Archive for March, 2009



24
Mar
09

Is anyone on this team the new (fill in the blank)?

Prompted by Wenger’s statement prodding Abou Diaby to make himself in to the “New Vieira” I thought I might take a look at some of our current squad and see if any of them are the new anything. Hey, what else are we going to do during the international break? Sit around wondering if van Persie is leaving? I’d rather not.

The New Vieira

A couple of things here: first, we have to remember that Wenger’s system was different when Patrick Vieira terrorized opposition midfields. Vieira was paired with a more traditional defensive midfielder during his tenure at Arsenal (Petit, Gilberto, Edu, etc) which freed him to play the box-to-box role. If you look at how this season has gone so far, I think we’ve seen Arsene change his lineup to this more “traditional” Wenger lineup with Diaby in the box-to-box role and Song and Denilson in the defensive role.

Other than a sort of formational similarity, though, Diaby doesn’t really play like Vieira. Vieira was a hard tackling midfield tough guy. Yes, he distributed the ball well, but really, when it came down to it, Vieira was on the team to give lumps to shit kickers like Blackburn and Newcastle.  Diaby on the other hand has the dribbling ability of Alex Hleb and, unfortunately, Hleb’s tackling ability as well.

Wenger has encouraged the big fella to model his game after Vieira and for me that means getting stuck in a bit more. Hey, if I said Arsenal could have a player that dribbles like Hleb and tackles like Vieira would you turn that down?

So, maybe he’s not the New Vieira and is more like the new Vieirahleb. Once he learns how to tackle properly, that is.

The New Henry

There isn’t one and never will be.

Adebayor’s goal scoring record last year was impressive and threatened to reach the heights of Henry but this year has been a bit of a let off. Henry never had a let off (except his last season which doesn’t count!).

Not only did Henry score year in and year out but his numbers were eye popping. In 2005/06 Henry scored 33 goals in 45 games (including subs) on 172 shots, 87 of which were on goal. 51% of his shots were on goal, 38% of those shots resulted in goals, and he had a massive return of .73 goals per game.

In comparison, the return from our current three strikers is appallingly low: Robin van Persie is .46, Adebayor is .42, and Bendtner is .31.

But Thierry Henry was a once in a lifetime player, it’s not fair to put Bendtner in the same category when he so clearly is not a once in a lifetime player. He’s a fine lad with tons of confidence who scores good goals and works very hard and I like him, but he’s no Henry.

No one is.

The New Lehmann

Do we want a new Lehmann? I mean, there was a certain charm in his insanity but in the end I think he cost Arsenal a bit. Getting sent off in the opening minutes of the Champions League final will always go down as a black mark in my book and erased whatever good will his antics raised.

No, after Lehmann it feels good to have a steady hand at the till. If we could just get Almunia to be more, erm, assertive in his area then we’d really have something.

I do see a bit of The Madness of Jens in Fabianski but right now it just manifests itself as being very aggressive in the sweeper-keeper roll and not in the fally downy bizzaro antics that Jens perpetrated.

So, there isn’t a new Lehmann, thank the Gods!

The New Adams

Wenger simply does not create this type of player. He mints technically gifted midfielders faster than the US prints money but he’s never gotten his head around making a huge, hard as nails, defender who can not only withstand the pressure of playing in Arsenal’s back 4 but captain the team to boot.

Mind you he’s tried. Senderos was going to be the New Adams, before he had a mental breakdown and needed a vacation in Italy. Sol Campbell was going to be the New Adams until he had a mental breakdown and needed a vacation on the South Coast.

Djourou? No, he’s a good player and all but he’s already 22 years old, which by that time, Adams was Arsenal captain. Again, it’s a bit unfair, Adams was a once in a lifetime player and no matter how good Djourou is or turns out to be he can never fit in Tony Adams’ shoes.

Conclusion

I was looking at the team roster and I thought, well, maybe Diaby can be Vieira-esque but really what I’d rather have is Diaby be the New Diaby and Arshavin be the new Arshavin and Cesc the new Fabregas on down the line. I really do like a lot of the players on the team and I like them for who they are, not who they aren’t.

