Erupt All Over Pompey

December 31, 2009

The lads really put the boot into Portsmouth didn’t they?? In a day marred by news that Portsmouth’s money men have been turning the lights off, drawing the curtains and hiding behind the sofa when the taxman came calling, the Portsmouth team could have done without our ruthless lot coming to town, to top a bad day at the office off with what only can be described as an exhibition match…

I’d like to say I feel a little sorry for them. It is the season of good will after all. They are bottom of the league, their players haven’t been paid and the Pompey fans are still fully behind their team, but, there is no room for sentiment in football, especially when your in the title race and 3 points are up for grabs. I’m glad we smashed them. I’m selfish like that, I couldn’t give a toss what happens at Pompey, I’m an Arsenal fan and I know I’ll sleep well tonight with 3 points and 4 goals in the bag…

I find it an interesting statistic that in the time Wenger’s been in charge at our beloved, well run club, Portsmouth have had 11 managers!! No wonder they are in the mess they are in. Stability really is key in football, but I guess they’ve found out the hard way…

The game itself was a complete mis-match. Pompey, as expected tried to be competitive in a combative nature, but the midfield trio of Song, Diaby and Ramsey looked assured on the ball and were just as good without it. Song and Diaby used their strength and physiques well and we closed Pompey down at every opportunity. We gave them no room to breathe and after a scrappy opening 10 minutes the players started to find their feet and settle down. We were beginning to settle into a rhythm and with the class and quality beginning to show it was only a matter of time before the 1st goal came. With a little luck..

It came in the form of another free kick. I don’t really know why Wenger lets Robin take them..He hasnt scored from one in 3 seasons of trying, yet while he’s been injured weve scored from three with three different scorers..fancy that!!! This time it was Eduardo’s turn..

On the half hour mark Ramsey was tripped just outside the box and it was perfect for a left footer. Up stepped the little Crozillian who’s shot was heading towards the right hand corner, only for it to take a deflection and end up in the left. No doubt the dubious goals panel will try to award it as an OG, seeing as though Eduardo’s not everyone outside the club’s favorite cup of tea, but 75% of Fat Franks goals have come just the same way. It was Dudu’s goal all day long…

The second was a long time in coming but with only minutes left before half time it can be seen as perfect timing. Eduardo found himself in the box with the ball at his feet after a wonderful left footed pass from Song. With hesitation from the defenders with no challenge coming in,  it seemed like he had all the time in the world to pick a pass to Ramsey, who cleverly slipped the ball to Nasri. The feisty Frenchmen hasn’t really impressed away from home, but we’ve stuck by him and he didn’t let us down. On retrieving Ramsey’s pass he looked to have taken the ball too far as he let it roll to the right. I expected him to hit it first time but Nasri’s choice was justified as he drilled a worm burner into the bottom corner. It was a great finish and at 2-0 the game was over..

The third was a peach. It had been said before the game that Ramsey owes us a big performance. Pompey were the perfect opportunity for him to stamp his authority on a game right from the start like he does for Wales. He’s done well in cameo roles but I’ve always been left unimpressed whenever he’s started for us. Well, he stamped his authority on this one with a fantastic goal which left me giving the lad a round of applause through my television. Pompey looked set to break after one of our attacks had been fruitless but Ramsey pounced on the situation, stole the ball from his man, side stepped his way round another and hit a left footed shot which three keepers couldn’t have stopped. What a shot.

Pompey scored (yawn) and our fourth well and truly put the game to bed. Song’s midfield performance was a joy to behold and all that was missing was a goal. He got it and a lot of it was his own work. Song took possession in the middle of the park about 35 yards away from the Pompey goal and he put his head down and drove towards it Diaby style. He tried to dribble his way through 2 defenders but was stopped in the penalty box. The ball was deflected out to the right only for Nasri to pick it up. Song stayed in the box, lost his man and called for the ball to be put on his bonce and Nasri obliged with a cross that took out all the defenders. Song, in yards of space, powered a header into the net from 12 yards out. Big header from a big player. He’s become one of the first names on the team sheet this year and well played to him. Chelsea forked out 25 million for Essien, Liverpool forked out 18 million for Mascherano.

