Archive for February, 2006

Cole Injured Again?

8 comments February 27th, 2006

As I speak, Arsenal Reserves are playing Tottingham Reserves at the Underhill, Barnet. The clash is always one of the highlights of the Reserve team season, and tonight the crowd was boosted by the news that Ashley Cole would be starting in order to continue his rehabilitation.

However, after 7 minutes, disaster struck. A lunge from a Tottenham player left Cole down, and he had to limp off the pitch clutching his right ankle. He’s since been withdrawn from the game.

After the set-back for Gael Clichy, this is hardly what we needed. One does wonder how many more games Cole might play for Arsenal.

ps. Happy Birthday Arseblog

From Bernabeu to Blackburn, and Good to Bad

27 comments February 26th, 2006

For so many Arsenal fans, Madrid represented a turning point. The moment when Arsenals boys became men. But yesterday’s defeat to Blackburn, our tenth in the Premiership this season, showed the Real game to be nothing more than another false dawn.

I only saw the highlights, so can’t comment too much on individual player performances, but reports suggest that it was a fairly insipid performance from most of the side. The loss leaves us in sixth place, but even not even that shows just how much trouble we are really in. We’re level on points with West Ham, who have a game in hand, whilst Bolton are two points but three whole matches away from us. If they perform well in the coming weeks, we might be struggling even to qualify for the UEFA Cup.

It’s fairly disastrous stuff, and there’s no point denying any of it. We have yet again been bossed out of a game away from home. It’s become very predictable. Even the inclusion of the more physical Emmanuel Adebayor and Abou Diaby didn’t help yesterday.

Many of you will counter my suggestion that this season has been a failure with our excellent European form, and this is a proposition I am more than willing to entertain. However, it strikes me that our success in Europe is in fact connected to our domestic failures. So obsessed has Arsene been with pursuing the Champions League that he has built a side which fits it’s requirements superbly: lot’s of pace, lot’s of technique, and tremendous passing ability. The results back this up.

However, chasing that rainbow has left the team’s domestic requirements unattended. The more physical players (the Kanus, the Vieiras, the Keowns, the Edus) have been allowed to slip away and have been replaced with the likes of Fabregas and Reyes: skillful but very slight.

If Arsene wants this team to be competetive in the Premiership next season, a major overhaul is doubtless required.

He needs to stop chasing Champions League glory, and remember that the first part of his job description is success in the Premiership. This season is showing the error of neglecting those committments.

Real Arsenal Finally Emerge

9 comments February 24th, 2006

If you find yourself asking why it’s taken me since Tuesday to update this site, I should probably say I’ve been too busy celebrating.

That, however, would be a lie. I have indeed been busy, but only with work and plenty of other boring stuff. I did, however, find time to watch one of the greatest matches of my time as an Arsenal supporter.

It was too long ago now for it to be worth trawling back over the match, detailing exactly how we came to conquer the most famous club in World Football. The important thing is that it happened, and it could prove to be the turning point that we have been aching for.

Real’s unphysical, attacking approach played directly into our hands, allowing the likes of Eboué, Ljungberg, and Gilberto to turn in performances we wouldn’t dream of seeing in the Premiership.

The match-winning moment came from none other than Thierry Henry. A stunning goal, capping a 45-yard run past four helpless defenders with a left-foot shot that rocketed into the far bottom corner. An explosion of sporting excellence fit to win any match.

Despite this, Henry is not the one individual I’d pick out above the rest. Cesc Fabregas was quite superb, outshining even the legendary if ageing Zinedine Zidane, and earning himself a first full Spain call-up in the process. The World Cup beckons for our teenage playmaker.

The win was astonishing, but it is still only half-time in this tie. What is vital is that we keep this momentum going away to Blackburn tomorrow, in what is traditionally a very tricky fixture. Robin van Persie, Dennis Bergkamp, Lauren, Pascal Cygan, Kerrea Gilbert, Gael Clichy, Sol Campbell, and Ashley Cole are joined on the sidelines by Fredrik Ljungberg, who picked up a calf injury in Madrid. Emmanuel Adebayor, however, is once again available.

If we can beat Real, you’d think Blackburn wouldn’t prove impossible.

What we need now is for the team we saw on Tuesday night, the “Real” Arsenal, to please stand up.

Bernabeu Dreams Could Turn To Nightmares…

71 comments February 20th, 2006

When the draw of Arsenal vs Real Madrid was made, there wasn’t an Arsenal fan in the world who didn’t tingle with excitement. It was the match that everyone had been wanting for the last few years: Henry’s swashbuckling Invincibles against Zizou’s Galacticos. A footballing feast to match the Real Madrid – Manchester United tie a few seasons back.

It was to be two of the greatest of the past decade facing off in one artistic duel to decide just who was the greatest practitioner of the beautiful game on the planet.

And then, we became rubbish.

A bit of an overstatement perhaps, but you know what I’m refferring to. Bottling games in the midfield, leaving the ground at half-time etc. Meanwhile, under new coach Lopez Caro, Real have picked up a good run of form. The penetration provided by Robinho and Cicinho on either flank has made them the attacking threat of old.

And, what’s more, we’re absolutely inundated with injures. Robin van Persie, Jose Reyes, Sol Campbell, Dennis Bergkamp, Lauren, Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy – the list goes on and on and on. The team that we’ll scrape together to put out will be something like this:

There’s even the possibility that 16-year-old Theo Walcott could make a debut from the bench, where he’ll sit alongside Johan Djourou, who ought to be congratuled for being called up to this Swiss squad at just 18.

Anyhow, my point is that what was to be a great night for football could turn into be very embarrassing for us if we defend as we have done in recent weeks. We need a brilliant performance from all our top names if we are to get anything out there.

To anyone going to the game: sing your heart out. The boys will need it.

Garcia Breaks Arsenal Hearts In Valentine’s Day Defeat

134 comments February 15th, 2006

To what’s left of my readership,

If a team goes into a match and makes no attempt to win it, they deserve to lose. That’s precisely what Arsenal did last night.

Last minute winners for the opposition are always gut-wrenching, but less so when you can only hold your hands up and say it was coming. But for an outstanding performance yet again from Jens Lehmann, it could well have been 3 or 4.

And at the other end? There was one incorrect offside descision against the hard-working Emmanuel Adebayor which could well have yielded a goal. That aside, we were toothless.

Robert Pires, who was defended by many fans after his second-half showing against Bolton, showed his true colours yet again last night with a limp display devoid of any imagination. Gilberto too was very poor: he won the ball back consistently, but seemed to enjoy doing so so much that he just not wait to give it away again.

Fredrik Ljungberg tried but is just no longer a threat, and Thierry Henry probably ran around less than Jerzy Dudek, who was forced into just one save in the Liverpool goal. I actually forgot he was playing instead of the suspended Jose Reina.

Mathieu Flamini put plenty of energy into the left-back role, and Cesc Fabregas did his best, but was swamped by Alonso and Sissoko. How we’d love to have two players like that in our midfield. Emmanuel Adebayor too was a willing runner who showed a couple of nice touches in attempt to link the midfield and attack. But these players were severely let down by the senior members of the team.

Yes, we could’ve scraped a draw, but it would’ve been unjust. We went there hoping that Lehmann would keep them out and we’d steal a point. That’s not the way to approach top-class football.

The team is carrying a lot of dead-wood. Players like Ljungberg and Pires are surely in the dying embers of their Arsenal careers. A major overhaul is not ideal for stability, but is surely neccessary.

Arsene says we can no longer reach the top two. I’m starting to worry about the top four.

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