Posts Tagged ‘Eduardo’

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Two is the magic number.

January 28, 2010

Two zeros on the scoresheet. Two points dropped. Two players injured. Hit woodwork twice. Result: two points off the top, although the leaders have a game in hand. The next two games are absolutely crucial as far as our title chances are concerned. Hell, getting results there is vitally important in order to finish no lower than third spot, looking at the Premier League table – 6th placed City, having only played 21 games to our 23 would be far too close for comfort, should the worst case scenario unfold. Why is finishing in the top three so important, you will ask: take into the consideration that it is the World Cup year and I would rather not have to go into the early Champions League qualifiers, as it would deprive our players of much needed rest – our team is packed with internationals and I would prefer to start the next season proper as late as possible.

Don’t get me wrong, but I go into every game expecting that we will get all the points, as it is really no fun otherwise – this is what being a fan is all about, right? I wrote yesterday that nothing less than 3 points will do for me and I was genuinely convinced that despite the fact of trip to Villa Park being a notoriously tough fixture (just ask Chavs), we would come up trumps. Members of ‘glass half full’ brigade will say that it’s not too bad a result and I would be inclined to agree, given our lineup. When I first saw the team assembled to face Villans, I really felt for Cesc who was asked to orchestrate our midfield play partnered by two lightweights in the shape of Ramsey and Denilson. Again, let me explain: that’s some grossly unbalanced midfield, if I ever saw one – three players of the same kind, with the only classy one being Captain Fantastic and the other two just making up the numbers. Unsurprisingly, Denilson was his normal useless passenger self, bar one good scoring attempt and our young Welshman was again guilty of not keeping things simple and doing the best piece of defending for Villa by getting in Rosicky’s way when the latter wanted to smash in the rebound after Fabregas’ shot cannoned off the post with the keeper beaten. The goal was gaping with Friedel being nowhere and only shit luck or Ramsey could have prevented us from going one up right before the break. Sadly, it was the latter.

We have got equally unlucky in the second half when Rosicky received a clever pass from Cesc, following a nice break by Arshavin, which ended up with their goalie thwarting his shot. The ball went skywards, the brilliant Spaniard cushioned it towards TR, who frustratingly blasted it against the crossbar. If that didn’t tell you that it wasn’t our day, then maybe injuries sustained by Verminator and Dudu will leave you convinced. While we know that our Crozilian has just pulled a hamstring, which apparently is just a minor niggle, there is no solid confirmation if we should or should not worry about whether we will see TV anytime soon. Now let me put it this way:  I love Eduardo, but his temporary absence from the squad will not have as much of an impact as having half of our best CB pairing for years out of the contention for God knows how long. Hopefully, we will know a bit more today.

Our Belgian was replaced by Sol Campbell who once again was very impressive – I had my doubts whether he could handle playing multiple games in the short period of time, yet he proved that he was much fitter than anyone would care to give him credit for. Yes, he has lost a few yards of pace, but he should be able to make up for it using bags of experience he has. The way he pulled down Dunne and pleaded innocence immediately to get away with it was absolutely priceless. If he manages to pull us through the next few games in the same fashion, then I will be getting his name printed on my new home shirt, due to be announced anytime soon. Rumour has it that we will finally get to look like Arsenal again with all white sleeves – I deliberately bought only the away kits this season and the last, as our current home outfit makes us look like Charlton.

Before this ‘make or break’ period started, I said that I will be happy with seven points from four – this is not how I planned it, but we can still equal or better my estimate. The next home game against the fired up ManYoo, who have just beaten their nearest rivals to the Carling Cup Final will show what we are really made of – we should have Song back and Bendtner will have a few more training sessions under his belt to shake off the rust. He looked reasonably well yesterday and we might have fared a bit better, had he started in place of our No.9 who looks worryingly off pace.

