Posts Tagged ‘Andrei Arshavin is mentioned in this blog



22
Dec
08

Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool; The Good, Bad, and Ugly

webb-1-0-arsenal

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Ten Men Gunners Hang On.

BBC Sport: Robbie Keane struck a stunning equaliser as Liverpool remained top of the Premier League and maintained an eight-point advantage over Arsenal.

Lee Dixon’s Tactical View: Arsenal have a problem in defence that I have noticed in a few games this season – and it was particularly evident during Sunday’s draw with Liverpool

Quotes

Today was Be A Gooner, Be A Giver, but you cannot say the referee was a Gooner, he was a giver, giving yellow cards that we didn’t deserve. Every week when we play away from home, we are told people get in our faces and we cant cope. I should show you our players after some games we play away from home; it is a joke. Neither of the bookings were justified. It is just an unbelievable decision; if Adebayor goes off, then Keane has to go off in the first minute. It seems we have different rules. The decision cost us two-points today, and I do not agree with it all. — Arsene Wenger vents some spleen during a post match interview.

The Good

I’m in the vast minority here but I felt like Song had his best game in an Arsenal shirt and put in the kind of performance that could cement him as the first choice holding midfielder. It remains to be seen if he can do that week in and week out, but his workrate was absolutely stunning, his passing was decent, and I felt like more than any other player he lifted the team emotionally in the second half after Adebayor was sent off: pushing forward when they needed and tracking back on every play. I accept that you won’t believe me so please have a look at his heatmap. In addition to his constant hard work, he completed 83% of his passes, won the ball 5 times (on 5 attempts) and made no fouls. You can compare him to any other player either from the ESPN link above or through the Telegraph’s player stats. They both show Song in a favorable light, though he only scored 5 or so on the player rater.

If I had any criticism of Song it’s that he didn’t make any fouls. Lucas Leiva in comparison had a better passing percentage, won more balls and committed more fouls. Part of that position’s craft is to learn how to make hard fouls and get away with it. Song won’t be a complete player until he learns how to be a bit of a cunt, like Lucas was yesterday.

Chocolate Thunder scored a superb goal off a superb assist from Nasri. With both teams playing a 4-5-1 (well, Liverpool was playing a 4-2-3-1 and technically Arsenal played a 4-4-2 though van Persie was dropping deep and defending like a midfielder) the midfield was very crowded so it should be no surprise that both goals came by bypassing the midfield. That said, it was an unusual goal for Arsenal and did a lot to cement my feeling that we played more like the visiting team. Despite it’s unusual nature, it was a good goal and Arsenal would do well to have a try at those types of goals more often.

After a poor first half where Liverpool dominated possession, shots, fouls and injuring Arsenal players, Arsenal found themselves down a man and suddenly decided to play like the home team. Song found another gear, a gear I wish he would just keep switched on, Denilson got forward and I thought for sure van Persie would get a second, but it wasn’t to be.

What I’d like to see is that sometimes, matches like these can galvanize a team. When you feel like everyone is against you (which clearly it was 12 on 10 for the last 35 minutes) it’s easy to look to people who feel the same way you do for comfort. This has its own problems — “group think” can be problematic if they don’t want to face reality — but it can be a very powerful group dynamic. I think we saw some of that budding yesterday. I haven’t seen this Arsenal team play with as much heart as they did after losing Cesc and Ade.

The Bad

Xavi Alonso and Cesc went in on a 50-50 challenge and Cesc came out with some kind of knee ligament damage. I am certain that Alonso didn’t intend to hurt Cesc, but regardless, Cesc will be out for at least a month. Clearly Arsenal will need to “replace” Cesc during that period. Please, don’t everyone say “Arsene needs to buy” at the same time, so doing might cause a rift in the fabric of reality and Arsene might actually buy a player.

Or he might just bring in King Ramsey I because when he was asked after the match if he was looking at buying someone like Arshavin he answered “No. No. No.” For the record, I only mention that because it affords me the chance to mention Arshavin and get some free hits.

