Arsenal Lite 1-3 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Bendtner Bags Brace.

Telegraph.co.uk: Bendtner Ends Arsenal Drought

The Independent: Rampaging Bendtner Leaves Albion Reeling

Match Video

The Arsenalist didn’t put up any match videos today so I hope everything is ok with him. In his absence, you’ll have go to 101 Great Goals, which ought to be renamed 73 Crappy Javascripts 25 Goals and 3 Great Goals.

Man of the Match

I have to swallow my dislike of the player, and put aside my pride, and give MotM to Bendtner. That first trickly, slow-mo, bullshit, lucky-ass goal gifted by Albion’s nightmare defending was so utterly surprising that I sat there with beer in hand, jaw open, and waited for the goal to be called off. There’s no way that the defender could be that poor, the keeper be so out of position, and the ball trickle so slowly across the face of goal and have no one get in front of it. It was simply incredible, a miracle, if you will.

But what sealed man of the match wasn’t the first miraculous goal, but the fact that for the first time in a dog’s year Bendtner received a long pass and struck a good goal on the volley. Normally that’s the kind of shot he’ll put into the upper deck. A second miracle and man of the match.

After the match, the boss released a joint statement with Bendtner and his Father/Agent which read “Nicklas is bigger than Thierry Henry, Jesus, and cigarettes all rolled into one. We expect sainthood following this match because both goals could be considered miracles.”

Seriously, the boss did praise the player after the match and Bendtner did have a good first half, but Wenger hailing him as “improved” is a bit of a stretch. Sure he can score against the Albion’s, Argyle’s, and United’s (Sheffield) of the world but let’s not get carried away; he’s man of the match, but his record this year proves that he’s still crap. In fact, he scored bigger, more important goals against stiffer competition last season, he’s got a long way to go before I’d label him “improved.”

Irregardless, congrats Nicklas, don’t spend all the good will in one place.

The Good

Depending how you look at it, Arsenal have been unbeaten in 16 matches in all competitions in a stretch that goes back to a 2-0 loss to Porto in December or, Arsenal have been unbeaten in 14 league matches in a stretch that goes back to a 3-0 loss to Man City in November. Either way, that streak was kept alive yesterday.

But better than just keeping the streak alive, Arsenal scored! I can’t tell you how stoked I am that Arsenal scored 3 goals.

10 matches left in the league and Arsenal have a really easy schedule coming up. If they continue playing like yesterday against these lower teams and are able to eek out draws (or better) against Liverpool, Chelsea and Man U in April and May we could see the unbeaten run extended to 24 league matches. If that happens, I’m sure we’ll secure 4th. 10 draws won’t do it, mind you, but a good mix of wins and draws will certainly do it.

As for the players, before picking up an undefined “calf” injury Toure had a great match; scoring one and putting in the long ball that Bendtner miracled into the net.

Arshavin was, well, pretty much (aside from Jesus Bendtner) the only player with any class in the Arsenal attack yesterday. His vision, footballing awareness, passing ability, and assuredness with the ball are exactly what this team needs. Further, that ball he put in to Toure from the set play was magnificent and another piece of the Arsenal puzzle that has been missing all season. At least, it feels that way since I haven’t seen a decent ball off a set play for Arsenal all season, much less a ball that was so perfect that even Toure couldn’t screw up the header.  I don’t care who’s on the pitch, Arshavin should be taking every set piece. I say that fully understanding that it’s damn early to be saying something like that and knowing I will incur the wrath of Cesc’s supporters. I don’t care, I’m that excited by the fact that Arsenal scored from a dead ball.

And though no one will agree with me, I have to give honorable mention to Denilson. Denilson had another great match bossing the midfield. He was especially effective after our 4th striker, Song, was moved from the attacking midfield position to cover for Toure. I know none of you like him but he did get an assist, had a 95% completion rate on an astonishing 65 passes, and won 6 challenges. He was Arsenal’s water carrier yesterday, the facts are irrefutable.

The Bad


Song would have been firmly in The Ugly except that when Toure went out, Song deputized well in defense.


This is a player who is completely incapable of making a forward pass, has no positional awareness, cannot make himself available to his teammates, has no touch, can’t dribble, and is the slowest player I’ve ever seen play the game. I bet I could beat him in a foot race and I’m short and fat.