I will not tear into below par performances of a certain few, it should be enough to say that one can only hope that we will not see too much of them in the upcoming matches – please Arsene, see the light: they are not good enough, they don’t have the ‘qualitee’, and should not be anywhere near the first team. With just the mere few days of transfer window left, something must be done. We have the best chance for years and not addressing all-too-obvious shortcomings would be bordering on professional negligence. Please, please, please…

I will be back tomorrow, hopefully with good news on Vermaelen as well as with my thoughts on the last three days of the transfer window. As Wrighty7 likes to say: keep it Goonerish 😉

P.S. Since we didn’t score any goals (luckily, neither did they)  and the highlights of single non-scoring chances are quite hard to come by, these who didn’t watch the game or simply want to relive it are welcome to check out the highlights here.

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I’m back ;)

January 19, 2010

Apologies for not writing for the last few days, but I went away for a short break to Poland and I could not get anywhere near a computer – too busy meeting people I deeply care about and like to spend time and have a drink with. Four days is barely enough to see them all!

I didn’t get to watch the first game of  Bolton Shitkickers double header, as I was on the way to the airport when it was on – looking forward to someone introducing some popular in-car broadband capable of handling a stream or at least BBC Radio – arrived at the airport in time to check the livescore.com website to see that we were a comfortable 2 goals to the good.  The score didn’t tell the whole story, which I only got to find out later that night when I tuned in to watch the game on ATVO.  It has to be said that Coyle did quite well to get them to play some football, but did not eradicate the dirty approach we have seen over all these years – Cesc is being referred to by some as ‘having Barcelona DNA’, this lot must have something one would call ‘Bolton DNA’, which makes them resort to their usual kicking the lumps out of our players. Questions must be asked about the referee’s approach – two penalties waved away and no reaction to the case of violent conduct, which was as clear as it gets: how do you get away with trying to get someone on his feet by pulling his hair? I mean, come on ref…

We had a few scares, like Klasnic putting the ball in the net in the first few minutes – luckily, he was just offside and the score stayed level until the 28th minute, when Eduardo managed to set up Captain Fantastic with a clever backheel for his well taken goal. All about placement, just enough power to put it past Jaaskelainen.  The remaining first half minutes produced a few shots on both goals and a couple of bookings, one for each team.

In the second half, Bolton were really up for it right from the off – quite frankly, if I didn’t knew the final score, I’d say we would be lucky to get away with all three points back then. However, we managed to score the crucial second goal in the 78th minute, courtesy of the 63rd minute sub Fran Merida who controlled Eduardo’s cross and lashed it into the far bottom corner. I have to say, the scoreline flattered us a little bit and if they had more clinical strikers, things could have been different, but a result and three points gained away from home are not to be sniffed at. Here’s to hoping that we will do better in th ‘second leg’. More on that tomorrow.

I have to say, I was quite impressed with our young defensive midfielder, Craig Eastmond: no-nonsense play, a bit rough on the edges, but I reckon he may be a better option against teams like Bolton than Denilson who failed to impress in his last outing despite scoring a goal. AW said he was not yet ready, but I think it was more about Denilson returning to fitness than anything else. On the subject of our injured players returning, one has to smile about the return of Clichy – Traore looked shaky and was clearly targeted by their players, being identified as a weak link. It is really strange, given the decent run of games he had – may have something to do with our first choice left back returning to fitness and inevitable return to the subs’ bench, bar occasional cup game.

Thank you for reading, I will be back tomorrow with my thoughts on the sequel 😉

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Victory over The Hammers lines us up against The Potters

January 4, 2010

Phew, that was a bit of a nervy affair wasn’t it? For over 60 minutes until the double substitution we huffed and puffed but could not break down well organised, hard working Hammers and if that wasn’t for introduction of impressive Diaby and Nasri, we would probably find it very hard to get anything out of this game after they managed to beat our one man offside trap and put one past exposed Fabianski. Something tells me our Polish goalie will not have Sly on his Christmas card list after getting exposed again in a FA Cup tie!

