Monday, December 21, 2009

Arsenal 3-0 Hull City: Take that Phil Brown

Well, since Arsenal scored three times I should eat my hat. Yet, in the first half the game was not as the score line suggested. Arsenal’s passing was not sharp, the movement was not that great Hull played only one up front, and since they are among the leagues lowest scorers away they didn’t really threaten but neither did we, everything we did seemed to break down around the 18 yard area and many of the final passes were into traffic. There was not the quick movement that we had in the first games of the season. Perhaps it is tiredness. Again not having a tall target man was an issue, Arshavin looked stranded up front. All this changed with Denilson’s free kick which dipped over the wall with, I think, a great amount of back and side spin as it moved into the corner. Lovely goal. Apparently, Denilson wasn’t on the list to take the free kick but perhaps he will be now. Earlier, I thought Nasri and Eduardo hooked up well on the short corner. I was happy to see that since, again the high ball into the box has had relatively little pay off.

So into the second half, it was all Arsenal with renewed confidence. Hull had to come out and we had more space. Inexplicably, however, a penalty was given against Silvestre (who had a decent game against a fairly weak side) for pulling a shirt in the box. Completely mad, since it looked like it was mutual shirt pulling and also since how many times have we seen rugby type tackles in the box with no consequence. Perhaps it was payback for the free kick goal that was the result of a foul on Diaby—commentators said it was sort—but I thought it was a foul. So it was Diaby’s run that led to the goal and another run, with a one twos with Song that led to the second, a tap in by Eduardo. Eduardo had earlier produced a wonderful pirouette turning a through pass from Arshavin to be one on one with the goalkeeper. But he shot wide and when Eduardo’s goal came, he didn’t seem much bothered; perhaps he celebrates only when something special happens. He had a decent game, a good shot early on, some nice back heels that didn’t work out but showed he was linking up. Again against tougher opponents, who knows, but he looks to be getting back on track. The same can be said of Walcott, who came on for Nasri and made a couple of very nice runs. He too missed what should have been the fourth. The third, of course, came from Diaby, who had one of his best games—I don’t want to jinx it since he is a streaky player who then gets injured—but it was a great run, taking a pass from Arshavin, again through the middle and beating off a challenge while hammering the ball past the goal keeper.

So in the end it all came together, everything clicked and we looked good, but it took awhile and I thought we looked poor for the first 40 minutes. However there is an eight day rest now and a chance to get some players back …

Player Ratings, by Aidan G


Had a good recovery from some awful games. Good pen save


Good going forward


Comfortably dealt with the Hull attacks




Not his fault on the penalty, which was one of the weirdest penalties ever. Silvestre frightens me, and him against Ashley Young does not fill me with excitement.


Big goal which we really needed. Played well, but I'll be happy to see Cesc back.


Not one of his best, but good interplay for the second goal


Am I right in saying his best ever game for Arsenal? It's games like these when I see why Arsene likes him. It games like the one against Burnley where I see why I don't like him all the time.


Not his best game, deserved to be sent off, luckily Hull decided to show off their aggro which took him off the hook.


Got into good decisions, missed one chance, but tapped in the other. Nice to see him get a goal.


Did assist for Diaby, but seemed to be isolated a lot in the first half.


Showed off his pace, but also missed a fairly easy chance from a long ball.


Didn't do much in his cameo


Got involved in his sub role. Nice to get him a game.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pre Match Arsenal v Hull City

Arsenal should beat Hull today even after the sub-par performance on
Wednesday against Burnley and missing Cesc Fabregas. However the
continuing injury problems are a definite cause for concern. Silvestre
playing left wing is a problem. His lack of speed will be exploited.
The way to play Arsenal now is to harry and get in hard, and shower
the box with high balls. Almunia looks shaky and teams will want to
exploit that. Unfortunately the days of scoring a lot of goals seem
over (see if I get my come-uppance from that today) and this has been
so since RVP’s injury but is moreover since Cesc’s injury. Cesc and
RVP have scored quite a few goals and they linked up nicely, without
them it falls to Arshavin but more must be expected from Walcott and
Nasri. The truth is that without Cesc and RVP we are a decent team
but lack a cutting edge. Hopefully this won’t matter against Hull.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Burnely v Arsenal Player Ratings

Almunia- 4.5
Does not fill me with confidence. Caused a back header early with a lack of communication, and looked bad on the goal disallowed. Also, he can't kick the ball out.
Wasn't there for me attacking wise.
Seemed to get burned once or twice. Missed a header at the end, didn't perform well.
Needless challenge for the penalty. His first bad Arsenal game.
Can't defend, can't pass, can't cross. I would much rather have Eboue or Tom Crusie at Left back.
How much we missed him when he went off. Was the driving force of the attack, and should've had a second. How much will we miss him? Hopefully, only misses the Hull City game.
Worked hard, made some of the best passes, defended well. Most consistent Arsenal player
Seems to give the ball away too easily, and his first touch is poor. Still, I guess he's needed for the physicality.
Didn't create enough when we needed him.
Got too isolated in the attack, had one shot from the top of the penalty box that he his straight at Jensen.
Got isolated too easily, and really really poor. I know he's coming back from injury, but he was poor against Chelsea, and Olympiakos, and Liverpool. He can't beat defenders, and makes the wrong decision at times.
Didn't do anything. Had one run where he pulled out when Jensen came out, which I think is fear of his leg.
Couldn't replace Cesc adequately enough, though few do. He looks promising, but still needs to develop.