And yet? There he was in the opposition box playing the attacking midfield role. Why in the fuck is that man on the pitch much less past the midfield line?

This player is a black hole on the pitch, sucking the talent off all the other players around him. I can’t wait for anyone else to get healthy and come on for him. Anyone but Song. Well, almost anyone…

The Ugly


This is a guy (pictured above) who is actually worse than Song — and I’m increasingly convinced that he might be actually mentally handicapped. How many times a year do we say “what the hell is he doing???” Fuck year, how many times a match are we saying that?

Yesterday, he was dancing around in the wall when the ref blew the whistle and Brunt saw an opening and put the ball in the back of the net. Does this guy not know how to form a wall? SERIOUSLY???

And if that’s not enough, I have to watch this absurd man, this joke of a player do some kind of choreographed celebration with his teammates after every goal.  Every goal. Just to what, remind us that he’s the clown on the team? Dude, your every touch of the ball is clown-ish I don’t need some “rock-a-bye-baby” celebration to remind me.


*Deep breath*

I apologize for the above rant and I realize I should be more positive; Arsenal won. It’s just that those two guys drove me insane yesterday and more than any other players will weigh heavy on Wenger’s neck if Arsenal are unable to secure 4th place at the end of the year.

That’s a big “if” though at this point: Arsenal have finally put a little pressure on 4th place rivals Villa and we’ll have to see how they respond today against a depleted Man City. A loss here, a bad loss, could be the kind of shock to the system that Arsenal need to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A good win, a commanding win, could have the opposite effect. So, it could be an important game and it’s live today on Fox Soccer Channel (in the U.S.) which means that I can watch it when I get home tonight. WHEEE!

The next Arsenal match is on Sunday at 6:30am (FA Cup match against Burnley) and that too is live on Fox Soccer Channel so I’ll be staying home and doing the liveblogging thing. Arsenal should have Walcott back healthy by then and he’s supposed to be the first shot over the Premier League bow of Arsenal players regaining fitness in the run up (followed by Eduardo and Adebayor and then Cesc). So, things are looking up, Kickers, a big win by Citeh today could put us on track to get our 4th place birthright back.



20 Responses to “Arsenal Lite 1-3 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly”

  1. 1 Alex
    March 4, 2009 at 8:13 am

    I do agree that the kids had a good half yesterday (the first one). The simple fact that they completely took their foot off the gas in the second half exemplifies the problems that they have been having all season. That should have been a 6-0 game. Instead, they got comfortable and slacked off as soon as they had it in the bag. This is the INFURIATING part of watching kids play. They are brilliant when they want to be but are all too complacent when it suits them. This is why we can’t hold a lead to some teams (those that don’t surrender when down by two goals) and why we can’t get into some other games. Hopefully the boss has pointed this out and will be dealing with it.

    Great post as usual. Have a good day.

  2. March 4, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Praising Bendtner still sticks in the craw doesn’t it :) Still, 11 goals this year is only one fewer than Adebayor, I believe. Watching the City match tonight with bated breath.

    Oh, and isn’t Arshavin the absolute BOMB.

  3. 3 matt
    March 4, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Funny, today is the 43rd anniversary of John Lennon’s famous “we’re more popular than Jesus” comment, FWIW.

  4. March 4, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Spot on, I cringe every time the TV box has eboue or song in its sights….
    I think this is the 3rd/4th match i’ve witnessed song just waltz past the middle of the field as if he is actually ronaldinho…. I thought he was meant to plug the hole infront of the defence…. not attempt to score by running into the oppositions box but it seems that Denilson has been given an even harder role to fill since the team is burdened with makeshift athletes… not footballers.

    Lets hope summer has 2 players coming in and better youngsters coming through……

  5. 5 Tim
    March 4, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Arshavin is pure class and looks to have the vision of Cesc, the foot of van Persie, and the speed of Walcott.

    I am happy to admit that I was totally wrong about him.

    My only concern is that his upper body is weak, he can’t play 90 minutes (told you all so) and at 27 may never be able to adapt to the rigors of EPL football. Which is pretty much what Wenger said this summer.

    Still, I’m rooting for him, the assist was brilliant and he WILL score soon.

