Posts Tagged ‘Arshavin’

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Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Wenger?

May 9, 2011

Right…

If I am to be honest with you, I really don’t feel like writing this post, not only because it pains me to say the harsh words of criticism, but also because I have this old fashioned work ethic that does not allow me to feed you the undercooked piece and I am really struggling for motivation to do it properly. But hey, I am of the opinion that the way you approach moments like these is what separates the men from the boys and sometimes you just have to stand up and deliver, even when the circumstances combine in the way that you would rather be somewhere else. Preferably somewhere quiet, miles away from the place you are currently in and for an extended period of time.

OK, here goes: first and foremost, I would like to offer Stoke City FC my sincere apology for the tone of my match preview, as I have been proven seriously wrong on this occasion. The bitter truth is that we have been given a footballing lesson by them and this must have been the first time ever their supporters got to go ‘Ole’ when they simply toyed with us in the second half. As they say, pride comes before the fall and boy, how the mighty have fallen! Our Glorious Leader has now been beaten at his own game by Tony Pulis and they really did not need to resort to any nasty tactics, in fact, if you are to believe the game stats on BBC website, we have committed more fouls and got more bookings than them and that is saying something.

We have conceded three goals and each and every one of them was just the same old story: a set piece for the first, failure to close down the opponent for the second and conceding a goal straight after pulling one back for the third. Now, have we been there before or what? It really begs question what on earth is this team up to during training sessions, as sure as hell they don’t analyse the past errors and do their best to iron them out. The former two is the story of our undoing for the past few seasons and the latter seems to be the flavour of the current one, great, not only the flaws of old are not eradicated, but we also get a new weakness in the shape of being unable to hold onto the advantage to deal with. Could it have something to do with stripping the back four of experience and replacing it with two dudes who barely have two top flight seasons under their belts between them? Impossible, it must be my simplistic approach, characteristic for someone who did not work a single day in football talking!

I wonder...

I have decided that I will not be tearing into the players’ performances, because they are not even worth that. If any of you happens to be reading this bit, here is the deal: since none of you could be arsed to play for me, I can’t be arsed to write about you, there are only a few players that deserved better and these are Robin and Jack throughout the game, Shava who tried pretty hard to cover for clueless Gibbs (payrise? you are having a laugh) and Rambo who had to deal with the ‘classy’ treatment dished out by the home crowd. Both of the latter were subbed by Wenger to bring on two chocolate teapots in the shape of Bendtner and Chamakh with neither of them trying to make a nuisance of themselves in the box like they should. Szczesny and Koscielny also get away with just a bit of credit, but the rest can simply go forth and multiply! And if you have any ideas of apologising on Tw*tter, take my advice and just don’t…

Ever since I came back to writing, a month or so ago, it has become somewhat of a tradition not to write the actual match reports on this blog, as I prefer to offer you my overall opinion on things rather than go through the same motions everyone else does. Since I am not necessarily amongst the ‘biggest selling titles’, something tells me that you have gone through at least one of these before turning your attention to yours truly, so, as the title of today’s post would suggest, I will focus on the OGL’s reaction instead.

Doesn't it, Arsene?

Having read the brief summary of the post-match interview I can only laugh and say ‘No shit, Sherlock’. First thing you read is that you can lose everywhere if you don’t turn up with the same competitive spirit in every game. Really? And I thought it was enough for the ‘best squad ever’ to get out on the pitch, look down upon everyone else and then go through the tippy tappy motions for the oppositions to bow to their superior technical ability and let them through on goal while they are at it! How silly of me, eh? It just so happens that it’s exactly this approach that cost us, if I am calculating this right, enough points for us to be still celebrating the title, which we would have won last week, as even with today’s result we would still be nine points clear! Sp*ds, Magpies, WBA and Liverpool at home (11 points) coupled with WBA, Magpies and Bolton away (7 points) adds up to cool 18, which would see us sitting at the top of the table and laughing at the also rans rather than being the butt of jokes ourselves. So, mon cher Arsene, bollocks to your ‘team has done well overall this season’, because it most certainly has not, now stop being a spin doctor and start doing what you are paid to do, which (in case you have forgotten) is being a fucking football manager!