Sure, we’d all like to see Adebayor and Bendtner increase their conversion rates, or Djourou step up in a leadership role, or more hard tackling in the midfield but those are qualities that can be taught and with time I think all those players will gain some of those qualities.

But ultimately, that chapter of Arsenal’s history is written, those players are legends, and these are the players we have right here and now. These guys need to write their own legends. Imagine if this team wins the Champions League, every player on that Arsenal team will be remembered not as the new (fill in the blank) but as Diaby, Bendtner, Cesc, Almunia and Djourou: the guys who won Arsenal’s first Champions League trophy.

That’s what I’m hoping for.

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23
Mar
09

What’s happening?

This is what it’s going to be like for the next two weeks: interviews with Arsenal players from their hometown newspapers, retarded proclamations by Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, insane statements by Arsene Wenger, speculation about speculation that Cesc is leaving, and the whole of the Arsenal world praying that no Arsenal players pick up injuries playing in some pointless international friendly.

YAY

Back with more of this tomorrow.

22
Mar
09

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

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Michael Owen could not prevent Newcastle from slipping deep into relegation trouble as Arsenal closed the gap on the Barclays Premier League’s top three with a 3-1 victory.

Telegraph: Newcastle in grave danger of being relegated as Arsenal run riot.

Match Video

The Arsenalist always has the freshest match videos. They are piping hot today, try them with some butter.

Man of the Match

Bendtner played well and scored an excellent goal which led the Telegraph to name him MotM but I couldn’t quite rate him that high when I though van Persie played so damn well. If Steven Harper hadn’t made 1/2 dozen excellent saves on Robin, he would have been the consensus MotM but as it happened Robin only set up the two goals that blew the doors off the match.

So, for his part in swinging the game in our favor I’m giving Robin van Persie the award.

The Good

Bendtner had a very strong game and came within a whisker of getting his first Man of the Match award from me. I’m going to assume that his header was intentional despite the fact that he typically couldn’t score in a morgue. Since we’re assuming it was intentional then it has to go down as one of the best headers I’ve ever seen: falling backward, floating in the air, he nods the ball over his head and into the top corner — an unsavable header.

Arshavin had a strong game as well, introduced to English “football” by the likes of Steven Taylor, all he did was fight back shake Taylor off and damn near score an amazing long range shot. He did make the box score since he’s the player who put the ball on Bendtner’s head. He now has a goal or an assist in each of the last 5 games — games in which Arsenal have scored a total of 15 goals. To say that he’s crucial to our success over the last few weeks is pretty much the understatement of the year.

Finally, a shout out to Almunia who’s penalty save was critical in keeping some distance between Arsenal and Newcastle. Though he still refuses to command his box his reflexes are absolutely top notch and when he’s brimming with confidence, as he is right now, he’s one of the best keepers in the world.

The Bad

Mark Halsey had a nightmare as lead ref. How does he see Steven Taylor look up, see Arshavin bearing down on him, and intentionally elbow the Russian in the face and not even give a yellow? I’m also completely shocked by the penalty decision. I think he awarded the penalty because he felt like maybe he should have awarded one earlier for Damien Duff’s dive. That’s the only thing that makes any sense. Either way, the fact that the only player given a yellow card was William Gallas is an embarrassment and he should never be allowed to referee a match in the EPL again.

The Ugly

Steven Taylor is a cunt’s cunt and I hope he gets syphillis on his injury. End of.

Conclusion

Arsenal head into a two week international break 16 matches on the trot without a loss. In fact, Arsenal haven’t lost a match since Manchester City beat us 3-0, back in November. Amazing stuff.

And now we come full circle. Our next match (April 4th)  is that same team who last beat us. All signs point to a strong Arsenal team just getting stronger: Cesc and Adebayor are expected to be fit and even Theo Walcott might be fit for that match.

Damn it feels good to be a Goonah.

21
Mar
09

Newcastle v. Arsenal; liveblogging the best day ever?

Rooney! You're an *sshole.

Good morning and welcome to what could possibly be the best day ever. First, Chelsea are getting beaten 1-0 by Tottenham and second, and much more importantly, Man Unit had their asses handed to them 2-0 by Fulham. PLUS! Wayne Looney got sent off for something, which is a miracle, and I’m praying to the Gods that it’s for dissent.

I can’t wait to read the match report.