    11 goals for Bendner, yeah yeah, they are like this:

    against Twente in a 4-0 blow out.
    against Bolton in a 3-1 win.
    against Sheffield United (twice) in a 6-0 blow out.
    against Kiev in a 1-0 win (YAY!)
    against Plymouth Argyle in a 3-1 win.
    against Bolton in a 1-0 win (YAY!)
    against Hull in a 3-1 win.
    against Cardiff in a 4-0 blow out.
    against West Brom in a 3-1 win.

    With 2 exceptions, he only scores goals against Championship quality teams, when Arsenal are destroying their competition.

    Look at the teams he beats… Anyone could do what Bendtner has done. Kenwyne Jones could do what Bendtner has done (look at their goal scoring records, they are remarkably similar — Hull, Bolton, a brace against West Brom, etc.).

    He’s crap.

    Kenwyne Jones would be better, I bet.

  6. March 4, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Maybe so, but we haven’t had any other options. Which is a different problem. Come on Eddy, get fit!

  7. 7 Eric
    March 4, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Am disapointed by the part of compairing Bendtner with Jesus.
    this is not funny it it may cost us dear, do you know that Jesus can make him have a life time injury or even Arsenal to loose all the remaining games.am very much disapointed may the almighty Jesus firgive you because you dont know what you have writen

  8. 8 Keith Barham
    March 4, 2009 at 9:14 am


  9. 9 Tim
    March 4, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Nicklas Christ Superstar

  10. 10 Hamza
    March 4, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I would agree completely with ur analysis of Song and Eboue, however, if you look closely in our next game which im certain denilson will start, and if you notice his game closely, he never Ever passes the ball forward. In my opinion He is the problem of Arsenal this season. and the pass completion rate you have mentioned and number of passes are only that high because he quite literally passes the ball half a yard to a free player to either side or back the defenders. And the saddest part is he even gets That wrong. without exageration in one of the games i went through the trouble of counting how many times he misplaced a pass and i came to realise there was only One player who misplaced the ball more than Denilson, yes thats right. it was that man, Eboue. So yes the stats can be wrong if you look deeper. I still believe he brings nothing to our game. he can never ever replace Flamini who we so badly miss this season, more so than Cesc.

  11. March 4, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Sorry Hamza but you don’t get a 95% completion rate and have a lot of passes go awry. In fact, yesterday he was 62 of 65 passes. That’s an incredible number. Denilson’s opposite managed just 54 of his 62 attempts.

    And I think the thing you’re missing about his position is that it’s his job to make the easy pass. That’s what the holding midfielder does, their job is two things:

    1) Harass the opponent and break up attacks
    2) Make the easy pass and get the attack started

    Denilson does have poor games, the one against Fulham where he was outplayed by Danny Murphy, springs instantly to mind but he also has incredible games, the one against Roma where he bossed the midfield and kept Totti quiet springs instantly to mind.

    He’s young, he’s got the lungs, and I think he has the footballing mind to play the position. The only thing I wish is that he was a bit taller. I think actually his stature is what will see him off or not used as much in the future.

    I’m sorry but Denilson is a quality player.

    Also, for a player who “never passes the ball forward” he certainly got one forward to Bendtner (an assist on the first goal) and he’s second on the team in assists with 6. And that number would be higher is players like Bendtner finished the ball for him once in a while.

    Hardly “never passing forward.”

  12. 12 NYGunner
    March 4, 2009 at 11:10 am

    denilson have been called into action a year or two early because of gilberto and flamini’s departure. clearly, he wasn’t ready for 1st team action at the beginning of the season. however, i have to say he has improved a lot since then. there are still many aspects of this game that needs improvement but his tackling is much better than six months before and he doesn’t give the ball away as much. many people complain about his short passes. it’s true he doesn’t have range and vision. only cesc has that but he’s a virtuoso. i think that once cesc returns, denilson will become an even better player. he’s not exactly a joy to watch at the moment but at least he’s keeping within his game by keeping the passing simple and not making too many mistakes. question is – how good of a ball winner can he become in the future? after the roma match, i’ve concluded he has far more potential than people give him credit for.

  13. 13 caribkid
    March 4, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Song moving into the attacking zone is directly based on Wenger’s concept. Any player will move into the attack if the flow of play dictates and that’s why we have Toure and Gallas making runs forward and bolstering the attack.

