Posts Tagged ‘Carling Cup


Burnley 2-0 Arsenal Youth — the Good, Bad and Ugly

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: “The Coca-Cola Championship team booked their place in the last four of the Carling Cup after showing a young Gunners side how to finish.”

A Cultured Left Foot: “It was an evening that the players can look back on without shame. They passed the ball reasonably well, their overall technique, until it came to the final shot on goal, was excellent. In short they lived up to most of the expectations that were placed on their young shoulders.”

The Good

Wilshere and Ramsey were absolutely magnificent: laying on the passes that would eventually be wasted by Bendtner up front, running their asses off, and putting themselves about.

Wilshere is still a bit too slight and often found himself on the ground and dispossessed of the ball to the larger, more experienced Burnley midfielders. But I think he may grow and get stronger, he’s only 16!

Ramsey was always in the right place for the role he played. Wenger had him the holding midfield spot and he did the best he could considering how often he had to mop up Randall’s mistakes in midfield.

Both of these young men show great vision and understanding of the game that belies their years. I expect great things from these players.

The Bad

I really feel bad for young Paul Rodgers: thrust into an unfamiliar lineup on a freezing night in an important game against a hardened opponent would be enough to undo the best men, much less a 19 year old, and to be sacrificed at half-time so that a midfielder can come on and play defense for you must have been truly embarrassing. Even though he had a nightmare match you can see flashes of the brilliance that Wenger saw to pick him, let’s hope this experience spurs him on to better things.

Fabianski also had a bad match, well, Fabianski and Silvestre really. They seemed to lack any communication and more than once got in each other’s way. Sir Alex Ferguson was on the sidelines and must have had a chuckle at Silvestre’s performance — for a defender who is as experienced as he is some of the mistakes he made were the stuff that I would have expected from Rodgers. I’ve heard from some Man U supporters that that’s the bag on Silvestre: he plays hard but he’s mistake prone. Multiple times this season he’s been caught running about wildly and crashing in to Arsenal defenders and it has lead to goals. Let’s hope this is just a lack of understanding and communication and not some kind of thing that he does.

Fabianski looked nervous and spilled the ball several times but it was a very cold night and Jensen spilled the ball several times too. So I’m not sure it was as bad a performance that everyone is marking him down for. The first goal was partially his fault (he should control the area) but it certainly didn’t help him that Silvestre tackled him and piled on, effectively holding him down and letting McDonald have a shot at an open goal.

The Ugly

Leaving Simpson out seemed like a huge mistake because Bendtner was most guilty of the poor finishing that killed the team last night. I don’t know what happened in practice but based on the last game, Simpson deserved the starting spot over Bendtner.

That said, Bendtner started and despite some exquisite service from midfield, simply could not finish. After the third time he dribbled into Jensen during a one-on-one you just knew he just wasn’t going to get a goal. It was a disheartening performance from the player who has started against some of the world’s best teams — with his experience, he should have been the guy to carry the Young Ones but instead he looked like their inferior.

The Boss was clearly upset with him after the match, saying:

We played quite well. We had six one-on-ones with the keeper and we lost 2-0, that sums it up quite well… overall we lost a game we shouldn’t have lost.

They [the Young Ones] expressed their talent and many of them gave absolutely everything. But in front of goal you need to be much more clinical than we were tonight. I felt we were quite naive in the way we took our chances.

Final Thoughts

The team can take a lot of good from this game. Wilshere and Ramsey, in particular, are very young and can look at their performance last night and hold their heads high. Other players need to look at the way they played and work on those aspects of their game that was found wanting.

Tactically, Wenger needs to look at these games and see that Burnley employed similar tactics to Stoke and others that have beaten Arsenal this season. They were very rough on the midfield and got away with quite a bit of rough play and it clearly worked to their advantage. Arsenal need to get their spines up and get back into these kinds of games. At the back, Burnley were able to capitalize on the slightest mistakes and use countering tactics to open the defense. Again, this happens time and again with Arsenal since they seem keen to get 8 attackers in the opponent’s box. It’s score or die with this team and when they aren’t scoring they get beat like they did yesterday.

Finally, Bendtner needs to take a long look at this performance and make some changes to his game. For those of you who didn’t see the game, remember the lucky goal he scored against Kiev? Yeah, he tried to do that three times yesterday. It’s not a clever tactic, it’s not good finishing, and it’s not good goalkeeping to keep it out, it’s just luck when it goes in. Yesterday, Bendtner’s luck, and the team’s Carling Cup hopes ran out.