Burnley 1-1 Arsenal: 2 points dropped

Arsenal away to Burnley just a few days after a trip to Anfield was always going to be tough match, and it certainly was. But it could have been quite different since Arnseal had three or four great chances on the first half and only scored one. The Burnley defence was poor for the first twenty minutes. Fabregas brilliantly played through Burnley’s defence to score the goal but was through early, in less then a minute and then muscled off the ball. Just a minute after his goal he was through again, but shot into the side netting. Nasri, also collected a pass over the top but a combination of his shirt being tugged and his poor touch let him down. And then Arshavin hit the post. Yet Arsenal also looking ragged at the back; Silvestre was burned down the wing, Vermalen back header that was caused through Almunia’s lack of communication was saved by Almunia and then a poor challenge by Vermalen resulted in a penalty and a one –one tie at half time. Despite the goal scoring chances, Arsenal were not looking sharp. Their passing was not that good, and when Fabregas went off with a hamstring injury it didn’t improve. They lacked the movement through the middle and Arshavin was isolated. Again played against the physicality of the Burnley team and came up second. In the second half, Burnley looked the sharper for a while, hitting the bar and having a goal ruled off side; where Almunia was on the cross, god only knows but gain he looked jittery in goal. Walcott had a chance but almost inexplicably side footed it over the bar, way over; he had a few runs but was beaten to easily. Eduardo came on for Walcott (who again seemed rusty) but did little perhaps it would have been better to bring on Vela, but for all the “attacking options” there now seems a problem scoring goals, or at least the days of 3, 4 or 6 are over; when Eduardo had a chance one on one on a 50-50 ball he seemed to back away from the big fella Jensen. Lack of confidence or simply fear? Again explicably, it was Silvestre who was up in the attacking third making the crosses—why? In all it was a bit disjointed, a little bit panicky at the back and mid field lacked precision made worse without Fabregas; not the free flowing football that we have come to expect. Over all a poor performance, Song again shone as the hard worker but there are few positives to take from the game, which we should have won if we have title aspirations.

Burnley preview

Big game tonight, as Arsenal need to go to places like Burnley and win to prove the pundits (I'm looking at you, Alan Hansen) that they can win the title. We beat Burnley 3-0 in the FA Cup at home last year, and lost to them 2-0 away in the Carling Cup. Some of those players in the Carling Cup (Ramsey, Vela, Merida, Wilshere, Fabianksi, Silvestre) will probably be on the squad tonight.
In injury news, Eboue is back, but Denilson and Traore are out. Traore has a hamstring injury that will keep him out for the Hull City game as well, while Denilson has a back problem that they're treating with caution, because he's just back from a back injury. According to Arsene, Arshavin will play tonight. Arsene talks about Arshavin's toughness, saying:
I have not met many with his pain threshold
With Denilson out, Diaby will probably start. I think the team will be: Almunia; Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Silvestre; Fabregas, Song, Diaby; Nasri, Arshavin, Vela
Subs: Fabianski, Senderos, Eboue, Ramsey, Merida, Walcott, Eduardo
I don't think Walcott starts, as he is coming back from injury and started last week's game.
The Boss also talks about his confidence in Almunia. That's all well, but Almunia does not fill me with confidence, and I'd pick Fabianski. Arsene also talks about the transfer window, making no guarentees. He says
But I don't want to promise things that I don't really know I will do at the moment.Mainly I am expecting our players to come back [from injury].

I'm skeptical about whether he will sign anyone. Bendtner and Rosicky are coming back in January (They'll be like New Signings!) and he is confident in Walcott, Vela and Eduardo, and of course Arshavin.
Not much else going on, match report later.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal: A Tale of 2 Halves

Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2

Tale of two halves? A bit of a cliché but it certainly sums up the almost historic victory at Anfield. Liverpool outplayed Arsenal in the first half. We never really got going. Nasri and Fabegas just weren’t getting in the game, Walcott didn’t have much of an effect and Arshavin was utterly isolated up front hardly had a touch. Liverpool just knew exactly what we were going to do and were spreading the ball around, especially out wide to Johnson who looked threatening. Liverpool were aggressive and had a few good chances. On a counter-attack Torres was in inside 12 minutes but shot straight at the goalkeeper. We didn’t have a shot until the half hour mark, and shots on the goal in the first half were only two I can remember, Denilson’s little chip went straight to the keeper and Nasri’s shot from outside was wide. It seemed the same Arsenal since RVP’s injury, lacking goal scoring opportunities and without Bendner too Arsenal looked all very similar. If we hadn’t of won the game, everyone would have been saying that we need a big goal scorer and lack physicality etc. Anyway Liverpool dominated the first half, they essentially had their first choice team and looked hungry to win. It wasn’t a lack of hunger on Arsenal’s part, they just could open up the space. And so finally Liverpool scored. Almunia had earlier looked indecisive on balls into the box, late in coming to them and then punching them out rather weakly. All in all he hasn’t looked that good since he came back from the flu … what is up with him? So another set piece, a good driven ball from Gerrard, went straight through to Almunia who punch weakly and Kuyt just whacked it in.

