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Everton 3 - 0 Arsenal: Is it over?


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Arsenal must find a way to replace Theo Walcott’s goals


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Video: Arsene Wenger sings Cee-Lo Green hit to Robin van Persie


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Charlton 1 – 3 Arsenal: Gunners Stay Hot on Chelsea’s Tail…

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 |  

Or is it “Trail”? I never know these things.

A great result after Chelsea scraped a 1-0 victory at Anfield. Here’s a tasty omen for you: last time Chelsea did the double over Liverpool, some old bloke scored the winning goal in both games. This year, Joe Cole repeated the feat. Predictably, the last time it was achieved was 50 years ago: when Chelsea won the League.

I’ll be honest, it’s a hugely significant victory for them. In the first half they were seriously outplayed, and survived. In the second, they improved, and Liverpool tired, and Chelsea nicked a goal. In fact, it was pretty similiar to our game at Anfield. Except they won. And we lost.

It’s games like that which make you wonder if this might be their year. However, for the chasing pack, the aim has to be to keep picking up the points in the hope that they’ll eventually slip up.

Against Charlton, we weren’t as dominant as the scoreline might suggest. However, we scored three brilliant goals. Our run of clean sheets did come to an end thanks to an end thanks to an absolute screamer from Tahar Mi Kangaroodownsport, with which Manuel Almunia stood absolutely no chance. Manuel and the defence had another fairly solid game, and despite their prolonged periods of possession, Charlton weren’t a huge threat.

Our first goal came after Van Persie slid in Vieira, who tucked it back to Freddie, who spun and fired it underneath Dean Kiely. A great finish to a great move. In fact, it was typical Arsenal. And by Arsenal, I mean the Arsenal who went 49 games unbeaten.

They equalised with the last kick of the half. Just 3 minutes after the restart, van Persie retreated from a seemingly offside position to play Cesc Fabregas into the outside-right channel. Cesc looked up, before eqsuisitely back-heeling into the path of Freddie Ljungberg, who blasted the ball into the far top corner from 10-or-so yards.

It was all topped off on 67 minutes. A long clearance wasn’t dealt with, and bounced into the path of Robin van Persie. From a tight angle, he cracked a volley into the far corner. An outstanding finish. Van Persie was heavily involved in all three goals, and is slowly integrating into the first team’s style of play. In fact, it struck me today that if Reyes is now seen primarily as a left-winger, than we only have three true first-team forwards: Henry, Bergkamp, and young Robin. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s some investment there during January.

The only negative aspect of yesterday’s victory was an injury to Sol Campbell, who is now a major doubt for Tuesday’s match with Man City. Philippe Senderos replaced him to make his Premiership debut, and I’d expect he’ll make his first full start on Tuesday night. Just thank your lucky stars that Pascal Cygan is sidelined.

Oh, and by the way, apologies if the spelling in this article is appalling: my spellchecker’s buggered.

2005.

Mental, eh.

3 More Points, 3 Consecutive Clean Sheets

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 | 5 Guns

Patrick Vieira’s deflected drive consigned Newcastle to defeat in a game which Arsenal only just edged.

The most important thing to come out of it was another clean sheet: Manuel Almunia’s fourth from his five Premiership games. That’s a pretty oustanding record when you look at our defensive form across the whole season. Of course he’s not entirely responsible, but a good save from Craig Bellamy at 0-0 was yet another factor in what is becoming a real vindication of Wenger’s decision to drop Jens Lehmann.

Tomorrow, we face Charlton. Dennis Bergkamp is likely to miss out, and there’s more chance of Mad Jens being drafted into central midfield than Edu getting a game. It seems our Brazilian boy, as we have been saying for what seems like forever, is leaving.

One of Flamini or Fabregas will partner Vieira, and van Persie will continue upfront.

Happy New Year, everybody- I’d text you all at midnight, but you know you can never get reception.

Fulham Forced Aside as Thoughts Turn to Tyneside…

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 |  

A solid 2-0 victory with goals from Henry and Pires.

If I could be arsed, I’d count up all the times that that’s occurred over the past couple of years.