We’ve only got one Song and he was peanuts!!! Songs emergence as one of the PL’s best midfielders is a credit to the lad. After taking early stick he’s grown in stature and in confidence and he plays like he knows how good he is. What makes him even better is that he’s just as good at CB. Whenever Gallas or Tommy bomb forward, Song fills the gap they leave. What a player. Damn the ACN, it’s as much as a nuisance as those crappy friendlies that get played through the season. Whoever heard of a competition that gets played half way through another competition? Ridiculous. It’s so far behind the times and the sooner the authorities sort it out the better because as far as im concerned its a burden…

Anyway, 4-1 to the good guys and we are in prime position to take 2nd place from the Manc’s next week..

Player ratings

Almunia..6..Made a good save in early in the first half at his near post which you would expect him to make, but didn’t look that great with the crosses and I thought he could have done better with the goal.

Sagna..6..Looks better doing defensive work than what he does going forward but still fairly solid..

Gallas..7..Has been immense this season but was nowhere to be seen for the Pompey goal and roamed forward far too often. Still a good display though..

Big Tom..8..I really want my sister to marry him. What a player. Committment, desire, strength. I love him in the defence but I’d really like to see him in the midfield while Song is away…

Traore..6..Got caught out of position a few times, especially for the goal, but he’s getting better and it’s going to be interesting to see what Wenger does when Clichy, Gibbs and Traore are all fit..

Ramsey..7..Looked assured on the ball with some good touches. Great goal and good touch for the assist and he looks a great player for the future.

Song..9..Man of the match. Superb display. Everything you want from a midfielder. Energy, heart, strength, passing, tackling and a super headed goal to top it off..

Diaby..7..Had an impressive first half but went missing in the second. He’s done well in his last 3 matches but they’ve all been in halves. He did well in the second half against Hull and Villa. I’d like to see 90minutes from him..

Nasri..7..Good goal and good assist but drifts in and out of the game a lot. Like Diaby I’d like to see 90minutes from him. Especially away from the comfort zone of the Emirates.

Dudu..7..Did well tonight. The movement seems to be coming back and the goals are beginning to come again, whether scuffed or deflected, but who cares?? They could all go in off his backside for all I care. A goal’s a goal and when you’re a striker it brings confidence. Let’s hope he stays fit and gets a long run in the team..

Arshavin..6..He really is taking one for the team isn’t he?? With no other strikers capable of leading the line in Nikki and Robin’s absence, this man is sacrificing his all round game so others can play theirs, and he’s still capable of banging in a screamer even when he plays poorly. Hopefully, Dudu’s sharpness will return soon and AA can be restored back to his role where he can start getting himself in the games again. Unless Wenger buys a striker???

Subs..

Rosicky..5..I love this guy, I really do. There isn’t a more magical player than a fully fit and firing Tomas but it’s not happening. Match sharpness is key, but how long will it be before he’s injured again??? And time is running out..

Eastmond..5..Good energy. Definitely looks a good prospect…

Vela..5..Like Eastmond, wasn’t really given enough time. We should see 90minutes from them against Wham in the Cup..

In conclusion, I know it’s only Portsmouth, but there’s 38 games to play to win the league and you can only beat the team thats in front of you every week. 3 points are 3 points and it was a committed performance that deserved the win. If Manure or Chelsea would have won 4-1 every pundit would have been creaming over the future champions, so we should feel the same. That’s 16 points now from 18 and we have a good chance at getting another 9 points from the next three fixtures before the tricky run of games start at the end of January. So far so good..


Up Pompey!! …………….

December 30, 2009

Well its still Panto season so it should be Up Pompeii – but hey ho 😉

This morning we are greeted with the news that Nikki B is out for a further three weeks than thought, I know I am not his biggest fan but tonight’s game is a typical game where we could need that Plan B, Nik is the only one who has a bit of height and alongside AA or even Eduardo just maybe he would have been the ideal player to bring on from the bench if needed to make a difference.

I haven’t seen any squad for tonight but I think we can be sure that there will be no Cesc and no Denilson.

Tonight is one of those games that we really need to win, away from home, nasty weather and no doubt by the sea there will be a bit of a gale force wind to cope with.