Der Führer has also acknowledged that conceding goals from set pieces is something that needs to be worked on. Now I am not a stats enthusiast, but OptaJoe’s tweet about us conceding the highest proportion (57%) of set piece goals in the entire league was enough to catch my eye and share it with you. Shocking? Given that it’s something that can be drilled into players in training relatively easily it most certainly is. As I said earlier, not exactly a new problem, is it? As I have noticed in one of my previous posts, it takes Arsene ridiculously long to figure out the fairly obvious stuff and that is really not good enough in my book.

There was also some mention of Vermaelen who spent the game on the bench with Djourou clearly struggling, having barely shaken off the injury sustained last week. This is another piece of evidence showing how true the saying about reaping what you sow is. We have been crying out for another big lump of a defender throughout the winter transfer window, reasonably priced options were available, but AW chose not to act. Big Johan certainly did not look that big amongst their players in the box and failed to mark Kenwyne Jones who scored the opener without knowing much about it. He also has to shoulder some blame for the second and was fully responsible for the third, yet, he completed 90 minutes. Something tells me that we would have done better with another giant to rotate with JD, some will say it’s hindsight, I say bollocks it is, and the evidence to the contrary is plentiful.

Just to wrap things up, let me remind you of this little gem:

Flying Spaghetti Monster help us all!

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Who needs a snappy headline when you win 5:0?

March 10, 2010

It’s getting late and I will be losing a wee bit of sleep writing this, but I will gladly keep my eyes open using matchsticks today at work, as I am still buzzing after seeing the events that unfolded last night at the Emirates.

Legend has it that Saint George slew the dragon tormenting the good people of Silene, last night it was more or less all about Saint Nicklas doing the same with a little help of other fine heroes – sure, this would never have happened without contribution of other equally, if not even more impressive players like Arshavin, Eboue, Nasri and others. Our hat-trick hero missed a whole bunch of sitters a few days ago and anyone could be excused for laughing out loudly when told that he would score three goals last night. It seems like he must have used up all the shit luck allocated for the foreseeable future (or it has something to do with some sort of Danish voodoo where Jensen cast a spell making Nik unable to find the net with him in goal), let’s hope his first hattrick will boost his confidence ahead of the coming games for him to try and collect more of these lovely match balls.

As I said yesterday, it was all about scoring first and scoring early without allowing them the away goal advantage and the good guys in red duly obliged – first goal came after Arshavin won the header from Almunia’s kick, the ball landed at Nasri’s feet and he fed our little Russian for him to charge into their box where he collided with their defender and goalie and the ball ended up banged into the empty net by the Dane. The second came fifteen minutes later when one of the Porto players tried to be a little bit too smart for his own good too close to his goal and this resulted in the ball being nicked by AA who danced between three defenders and squared the ball to Bendtner for the easiest of the tap-ins. Andrey had a chance to add to the tally a bit later, but blasted his shot over the bar with the goal gaping.

As much as it was all Arsenal in the first half and as much as the pundits were surprised how poor the visitors were, they needed just one goal to take us back to square one. Second half started with them pushing for it and nearly getting one from a set piece when Nasri managed to clear the ball off the line. It has to be said, we have taken our foot off the gas in the second half and this helped us to realise that we were far from home and dry – two minutes later, Nasri dribbled past half of our opposition’s defence and placed the ball at the far post. With three goals, we were all but through, but we felt like running a riot and scored another one after a classic counter attack: Arshavin pounced on the ball cleared from our box, ran half the length of the pitch and cleverly passed the ball to Eboue who rounded the keeper and scored fourth. The Ivorian also won a penalty for Nick to complete his hattrick.

Now this is what I am talking about – needless to say, Fabianski owes last night’s heroes a good few rounds of drinks after making it a bit difficult for his teammates ahead of this game. We are through to the quarter finals and I will be looking forward to the draw due to take place next Friday just ahead of the West Ham clash.

Just to wrap it up (I need to run to get myself ready for work):

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

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Burnley preview. Walk in the park? Think again.

March 6, 2010

So, here we are, the international friendlies have gone by and for once we went through them virtually unscathed – yes, Carlos Vela got injured again playing New Zealand after scoring a peach of a goal, but if you take into the account the fact that he is not really a first team regular at the moment, you will see what I mean.

A lot has been said about the last week’s ‘unfortunate’ events at Britannia Stadium. I have voiced my opinion in the previous post and it did not change one bit. Shawcross came out and said he was not going to change either, which means that he is probably on course to add to the ‘impressive’ record of two fellow players’ legs broken at the tender age of 22. But no, he is not ‘that kind of player’. Twat.