    Tim and I will forever disagree on Denilson versus Song in terms of the DM position because I truly believe Song provides more in that position. Denilson is slow and aerially inept and his passing is mainly lateral and therefore slows down the attack. Watch carefully how many times he finds himself chasing the opponent from the back because he is out of position and check how few times he defends in the box when compared to Fab, Flamini, Song, Eboue (yes, Eboue), Walcott, etc. Not saying that Song is the finished productor ever will be, just saying he brings more to the DM position.

    Eboue is not a RH and most likely never will be if at 24 he can’t pass and shoot, ergo no end product. However, he is still a good option as a backup to Sagna and the occasional appearance in the MF in a pinch.

  14. 14 caribkid
    March 4, 2009 at 12:00 pm


    Watch Senna, Viera, Petit, Diarra, Ya Ya, Mascherano, Alonso, Scholes, Anderson, Barry, Makelele, Essien, etc. when they play the DM role and this will dispel all notions about making the easy (lateral) pass. They start the attack by playing the ball into space forward and between opponents and having their players run onto it to create the threat of counters. They only make that easy, lateral pass if they are under pressure and need defensive relief.

  15. 15 caribkid
    March 4, 2009 at 12:45 pm


    Watch the Villa, City game and pay attention to how DM’s are supposed to play versus the 2 wannabees we have in our squad.

  16. March 4, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    caribkid, it’s funny how two people can watch the same game and come up with two different opinions!

    but seriously, Song is by far the worst culprit of the lateral pass, which you can see by Denilson v. Song’s assists and goals. At the very least you have to admit that Denilson has the far superior goal scoring record and of all the DM we have on the squad, is the most likely to play the ball forward and get the attack started.

    Also, all the things you said about Denilson have been true at various times. They are also true about Song, pretty much all the time.

    Also, yes, Denilson is poor in the air. That’s an open and shut case. But Denilson is a technically gifted player, as T-Town Alex put it, “the ball loves Denilson, after all he’s Brazilian and they are practically born with the ball on their feet. But watch when the ball comes to Song or Eb*ue, the ball hates them!”

    Also, yes, Arsene should have signed Felliani, he will be Everton’s Vieira in 2-3 years, which is a frightening prospect.

    So, I think, we actually agree on principle but just vary in degrees.

  17. 17 Keith Barham
    March 4, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Hooray Citeh! They gave our side a major break today and it is time to take advantage.

  18. 18 caribkid
    March 4, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I wanna kiss SWP

  19. 19 Hamza
    March 4, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks caribkid for the backing. Tim, see i dont disagree with you on the fact that he has potential. that is true, last season in the few cameo he made i was really impressed by him. but then again those werent as a defensive midfielder ’cause flamini had that spot in his pocket all thru the season. See why i think denilson has been Arsenal’s problem this season has two logical reasons. Our problem this season has been, like wenger so rightly has been whining about is, every team putting 10 men behind the ball. in that situation two of the only few ways we can score is, if our defensive midfielder wins the ball on their goal kick so that our forwards can quickly find a bit of space behind their defence line n their goal, which denilson can never do OR when we have the ball and the other team is pushed as back as their box, our defensive midfielder has that shooting ability to hit the target (essien, against us a couple of seasons ago when we were one up at stamford bridge till 90th min) flamini used to do that a bit at times. xabi alonso can do that. even if leave the air game out of the picture, if he was aggresive n quick enough like flamini was last season we would still have more time n space to run into. defensive midfielder in my opinion has to be like a ‘Rhino’ that other team players fear him that he will run into them. Sadly denilson only fears us. and at ” Denilson’s opposite managed just 54 of his 62 attempts.” dude his opposite was a ‘WEST BROM’ player. do we really want to be compared to them? they are rock bottom.
    if only flamini was still here we may not be So excited to see Man city score, We May have been happier to see Newcastle score last night, even though they lost in the end :P

  20. 20 connola agent
    March 4, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    It’s unfair to call Song ugly. He’s got great hair. Ugly people don’t have great hair.

    And we won. That’s all that matters. I refuse to talk it down, because winning’s the improtant thing. That and scoring, but I think the two are interrelated.

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