But cope with it I expect us to do! The World Cup looms, many players have said that they are desperate to be involved. The only way some of them will be is to start showing their ability for their club. Not during an odd game or two, but week in week out, home and away.

So Diaby, Nasri and Theo – are you listening??

Tonight is not so difficult for the boss to select his team; neither will be the West Ham game but after that, rather him than me!

Almunia
Sagna TV Gallas Traore
Ramsey Song Diaby
Nasri Eduardo AA

Can you believe I even started to miss Eboue then for a split second, I bet he would have been alongside Song had he been available.

I reckon it will be a tough game, not quite as bad as the Fulham away earlier in the season, but a game we will win by an odd goal or two…. Pompey will be ready to fight for every ball; we need to make sure we are ready to do the same.

So following a night where the Dippers got lucky again and sneaked a 1-0 away at Aston Villa, let’s get down South and bring back three convincing points

Not much gossip around again other than any loan move for Wilshere has been put on hold following the injury to Cesc, and as much as we are being linked to Bellamy, the boss has said he is not on his wish list!

The Wilshere one is interesting, maybe we will start to see him play a bit more, that is an exciting prospect, I think he is one of the younger players who does have a bit of spike about him and could be ready to make the step up?

That’s about it folks, have a great day and those who are travelling to Portsmouth, good luck to you, I shall be sat in the dry watching on the television – Sky Sports 1, 7.45 kick off..


New York or London, you can still love The Arsenal…….

December 29, 2009

Yesterday my sister, her husband and their son came to visit -I’d like to think it was to see me, but I know it was to see the new additions in our family! 😉

It’s funny though, both my brother in law and nephew, like me, were born within ten miles of the old Reading ground, Elm Park and during our younger years went to watch them play and still do, but like me, Reading are not their ‘real’ team, theirs is Liverpool! (ARGH!)

They are all going off to the Madejski Stadium for the FA Cup match between Reading and Liverpool and I asked them both who they wanted to win. Without hesitation, they both replied Liverpool and for one second I was surprised and questioned them.

My brother in law replied – Well who would you want to win if it were Reading v Arsenal and without a second thought I said, ‘Arsenal’….

My point? Cesc is born and bred a Spaniard, and Barcelona was his childhood team, but deep down you can develop a true love for a new club as many of us have. And Cesc’s new club and TRUE club is ours! Anymore rubbish in the paps about him I won’t be reading anymore, let alone believing..

Tomorrow we are off to play a side by the coast that are fighting for every point they can get.
I have to be honest, and no disrespect to the opposition, but we should win and win well, I just hope we can do it without our little gem Cesc, he needs to rest his injury properly. That’s if he is injured of course!

It will also be the penultimate game for Alex ‘Billabong’ Song – just read he is free to play against the Hammers on Saturday, but for Eboue, its his last game, if he plays!

What about the gossip as we head towards the transfer window?

This morning there isn’t any – not that I have found anyway!

We have just three days to go and the window opens – it will like sitting at home during the holiday period watching ‘Homes under the Hammer’ – what is up for auction and how much will we have to pay?
I have seen the programme, its dreadful, you get the ‘little person’ offering the right price for the house, then in comes Mr & Mrs Money Bags who bid against them just to secure the deal – a bit like us up against The Chavs and their millions!

Thankfully though, Arsene Wenger doesn’t enter that game, he will already know which player(s) he is going to buy, if any of course! He won’t enter a battle of the finances – he will just go about his business quietly in the background and then we will all leap like the ten lords once did and get very excited at the prospect of seeing a new 16 year old English player signed from under the nose of… Rafa or Fergie!!

Ok, again I am being cynical – but Wenger has made me feel like that over the last few years!

All I hope is that he does what we all hope, and he strengthens the squad just a little to see us over the line in the race for a couple of trophies….

Arsene says Cesc will be out for either three days, or three weeks – well that is helpful Arsenal! Other than that not a lot of gossip to report right now.. 😦


Twenty Eight Minutes of Pure Genius.

December 28, 2009

Our title hopes were today nailed to the mast, raised high and are proudly flying as you read this.  An emphatic three nil win puts us well and truly back in the title race while at the same time puting Villa firmly back in their place. This was a big win but yesterday’s strong Arsenal performance will be remembered, above all, for the twenty eight minute master class given by our Captain in the second half.

