Archive for September, 2006

Charlton 1 – 2 Arsenal: Van Persie volley blasts Arsenal to fourth consecutive win

524 comments September 30th, 2006

21 minutes into this tricky London derby, a controversial offside decision allowed Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in behind Arsenal’s back four. Looking up, Hasselbaink managed to square for Darren Bent to tap in the first goal of the game. Arsenal fans’ heads dropped. The BBC Sport website gleefully pointed out that The Gunners had failed to win any game in which they’d fallen behind this season.

But Robin van Persie had other ideas. Arsenal had been the better side throughout the game, but lacked a cutting edge. Either side of half-time, he provided it. Firstly, Aleksandr Hleb outwitted three Charlton defenders in the penalty area before crossing to the dutchman, who controlled and finished calmly into the far corner.

His second goal was quite remarkable: after the game, Arsene called it “the goal of a lifetime”, and it’s certainly the goal of his Arsenal life so far. Another good cross from the overlapping Emmanuel Eboué dropped towards van Persie, rushing towards goal. The ball was at waist-height, almost impossible to control. Incredibly, the young forward leapt into the air and scissor-kicked it at full power into the far top corner from fully twenty yards out. The celebration matched the magnificence of the goal, charging up some stewards steps to take in the away fans’ crazed applause.

Today was important for Robin. He was playing in a slightly unfamiliar left-sided role in a 4-3-3, and with no goals so far this season, he would be excused for lacking confidence. However, the game showed just how devastating he can be when his head is right. Technichally, he is unsurpassed at our club. if he can keep the temper that saw him recieve a booking in check, and regularly score goals of anywhere near the quality he did today, then his place alongside Henry is assured. He should be targetting 15 goals a season: he is more than capable.

A word for Alex Hleb who was absolutely outstanding at both ends of the pitch, with a hand in both of our goals to match. Hleb has his doubters, but his energy and work-rate are fantastic. That is not a slight on his technical play, but on days like today a bit of grafting can make all the difference.

With Chelsea failing to beat Aston Villa (and to think we were mocked for the same thing), Liverpool crashing at Bolton, and Manchester United facing a tricky game tomorrow it really is an excellent victory.

And for that, we have one man to thank.

For various reasons, there probably won’t be an update tomorrow, so come back on Monday for full reaction to the win.

I just played Charlton vs. Arsenal on Pro Evolution Soccer, AND…

31 comments September 30th, 2006

Thierry Henry, on Pro Evolution Soccer 5.  Against Real Madrid, actually.  (Not Charlton).We lost 1-0. If that hasn’t condemned us, nothing will.

Whilst I freely admit that ProEvo is not always the most reliable of simulators, you might start worrying when I tell you that my version of ProEvo is fully updated: in the 71st minute, Omar Pouso replaced Andy Reid for Charlton. Oh yes, we got detail.

The match itself was a back-and-forth affair: constant Arsenal pressure with a few dangerous Charlton counter-attacks. As Arsenal poured forward late on, introducing the trio of Baptista, Ljungberg, and van Persie, long-time scourge Jimmy Hasselbaink popped up at the far post to head home an 89th minute winner. Football, and computer games, can be cruel.

However, do not despair. My finishing at times was more this than this. If Thierry Henry can prove more dextrous with his right boot than I was with my right thumb, then we might be in luck.

The team I played against Charlton with was the one to the right here.

Gallas seems to be winning his race to start, although Arsene might set hold him back if he feels that would prevent him being risked for France during the International break.

Freddie Ljungberg might come in, but neither Hleb nor Rosicky deserve to be dropped. Ahead of him, Adebayor’s strength and movement could come in use away from home, whilst Robin van Persie’s average performance on Tuesday night could see him out of the side.

A win would give us four consecutive victories, and confirm our position as domestic challengers. I’m going to go out on a limb, and say that my Pro Evolution Predictor might just be faulty:

3-0 to Arsenal

Gary Lewin’s Healing Hands

31 comments September 29th, 2006

Be it healing hands, a magic sponge, or just your plain old-fashioned miracle, Gary Lewin is working wonders. Allow me to take you back to yesterday, and Arsene Wenger terrifying Arsenal fans everywhere by declaring:

“Neither Gallas nor Djourou are fit at the moment. But Alex Song can fill in.”

Even reading that now sends shivers down my spine. But it seems that Lewin has stepped in to become our saviour. After appearing to be out of the selection frame, Johan Djourou and more likely William Gallas could both be available at Charlton. Arsene says:

“William is travelling and will have a fitness test tomorrow. The scan looks quite positive and his injury looks OK so I am very happy. Johan Djourou is travelling too so one of the two will play.”

Thankyou Gary. Seeing Song’s name on the team-sheet in his preferred position is a harrowing experience. Seeing it at centre-back? Doesn’t bear thinking about.

I’m half-joking in my taunting of Song. He is just a kid who was forced to play out of his depth last season: if he plugs away in training and the reserves, he might turn into a decent player. I can’t help but feel his future lies elsewhere, though.

Lewin, Gallas, and Djourou have all done superbly to get the latter two ready for tomorrow’s game. It’s a fitting continuation of Gallas’ great start at Arsenal that he has made this remarkable recovery. With Philippe Senderos set to play for the reserves next week, our back-line is getting stronger all the time. Lewin, meanwhile, is a vital part of the back-room team that Arsene has paid tribute to as he celebrates his decade at Arsenal.

Hopefully tomorrow allows him to celebrate in style.

The best 10 years in this club’s history…

34 comments September 28th, 2006

Of course, that’s just my opinion, but I don’t think there can be any doubt about just what Arsene Wenger has achieved in the past decade. Both on and off the pitch, the club has transformed entirely. Herbert Chapman‘s reign at Arsenal was one of significant influence, but I would suggest that even he did not match Arsene for innovation, inspiration, and sheer revolution.