Lest you think that I’m purely negative, I’m also happy that Pompey got a win.

Now, if Arsenal gets a 6-0 win it will be a great day!  Back in a few minutes with the lineup.

Diaby and Denilson start in the middle and Arshavin and van Persie start up front. That means a 4-4-2 and Denilson/Diaby need a huge game: knock on wood!

Almunia

Sagna    Toure    Gallas    Clichy

Bendtner    Diaby    Denilson    Nasri

Arshavin

van Persie

Just a few seconds now ’till kickoff and news reports are indicating that Looney was sent off for dissent.

What’s Newcastle’s mascot? Is it supposed to be a magpie? Because it looks like a skunk. Oh, I bet I know what’s happening with Google Reader and my feed. It’s George W. Bush’s whacky time change! I just noticed that WordPress thinks it’s 9:33 am when here in America it’s 10:33 am, by King George’s decree! So, expect your feeds will be all f*cked up for the next few weeks, until time gets sorted.

Kickoff…

4′ — nothing happening, except Bendtner is doing his best Adebayor impersonation by getting caught offside a couple of times already.

6′ — Newcastle gets a corner when one of their players shoves Toure down from behind. Then Almunia does nothing in the box despite the ball coming in to the 6 yard box. Why have a keeper if he’s just going to stand there and watch?

9′ — Galas whiffs a wide open header. Damn.

13′ — Steven Taylor intentionally stands on Arshavin’s foot and kicks him in the back of the leg. No foul called. That’s the kind of cheap shiat that I hate, I hope Steven Taylor suffers a career ending injury at the hands of one of his teammates.

18′ — Duff with a terrible dive. Come on ref, get out the cards.

23′ FUCK YOU CUNTS

25′ — How the hell did the ref give Newcuntsle a penalty? Can someone please enlighten me as to how that was a foul much less a penalty? Arshavin with a great little move and shot, luckily saved by Steven Cunt.

30′ — Steven Cunt looks up sees Arshavin going for the ball and elbows him intentionally in the face. That should have been a straight red. At least the ref saw a foul this time.

35′ — Arshavin dribbles through a barrage of Steven Cunt “tackles” and shirt pulling to rifle in a tremendous shot. That’s one way to answer them, get a good goal. Damien Cunt with a foul on Sagna.

40′ — Arsenal need to tighten up in defense, Newcastle, a team that is a quivering wreck of a team, is picking out angles and passes and looking like they are going to score. I mean, we’re letting Damien Duff overrun us.

44′ — Lucky save by Harper van Persie with a great run and shot — and as I’m typing that he makes another HUGE save. Come on you REDS!

Damn. Tough first half. Arsenal look out of sorts, they look like they are passing to ghosts right now. Maybe Arsene will get out the half-time hair dryer?

WOW… I just saw why Looney got sent off. He threw the ball at the ref from like 50 yards away, then screamed and threw a tantrum as he walked to the shower. 10 match ban?

52′ — Sorry bout that, had to hold my daughter for a minute. Gallas earns the first yellow of the match. Well, in Cappy.

56′ — yes, Los, Diaby is having a poor game. The whole team’s having a poor game.

59′ — Oh for fuck’s sake… After Bendtner puts in a brilliant header, the defense falls asleep and Obafemi Cunt puts in an easy goal. 1-1 and I’m back to anger.

62′ — Steven Cunt is limping off! PLEASE IF THERE ARE GODS MAKE IT CAREER ENDING!

64′ — YYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Diaby follows Bendtner in the “just do one thing right” category and scores a superb goal through some good interplay between he and van Persie.

67′ — YEEEEESSSSSSSSS! van Persie plays another great ball in, this time to Nasri who gets his first goal since January.

69′ — Who wants to put money on Denilson getting a goal?

71′ — Harper has van Persie’s number as he makes another good save off the Arsenal forward.

75′ — Song comes on for Arshavin who’s now been properly introduced to English Football.

83′ — Arsenal have killed this game off and maybe even killed off Newcastle’s hopes of staying above the drop. I used to have respect for this team, that’s lost now that they’ve put out a team of straight thugs.

87′ — Two Goal Eboue is coming on, I wonder what dance he has in store for us today?

