Archive for October, 2009

Follow my mad ‘Two Halves’ day on twitter

2 comments October 31st, 2009

Hello all.

Like Santa Claus boarding his sleigh (only two months earlier and slightly less fat), I’m about to climb into a van before embarking on a journey through deepest darkest Essex to collect 5000 pristine copies of ‘Two Hal/ves’.

Go to my Twitter page to keep updated on the paper, and make sure you pick up your copy at the game.

Come on Arsenal!


Arsenal 2 – 1 Liverpool: Mashed-up team mashes up Liverpool

Add comment October 30th, 2009

Arsenal 2 – 1 Liverpool (Merida, 19 Insua 26, Bendtner 50)
Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

Arsenal Carling Cup teams are famed for their inexperience and youth.

This, my friends, was the remix.

The likes of Kieran Gibbs, Fran Merida and debutant Craig Eastmond were joined by the older heads of Mikael Silvestre, Samir Nasri and Eduardo as Arsene concocted a team that not only gave experience to young guns, but gave vital minutes to players returning from injury.  As well as all that, it was a team that had a very real chance of beating Liverpool.

And beat them we did.  After both sides exchanged first-half wonder goals – Merida lashing in his first for the club from outside the box before Insua equalised with a dipping volley – Nicklas Bendtner thumped the winner in to the top of the net after turning the teenage mutant ninja Skrtel.

There were some really impressive performances on the night – Gibbs, Merida, and Ramsey were all outstanding.  It was also great to see Samir Nasri back after his broken leg.  He played ninety minutes, which probably rules him out of serious contention for the weekend, but he certainly gives the squad real depth in several positions.

Lukasz Fabianski also made his first appearance of the season and looked solid enough until it emerged post-game that he’ll miss the next three weeks with a thigh injury.  It’s a real blow for the Pole, who looked set to begin a spell as our first-choice goalkeeper.  Arsene now faces a choice between the dodgy Mannone and the despondent Almunia for Saturday’s North London Derby.

Gotta dash now for some final work on Two Halves – to hear me chat about that, Liverpool, Spurs and more, listen to today’s arsecast.


It’s a game of Two Halves

35 comments October 27th, 2009

Arsenal found this out to their cost on Sunday.  Coasting at half-time, they were unexpectedly pegged back to draw by an until-then hapless West Ham. Arsene hasn’t pulled any punches when talking about the importance of holding on to such leads:

“We have a great chance [in the Premier League] this year but you cannot repeat this kind of performance and not come out with the three points.”

We’ve got a big old week ahead of us now, starting with tomorrow’s Carling Cup tie at home to Liverpool. Arsene Wenger has promised a “mixed team”, and I imagine the likes of Eduardo, Bendtner, and Samir Nasri, all of whom were on the bench on Sunday, will start.

The most intriguing return might be that of Lukasz Fabianski, who seems set to displace Manuel Almunia as our number one goalkeeper.  I’m praying that Fabianski is suddenly a mature and dependable goalkeeper, which is mightily unrealistic.  It would be incredibly frustrating if our goalkeeping situation proved to be what cost us a chance at trophies this season – certainly Mannone’s error made a massive difference on Sunday.

I wouldn’t want to see the Italian in the team for undoubtedly the biggest game of the week: Saturday’s North London Derby with Spurs.

Finally I can explain just what’s been keeping me from blogging this past couple of weeks.  No, I haven’t been cheating on you all with another blog, so please stop the threatening emails.

I have in fact been editing the a one-off special edition newspaper: Two Halves.

On the day of the derby, fans of Arsenal and Tottenham will be able to grab a free copy of the limited run at various North London locations. The paper can be read two ways, depending on your allegiance: one way up it’s packed full of Arsenal news and articles; flip it over and it’s got everything a Spurs fan would want to read ahead of the game.

I wanted to make something for fans, by fans.  I’ve been putting the Arsenal end together, and it features contributions from myself, Arseblogger, Goodplaya, the man from East Lower and more.  It’s also got exclusive interviews with the likes of Paul Kaye and Danny Karbassiyoon.

The paper will be distributed outside the ground before the game.  As I said, it’s absolutely free, so make sure you pick up a copy.

You’ll doubtless hear more about Two Halves as the week goes on.  We’ll need as many pairs of hands as possible so if you’re interested in more information or in helping to distribute copies, drop me a line via the contact page.  Cheers.