The good news is that the team have 3 days rest before they face Wigan at home on Saturday. The bad news is that Wigan is going to be looking for revenge for the Carling Cup embarassment and must be watching tapes of Burnley, Stoke, and Hull for lessons on how to play Arsenal and get a result.

Let’s hope Arsenal have been watching the tapes too.


Burnley v. Arsenal — Debt in the Premier League

I find myself in an unusual situation: there’s no television coverage of today’s match in the U.S. So, as excited as I was to see Arsene’s 18 youngsters take on the team that knocked Chelsea out of the Carling Cup, I don’t get to. BOOOO! Maybe I’ll see if I can get a stream on

It’s going to be a tough challenge for the young squad, up till now they have played home matches and against “lesser” competition but in Burnley they will find a squad that moves the ball well and has some teeth up front. And they will have to do it all away from home, which means that they will need to defend well and patiently wait for goal scoring opportunities.

Tough match for a bunch of kids.

Ahead of the match, Aaron Ramsey is brimming with confidence and has claimed that he could be Arsenal’s Steven Gerrard: wait, he wants to be a xenophobic diving prick? Personally I hope he’s not a Steven Gerrard, I’d rather he be Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey. No time like the present to start, Aaron. Burnley’s got 5 red cards this season so they are going to get “stuck in,” how will you respond? I wish I could watch.

Speaking of responding…

Robin van Persie claims that the Gallas outburst wasn’t targeted at him. Hmmmm…. Eboue? Honestly, I don’t know and don’t really care, Gallas isn’t the captain, Cesc is 2-0, and the team seems to be playing well. That’s all that really matters.

The boss talked about responding to the win over Chelsea, hell, the whole team is talking about it: they need to keep the heat on, their foot on the gas, not let up, give 110%, pick your metaphor. Anything less than a win against Wigan on Saturday will be an embarrassment: not only is it a home game but it’s against the team that the youngsters dismantled 3-0 just a few weeks ago. Wigan will be looking for revenge but Arsenal will have a full squad, well rested, and can have no excuses.

And finally…

I’m not typically a fan of articles that talk about debt in the Premier League, usually because they are poorly written, have the tone of a screed, and often like to highlight Arsenal’s debt and downplay Chelsea’s. Basically, they are almost always a propaganda piece in favor of getting some Sugar Daddy in at Arsenal. But I found one this morning that has a picture of the Emirates but doesn’t mention Arsenal’s debt at all. It’s a pretty good look at what’s coming for Chelsea, Liverpool, and Man U (among others) given the global credit market and their levels of debt compared to their income. A club like Man U is probably too big to fail (some rich guy will always buy a club that big) but Chelsea supporters should be very, very worried. Chelsea have started the downward spiral and rather than being “self sufficient” as Peter Kenyon suggests, they will be insolvent in two years time. They can’t possibly sustain $150m a year in losses without Roman’s money and since he’s turning off the tap and they aren’t making cuts in salary the losses will continue. It was a bad business plan from the onset; use $1bn to buy up the world’s talent and try to transform a mid-table team into the world’s biggest club in just a few years. What they are left with is an insane wage bill, a huge debt to their owner, a tiny outdated stadium, and a couple of Premiership titles all because they overlooked one thing: history. To be the biggest club in the world takes time and sustained effort, many, many championships, and a long history of overcoming adversity. You can’t buy that, Roman.

Right, late for work, if I get to see the match I’ll do a Good, Bad and Ugly tomorrow. If not? Oh well! Here’s to the Young Ones doing a number on Burnley: Up The Arse!