92′ — The Newcastle announcer has given man of the match to Steven Taylor. OK, I now officially am hoping this club gets relegated.

Whelp, the right team won and that’s all that matters. Thanks for tuning in today and come back tomorrow for The Good, Bad, and Ugly.

20
Mar
09

Arsenal face Villareal then Porto in Champions League

gerrard-the-philosopher

What got into you nut bars yesterday? The comments section was full of insanity. This is a sane, sober, and rational weblog and I expect you all will act accordingly. Now, stop stealing each others’ passwords and posting drivel.

Please use your real name to post drivel, like the jealous guy from that one blog.

Right, on to the news. Lesseee… uhh… did you guys hear about the Champions League draw yet? Some guy fondled a bowl full of balls and made a pretty awesome draw, I think.

First, Arsenal have the return leg advantage all the way to the final, meaning that a single away goal in the first leg of both matches makes their job super easy when they return to the Emirates for the second leg.

Second, in the next round they got matched with Villreal, the 4th place team in la Liga, who’s key players are a 62 year old future MLS star named Robert Pires and former Arsenal whipping boy and YouTube star Pascal Cygan.

Third, Porto is going to do the hard work and knock Manchest Untied out of the competition and Arsenal are going to face Porto in the semi-finals which will be a chance for Arsenal to get revenge over the last team to beat Arsenal (Roma doesn’t count).

Fourth, Liverpool drew Chelsea and Barcelona drew Bear Munching and that means that Liverpool and Chelsea will beat each other to death clearing the way for Barcelona to sweep their group and setting up a finale between Arsenal and Barcelona where we will get revenge over Thierry Henry for leaving us!

Awesome draw if you look at it that way, huh?

I don’t care what the bookies are saying (blah blah blah United) or what the Man Unit fans are saying (ZOMG WE WILL BHEAT THE WORLD OFF!!!) I’m going to enjoy my fantasy finale.

Hmmmm… 2-1 over Barcelona, Henry scores an own goal, E’to’o’ gains another apostrophe, and sad Barcelona fans start talking about buying up 3/4 of the Arsenal squad…

What else is going on?

Oh yeah, Arsenal are playing Newcastle tomorrow and I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Joey Barton will not be fit to take the pitch. The bad news is that Steven Taylor is in the team and picking up hints from super-c*nts Kevin Nolan and Nicky Butt — who are also available.

What the hell kind of team is Newcastle putting together? Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, Nikki Butts, AND Steven Taylor? On the same fucking team? Isn’t there a law against that? Who passes the ball? I mean, does anyone in that midfield pass or do they just tackle each other to move the ball around?

I’m kinda happy that Cesc isn’t fit, I’d much rather Denilson soak up the tackles than Fabregas. Speaking of, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see the 4-5-1 (or 4-2-3-1, whatever) with both Denilson and Song in along with Diaby in the midfield, those three have been showing a lot of steel lately and facing this pack of c*nthounds we’re going to need all the steel we can get.

After the Blackburn match, Arshavin made a remark about how they were the hardest tackling team he’d ever played against. He’s in for a surprise tomorrow because if he thought Blackburn are hard tackling, then Kevin Nolan, Steven Taylor, and Nikkiz Buttz are going to be like a gang of goats raping his family.

Or something.

Anyway, for our part, young Theo picked up an injury. This injury happened, not during training, but AFTER training, while WALKING. The dot com is saying that his knee locked up after the training session when he was walking back to the showers. Amazing. Damnit Wenger, why can’t you keep the boys healthy? Stop killing them by letting them walk back from training! They clearly need one of those motorized things that fat people in America go grocery shopping with.

Right, tomorrow’s match is live on Fox Soccer Channel at 10:30 am PST which means I’ll be liveblogging, so stop by if you want to hear me rant and rave about fat Americans and Kevin Nolan in real time.

Oh hey, one last bit of good news: Eduardo is being included in the squad! I see a late sub, Arsenal down 1-0, Eduardo comes on and scores a brace.

See you tomorrow!

P.S. Antipodean Gooner has a piece about how Arsenal’s fiscal world is falling apart and you should all check it out. The jist is that Arsenal Trust issued a report on the Arsenal financial report and it’s a refreshingly honest look at where all our money is going.   I thought I’d just let you all know.