Yesterday I said it would be curious to see what sort of team will be selected to take on West Ham in the FA Cup 3rd round game. There was quite lot of heated discussions on whether we do or we don’t care enough about this particular competition, which might have lost a bit of its old glamour, but still brings plenty of joy to football fans and is capable of giving us one or two romantic moments. Yesterday certainly brought one of these in the shape of once mighty Leeds United currently languishing in League One giving the Ol’ Red Nose’s team a bloody nose: SAF complaining about not enough injury time added on – priceless. What goes around comes around, Sir. It’s called karma and she’s a bitch 😆

The lineup suggested we were dead serious about progressing to the next round – the only ‘irregularity’ in the back four was Silvestre who surprisingly captained the mostly senior side and played in the left back position. The fact of players like Gallas not getting rest was quite unexpected, all things considered: we play Bolton on Wednesday, I guess AW must think out defence will not have their work cut out against them, since they are normally the ones who come to Emirates to frustrate us by keeping 10 men behind the ball and counting on occasional break.

In the midfield we saw Merida given a rare start beside Song and Ramsey. As much as I like the fella, this must have been one of his worst games for Arsenal – he had a real mare with plenty of misplaced passes and  poor set pieces, which resulted in AW putting him out of his misery to replace him with in-form Diaby. I have guessed our front three right, but for some reason Eduardo started on the left with Vela in the middle and Jackie Boy taking the spot on the right. A word on our little prodigy – I seriously hope he will get a loan move soon, as he has gone off the boil a little due to lack of playing time against the real opposition. Yesterday he looked like he needs it badly after being promoted to the senior squad where he is not getting anywhere near the amount of minutes he played last season while he was very much a part of our successful youth setup. Like Merida, he was substituted in the 65th minute and this is when we started fighting back with some real bite.

Until then, we did not do a lot, did we? Yes, we dominated the proceedings in the first half, but did not offer any serious threat to Green’s goal – a few tame shots, most of them straight at their keeper, a string of very ineffective corners and in the dying minutes, just as the commentary said something regarding WHU being ‘reasonably happy’ about being level at the break, it turned out that they had other ideas. Conceding a goal right before the whistle is always a blow and this one was no different – they seemed to have come out flying in the second half and seemed hell-bent on killing the game off. For the best part of first 20 minutes in the second half they looked the better team and it did not look like we had the answers. This piece from club website says it all:

Nasri and Diaby are both warming up, do Arsenal need to change things here? If I’m honest West Ham look more likely to score the next goal in this game.

Cue the aforementioned double substitution and inspired comeback – all of the sudden things started clicking and we finally looked like we were right in it: our movement and passing began to be more accurate and purposeful and their players started resorting to some ol’ time wasting antics, which left our travelling fans and AW unimpressed. One of these was Green after being forced to make a double save from Diaby and Song who was impressive again and will be sorely missed during the ACN.

Whilst their idea in doing this was to try and  break our stride, it was only enough to delay the inevitable. They say the cream always rises to the top, and this time was no different – just six minutes later we finally managed to break them down. Vela received Song’s pass on the edge of the WHU box and fed Ramsey who hit it with power and venom past hapless Green. Second sweet strike in as many games with his ‘weaker’ foot and another MOTM award – this guy will be something else. We got the winning goal just five minutes later when Vela crossed into the box for Eduardo to somehow outjump nearly three inches taller Upson and head the ball into the top corner. Green might have just got his fingertips to it, but it wasn’t enough and sparked ‘England’s,  England’s number six’  chants from jubilant Gooners seated behind his goal. He got beaten by Vela one more time, only for Daprela to clear it off the line. There were a few more good efforts by Dudu and Ramsey with the former putting the smart header over the bar and the latter seeing his late blast saved by the Englishman.