Don’t hassle the ‘hoff


Ahhh, the Carling Cup… the League Cup, who what is sponsored by the beer called Carling. Exciting things to know about the League Cup:

  1. The semi-finals are held over two legs and it’s the only competition that I know of which counts the away goals rule AFTER overtime.
  2. It only takes 4 wins for a Champions League team to claim this trophy.
  3. Arsenal last won it in 1993.
  4. Theo Walcott’s first ever Arsenal goal was scored in the 2007 League Cup final against Chelsea, which was marred by unfortunate celery throwing, Chelsea players cheating, and some hideous cheat named “Drogba” scoring two goals to give Jose Mourinho his 18th trophy, in his own mind.
  5. Arsenal follow a “youth policy” in the League Cup, which means that they generally play their second tier players to get them some match time in big games. Teams like Chelsea and Tottenham, who have no youth team to field and who hold the 5 game tournament in high esteem, as if it were a real tournament, play their first team.
  6. The only reason why anyone takes this tournament at all seriously is that once every 5 years a team like Tottenham can win it and by doing so be granted a spot in the UEFA Cup and thus “play in Europe” which in turn lowers the competition enough that mangers like Juande Ramos look like tactical geniuses and then, in turn, manage Tottenham and the cycle of life for a bottom feeder club is completed.

The question of the day against Wigan is “who will Wenger play?” We know that Wigan are without Heskey (who has been doing a wonderful job for England and Wigan) but their main threat, Zaki, is going to be giving fits to the Arsenal back line and Song and Djourou will need to be on the top of their game to stop this guy.

Up front, I’d like to say that Bendtner will get a rest, but honestly I can’t see that happening. I suspect that Wenger will go for a 4-5-1 again, to give balance to the defense, and that means Bendtner is needed up front to hold the ball and be the big target.

Which brings us to the midfield. With the Boss saying that 90% of the team that played against Sheffield United will be on display again tonight, I expect only 1 change. Wilshere and Ramsey are all but guaranteed to start but if the boss does elect to play a 4-5-1 we could see a little Bischoff slotted in there behind the striker, and Carlos Vela out on the wing.


And hey, that’s what’s exciting about this tournament from an Arsenal perspective; we get to see players like The Hoff play.

So, like I said yesterday, the match is kicking off at 11:45 PST on Setanta and Doyle’s is carrying it live. Come on down and have a pint and sandwich, win or lose it is always fun to see the Arsenal youth team.


Wenger to field youngest side ever

Arsene Wenger has revealed plans to field a zygote and two fetuses (fetii?) in Tuesday’s Carling Cup match against Sheffield United. Reached for comment the boss said

Zygotes are easy to mold into whatever we want them to be. Not as easy as a stem cell but due to certain FA regulations we are not actually allowed to field stem cells at the moment.

The Catholic Church has, of course, condemned this action by the Frenchman.

Upon hearing this news, Tottenham reacted swiftly by re-releasing the commemorative DVD of their 5-1 semi-final win over Arsenal Zygotes last season. Getting a clean copy of the DVD proved difficult until they found out that David Bentley was using the last available copy of the DVD as, erm, for his, uhhh, erm, “viewing pleasure.”


it’s a busy day

Oh man, I’m hurting today. The Doyle’s Pub team had our first practice last night and every muscle hurts. Yay. Thank your god that I didn’t go drink with the boys after. That would have been a disaster. Anyway, I have a bunch of meetings today at work and a rolfing session at 3pm so I am really really busy today. Is something else going on today?

Oh yeah, Carling Cup semi-final against Spuds. I have to say, that the entire time I have been an Arsenal supporter Tottenham has always sucked. So, while I know that this is a big match, I never really feel like these are big matches. Also, the entire time I’ve been an Arsenal fan, the Carling Cup has always sucked. So, while I know that this is a big match, I never really feel like these are big matches.

Obviously, though, the boss, the players, and the supporters all feel like this is a big match. Wenger feels so strongly about winning this match he’s decided to play Cesc, Hleb, and Adebayor. At this point it’s all up in the air as to who will start. Wenger has already reversed the position that he and the club took just yesterday (that this wasn’t a big game and that he would rotate his players) so for all I know all three will start. I suppose he could bring them off the bench: Ade for Bendtner, Hleb for Theo, Cesc for Denilson. That’s a hell of a substitution. I’m going to say that’s what he’ll do.

I understand why Wenger’s doing this. Arsenal have not lost to this shitty team in 10 years so it’s important, in order to maintain dominance, to win this match. So, he’s pulling out all the stops.

Meanwhile, over at Wet Fart Lane, Gus Poyet admits the whole team are aching inside for a win. They probably feel like a little girl who has braces and wears corrective glasses and has a crush on the star quarterback. She wants him so bad it hurts. So she writes bad poetry and waits for the night that Johnny gets drunk so she can rape him. Let’s hope the Arsenal lads aren’t drunk today.

