Archive for September, 2007

WHU 0 – 1 Arsenal: Ig-Noble act mars excellent win

Add comment September 30th, 2007

Our first win at Upton Park since the turn of the millenium was marred by a terrible challenge by Mark Noble on Aleksandr Hleb. Whilst the Belarussian’s injury is not as bad as first feared, Arsene is less than pleased with the damage done:

“If it was an accident, it is a very bad accident, because if you see his leg it is unbelievable. It is red and bruised from the knee down to the toes.”

In spite of Noble kicking Hleb out of the game, this young Arsenal side again showed their title credentials with another battling display. Whilst I don’t condone his methods, Mathieu Flamini showed he was not going to be intimidated with a thundering challenge that took out Scott Parker. It seems the days of “bullying” Arsenal into defeat are over.

These are indeed new times. A year ago, I sincerely doubt we would’ve come away with three points. Whilst we were a little lucky with a couple of offside decisions (one denying Freddie Ljungberg what looked like a good goal against his former club), we always looked capable of stepping up a gear, and the fact that Robert Green was the Man of the Match tells its own story.

The goal, when it came, was unusual.  Some clever feet from Adebayor allowed him to play Hleb in on the byline, and his flighted cross was nodded from by Robin Van Persie (video).  About as “un-Arsenal” a goal as you could hope to find.  I don’t know about you, but somehow I enjoy those more.  Perhaps it’s the novelty.  When you have caviar every week, sometimes a pastie hits the spot.

The win means that we stay two points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand. Whilst Chelsea flounder, Manchester United continue to keep up the pace in spite of some uninspiring performances. We now have two home games against Sunderland and Bolton, from which we should expect to take six points ahead of a tricky double-header away to Liverpool and home to Man U. Our results in those two matches will give a truer indicator of just how strong our title challenge can be this season.

It’s an exciting time to be an Arsenal fan. Enjoy it.

Various different types of news presented in pretty much the same way

37 comments September 29th, 2007

Team news for West Ham

The usual suspects of Rosicky, Lehmann, and Gallas are still out, and they’ve been joined by Eduardo and Song, whilst Theo Walcott is rested.

Emmanuel Eboue, against all the odds, is fit to play a Premier League match. However, at the time of the writing there are still a few hours for him to slip on a banana skin and pick up some sort of long-term injury. If, by some miracle, he manages to avoid the injury-curse that has followed him throughout his Arsenal career, he could take up one of the wing positions, with the other going to Alex Hleb, who is also fit to return.

Other than that, I’d expect Cesc and Flamini in the middle of the park. At centre-back, it’s a straight choice between Senderos and Gilberto (who Arsene has moved to publically reassure) to partner Kolo, with Sagna and Clichy joining the defence and Manuel Almunia continuing in goal.

Upfront, top scorer Emmanuel Adebayor will be partnered by Robin van Persie. Nicklas Bendtner will be on the substitutes bench.

Takeovery stuff

After Red & White took their stake to 23% (within about 1% of becoming the club’s largest shareholder), Peter Hill-Wood and Keith Edelman held a “constructive meeting” with Farhad Moshiri – Red & White’s chairman David Dein was pointedly not invited to the meeting. The Telegraph suggests the board are no closer to knowing just what Usmanov’s intentions are, so it’s hard to understand in what way this meeting was “constructive”.

Don’t forget to sign this petition to enforce a more rigorous ‘fit and proper person’ criteria for owners of football clubs.

Martin Jol is a potato-headed idiot

Read these recent comments from Jol:

“I feel we have more talented players than any other club. It’s totally different at Arsenal. Gael Clichy has been playing there for years, getting used to his role behind Ashley Cole. Cesc Fabregas was there for three or four years. They are all on the bench and come on when things are going well. Against Middlesbrough I played Michael Dawson, 22, Younes Kaboul, 21, Gareth Bale, 18. That is probably the difference still with the biggest clubs.”

Fabregas was there for “three or four years” before becoming a regular? Entirely untrue. And so what if you played with three players below the age of 22? The average age of our team that beat Derby 5-0 was just 23. We beat Newcastle’s first team with a side averaging an age of 21.

Your players aren’t as good as ours. Anyone can see that. And if they are, the distance between the clubs simply underlines your failings as a manager.