I also hated having to watch Robbie Keane score a goal against Arsenal, it made me sad, but worse was how he scored the goal. It was off a very poor display of defense from the back 4 and especially Gallas. Yes, Gallas. Watch the replays… Keane is playing between Gallas and Djourou and actually closer to Djourou so it’s easy to blame Johan because it looks like it’s “his man” but, as Lee Dixon points out, there are several things that led to that goal: poor pressure from the midfielders allowed Liverpool to pick out that pass, the god damned frustratingly stupid ass insane high line (they were at the midfield circle for f*ck’s sake) gave Keane acres of space to run into, poor communication at the back led to confusion, and Gallas didn’t cut Keane off because he was in the wrong position. Watch the video again and you can see what I’m talking about.

It’s frustrating because these are some simple changes that would make a huge difference to Arsenal’s defense. Why can’t Wenger make them?

The Ugly

Obviously, Howard Webb is the focus of our collective ire. It was good to hear so many pundits after the match say “I believe Howard Webb is a good referee but he’s had a very poor game today.” That’s a good because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Webb have a poor game against Arsenal and had to sit through those same pundits blather on about how we’re just a bunch of whiners and that Webb shits gold-plated whistles  — at least now some doubt is starting to creep in.

Webb needs to be investigated for bias against Arsenal. There are a lot of very unusual things that happen when Webb refs an Arsenal match: the Rumble at Wembley,  3 of Arsenal’s 5 losses last year, awarding dubious free kicks in great positions against Arsenal (which he did time and again yesterday), awarding 2 penalties against Arsenal in 5 matches last year, and now this Adebayor incident.

If I break down the whole Ade/Webb face off, I think the first foul was for a “high tackle.” Webb saw Adebayor step over the ball to claim it from Carragher and deemed that an “over the top – studs up” challenge. He did make contact and so fair enough for the first yellow.

On the second yellow, no one is quite sure what the foul was given for. Some people think it was for the same move that earned him his first yellow — the problem with that is that he NEVER MADE CONTACT and there was certainly no intent. Some people think it was for the “elbow” to the face of Arbeloa. That was as clear a dive as I have seen all season, if Webb gave Adebayor a yellow for that then he’s the most easily fooled ref in the EPL. And there is some speculation that Ade earned a yellow for dribbling on and having a shot after the whistle went. If that’s the case then Webb clearly has something against Adebayor, maybe stemming from Ade’s disgraceful display in the Carling Cup final (where he refused to leave the pitch when Webb wrongly sent him off for Eboue’s “foul.”) Moreover, if those two tackles are yellow card tackles then Keane’s over the top lunge that actually left Clichy limping, has to be a red card and Sagna’s over the top, rash challenge should have been a red card as well. There has to be some equivalence in tackling: it’s not fair for Arsenal to get players sent off for slight or even no contact and for opponents to get warnings for heavy contact.

I suppose we’ll hear more from the FA about the incident as Adebayor and  Wenger have both spoken out against it.  I expect that Wenger will receive a touchline ban and Adebayor will get a few extra matches tacked on for asking the ref to apologize. It’s a mess and probably did no good to take Webb to task, but I’m sure it felt better to have a go at him. I know it made me laugh to hear Wenger call Webb a “giver.”

Final Thoughts

Well, Arsenal haven’t moved up nor down in the league and though three points would have been a beautiful way to go to Villa I have to say that I am very proud of this team and getting the draw. Everyone is writing them off, referees are calling matches against them, and 4 of their most talented players are injured, yet they are in 5th place and only 8 points off the title race. More importantly, they showed what kind of team they could be after reduced to 10 men. Should they take that commitment to Villa park on Boxing day they will surely come away with three points.

Right, the weather is seriously insane here and we’ve had work canceled again (thus the late blog — I was waiting for news about Cesc’s injury) so I might head down to Doyle’s to watch Everton beat Chelsea. Drop me a line if you think you might be able to make it.

It’s good to be a Goonah!