Arsenal took to the field and played, in the first five minutes, some of the best Wengerball I have seen in ages with two seemingly gilt edged chances falling firstly to Vermaelen and Eduardo but; alas, we were still unable to change that lead weight of a statistic, hanging around our necks, that we haven’t scored in the first fifteen minutes all season. These squandered chances seemed to give Villa hope and it wasn’t long before it was our turn to soak up pressure and let out deep worried sighs as they missed good chances of their own.

Diaby was skipping through the midfield with the new found zest of a player having been reprieved from the ignominious fate of being sold to the lower divisions; both he and Song, the stars of the first half, were running the show. There was nothing wrong with how the rest of the team were playing except for the out of sorts Arshavin who seemed to lack the belief that an incisive pass was ever going to find its way to him, the result being that he stopped making the runs.

This all changed in the second half when Fabregas came on; the lift this gave the rest of the team was tangible; suddenly Arshavin believed that the ball would find him and started fighting to get into positions to receive it. Nasri started buzzing around with renewed determination while Eduardo started trying just that little bit harder; the only player who seemed to withdraw slightly was Diaby who, rather than bound forward with the confidence that was on display in the first half, timidly rolled two yard passes to the dominant Cesc.

We were starting to pile the pressure on but it still needed the class of our Catalan Captain to break the deadlock — and it came in the form of one of the best free kicks you will ever see; have a look at Nasri in the wall: Villa players jump on either side of him, the Frenchman stays rooted to the ground and by doing so he creates a two foot shaft that Fabregas somehow manages to thread the ball through at speed before it dips past the helpless Friedel.

The goal forced Villa to come onto us and by doing so created the all important commodity that Walcott thrives on – space, and he revelled in it. The second wasn’t long in coming — notice the thirty five yard pass from Traore that landed just perfectly ahead of Theo enabling him to run onto it before playing precision pass to the on rushing Fabregas to slot it home and make it two nil. The worry, of course, is just how much damage he has done but if we see him playing again within three weeks I will be amazed.

Fabregas hobbled off and Diaby as if by magic came back to life. The tall Frenchman slide straight back into the position he feels the most comfortably with and went on to wrap the whole day up by scoring what is rapidly becoming his own trade mark goal: the bound forward, before releasing the powerful side foot drive into the corner. Great stuff.

Player ratings.

Almunia: from bizarre punching, to good catching, from down right poor kicking to a clearance that almost put Arshavin through with a one on one with the keeper; still, two clean sheets in two games are two clean sheets in two games. 7

Sagna: had one of his solid on frills afternoons, kept Ashley Young in his pocket. I like how this alternating thing is working with Eboue: when we need to defend its Sagna and when we need to attack its Eboue. 7.5

Gallas: Every game the image of flicking a coin in the air comes to mind: will he be fit or will he be injured at the end. We have had such a good run with his fitness it scares me to think what would happen if the coin landed on the wrong side. 8

Vermaelen: And Villa think they did well in buying Dunne. Lol. 8

Traore: Well done young man. Today he had his first test in defending (rather than bomb forward) and he came through with flying colours. Someone suggested that TV must have been helping him, good call. 7.5

Denilson: a far more confident player, his goals have helped no end, with Song away we should get a better idea of what he is really about. Or so I thought, rumour has it that his back injury has reoccurred; last time this happened he was out for two months, damn shame if it is true. 7

Song: another fine display, going from strength to strength, just imagine how good he is going to be when he is twenty six, in the mean time I wish he would cut out the few silly passes, I mean, you don’t see Vermaelen make them so why should Song, still he has improved so much I feel justified in nit picking. 8.5

Diaby: I wrote many a comment suggesting that he had until Christmas to prove himself or he would go…..I reckon he has just scrapped in. Played his best game for Arsenal to date, ran the midfield in the first half and scored another goal of some class. 9

Nasri: well, it’s not that he didn’t play well it’s just that the gulf of talent comes into full focus when Fabregas comes on. Still, we have scored six goals in the last two games that he has played; this is no time for moaning. 7