This weekend, against Fulham, it signalled a return to business as usual. We weren’t outstanding, but we weren’t half bad either. Campbell, Lauren, Fabregas, and Henry were our stars.

Manuel Almunia made a very good save, aswell. He’s not doing too badly, and another clean sheet under his belt will only help his confidence to grow. Jens Lehmann, however, could become a target for Borrusia Munchunpronounceable if he doesn’t regain his starting place soon.

Looking ahead to the Newcastle game, I’d imagine that Ashley Cole will return in place of Gael Clichy. Mathieu Flamini might well displace a rested Cesc Fabregas, and Robin van Persie could get a start. He ought to: Dennis was pretty dire against Fulham.

Oh, and Patrick Kluivert is injured, so we’ll probably have the dubious pleasure of facing another 5-man midfield. Hurrah.

Merry Christmas from Gunner-Blog

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 | 93 Guns

I could talk about Ashley Cole’s new contract.

I could talk about Wenger’s latest comments on the Edu situation.

I could even deal with the transfer speculation that links us to Bolton’s tasty Finnish goalkeeper, Juicy Jaaskelainen.

But instead, I’d like to wish all Gunner-Blog readers (yes, both of you), a very merry Christmas indeed.

It’s been an interesting, inconsistent, and occassionally indifferent few months of blogging since Gunner-Blog was spawned. I want to thank the two sites who really inspired me to begin this entirely pointless journey, and they’re East Lower, and most importantly Arseblog. I’d like to think Gunner-Blog was certainly one of the first Arsenal blogs to jump into the already massed competition, before the heady onrush of several more recent, and arguably more successful, publications.

I don’t know if any of that last paragraph makes sense: I am absolutely knackered.

Look, have a proper Crimbo, and I’ll probably be back before New Year.

Tarrah.

Henry is still only the 2nd best player in the world.

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 | 3 Guns

Sell him, says I.

In all seriousness, it’s a magnificent achievement. To gain second place for two consecutive years is something absolutely phenomenal, whilst losing out to the hideously talented and very in-vogue Ronaldinho is nothing to be ashamed of.

From the sounds of things, Thierry turned up at the event in disguise as a student. Nice one, Tel.

Sol Campbell’s thunderbolt took us past Portsmouth at the weekend, and we are now able to look forward to the boxing day tie with Fulham.

But before that, we all ought to start eating loads and spending money on relatives who we don’t really care about.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (or so I’m told).

Munich Air Disaster?

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 | 1

Apologies for the horrible distateful headline, but it fits so well that I felt compelled by some unearthly force.

Allow me to explain: We’ve drawn Bayern Munich, and they are very good in the air, especially from set-pieces. We are not. Therefore, we could be in a lot of trouble.

But then again, we might not. With a new goalkeeper and renewed confidence, we have the opportunity to build some defensive stability by the February tie. This is something that could be helped by the possible return of Gilberto Silva.

It’ll be interesting to see if Jens Lehmann can regain his spot by then, in order to face off against his arch-rival, Oliver Kahn.

He certainly has a chance, especially when you consider that Arsene is very unlikely to bring in a new ‘keeper. Or anyone at all, in fact. Including Ledley King.

This, of course, excludes the signing of Manu Eboué – a story which we brought you first, I’ll have you know.

I’m very busy with a bit of a business at the moment, so updates will be somewhat erratic, as ever.

Pompey on Sunday. I like them. So let’s beat them marginally. 17-0, perhaps.

Edu Departure Moves Closer to Real-ity…

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 | 11 Guns

Or, just Real.

It does look as if he’s off. Not sure where, not sure when. It’d be nice if we could get a bit of money for him in January with which to get a replacement. But then again, it’d also be nice to have him around ’till the end of the season.

If we’re honest, it’d be good to have him for the next four years, but it isn’t going to happen.

Someone else who could be off sometime soon is Jens Lehmann, especially if Manuel Almunia keeps his place for a significant spell.

The interesting question to ask is “Who will be our goalkeeper next season?”.

I hope nobody’s forgotten Graham Stack.

The Missing Set-Piece in the Jig-Saw

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 | 78 Guns

The fact is, if we’d been able to defend set pieces, we would have beaten Chelsea on Sunday.