Internationals or no internationals, our selection options are limited anyway – Big Sol joined Billy in the treatment room and Song starts his two game ban for collecting his 10th booking this season. This means that Silvestre and Denilson will both start – now while I don’t really rate either of them, I am intending on getting behind them fully and wholeheartedly: for the 90+ minutes today they are expected to do their best and some support could help them find the extra 10%, besides there is no point in getting annoyed with stuff you cannot change, is there? Here’s to both of them playing a blinder today and contributing to another fine victory by Arsenal FC. On the positive note, we are to welcome back Diaby and Arshavin and this should add some creativity, flair and maybe a goal out of nowhere.

Today, it’s all about the attitude: sure, it’s ‘only’ Burnley who only managed a single draw on the road this season and Coyle’s departure did not help them either, however, I have seen us losing or drawing a perfectly winnable game once or twice – the thing no Arsenal supporter wants to see today is complacency and knocking the ball about with no real purpose, we want to see The Clarets obliterated, this is a good chance to improve our goal difference, as this could be telling as far as winning the league this season is concerned. Yes, it may be THAT tight and we need to do ourselves all the favours we can. I want to see commitment, directness and belief – make no mistake, if we keep up with the two above us, we have every chance of nicking it. Yes, it would be nothing short of a miracle, all things considered, but hey, we probably deserve one, no?

It will be interesting to see if our players’ mentality has been affected by the horrific injury sustained by a team mate. We can talk about professionalism all we want, but they are all human afterall – after Taylor broke Eddy’s leg two years ago, our season went down the pan, as the players could not lift themselves up. Yes, we got a result last week, but how much of it was down to shock and not having much time to think about what happened and how much down to maturity? I guess we will find out soon enough – if we build on what we saw after the third goal, it may be the case of waking a sleeping giant (i.e. ‘now you’ve really pissed me off’), otherwise, we will witness another nearly season, simple as.

Have a good day Gooners – catch you all tomorrow to celebrate!

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We are top of the league! Yeah, baby!

January 21, 2010

Now can anyone honestly tell me that he or she was thinking this was going to end up with this scoreline? We needed a win by two goals or better to go top – quite frankly, it did not look like we were anywhere near being capable of doing it for the entire first half. I watched in disbelief as Bolton looked like a decent football team and wondered how on earth has Coyle managed to set them up to play like that within such a short period of time. Really, when Alan Wiley blown the final whistle and ‘We are top of the league’ roar sounded around Emirates, one could be excused for breathing a sigh of relief.

We started looking slow and sloppy, making plenty of misplaced passes and allowing them into game. Someone said in the aftermath that it is quite a common occurence this season that we don’t really look up for it in the early minutes and brought up a statistic that we have managed to score just one goal during the first 15 minutes in the whole season so far – I really don’t know how accurate that is, but if this is the case then it must be addressed, as quality teams may not let us back into games that easily. With the ‘do-or-die’ string of fixtures on the horizon, this must be kept in mind, as Villa, United, Chelsea and Pool are a different proposition.

It took them just 6 minutes to score the first goal. It has to be said, our defending was comical and they took full advantage of their height to win a couple of aerial battles to set up Cahill for a volley to put it past Almunia. I thought it was not that bad, as it should give us a required kick in the arse to wake us up. Since then, we dominated possession for the long passages, but nothing was really coming out of it and I started thinking that it could be ‘one of those days’. Conceding second goal after referee pointed to the spot as a result of Denilson’s completely mistimed challenge in the box did not help either. 28 minutes, 2 goals down and no luck in front of Jaaskelainen’s goal – it has to be said, things were looking bleak. Don’t know about you, but I was fuming – we needed a goal before the break, we needed it badly and boy we got it! Denilson passed the ball forward to Cesc, who managed to chip the ball cleverly to Rosicky who blasted in an excellent goal, leaving poor ol’ Jussi rooted to the spot. Conceding a goal that reduced their advantage to just one in the dying minutes must have been a bit of a blow for them and one must pause and think about how much we missed Little Mozart in the last season.