So what to do? The second half started without changes and though Arsenal came out the brighter, there was an early chance for Liverpool with Almunia looking shakey. Apparently Arsene had screamed at the player but it was Arsene’s switching Nasri and Walcott which turned out to be a clever move, because Walcott’s pace and threat did push Johnson further back and it gave Nasri some space on the right. It was Nasri, then, who taking a Fabegas pass finally got around the back of the Liverpool right back and drove a ball in toward Arshavin. Arshavin was in fact covered by two Liverpool defenders but Carragher nicked the ball which then bounced off onto Johnson’s foot and into the goal. So game on. It was a lucky goal but after that Liverpool never really threatened. Indeed, the Arsenal defense stood tall for the next forty minutes. But moreover Arsenal seemed to be winning the midfield battle, or at least moving the ball around with more authority as Liverpool who had dominated this space preferred the longer ball to Torres and Gerrard. But I am jumping ahead because just before the our mark Arshavin, given a little room on the edge of the box collected a pass turned and hit an absolutely brilliant strike that nicked the inside of the post and went in. Reina just stood there. Sure the next half an hour were nail biting, and certainly Liverpool had chances and created a few frightening moments. Walcott went off for Diaby after 70 minutes. Perhaps to strengthen mid field, more probably because Walcott was running out of steam. Diaby was OK but his passing was a little wayward. Arshavin got a knock at 90 minutes and couldn’t continue. He did run off, so hopefully it is not more than a bruise. Ramsey came on for him. Traore went off a few minutes later with what looked like a hamstring twinge after a run down the wing. Sylvester came on. Hopefully both Arshavin and Traore are OK. Arsenal ran down the clock in the last few minutes pretty well and Liverpool were beaten. A quite amazing win. Certainly the best result away from home this season.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Round-Up

Injury news: Eboue and Rosicky are definitely out for the game on Sunday. Eduardo and Diaby could make the team, while Cesc, Gallas and Arshavin and Traore all suffered knocks and bruises but are expected to play.
Alisher Uzmanov increased his stake to 26.07%. I still think Stan Kroenke will end up buying him out, but I'm not the expert on this sort of thing.
Carlos Vela signs a new deal.
Theo Walcott talks about he wants to perform well against Liverpool. I don't think he'll start but I can see him setting up Arshavin's 8th.
Also, from the injury article, Bendtner is expected back in January. Cesc, here you go. Here's a big striker.
Match preview tomorrow

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Olympiakos 1 Arsenal 0

I only saw the second half, but we'll have a first half report from Berty Me who only saw the first half.
They scored 2 minutes in to the half, when Kyle Bartley missed a tackle in midfield and Leonardo slotted home through Fabianksi's legs. After that, they went on the defensive, as they only need a win to go through to the knockout stages. Ramsey played in a lovely ball to Vela, who fired straight at the keeper when he should've scored. Walcott had a chance that was deflected over, Vela was played in again from Merida and shanked it trying to chip the keeper and we had a last minute corner cleared off the line from Leonardo. Overall, not a bad performance from the kids, but we only had 4 shots on target, and dominated possesion.
I won't do player ratings, but I was impressed by Tom Cruise, Gilbert, Ramsey, Wilshere and Sunu when he came on. Merida was apparently alright in the first half, Walcott was really unimpressive, and got a knock at the end, Bartley was decent, and the goalkeeper alright.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Arsenal name squad

Philippe Senderos is left out again, and I really think he's going to go in the Winter Transfer window. And, as Berty Me said earlier, Silvestre doesn't inspire anyone with confidence, but it looks like Arsene will not buy a defender. As Berty Me reports:

Always believing in attack Arsene reponse to a question about the January transfer window and Song’s departure to the ACN was "I don't believe we are especially short in midfield, I just believe we are short up front." Yet what about cover, especially with how thin our defense it. Arsene seems again to out his trust in Sylvester. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

As usual, it looks like Arsene won't buy more than one player in the window, if at all.
The 18 man squad is in, and 10 teenagers are in it. Sanchez Watt is a notable miss, as he played for the Reserves tonight in their 1-0 loss to Fulham. A shame for Sanchez, as I thought this could be a good chance to impress. Walcott, Vela, Song, Silvestre and Ramsey will make the trip, but Eduardo is apparently short of fitness. Hopefully now first team player gets injured.
Personally I think the lineup will be:

Arsenal (4-3-3): Fabianksi, Gilbert, Song, Bartley, Silvestre; Ramsey, Eastmond, Merida; