Archive for August 28th, 2008


Arsenal 4-0 FC Twente; the good, bad, and ugly

Before we get started with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly I just want to briefly say that there may have been some misunderstanding on the part of my new readers and I want to clear that misunderstanding up.  This overall negative theme that crept into the blog this week is an aberration.  Generally speaking I am a solid supporter of the team and the boss and generally speaking I back them both 98% of the time.  Of course, I call a spade a spade, as we say here in the USA, an I will call a player or even the manager to task if needed but generally speaking I try to remain positive.

I think that what happened last week was that Arsenal suffered such an ugly loss that I just got a little, well, Emo.  A lot of Arsenal blogs did!

The point is that whenever you read me criticizing the team I want you to take it with the understanding that I genuinely mean well, I fully support the team, and if I offer criticism it should be taken as constructive criticism.  As in, “I’m tired of Gallas” translates to “I wish I could walk a mile in William Gallas’ shoes and then I could understand him better but then I would be tired from walking a mile.”

Ok, no it doesn’t.  I have an ongoing dislike of both Gallas and Eboue, what can I say, they give me the Willies.  But other than those two?  I LOVE ARSENAL!  Never forget it.

Secondly, I want to give a shout out to The Arsenalist, he always has the highlights from the matches: go there, click some sponsors, and watch the highlights if you missed them.

Thirdly, I want to briefly touch on transfer news as it seems that The World’s Least Reliable News Source is linking Arsenal to some dude.  I don’t know who this dude is except that he’s the next Owen Hargreaves by way of Holland cum Canadia or something.  I kind of rather doubt this story because A) it’s The Sun and B) Arsene Wenger said this about the midfield situation after the match

I think Denilson had a good game tonight. We have as well Aaron Ramsey – for me he will be a very good player – and we have Alex Song and we have Abou Diaby. Even Nasri can play central but we have to see.

Sounds like a manager who feels like he’s stacked with players, not like someone who is looking to buy.  But if it happens then, huzzah, everyone will be happy until Arsenal lose again.

And finally, Senderos has stated that the loan to Milan is a “dream come true.”  These are not the words of someone who is coming home at the end of the loan period.  Nope.  I fear that the only way he’ll come back to Arsenal is if he’s a flop of Baptista proportions.  In which case we won’t want him, still.  Good luck big Phil, you were a loyal servant and you deserve a chance to shine.

Enough of that stuff… on with the show.

The Good

Any time a team wins 4-0 the whole damn game can be called good.  And Arsenal really, really were good yesterday.  Whether it was the clarion call of Cesc Fabregas making a reappearance in the middle of the park, or the team just wanting to make up for Saturday’s debacle, or a combination of both, whatever it was, Arsenal shimmered last night.

Top of the list, though, has to be Theo Walcott.  He just looked like he was in another gear out there.  Running past, over, under, and around the Twente back four and midfield he was quite literally unstoppable.  I think though, as nice as the goal was my favorite part about Theo’s performance last night was that Twente would try to put in a crunching tackle on him and more than once he was knocked completely to the ground, only to get up, pick up the ball and continue his run.  That’s a footballer.  Every player in every league should play like that.  No more of this “I feel contact, I go down” crap.

A great goal, great dribbles on the defense, great passes, and perseverance in the face of the enemy earns Theo Walcott Man of the Match.

Nasri also could have earned himself Man of the Match yesterday had he not needed to be substituted at half time with some kind of stomach bug.  He scored the first goal and, even more importantly, had put in a great effort in the first half.   Already Nasri has more goals in two games than Hleb had in three years at Arsenal.  I kid, a little.  Nasri already has half as many goals (2) as Hleb did in all of last year (4) and I swear half as many shots as well (not really, but Hleb only shot 25 times in all competitions last year).

The only thing I would say?  He needs to shoot a little earlier!  On the goal he scored there was a moment where he was wide open, in control of the ball it was on his left foot and the whole net was in front of him.  Incredibly, he dribbled in to the defender before he shot and the ball went in despite the deflection.  I’m not faulting him on the goal.  Just encouraging him to shoot earlier and more often!

It was good to see Cesc back even if he did look rusty.  I’m sure he’ll be fitter for this weekend’s clash against The Keegans having gotten 66 minutes under his belt.

And finally, honorable mention goes to William Gallas.  Sigh.  He worked hard the whole match, didn’t throw a single tantrum, scored a goal and after a week of criticism he was swamped by his teammates during the goal celebration.  That was a great show of unity by the team.  Maybe Wenger has got it right that this team has great spirit and that they were just tired last week?  I see a ray of hope here and am standing by ready to eat my Cuffley Cap if Gallas turns in a great season as Arsenal captain.

The Bad

Obviously, van Persie’s howler was the low light of the match. I was watching it on ESPN Deportes and since it was in Spanish the bar decided to play oldies music over the top of the match instead of match commentary.  So, what I saw looked like stoppage of play and van Persie missing a petulant kick.  But no, that was an actual attempt at goal.  Owch.  I think Robin is suffering from “too cute-ism” right now.  He missed several chances yesterday all of which should have been on goal and yet were wide of the mark.  Don’t try to be too cute, just put the ball in the net.  It’s simple really.

Also, not to get overly negative but, the midfield struggled a bit when Eboue came on for Nasri and Theo moved to the left.  I know that they scored three goals after that happened  but I thought they immediately got less creative and Theo had to work harder to get the ball to the strikers.

Finally, Song in midfield was pretty much a wash.  He didn’t do anything good and didn’t do anything bad: unless you count his giant mane of hair which was a crime against humanity.

The Ugly

FC Twente: they tried to ugly up the game and I swore that someone was going to get hurt because of their hamfisted tactics.  I know it is all they could do but I’m still going to call them out for it.

Also, the referee could have called the game tighter and he was lucky that Twente didn’t hurt anyone.  It’s not that they were dirty, just desperate and bad tackles are born of desperation.  The ref should have put an end to it early on when Tiote tackled someone from behind.  Sure he awarded the free kick but the player got away with just a warning when a yellow was clearly merited.  Tiote then went on to commit like eleventy billion fouls before getting a yellow and could have hurt several Arsenal players along the way.

The ref should have done better.

And that’s that for today.  I’ll be back tomorrow.  Let me just leave you with this remark by Arsene Wenger about Theo Walcott

I feel you have to be patient with Theo, I always say that. He can be decisive in any game against anybody if the team has a good collective display and if you can get him involved. He has improved his first touch, his link play, and that was a vital stage for him. Then without losing his one against one ability, he has worked on his control on the move and looks now to have found the balance between individual play and team play. He is a good finisher. What he did today is really the brand of a good finisher and you cannot teach that. He has that naturally.

Heady praise there — and well earned.

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