If it wasn’t for our no.7’s cracker, Arsene would probably need to get into Le Hairdryer mode once again, but since we started looking a bit better and got within touching distance, the half time talk must have been a bit more balanced. Whatever AW said, it worked – we came out flying and finally looked like the team we all love to watch. The way things looked, there could be only one winner, the only question was if we would be able to score three to go top, since we made it difficult for ourselves in the first half an hour. The equaliser came on the 55th minute, courtesy of Cesc Fabregas – yes, Jaaskelainen should have done much better and much will be made of Billy’s tackle in the build up that left Mark Davies needing to be stretchered off, but guess what? I don’t care – creating space to shoot in such a crowded box is nothing short of brilliant, and we have been kicked by them many times with referees not doing zilch about it. Coyle went on about bad sportsmanship on our part, but hey, this is Bolton we are talking about, remember? Like I said in one of the earlier posts, karma is a bitch…

55th minute, we are level and the general feeling is that we should go for the throat – 35 minutes is more than enough to score two and go top, since the balance swung in our favour and we smelt blood. Ten minutes later, we got a third goal after they failed to clear it following our corner and the ball landed at Verminator’s feet for him to whack it home and end his mini goal drought. Now we needed just one more to raise The Home of Football’s roof. It took us exactly 20 minutes to get it – a brilliant move on the edge of the box resulted in Arshavin getting just enough space to fire this cracker into Trotters’ net. While the job was not done yet, it was pretty much all Arsenal and you just couldn’t see where the opposition goal would come from. Sure, they had their moments, but we looked much more composed and if anything, should have added to our tally, but our little Russian chose to be greedy instead of setting up Walcott to score with his first touch after being introduced in the place of Eduardo in 90th minute.

‘scuse me:

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! 😆

Not bad, eh? Of course, there are a few things to worry about, like Diaby’s injury, which couldn’t have happened at worse moment, but hey, let us enjoy it while it lasts, and may it last as long as 9th of May 😉

Thank you for reading, I will be back tomorrow with some transfer window analysis…

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Everton preview.

January 9, 2010

Schools and shops closed, cars abandoned, football games postponed. In a few words, the country has ground to a halt. One can only hope that today’s game goes ahead, looking at the fixture list – given that we progress in all competitions, I just can’t see where we could squeeze this one in, as we may need to reschedule Burnley and Spuds, should we do well in the FA Cup.

Everton come with an enormous point to prove after the opening day result that surprised everyone, myself included – I have to admit, I expected a good result, but a much closer one, however, everything seemed to go just right on that day. Useless at set pieces? Not anymore. Panic defending? Who, Arsenal? Obviously, not one of the ‘experts’ gave us any credit for that and they just went ahead to point out how bad Toffees were on that day. Sure, they did not impress so far this season like I expected them to, currently in the 12th with a game in hand, but they seem to have turned things around and even managed to nick a point at Stamford Bridge after a rollercoaster-like game, which ended with 3:3 on the scoreboard. I have nothing but respect for David Moyes, who is a no-nonsense kind of manager, doing a great job on quite modest budget with a knack for finding good players. I would expect them to be up there fighting for Europa League places, come the business end of the season.

Looking at the squads, it is surprising to see that there is another club with so many players out. If I was to single out a few of their players who could give us problems, but luckily for us are out, I’d say Arteta, Jagielka & Yakubu, however, they still have Cahill, Pienaar and Fellaini as well as their new boy, Beckham’s LA Galaxy teammate, Landon Donovan who arrived on loan and will definitely be eager to impress ahead of the World Cup. They are certainly capable of giving us a headache and we have to approach this game fully focused in order to maintain momentum.

Having looked at their team, let’s look at ours – again, not a lot to shuffle around, is there? Thankfully, we will see Traore returning to play left back, giving us much needed pace in that position, the rest of the defensive block will contain the all the well-known faces. Moving on to the midfield, we will finally get to know the answer to the question if Denilson is the right player to replace our ACN absentee – whilst I would rather like him to get up to speed against Bolton, he will just have to get on with it and prove a few doubters wrong. He will face considerably tougher task of containing the aforementioned midfield trio and others. It will be quite interesting to see how he copes with the Belgian giant’s physical presence – the focal point of discussions regarding our backup DM was his perceived lack of strength to cope with bigger and stronger opposition players. He is likely to be partnered by Diaby who should help him to deal with it and perhaps in form Ramsey, who may get a nod ahead of fit again Rosicky, who will probably come on for him a bit later in the game. Upfront, I would personally go for Arshavin, Eduardo and Nasri with possible introduction of Vela to tear Tony Hibbert a new one in the last 20-30 minutes.

Nothing but 3 points will do – we need to maintain ‘visual contact’ with the top spot ahead of the do-or-die February. Frankly, I will take any result where our goals > their goals without any new casualties 😉

Come on you red & white beauties! Give us something to smile about in these cold, cold days 😀

P.S. Allow me to express my disgust with the ACN organisers unable to ensure safety of the players in Angola – apparently, the bus carrying the Togo team was attacked by a local militia and shot at for 15 minutes, resulting in the driver getting killed and a few players injured. Togo players are contemplating returning home and no one can blame them. I reckon we should pull our two players out of the competition, pay the fines and let them serve the inevitable ban imposed by the authorities – we wouldn’t have them available anyway and they would be fresh, rested and injury free. If all the big clubs did that, it would certainly give them fat, useless idiots at FIFA food for thought…

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Bolton preview. No more what ifs.

January 6, 2010

Big chill allowing, we will take on Owen Coyle’s Trotters tonight. They used to cause us a problem or two under Fat Sam by successfully employing in-your-face bully boy tactics, hence the cliche about Arsenal being a bunch of softies who don’t like a cold wintery night up north often uttered by TV pundits and tabloid hacks. Since Megson tried to get his team to play a bit more football than his inglorious predecessor (if you don’t count the short episode involving Little Sammy Lee who tried to continue with his mentor’s approach, that is), it transcribed into much better results from our point of view.

Coyle got Burnley to play some nice football, which brought us quite a few famous cup upsets, including our 2:0 loss on their turf last season, as well as quite a home record in this season’s Premier League campaign. Whether he will have enough time to transform Bolton thugs into a footballing side in the space of a few days since taking over is another matter – I wouldn’t have too many complaints if that happened, given that we normally murder ‘lesser’ sides who come to Emirates to play rather than park the bus and frustrate. Whichever of the two materialises, we need to be on our toes not to fall victims to the side keen to impress new manager in the stern test of playing a top side. This is the often mentioned game in hand, our chance to go second with Chelsea only two points clear at the top and short of options with a good few vital cogs away for the ACN and Anelka sidelined with an injury. This is it. No more ‘if we win our game in hand’ speculations. Time to stand up and be counted, show what we are made of. As I said before, we need to gather maximum points in January before we enter the do-or-die period starting with the Aston Villa away game on 27th. Whisper it, but if we survive these tough two weeks afterwards and come out within reasonable distance off the top spot or ideally being there, the title will be ours to lose with relatively easy run-in.

As far as our squad options are concerned, not a lot changed bar Arshavin and Denilson returning from injuries. I will be watching the latter to see how he will cope in position made his own by Alex Song. I reckon this should be telling for Arsene, as far as the decision on whether to strengthen in this particular area or not is concerned. To be honest with you, I have my doubts, as I see him as more of an attack-minded player who is told to do things not particularly being his forte, however, nothing would please me more than him making me help myself to a huge slice of humble pie.

With Cesc still out, I think gaffer will throw Diaby and Ramsey or Nasri to partner No.15 in the midfield.  Upfront, we should see Andrey with Eduardo and perhaps Vela if Nasri starts in the middle. Not a lot to speculate, is there? AW has very little room for manoeuvre and him sitting on his hands during the games must have the purpose of covering the crossed fingers – back four also picks itself, so possible fatigue must be quite a worry, given the merciless fixture list. Here’s to hoping that our ‘new signing’ will shake off the most recent niggle and report fit for the Saturday’s clash with Everton to give one of players a well deserved breather.

Speaking of signings, again, there is hardly anything to report apart from us reportedly being after another Cardiff City player, 17 year old right fullback Andrew Matthews. Whilst cherry-picking the most talented youngsters to teach them to play the Arsenal way is commendable (unless they decide to join another club after getting fed up with lack of playing time caused by embarrassment of riches, just like Merida), our senior squad is threadbare and it needs urgent attention. During his press conference yesterday, Arsene confirmed that he would like to do his business early in this window, but wouldn’t give us anything else, just said there was more press talk than actual movement. He also said something about players returning from long term injuries, let’s hope he is not in the gambling mood and will bring in at least two players to boost our options to make the assault on all three fronts.

Once again, Come You Rip Roaring Gunners! Thanks for reading, enjoy the game 😉