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17
Dec
08

Gallas loses his joie de vivre, Eduardo finds it.

Good morning, I hope everything is going well with you wherever you are. Here it is “snowing” and “freezing” which actually means that we have had weather below 40F and there was a 1/4″ of snow. This in turn means that the men who typically wear shorts all “winter” will have to bust out their extra long pair of shorts. It’s a tragedy and I’m prepared for the Governor to declare a national emergency at any moment.

Meanwhile, on a foggy night in London’s Underhill sports complex, an Arsenal reserve side featuring the long awaited return of Eduardo da Silva took on some kind of Portsmouth team and won 2-0. I will be the first to admit that when I saw the score line I fully expected to see Eduardo’s name next to at least one of the goals, but it wasn’t to be. In fact, he only played 45 minutes because he tweaked his hamstring, which puts him out for two weeks. His hope is to return for the FA cup match in January, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the man out of the first team until the Spurs match in February.

Reports indicate that he looked pretty good out there which is to be expected since hopes are high at the moment and any flaws were bound to be overlooked as the halcyon glow of a triumphant return clouded minds (and even lenses). I’ll just say that Eduardo is a tremendous talent, a relentless finisher, and a key asset to Arsenal’s title aspirations. Whether he plays or not is probably irrelevant as his long journey back should provide an emotional lift to a team that are struggling under the weight of all our expectations magnified by the constant roil of the London press. Despite the odds, Eduardo never gave up, he wants to play football, he loves playing football; how is that not inspirational?

Unfortunately, given the fact that Arsenal play 1st place Litterpool on Sunday and 4th place Aston Villa away on Boxing Day this team will need to stay in the title race without him on the pitch. So, let’s hope the emotional lift is enough to sustain the team until we can get him back and scoring goals.

Transfers

Much speculation is surrounding both Gallas and Bendtner with Italian clubs supposedly interested in both players.

Juve is reportedly interested in Gallas and Arsenal is reportedly asking for Chiellini in return. This deal will not happen.

First, Juve would be fools to take a head case like Gallas. He’s a good defender but there’s something wrong with him emotionally: he’s the guy who sent Arsenal into a tailspin last year with his Birmingham sit-in and he’s the guy who sent Arsenal into a tailspin this year with the Tottenham half-time bust up. If there’s a shit-storm at Arsenal over the last two years, William Gallas always seems to be at the eye. Who wants that on their team?

Second, I’ve watched Serie A football now for a couple of months, usually while typing the Sunday blog — NOW I’M AN EXPERT ON THE TOPIC, and compared to the EPL, the Serie A is a walk in the park. Contact is basically forbidden, movement is minimal, the pace is insanely slow, and since every team is leaking goals at rate that would embarrass even Arsenal, defenders aren’t really asked to do much.

Add in the favorable tax breaks, the good weather, the food, and the fact that English women have filthy vaginas (hey, don’t kill the messenger) and I seriously doubt that many Italian players want to come to England.

I do see Gallas leaving, but rather than bring in some big name, I’d bet Wenger recalls Senderos. Now, put aside your prejudices against the man and think about it… ok, it’s crazy but exactly the kind of thing Wenger would do. And you know Senderos would be happy to play backup, he’s done it before so don’t be surprised if you see big Phil back in the red and white!

The other speculation is that Inter are lining up a bid for Bendtner.

He would fit right in with the slow pace, deliberate style, and outright laziness of Inter.

The huge transfer story of the morning, though, is that Diarra got his wish and used Pompey as a stepping stone to a bigger club, with Real Madrid reportedly offering somewhere between $13.5m – $36m (£9m – £24m) for his services. This is really a crazy story. I know that a lot of us Arsenal supporters had a real hard on for Diarra after he put in, like one good performance in the Carling Cup but is he really one of the top 3 or 4 holding midfielders in the world? A guy who couldn’t get a game over Flamini, a player who now sits on the bench at AC Milan, is suddenly worth 6 times what Portsmouth paid for him? I guess he did play on a team that won the FA cup, so that must explain it.