Finally, there’s a great interview with Spurs supporter James Callow on the dot com. Good for a reasonable perspective of the other side of the coin.

Anyway, that’s enough for today; here’s to a well played, open, fair football match that ends in an Arsenal win.


Oh yeah, one more thing.

I’m kinda disturbed by some of the protests by Liverpool supporters against their American owners. I don’t mind if you hate those two guys because I would be pissed off at them if they bought Arsenal, brought in a bunch of talent, failed to get a stadium deal, and then kept Rafa Benitez.

Wait, what? The fans like Rafa? Uhhh, ok. Hmmmm.

It’s pretty sad though that the fans have to make it about “America” and not about Tom and George. Because if I was an American fan of Liverpool I’d be pretty disgusted by images like this.

I hope I never see shameful displays like this at Emirates: I’d like to think that Arsenal supporters are more intelligent than this shit. Note to Liverpool fans who hate Americans: Liverpool FC is bigger than Liverpool now.

I mean what is going on in Liverpool? Their captain hates foreigners, their striker hates foreigners, their fans hate Americans and yet there’s only one person on the starting XI who’s from anywhere remotely near Liverpool.  Further, their coach is a foreigner, their ownership is foreign, I mean, what the fuck? Are these few fans plus Stevie G and Peter C really this profoundly small minded? I don’t know, but it sure seems like it, and man am I glad that I picked a team like Arsenal.

Until tomorrow.


the monday before the storm

Good morning, well I don’t really mean “good” morning because I’ve been up since 1am and now I’ve spent the last 6 hours watching bad movies and horrible television.  Regardless, I shall soldier on.

Ahead of the Carling Cup match against Tottenham on Tuesday there’s very little team news. Probably most significant is Wenger’s admission that he will be forced to use “first team” players due to injuries and whatnot. He won’t say who but a blind man could see that Arsenal are missing three central defenders. So, let’s take a wild guess at who might cover at that spot? Hmmm… Mowhawk… Captain… French… I can’t for the life of me guess who.

I don’t see Wenger starting Adebayor or Cesc or Clichy or really anyone from the first team unless there is an injury. Wenger approaches the Carling Cup as a means of bringing up young players and also is wary of picking up an injury. And As I was writing that he updated who will be playing; none of the first team players (except Gallas) from Saturday (link above).

Spuds, of course, will be playing everyone — hell, they’d borrow someone if they thought it would help them win. Because they think the Carling Cup is the most important tournament in the world. I would feel the same way if I was a mid-table club with an insanely optimistic outlook but no real chance of winning anything. Their attitude toward the CC is what sparked the ticket dust-up in the link above. Fortunately, the ticket situation has been sorted out and tickets will be sold at the lower “B” rate.

I love David Bentley, don’t you? How about Aliadiere? Both players essentially level the same complaint: Arsenal take the game too seriously. How is that a fault? Is that like one of those trick answers that you give at an interview? “What would you say your biggest fault is, Mr. Wenger?” “I’d say it’s that I ask my players to be professional, work hard, and take football seriously.” “That’s a real shame, don’t call us, we’ll call you!

Fuck off Bentley. If you want to play recreational football with your friends, go ahead I’m guessing there’s a pickup match every weekend. But if you want to be a professional footballer, you’re going to have to put in hard work. Al lot of hard work.  And even then, you might not make the grade. As for Aliadiere, I think he’s just piling on. Wenger gave him, literally, dozens of chances to show what he could do and he just wasn’t good enough to play at a top team. He has to know that, when, after 16 appearances for Middlesborough he has only one goal. That would be a poor tally for an Englishman.

Anyway, enough about those two. There’s a Carling Cup match tomorrow and I know it’s playing at Doyle’s in Tacoma. Head down there if you don’t have Setanta.

See you all later!


The Hand of Walgod

It was, as Douglas Adams once said, “a lucky escape for Arsenal.”

The match started out in our favor as the young players kept the ball, moved well, and passed crisply. Then about 15 minutes in, the defense started to show signs of weakness: a few good looking runs from Spurs and some nice passes by Bobble-head and honestly I thought if not for the fact that they are Tottenham they would be up on us.

The only real attacking moment for Arsenal, in the first half, happened when Bendtner forced a journeyman’s save from replacement keeper Cerny. I have to think that Paul Robinson might not have saved that or that at least with Robinson in goal the save might have been different. But Cerny did a good job for them.