Arsene talks about players who’ve left

If we weren’t doing so well, this tale of Thierry’s departure would be a bit of a sob story. As it is, it just affirms my belief that Henry leaving was the best thing for all parties.

Also, Arsene has forgiven Freddie Ljungberg for slagging us off when he left. Which is nice.

And one who almost signed

Dean Ashton. It’ll be interesting to see who turns out to be a better player: Ashton or Bendtner?

Final thoughts on today

I think this is possibly the trickiest game we’ve had this season. Away from home in a cauldron of a stadium, up against a very talented front two in Bellamy and Ashton, and suffering with a few injuries. If we could emerge with three points, I’d be absolutely delighted, but a draw wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Good preview from a West Ham perspective here.

Phew. That’s your lot. Come on Arsenal.

The Number 23 + Sign Petition and Stop Usmanov

54 comments September 28th, 2007

The Number 23 is a terrible film about a man who is haunted by a number.  He begins to see it everywhere, and it slowly sends him spiralling into insanity.

That is sort of how I would describe the feeling of stumbling, blurry-eyed down the stairs to discover that Red & White have upped their stake to 23%.  Going onto Newsnow, expecting to read a bunch of stories about Hleb being doubtful, and perhaps a tribalfootball exclusive about Eduardo da Silva’s favourite shampoo.

Instead, the page was filled with that hideous number: 23.  As I stared at the screen, I swear David Dein’s big orange face formulated out of the pixels before me, cackling.  I started to panic.  But then I remembered the words of Keith Edelman:

“I am unsure what he [Usmanov] can do with 25 per cent, and I do not believe he can stop us operating the business on a day-to-day basis.

Oh.   Well that’s that then…

In seriousness, the difference between 21% and 23% isn’t massive.  Nor would the difference be between 23% and 25%.  Usmanov would have a blocking vote on certain resolutions, but these are incredibly rare and would probably only benefit the club financially – he’d have no reason to intervene.

When it comes to securing this club’s future, Arsene Wenger is far more vital than David Dein or Alisher Usmanov, and his latest comments are a fierce opposition to their involvement:

“English football is in danger of losing its heart a little bit. We have passed from the era of the owner-supporter to the owner-businessman.

You once had a child who attended matches, became a supporter of Liverpool, and, after having succeeded in the life, had as a dream to buy ‘his’ club. Things have changed since then.

What disturbs me, it is that a club lives above its means. The true danger today is that people who buy large clubs refinance their purchase by borrowing money, by putting the debt on the account of the club. Manchester United generates so much money which they can use to service their loan — but their example, reproduced on smaller scale, can be mortal. That is the greatest danger to English football today.”

Why put everything we have built at the risk of mortality?  There is certainly no need for short-term funding.  Just look at these quotes from Arsene:

“I think that… at the end of the 2008/09 season, we will have many more funds available.  If one day, one player can help us reach another level and he costs a fortune, we will still be able to get this player.”

We do not need this men or this money.

I’ve said this before, but look at everything our current board have achieved: the new stadium, a successful team, the world’s best manager.  And now astonishing financial records.  Don’t believe Arsene when he played them down the other day – he just doesn’t want anyone else to know he’s got money to spend.

We don’t want Alisher Usmanov anywhere near this football club.  Him owning 23% is bad enough, but sign this official government petition to enforce a more rigorous ‘fit and proper person’ criteria for owners of football clubs and we can make sure he can never complete a takeover.

Do it now.  Don’t forget.  You’ll be kicking yourself if we let this slide.

Carling Cup: Player-by-player Analysis

1 comment September 27th, 2007

Right, after yesterday’s shoddy effort: a proper blog. I’m not going to rate players out of ten as it’ll only lead to a tonne of emails from people who disagree with my choices. For those who missed them, here are the highlights, with player reviews below:

Lukasz Fabianksi
Had an extremely solid game. He is deceptively tall (about 6’3″, in fact), and put that height to use by claiming the majority of crosses that came his way. He seems to favour a catch over a punch, which is always reassuring. Made one excellent save from an Obafemi Martins header, and didn’t do a whole lot wrong when the Nigerian rounded him late on. An encouraging display, and I’m delighted we’ll be seeing more of him in this competition.