Considering our excellent performance, a draw was acceptable. But they scored two goals that you would have to call “soft”.

So what’s the issue? Some blame our zonal marking system, with Mark Lawrensen rather astutely commenting, “I never saw a zone score a goal”.

Arsene, meanwhile, seems content to blame it our difficulties on a lack of height, saying “In midfield, we are very short and so are our full-backs. That means we have only two central defenders who can win the ball at set-pieces.”

It is, I suppose, a valid point. This season, Reyes and Cesc have often been playing in place of their taller comrades, Pires and Gilberto.

So what’s the solution?

Firstly, there is always the oppurtunity to revert back to a man-marking system. Though Arsene is so stubborn that it is difficult to imagine him doing so.

There are several ways we could reinstate some aerial presence in the side. All 6’3″ of Phillipe Senderos is biding his time on the substitutes bench. The possibility of bringing him in at centre-half and shifting Kolo out to right-back is something that may be explored in the near future. Equally, assuming he doesn’t leave in January, Edu will soon be available for selection. Installing him alongside Patrick Vieira would give the side some much needed physical power. The ever-impressive Robin van Persie must also be close to a starting berth. Whilst his actual heading is not the best, his sheer height and strength with his back to goal would improve that aspect of our teams play.

Even so, last week the boys produced their two best performances for some time. Let’s hope that David Bentley scores the winning goal against Chelsea on Sunday, before we thrash Portsmouth 14-0 on the Sunday.

On Sunday, we play Chelsea.

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 | 1

Apparently, it’s quite a big game.

Freddie could well return, and Jens Lehmann might be re-installed at the expense of Manuel.

I'm sorry, he's from Celta Vigo

Youngsters Fabregas and Flamini will make up an inexperienced but extremely talented midfield.

Cross all your fingers. Whilst it’s not absolutely vital that we win, this match will ultimately be fairly important in deciding the destination of this season’s title.

There hasn’t been an update for a couple of days. And there won’t be one tomorrow. So don’t rush back, or anything.

I’ll probably write something after we beat Chelsea.

See that? Positivity.

Five Star Arsenal Shoot to Top of Group

Posted on by gilbertosilver Posted in 2004-2011 | 2 Guns

After a difficult November, this was just the sort of result we required as we head towards one of the biggest games of our season, facing Chelsea on Sunday.

Admittedly Rosenburg were pretty appalling defensively, and we should never have had the penalty for our fourth goal, but it was still a heart-warming victory. I feel like doing a player-by-player review, just like the old days:

Manuel Almunia
Arsene Wenger tells us that this guy has the potential to be a “great ‘keeper”. A plunging, out-stretched, split-second save in the first half certainly seemed to suggest he’s a man of great potential. However, from that moment on, it was chaos. Whilst a great save such as that should have given him the confidence to go on and produce a good goal-keeping display, it instead heralded a return to the calamitous ‘keeping we viewed in his two mistakes last week. I was very willing to forgive him after those. I recognised that he needed a run, and that those incidents apart, he’d been very solid. But tonight he wasn’t. Key example: their goal. Whilst on television it looks like Almunia deliberately palms the ball, I can confirm that this is quite far from the truth. Sitting in the front row of the East Stand, it was plain to me that Almunia attempted to catch the ball, and just dropped it. It wasn’t even as if he was under much pressure. It was a massive error, and perhaps proof that suggestions that he has problems with concentration have some basis. And he did it again. We were lucky not to concede more due to his dreadful handling. His kicking was very poor too. I liked the look of Almunia during pre-season and the Carling Cup run, but Wenger is taking a massive gamble by playing him at the moment. He’ll start against Chelsea though, don’t you worry about that.
4/10

Justin Hoyte
Stood in for the suspended Lauren, and in doing so showed great maturity. I thought this was far better than his performance at centre-back against Norwich. The fact that he didn’t look out of place in what was a fast, flowing first-half performance from our boys speaks volumes. It’s reassuring to see Justin play like he did tonight. I was beginning to lose faith in his ability. The one problem with Hoyte was that he seemed quite unwilling to play the give-and-go with Pires when it got to their 18-yard line. I don’t understand why, because he used to play as a striker, and is very good going forward. Still, solid enough.
7