Seriously, Diarra is a fine player who reminds me of a sort of poor man’s Makalele, mostly due to his short stature and the fact that he plays in the same position and not because he’s a proven winner.  He has a good engine and what he lacks in passing and offensive awareness he makes up for in hard work. Arsenal could certainly use him right now, but he’s no £20m player. If he’s worth £20m, you can forget about Arsenal buying anyone who has ever accomplished anything ever again. I mean come on, Arsenal wouldn’t pay £18m for Xavi Alonso, who has won a lot of silverware against the world’s best players.

What’s also strange is that as talented as he is on the pitch, he’s the world’s least trustworthy player off the pitch. Everywhere he goes he’s always angling for a new deal with another team and as soon as he signs he’s quick to rip his old team.

Huh… in a certain way, he reminds me a lot of Gallas: he’s at the eye of every shit-storm. Again, why would you want a guy like that on your team?

The only part of this story that makes me mad is that Arsenal didn’t get paid $30m to offload him! Oh well.

And finally, I would be remiss if I talked about transfers and didn’t mention Andre “the great hype” Arshavin and his possibly transfer to Arsenal. He’s not coming to Arsenal and I don’t want him.

This whole saga is just comedic. This is a player who may be the most overrated player in modern history. A guy who’s sole claim to fame is one good game in Euro 2008 and a UEFA Cup!

I’m glad he’s not coming to Arsenal. In fact, I would be pissed if Arsenal did business with that club. Zenit St. Petersburg should not be allowed to play sanctioned football while their coach talks openly about discriminating against black players because the racist ass fans would riot much less be allowed to do business in the transfer market. If Arsenal ever gave them a dime while they had an open policy of racial discrimination I would be shocked and dismayed.

Ok, long post but that’s because I got up early when the baby started crying — no William Gallas was not spending the night, I have an actual live 7 month old baby that cries at night.  William Gallas is a 31 year old baby that cries at night.

See the difference?

18
Nov
08

International doldrums

Short post this morning, there is nothing left to say about this team is there? I suppose we could all talk about which players Arsenal should buy for the next two months before the transfer window opens, that would be fun. Or we could re-hash what a horrible captain William Gallas has been. Make fun of Denilson, anyone? Oh I know, let’s be all edgy and bash Cesc for having a crappy year.

Maybe it’s the cold I have (which is migrating INTO MY EYE) but I don’t feel like it. I’m going to hold my tongue until I see a cleverly crafted statement by Arsene Wenger something like

The club has found that Chelsea scum have put kryptonite and Marlboro Reds in the locker room at Emirates, which explains why Arsenal have allowed twice as many goals at home than in all away competitions. Last fortnight, Theo Walcott is/has run backwards around the world and turned back time to the beginning of the season where now Arsenal are off to a near perfect start to the season with only one loss, to a struggling Man U at home.

A man can dream!

Speaking of which, Andrei Arshavin has revealed that his dream is to play for Arsenal Barcelona Tottenham Bayern. Funny thing, my dreams change all the time too though usually I have a hand in it. I’ll wake up from a nightmare like say “it’s November and people are already saying that the Arsenal season is over” and I’ll put my head back down on the pillow and change the dream to “Arsenal signed Alonso in the summer and are now sitting at the top of the table and are the toast of the town.”

My regular readers know that I only ever mention Arshavin because just mentioning his name generates hits. I don’t get paid for those hits but I do get a charge out of the idea that there’s a large contingent of people out there dying for news about the world’s most overrated football player.

The whole “it’s only November” thing does bother me, but especially when John Terry is the voice of reason about Arsenal’s… season. I’m sure there’s a subtext to this statement there must be and I’m just missing it:

I still consider Arsenal a contender, you should never write off the big sides, they have the players to do it and they will put a run together.

Arsenal… runs… hmmm.

That’s going to have to do for today, I’ve devolved into poop jokes. Cheer up Arse fans, Arsenal are still in the running for the quad, unlike Chelsea.

See, I can change my dreams too!




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