Armand Traore
Quite possibly the man of the match. His pace and power alone would make him a great player – he is a phenomenal athlete. But ally that with quick feet, whipped crosses and a cannon of shot from his kick-boxing legs, and you have one hell of a full-back. Of course, being so inexperienced his positioning is sometimes in question, but like Gael Clichy he possesses the recovery speed to get him out of the deepest of holes. Set up Bendtner’s goal with a peach of a cross, and barely gave James Milner a kick at the other. Outstanding.

Justin Hoyte
A typical Justin Hoyte display – solid but unspectacular. I did feel for him playing behind Walcott – it’s difficult for him to play a one-two with his fellow Englishman as Theo has difficulty retaining the ball under pressure. I would still feel fairly comfortable if Hoyte had to play for us in the bigger competitions.

Philippe Senderos
One remarkable goal-line clearance apart, the skipper for the night worried me again. He seems to be playing with no confidence whatsoever, and ,whatever your position, that can be crippling. Seeing him beaten to header after header by the dwarf-like Martins was very worrying indeed. Without wanting to castigate Phil on a night when we did in fact keep a clean sheet, I hope William Gallas is back as soon as possible.

Alex Song
Well, Arsene called it, I jumped aboard the bandwagon, and I think it’s fair to say pretty much everyone was amazed. Song appeared to be very, very accomplished at centre-half: powerful in the air, tough in the tackle, and with accurate distribution. I kept trying to think of a player he was comparable too, but it’s difficult – his ambling style makes him quite unique. Imagine Samba of Blackburn, but cut in half, and wearing a wig. Anyhow, it was only one game, but perhaps Song has found a position in which he can justify his inclusion in the squad. Thumbs up from me.

Theo Walcott
Super quick. But not much else. Yet. In the final third of the field, he clearly has no idea what he should be doing. He can’t decide whether to pass, shoot, or cross, and inevitably resorts to just dribbling round and round in some kind of bizarre Sylvain Wiltord tribute. Looked marginally more comfortable when he switched to the right, but he badly needs a goal. Soon.

Emmanuel Eboue
A little rusty on his return from injury, but I’d still have him ahead of Walcott in my pecking order. At times he was our only player prepared to take on a shot from outside the area, though he ofted wanted too many touches when inside the box. Still, 60 minutes under his belt will do him no harm.

Lassana Diarra
An outstanding debut from the former Chelsea man. He has a very swift and effective change of foot and pace which enables him to get away from a clutch of players with ease. His passing was tidy and his interceptions intelligent. Another strong contender for Man of the Match: I personally believe that it won’t be long until Diarra is starting the odd Premier League game for us.

The Brazilian now has his first goal for the club, and what a cracker it was too. I actually felt he didn’t have his best game, though he grew in stature as Newcastle tired. The biggest obstacle to Denilson will be his greatest quality: his inescapable similarity to Cesc.

Abou Diaby
Replaced Emmanuel Eboue and made a big difference, being involved in the moves for both goals. Still managed his customary sitter-miss in the dying moments.

Had one header cleared off the line and went close with a scrambled effort at the far post. Some have said he was ineffectual, but on another day he might’ve had a couple of goals, and ultimately that’s what he’s there for. Sniffs chances out of nothing.

Nicklas Bendtner
A towering header gave him a goal on his first start, and he arguably could’ve had more, powering a similar chance over the ball and desperate for a squared pass when Diaby fired straight at the keeper in stoppage time. Put in an impressive striker’s display, showing good awareness of his team-mates and the ability to play them in after holding the ball up. He will score goals when given chances.


So that’s that. I’d crow more about our amazing youngsters, but then you have to remember the likes of Man Utd could do just the same.

Oh no, wait.

They can’t.

West Ham news tomorrow.

Arsenal 2 – 0 Newcastle: Teenage kicks see Arsenal through

Add comment September 26th, 2007

Two nineteen-year-olds scored the goals that took Arsenal past Newcastle and into the fourth round of the Carling Cup.

It was an outstanding performance in a tie I had expected us to find very tricky indeed.

I know a lot of you weren’t able to see the match, so tomorrow I’ll be writing a full analysis on each player’s performance. For now, you’ll have to make do with the goals and Arsene’s comments.  I hate being busy. Bye for now.

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