If you’re interested in going to the game but can’t find a ticket, hop on over to arseblog for a chance to win one of three pairs of club level seats.


WHU 1 – 1 Arsenal: I hate it when we prove them right

36 comments October 26th, 2009

West Ham 2 – 2 Arsenal (Van Persie 16, Gallas 37, Cole 74, Diamanti 80 (pen))
Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

However well this Arsenal team do, however many games we win, however many goals we score, there will be those in the press who will insist that we do not have the requisite character to challenge for major honours – that we lack defensive organisation and concentration, and are unable to hold leads or sneak winners when not playing at our best.

I loathe it when our players prove those critics right.

Yesterday we were absolutely coasting against West Ham after being gifted a 2-0 lead.  The Hammers’ confidence was at a real low, and their defending comical.  First of all a Sagna cross evaded Robert Green permitting Van Persie to tap in his sixth of the season, and then the Dutchman’s corner found William Gallas, who nodded in his fourth – meaning our centre-backs now have a tally of nine for the season.

At half-time, the game looked dead.  West Ham offered no threat going forward, and looked liable to concede more.

That’s perhaps where it went wrong.  We became complacent and offered West Ham a route back into the game.

The goalkeeping situation at the club has become extremely problematic.  With Manuel Almunia plainly out of favour and Lukasz Fabianski not yet fully recovered from injury, Vito Mannone has been thrust into the spotlight and hasn’t always survived.  Yesterday was a case in point: a long-range free-kick ought to have been palmed routinely round the post, but instead it was knocked back into the centre of the goal where Carlton Cole was in hand to nod in what ought to have been a consolation.

Ought to have been.  With any other team, it would have been.  But this side had shown it’s potential to lapse in Holland in midweek, and they weren’t about to buck the trend.

Scott Parker had a penalty appeal denied, and it sparked the crowd and the team into action.  When Alex Song clipped the heels of Carlton Cole, the referee blew and a spot kick was awarded.  Two nearly penalties makes a penalty, apparently.

Diamanti tucked it away, and suddenly it was level.  Scott Parker was dismissed shortly after the goal, but we weren’t able to capitalise, despite throwing Bendtner and Eduardo into the fray.

It’s super-frustrating.  Hopefully I’ll be able to be more eloquent about it (and explain where I’ve been these past few days) tomorrow.

AZ Alkmaar 1 – 1 Arsenal: A Pain In The AZ

Add comment October 21st, 2009

AZ 1 – 1 Arsenal (Fabregas , Mendes da Silva 90+3)
Highlights here; Arsene’s reaction here

Credit to Ronald Koeman – his tactics last night were nothing if not innovative: spend the first eighty minutes lulling the opposition into a false sense of security, bring on Pele, and nick a last gasp equaliser.

Perhaps it wasn’t planned. And perhaps their Italian substitute was called ‘Pelle’ rather than Pele. But the nature of the sucker-punch was just as sucky and just as punchy. AZ grabbed an equaliser in a game where they’d barely threatened.

We should probably have put the game beyond them by then, but we sank to their tempo as most of the game was played out at exhibition pace. We didn’t have a great many chances aside from the goal, but still spent the majority of the match looking comfortable. Too comfortable, as it turned out.

We should have taken the lead after twenty minutes when Robin van Persie cut inside his man and fired straight at the keeper. The Dutchman made up for his miss with the assist for the eventual opener – Andrey Arshavin intercepted a loose ball and slid in Van Persie, who squared for Cesc Fabregas to tap in at the far post. It was a lovely goal.

Whilst our team performance never rose above the giddy heights of “alright”, there were impressive showing’s from Vermaelen, who nipped into tackles with the appropriate combination of technique and tenacity, and Alex Song, who is developing upper-body strength to rival most midfielders in Europe.

AZ slinked their way through the game, showing the odd bit of nice passing but without any significant goal-threat. That was right up until the closing stages, when they started chucking set pieces into our box, causing havoc. Young Vito Mannone started again, and the defence did not look reassured by his presence.

When the goal eventually came, it was via a flick on from Pelle and a stunning finish from the most glamorously-named Dutchman going, David Mendes da Silva.

It was a blow, no doubt. But we still stand a very good chance of winning the group, especially if we win our remaining home games. A point away from home in Europe is very rarely a poor result.

The disappointment at conceding a last minute equaliser was tempered by the hilarity of Liverpool conceding a last minute winner against Lyon. Thankyou, Rafa’s reds: you make us feel much, much better.

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