Arshavin: struggled to get into the game for the first half, it was as if he knew there was no one capable of threading a pass through to him so he stayed in his shell. This all changed when Fabregas came on, it was like putting batteries in one of those Duracell Bunnies. 7.5

Eduardo: there used to be three certainties in life: Death, taxes and Eduardo scoring in a one on one situation, sadly we are down to two: death and taxes. The Crozilian is still not cutting it, if we do buy another striker I fear he will be the one who has to make way. 6.5

Fabregas: there are simply not enough superlatives purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. 10

Walcott: it is obviously becoming quite fashionable to redeem yourself in the eyes of the more cynical supporters, almost did everything right, now there is something I didn’t expect to write about Theo so soon. 7.5

Ramsey: not on long enough to really say too much but with the injuries and absences he should be getting a lot more action in the very near future.

Wenger: completely out thought Martin O’Neil. 9

All in all, a great day to be an Arsenal supporter.


Our Heroes versus the Villains.

December 27, 2009

Morning Roadsters, today is a big day for our Premiership title hopes as we take on Aston Villa. This batch of  Brummies are beginning to be our main rivals from nether regions of the league, replacing the Scousers and the Spuds. Although, it wouldn’t upset me too much…. in fact, come to think about it, I would love it if we won the Premiership and Villa came runners up.

I cannot think of anything that has really made me dislike Aston Villa, apart from they are a bit like Chelsea: in midland terms they are the glamour club, but unlike Chelsea I think they have earned their title through football history rather than just bought it, so not even that really.

Jealous? Yes, a little, they have won the European big one.. Good things come to those that wait, but you have to be in it to win it, that is why a top 4 spot in the Premiership is so important to both these clubs.

There is something about Villa’s style of play that we struggle against, which in reality we should be the best ones in the league to handle them, with our fast full backs counter acting there fast wingers and strikers.

But we always fall into the Villa trap.. possession football moving further and further up the pitch leaving acres of space for Villa to run into. Is this our problem or a lack of desire?

Martin O’Neill, he is a Mr Motivator and I have to hand it to managers who can keep motivating player beyond there capabilities, if we could clone a lot of Arsene and that bit of Martin we would have some manager, but I am not in the dressing room so perhaps Arsene does that anyway, in a more mellow sort of way. Mystic Arsene…

So, who do we start today, we have to work out who we have left un-injured and that doesn’t leave many options. If Theo doesn’t start that would cheer me up as I read that to mean that Arsene is starting to see the same thing us fans can.. I am not entirely happy with Arshavin leading the line, I would rather Eduardo but at the moment beggars can’t be choosers.

All the main players in the Premiership are losing their way but unlike us they have injuries and we have a fully fit squad so we need to take advantage of this. 😉

Man U have no centre halves, the press make me well up more than watching a secret millionaire.. So instead of buying 10 x £30 million pound players, Mr chequebook Fergiescum, you could have bought a 100x £3 million pound players and develop them like we have to and wait,, and er wait..

Chelsea have a batch of players off to the African Nations Cup, so if Man U or Chelsea don’t buy the Arsenal business model will prove to be the winner in this recession ..

My team for today would be different to Mr Wengers OBE’s.. But I expect Arsene to field a conservative line up.

……………..Almunia ..

Sagna… Gallas…. Vermaelen…. Traore..

……….. Song..,,, Denilson….

…………….Fabregas…..

.. ..Nasri…… Arshavin…. Diaby..

I always think we can win at least 6-0 just like I did when we used to walk up the steps to get to the terraces, with my bag of chips, wishful thinking, but that’s what brings us back every week, the unknown, but I am going for a 2-1 today..

That result would bring a smile to our faces and be the best present Santa never brought us..

Just a quickie, see you in the comments..


If The Clock Works Don’t Try And Fix It.

December 26, 2009

I think that it is fair to say that if Van Persie had not got injured we would be top of the league right now; well, I feel confident that every Arsenal supporter would agree with that, perhaps there is the odd misguided Chav who might try and differ but what do they know?