Kolo Toure
Kolo is so much more comfortable alongside Sol than with Cygan. But then again, wouldn’t you be? He even had a couple of his forays forward tonight, creating echoes of last season’s outstanding form. Defended well too.
8

Sol Campbell
Didn’t have much to do, but what he did, he did well. Rosenborg were a little bit toothless. It’s still a worry that we struggle from set pieces, but that’s nothing new, and wasn’t helped by the keeper’s form tonight.
7

Ashley Cole
Excellent as ever. There isn’t a lot to say about him that hasn’t been said before. He must be one of the most consistent players in the Premiership. Got a well-earned rest today when he came off in the 80th minute. I think the option of resting Ashley is something we might see exploited later in the season, especially with the excellent Gael Clichy to deputise.
8

Robert Pires
Switched over here because Freddie was ill, and this was probably the best I’ve ever seen him play on the right-hand side. He tracked back, passed well, and supported Thierry and Dennis brilliantly. Scored a top penalty too. Sometimes I think he should be our first choice taker. Like now, for example. I think the fact that he knew he was playing ahead of the inexperienced Hoyte may have lifted his work-rate a little. Was replaced by Quincy, who didn’t really get a touch (and, I ought to add, didn’t even get to warm up).
8

Mathieu Flamini
Solid if not spectacular, as ever. He is similar to Parlour, it’s true. Strong tackles and simple passing make up his game, though there’s plenty of running in him too. One important thing is that at 6’1″, he adds something to us aerially, and competes well for goal kicks and the like. His partnership with Cesc didn’t give me any reason to be concerned about Chelsea on Sunday. But then, they were playing against some rubbish Norwegian people.
7

Cesc Fabregas
Was absolutely superb. In the first-half, he looked like Zidane out there. Flamini’s defensive discipline enabled him to get forward and create, and he accomplished it brilliantly. The highlights were a spectacular run that took his as far as the desperately clawing goal-keeper, and a goal of genuine class. Flicking the ball over the head of the defender, he let it bounce before crashing it into the far corner with a sweet left-footed volley. Perhaps he is God. Or perhaps he is just really really good at football.
9

Jose Reyes
Only started because of a late withdrawal from an under-the-weather Freddie. Played 90 minutes, which indicates he’ll be on the bench against Chelsea. It’s poor timing for the tricky Spaniard, who had his best game for some time tonight. An early burst brought him his first goal for about 14 games, and from then on he was impressive. Played some sumptuous cross-field balls for Thierry, and generally had that spark about him again. The rest, however, will do him good.
8

Dennis Bergkamp
Was skipper in his comeback game. And, I thought, was absolutely superb. He was everywhere tonight. The fact he came off with 15 minutes to go suggests he’ll play against Chelsea, and, despite van Persie’s brilliance, it’s definitely the right decision. The highlight for me was his burst down the left, where he caught-up and broke away from a defender who had a 10 yard head-start on him. Obviously his time on the sidelines has done him some good. Deserved a goal, and could have had a couple, but brave goalkeeping denied him.
9

Gael Clichy
Replaced Den, and played for a bit at left-wing, and then in defence when Cole departed. He’s pure class. The longer we can keep hold of him, the better. Didn’t have time to do much in this game, though.
6

Thierry Henry
Produced a marvellous finish to match his one against Middlesbrough in the 5-3 epic earlier this season. Aside from that, was very obviously playing the more traditional “centre-forward” role that Wenger prescribed for him against Birmingham. He’s quite good, isn’t he. Let’s hope he produces in the big game at the weekend.
8

Robin van Persie
Gave everyone another tantalising glimpse of his immense talent. He can be so so good if he keeps working hard. Admittedly, he blazed a couple of oppurtunites wide, but his goal was superbly taken, and some of his touches were simply sublime. I confidently predict he will force his way into our first choice line-up by the end of the season. Ish.
8

—————–

Roll on Sunday. With Chelsea losing to Porto and our outstanding result tonight, the question has to be asked:

“Still Carefree?”