19
Mar
09

An open letter to Phil Brown

Dear Phil,

Good morning, how are you feeling today? Better than yesterday? Still hungover? I ask because I can only imagine that it was drink that fueled yesterday’s incredible BBC 5 Live interview in which you quite clearly accused Cesc Fabregas of poor dress and Mike Riley of intentionally throwing the Arsenal match.

I just want to take a few minutes and respond to each of the accusations that you leveled against Arsenal in that 7 minute interview. Do you have time for that, my Darling?

Good.

First, let’s talk about your most factually based accusation: Cesc Fabregas was in fact “dressing in the manner he was dressed.” Here’s a picture to prove it:

fab-u-lous dress senseWhat a gross outfit! It totally is unflattering to his body type. What is up with the cuffs on that jacket? They make the puffy jacket look more puffy and the cuff on the bottom of the jacket makes it look like he’s smuggling a ham in the mid section there. If I weighed 11 stones I’d wear things that showed off my body a little more, rather than something that makes me look like I have a keg under my shirt. Good eye, Mr. Brown.

And while we’re on the topic of fashion do you mind if I point out that your spray tan is just a little too orange? What you want is a a healthy glow but not to make it look like you obviously tan. That’s difficult to do in a climate like England but it can be done, just cut back to like once every two weeks, rather than the daily treatments you seem to be taking. If you don’t slow down you’re going to start to glow in the dark, my Darling.

Now, another thing you mentioned in your interview there was how Arsene Wenger “never” shakes your hand

He wouldn’t shake my hand when we beat them fairly 2-1 at the Emirates. He wouldn’t shake my hand when they beat us, fairly, 3-1 at the KC Stadium.

The problem I’m having here, Philly, is that we have photographs proving that Wenger did, in fact, shake your hand after both of those matches. Is there an alternate definition of “shake” or “hand” that I’m missing?

Now, to the “spitting” incident, the meat of the matter at hand. Cesc has denied the allegations, categorically, and you have no witnesses as you admitted to Victoria Derbyshire in the interview above. I mean, I know that you tried to redirect that conversation with the whole “are you calling me a liar” tactic but everyone listening knows that just means you actually don’t have any evidence. Do you have any evidence that Cesc spat on anyone, near anyone, or toward anyone or do we all have to take your word for it?  Because, I’m just saying that your word isn’t too good right now.

As for Gallas’ “offside” goal, remember that Hull City might not have even been playing Arsenal had it not been for a controversial decision that went against Sheffield United back in February. I didn’t hear you complaining about the officiating when you got the benefit of what Sheffield supporters think was a poor decision to rule Naughton’s header an own goal. That’s how this stuff works, Phillie, sometimes a decision goes your way, sometimes it goes our way and when the final whistle goes we all have to be man enough to say “well, crap” and get on with our lives. Not go whingeing to the press about how poorly dressed Cesc was (which is true) or how he slathered Horton Hears a Who with a gallon of Catalan Saliva (not true).

And finally, no, you didn’t “get up our noses” — your team scored a lucky, deflected goal and then attempted to play anti-football for 77 minutes. Arsenal bettered your goal for the better part of those 77 minutes, resulting in some 70% of possession and the best chances of score by leaps and bounds. Arsenal deserved that win and everyone knows it.

I know you claim to have your coaching medals and if that’s true you would know that time wasting is a bookable offense because it’s cheating. Now, if you’re going to cheat and break the rules you have to be crafty about it. See, the problem is that your team doesn’t have the required craft of a team like Blackburn in order to pull off the whole anti-football thing and not pick up a host of bookings. So, Mike Riley was 100% correct to book 5 of your players, your team showed an indiscipline in it’s cheating that I haven’t seen since Arsenal last played Chelsea. Don’t blame Riley for the things he did right when there’s so much he did wrong in that game!

Anyway, Phil, I really hope you feel better today. You’re going to need all your strength to answer the charges that the FA are likely to bring against you for calling Mike Riley a cheat, for lying about Cesc spitting, and now it’s being reported that your assistant, Horton Hears a Who, called Cesc an “arrogant Spanish ____” and by ____ I don’t think he said “International.”