A great debate followed as to whether the squad had what is takes to compensate for the loss and go on to win the league. Many felt that Walcott, Eduardo, Vela and Bendtner were more than enough while early losses against Sunderland and Chelsea gave strength to the view that a new striker had to be bought at all costs to save our title hopes. We will probably have to wait until the end of the season to find out who is right.

In the mean time, I regard it as absolutely normal for any supporter to want the club to strengthen the squad in every single transfer window, January being no exception and, what’s more, I like the way Wenger is going about it.

It is often assumed that Wenger targets his man and goes after him as soon as the window opens, if not before: Vermaelen, Sagna and Eduardo spring to mind but I am not convinced that that is always the case. It seems to me that sometimes he has to advertise that he is in the market to strengthen a particular position and wait in hope that offers come in.

And that, it also seems to me, is exactly what he has done in recent weeks: as soon as Van Persie got injured Wenger made it clear via the press that he would be entering the January transfer market. This was an advert aimed at all the agents throughout the world making them aware that if they represented a striker that Arsenal might be interested in they should get in touch.

The reason I like this so much is that it removes the possibility of later finding out, for example, that David Villa would have entertained the idea of signing for Arsenal if only he had known. Unfortunately, there have been no press reports that he might be interested but it has flushed out rumours of Huntelaar and Benzema among others I suspect that we havn’t heard of.

This plan would have almost certainly attracted interest from agents of lesser players that are of no interest to Wenger which, to me, validates the statement of: ‘We will only buy if they are better than what is already at the club’ and quite right too.

So, we are in a position of hoping for a late Christmas present, otherwise we have to rely on the strike force that we have and this is not all doom and gloom. Perhaps it was a bit optimistic to expect Eduardo, Walcott and Vela to hit the ground running but after the frustration at Burnley there were real signs against Hull that we have found a system that might take us successfully to the end of the season.

The main protagonists are, of course, Arshavin and Vermaelen, the latter taking care of the defence and the former now dictating the attack. The Hull game was far more than a three – nil win over what should really be a Championship team, to me it as the first time we developed an attack that worked since Van Persie’s injury. It was telling that Wenger played Eduardo out on the wing and left Walcott on the bench: Eduardo is not ready and Theo may never be ready. This gave Arshavin the vote of confidence to go on and dictate terms up front. Enter Diaby, freed from the dominant influence of Fabregas, he excelled.

Which brings me to my title above: The winning system developed against Hull needs to be protected; we can beat Villa and the same team is strong enough to do it. If Fabregas is anything other than 100% fit I hope he is not included in the starting line up. If he is 98% fit and possibly strong enough to play, then leave him on the bench ready to come on if things are not going our way.


Avenell’s Xmas Quiz (answers) and Merry Christmas Gooners..

December 24, 2009

The Answers to the Quiz..

1… Baseball, Boxing, Cricket, Hockey and Rugby.

2… The Emirates took 123 weeks and 2 days to build.

3… April 19th 1994 was the last all English team to start for us..

David Seaman
Lee Dixon
Martin Keown
Tony Adams
Stevie Bould
Paul Davis
Ray Parlour
Ian Selley
Ian Wright
Alan Smith
Kevin Campball

4…There was a Laundry at the north end of the ground and the North Banks was known previously as the Laundry End..

5… 16 Arsenal players were on World Cup duty in 2006

6..David Seaman injured his knee ligaments reaching for his TV remote control and his shoulder landing a 26lb carp.

7.. There is an Anteater named after Gilberto in London Zoo.

8… Players that have joined us from Spurs are
Freddie Cox.. 1949
Jimmy Robertson.. 1965
Pat Jennings ..1977
Steve Walford .. 1977
Willie Young ..1977.
And I wish I never mentioned it Sol .. 2002 7 in and 4 have gone the other way.

9.. 8 if you include Hleb and Thierry Henry..
The others are..

Jimmy Rimmer Villa 82’..
Silvinho Barca 06’
Van Bronckorst Barca 06’
Andy Cole Man U 99’
Anelka Real Madrid 2000.
Ray Kennedy Liverpool 77’

10. Spurs got a Parrot presented to them that died on the day Arsenal took their place in the old first Division.. “sick as a parrot”

I am not sure if their are any more posts before Christmas. If not I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, go and have a few beers and enjoy