Subsequent 4th Round draw paired us with Stoke City at Britannia Stadium. This may be an interesting one, with vital fixtures coming thick and fast right afterwards. A lot will depend on our injury situation as well as on what kind of new signings we will or will not get before then. More on the latter tomorrow. Thank you for reading 😉

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Champagne football & fireworks on the NYE Eve

December 31, 2009

As I wrote yesterday, we needed to repeat what we did to them at home earlier in the season when they were doing everything possible to emulate Spuds early record from a year ago, bar conceding a goal. It seems like Arsene had pretty much the same plan in mind and was visibly not the best pleased with the fact that our players did not comply with the last bit and conceded a perfectly avoidable goal shortly after Ramsey rifled an absolute cracker to make it 3:0. It ended with the exactly the same scoreline as in the reverse fixture and I don’t think anybody can have any complaints as far as the game as a whole is concerned.

There were some voices in the blogosphere saying that Pompey will try to park the bus and frustrate us, which proved to be quite successful tactic employed by ‘lesser’ sides, but they were quite positive and tried to take the game to us, which was quite convenient, given our usual struggle to break down the innovative 10-0-0 formation. Credit to Avram Grant for not falling for this temptation, as they had their moments and managed 6 shots on target – this made the game quite interesting and provided great antidote for the trauma caused by watching Tuesday’s paint drying contest between Pool and Villa. Pompey managed a good win against the former thanks to being positive, but what worked against negative result-at-all-cost approach typical for Fat Spanish Waiter simply could not work against arguably the best footballing side in the country.

There were so many great performances, I just don’t know where to start – Eduardo looked really up for it in the early stages, chasing the balls, getting into good positions but to little effect. Cometh 27th minute and he got his reward from a freekick. Yes, it took a wicked deflection and Hreidarsson should have stayed closer to the post, but I don’t think anyone in red & white had many complaints – I thought initially it went wide as the net hardly bulged, but there it was, ‘1:0 to the Arsenal’ and we were on our way. He also played a part in our second goal when he kept his cool to pass it sideways in the box to Rambo for him to clock up an assist for the Nasri’s goal when I thought he will be dispossessed by Finnan. He seems to be getting back to form and should get better with a run of games.

Another one who starts showing his value to the team is Diaby. Yes, I admit, I was his harsh critic in the past, but he seems to have taken criticism well and now he looks as if he eradicated his weaknesses and if he is consistent, he may play important part in our season. I hope there is more to it than just desire to go to the upcoming World Cup, but I am happy for him to contribute like he did in the last few games, no matter what the cause is. He started using his height and posture well, and when he is applying himself, he is simply unplayable. Here’s to hoping that he will maintain this form.

Now let us all pause and hail King Song – what a monster he is…

I saw glimpses of his quality during the ACN 2 years ago, where he dominated opposition and I hoped that he can emulate that for the club – last night he was everywhere, breaking up their play, doing the dirty work as well as looking the business going forward. His fine headed goal was just the icing on the cake – as far as I am concerned, he made this goal by thrusting into the box and causing their defence enough problems for them to make a hash of a clearance which landed at Nasri’s feet. The latter provided a well measured cross, which was cleverly steered into the Pompey’s net to make it 1:4. His heart-shaped gesture made to the camera after the game was a lovely touch too! We will surely have a bit of a worry in the coming month with him gone to the ACN.

Obviously, there were more bright points to our display, like the aforementioned Ramsey, for whom I see great future at Arsenal  – chew on that, SAF! Premature publishing of information on young Aaron’s ‘signing’  on their website was almost as funny as Petit borrowing money for the Highbury-bound taxi from Alan Sugar. Another one who deserves praise is our ‘3rd choice’ left back – I would be seriously concerned about my place in the starting XI if I was Clichy…

Sure, there were a few things to moan about, like the goal conceded (judging by AW’s reaction, he will have a little video analysis session with the culprits) or AA having a little bit of an off day, but hey, let’s save it for a rainy day, eh?

Finally, I would like to you all the best in the coming 2010. May all your Arsenal and non-Arsenal wishes come true and more!

I will try to post on the New Year’s Day as long as I get my hungover self near a computer 😉 It’s the start of the silly season afterall…