Herbert Chapman has had a bronze bust erected in his honour. For Arsene, the greatest monument will always be the Emirates Stadium. It was he who had the courage to persuade the board to finance the move, and he too who had an integral part in designing the playing facilities on the new site. Long after Arsene is gone, the stadium will stand as testament to his vision.

But as many have said, it’s only worth having a wonderful stadium if you have the players to match. And thanks to Arsene, we always have done. Many times fans have been frustrated by his inisistence on signing uheard of players, and again and again he has proved us wrong by unearthing yet another gem. The list goes on and on: Nicolas Anelka, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Freddie Ljungberg, Sylvinho, Edu, Robin van Persie, Philippe Senderos, Johan Djourou, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Eboue, and Kolo Toure. There are more that I can’t recall at this moment. And yes, Arsene has got some buys wrong. But his net spending at Arsenal in ten years is just £45m: Chelsea spent that much on just Johan Obi Mikel and Andriy Shevchenko. But we shouldn’t be surprised. Arsene’s eye for a bargain is unsurpassed: for that £45m, you could buy 180 Kolo Toure’s.

These players continue to come to Arsenal because Wenger has revolutionised the perception of the club. His training methods and tactical approach were seen as eccentric upon his arrival: now he is regarded as a professor of the game, a footballistic (a word of his own invention) alchemist who can turn raw talent into pure gold.

One need only read the comments of Theo Walcott’s agent Colin Gordon (one of the few good men in that industry):

“It’s well known Chelsea wanted Theo badly and the deal with them would have been more lucrative for everyone. But we knew Theo’s career path would be best served by going to Arsene Wenger. We chose Arsenal because I’ve never met a more genuine and decent man than Arsene.

This is the kind of man we have running our football club. “Genuine”, “decent”. There are more adjectives, most of them superlatives. If you want to hear them rolled off by various big names at Arsenal and elsewhere then have a look at these articles.

I hope the last of those is right when it suggests Arsene might stay for life. He has become synonymous with this football club. It’s almost impossible to imagine the club moving forward without him. And I’m sure he can’t imagine life without us. He promised his wife he’d retire at 50, then at 55 – he’s still going strong. He’s now on what he calls his “fourth team”, and you can bet he won’t rest until he sees it reach it’s potential. I, for one, know that he can achieve everything he has done and more all over again.

And we should thank our lucky stars we’ve got him.

Arsenal 2 – 0 Porto: Eboue, Hleb & Respective Improvement

39 comments September 27th, 2006

Another win, another clean sheet, and Arsenal are almost what you would call “back”. There is suddenly a spine about this side, a solidity that has been lacking for nigh-on two years now. Arsenal fans everywhere are starting to believe again.

Porto didn’t put up much of a fight, but our performance was one of the utmost professionalism. After they started well, showing off their ability to keep the ball, we took the game by the scruff of the neck and managed to carve a goal from nothing. For years, people have complained about a lack of headed goals: now Thierry Henry has provided two in two games. For both, he can thank fantastic crosses from Emmanuel Eboué, who has responded to criticism of his delivery brilliantly. One need only look at the pictures at the bottom of this report to see what the assist meant to the Ivorian defender and his team-mates.

And that’s exactly what I mean about this side: the spirit is back. Last night’s game was full of hugs, high-fives, and words of encouragement. That’s what a big win like the one in Manchester can give you: belief.

And belief is exactly what Alexander Hleb needs if he is to become a regular goalscorer from midfield. Yesterday, he showed he has the potential: a marauding run from William Gallas allowed Henry to slide the ball into Hleb’s path, and the Belarussian fired neatly into the far corner. Arsene said of the playmaker:

“You feel it is in him and that sometimes he refuses to take his chance, but hopefully tonight will convince him [he can score more] and he will use that even more. He is a player who is tricky, but you feel with that desire of scoring goals he can get even more. Most of the time when he’s in a position to finish he looks to give the ball to somebody else.”

Hleb’s creativity and willingness to run at players is probably matched only in the side by Tomas Rosicky, who is fast becoming a key player for Arsenal. He is blessed with Robert Pires’ skill and finishing, but has the application and work-rate that turns him into an ideal team player. If he continues at this rate, he’ll be a hero within months.

It remained 2-0 with no real scares to speak off, apart from one typically eccentric Jens Lehmann moment which involved nearly pushing the ball over his own line.

At the back we were very solid, which makes the loss of William Gallas to injury that much more of a blow. With Johan Djourou injured in the warm-up, Justin Hoyte came in at left-back and Gallas started his first game as a centre-back. He and Kolo Toure were oustanding, and the spirit shown throughout the team was never more evident than in their refusal to concede. Gallas has slotted perfectly into this Arsenal side, and his loss will be a big one. Get well soon, William.

Improvement and progress are big themes at Arsenal at the moment, both for individuals and the team as a whole. What’s important is to retain momentum, and that includes beating an out-of-sorts Charlton at The Valley on Saturday.

But for now, let’s just enjoy another victory, another good performance, and another sign that we might just be returning as a real force in European football.

Previous Posts

Search Gunnerblog

Get your Gunnerblog t-shirts now!

get regular updates from GS with twitter

Top Gunn

Cesc Fabregas
The man in form.

    Retro Arsenal T-Shirts from - Bringing Back The Good Old Days!: Click Here!

Latest Posts

Sponsored Links


September 2006
« Aug   Oct »

Posts by Month

Most Recent Posts

Posts by Category


Powered By

eXTReMe Tracker