So, instead of getting Arsenal charged with stuff, it looks like you might get a charge or three yourself. That would add insult to injury wouldn’t it? My Darling?

Cheers,

Tim

18
Mar
09

Arsenal 2-1 Hull; there must have been a second spitter

Holy Christ what shit storm have I awoken to? Cesc is accused of spitting, Phil Brown is spitting dummies, Arsene is spitting mad and not shaking hands… have you people all lost your minds?

Because instead of focusing on a well deserved 2-1 win over a pack of notloB bred, time-wasting, lucky-goal having, lying, cheats we’re now dredging up video of Cesc supposedly spitting on Ballack back when Cesc was 12 years old, or spending time reading about how Brown claims Wenger “never does” shake hands even though there is photographic evidence to the contrary, and most incredibly, an accusation that will literally make your mind boggle, is Phil Brown calling it a disgrace for Wenger to complain about time wasting when his pack of talentless hacks had started wasting time from the moment they scored the goal!

To recap: Phil Brown is a proven liar, a moaner of such epic proportions that he puts Fergie and Wenger to shame, and Arsenal still won the match 2-1. End of story.

Man of the Match

Unlike other matches, this is a bit tougher. I really liked Song’s poise in the game and feel like he has made tremendous strides in the last two weeks. He has added forward passing (he picked out a beautiful pass to a streaking Gibbs that made me remark to the local Arsenal supporters) to a reprotiore of good tackles and tracking back. He also seems to have gained pace and defensive awareness. I don’t know who’s handling this kid but whoever it is is doing a heck of a job.

Another obvious choice is van Persie, he scored the equalizer and I really liked his perseverence in the face of all the missed chances. There was a period there where I swore that Arsenal was going to have another one of those games — 100 shots, 0 goals.

Gibbs too was outstanding and is turning into quite a likeable replacement for Clichy at left back. He put in several crucial tackles and showed the requisite ability to get forward. I also really like his crosses, they seem to come in at better pace and with more accuracy than Clichy at the moment.

Honorable mention goes to Bendtner who still can’t score but at least he really, really tries. His perseverence in front of goal is directly responsible for the equalizer.

As good as those guys played, I have to give the award to Andrei Arshavin. He started slow and at first I thought it was a mistake to include him in the lineup as he looked to be suffering from the cut on his foot but as the game wore on he took over. He was the most creative player on the pitch and more than once threatened to score — the best of which was a volley that only needed a whisker less curve to go in the net. But it was the equalizer which made him MotM for me. Instead of taking the shot, he made the right decision and put the ball on van Persie’s chocolate leg with just the right pace for him to pass the ball into the net. Then he calmly gathered the team from their celebrations and reminded them that the game wasn’t over yet and spurred them on to victory.

Selfless leadership. Fuck it’s been a long time since Arsenal had some of that.

Match Video

If you need to see the ball played off the Hull keeper, go to The Arsenalist, of course

Conclusion

Before the match I read a great interview with Phil Brown where he was humble and talked about how when he was earning his badges they did a review of him and the reviewer mentioned that Brown’s training was down the line exactly the same as Wenger’s at Arsenal. Then the reviewer asked how many shots Hull did during training and Brown said 250 or so and the reviewer said Arsenal does made 60-70 and scores twice as many. In the interview he was being humble and said that that’s how much class Arsenal have and what the difference between the two teams really was all about.

What a shame he couldn’t keep that same humility after the match. Any good will he earned from that interview he burned by falsely accusing Arsenal of all kinds of crap after.

During the match I had some English guy near me complain about how Gallas was offside and how the linesman had bungled the whole match. I disagreed and he wanted to press the point, so I just grabbed the Arsenal crest on my shirt and showed it to him. I don’t care if the world thinks Gallas was offside (he wasn’t) I don’t care if the world thinks what’s his cunt was onside (he wasn’t) I support Arsenal and after all the shiat we’ve been through in the last few years a little good luck was well deserved.

In conclusion, f*ck Hull and f*ck all the detractors, bring on Chelsea.

We’ll have Ade and Spitting Mad Fabregas back, probably Eduardo too, if the Hull match was a cracker, Chelsea will be a test of these boy’s manhood.

After this week?

I’m putting my money on Red.




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