Their attacking posture and our bizarre insistence on dribbling the ball out of defense nearly cost us several times. And let’s face it: in the first half, Spurs were the better team. They won the ball in midfield, closed down our attack, and seemingly all they had to do was pass the ball forward to Berbatov and let him create.

This was not going to be an easy game.

This was not the disorganized, wreck of a team that Arsenal met back in December.  Much less the unrealistically overconfident team that Arsenal demolished at home in September. I’m torn about whether I should give kudos to Juande Ramos or call for the immediate re-instatement of Martin Jol.

And so it was that a well organized, emotionally charged Spurs team came out and played their hearts out in the first half and deserved a goal. Which happened when Djourou failed to clear his lines and the ball dropped to Berba who flicked to (what looked like an offside) Keane who played the ball perfectly to Jenas who slotted in the goal. (sigh) It was an Arsenal goal if I ever saw one. And what is up with Jenas? This guy is horrible against every other team in the EPL but for some reason decides to play big against Arsenal.  UGH.
I was kind of surprised when Arsenal started the second half with 2 subs. I had said to my Spurs friend that I thought they would sub out van Persie who looked completely winded by the 35th minute.  Sure enough, Wenger did, bringing in Eduardo. But I was surprised to see that they subbed Sagna for Djourou. It wasn’t until today that I found out he picked up an injury (so too did Theo, Senderos, and van Persie has the Flu). So the second half saw both Dudu and Sagna come on.

And the shakiness continued at back. Hoyte moved over to partner with Senderos and at first they looked seriously disorganized. There were several instances where the defense just looked as if they didn’t have a clue what to do with the ball. Now, this could be, as Arseblogger and others have pointed out, due to laziness and poor play by Diaby and Denilson. I don’t know. The two D’s did look a little off color last night, often playing the wrong pass, or dribbling too much — but they are kids and still learning. Let’s see how they respond in two weeks.

Arsenal looked like they were destined for only their 2nd ever loss at their new home and at the hands of a Spurs team that hasn’t beaten Arsenal since 1999 — I’m sure if they had, they would have partied like it was. But then, Eduardo played a beauty in for Theo who steadied for his shot only to have Lee tackle the ball onto Theo’s left hand and into the goal. Well, that kind of stuff happens and you can’t really blame either ref for blowing the call since they were blind to Tottenham’s offsides throughout. Spuds fans were deflated, blood was in the water, I really thought Arsenal would take the win.

And then, on came Defoe, with what must be, the dumbest haircut in the history of dumb haircuts.  The whole bar was laughing at him. How do you wake up in the morning with that haircut and say “damn! I look good!”  Hey, kudos to him for appearing on international television with that haircut, that takes some serious balls.  Anyway, back to the match, Lennon played him in — and Defoe blew it. Exasperated, my Spurs buddy says “how do you miss that???” And I said “your name is Jermaine Defoe.”

And then, with a whimper, it ended. 1-1, and a lucky escape for the Arsenal.

I also want to applaud both teams and the ref for a very clean match. There wasn’t a whole bunch of chippy-ness and cheap, hard fouls that I thought might plague such an emotionally charged match. It was really good to see both teams play open, attacking, flowing football. Is this the future of the EPL? I hope so, but as long as teams like Chelsea are still around to hack and stomp their way to trophies I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.

On the injuries, I’ll have more as it comes out, but for now it looks like Gilberto may start at Center Back.  UGH.

On the transfers, nothing has been done. Lehmann was reported on TV last night as having agreed to terms with Dortmund and then this morning as “the deal hadn’t been done.”

It’s also being reported in the Sun (and only in The Sun at this point) that Diarra is going off to Newcuntsle for £5.5m. If I were a supporter, I might just wait until I saw a news story on Because the speculation is rampant right now, with the boy being linked to no less than 5 teams. Too bad he’s not English, we could have netted £10-20m for him.

And lastly, Thierry Henry talks about Arsenal being “in his blood” and wanting to rejoin the organization at some time in the future. I’m not a medical doctor but having Arsenal in your blood above 200ppm could prove fatal to a career in Spain — according to what I’ve read on the internet. If you want to come back, Thierry, come on back. Albeit as a coach or something. I don’t think you’re ever going to be fit enough to play first team football again. Unfortunately.

All right, I’m off. Until tomorrow!

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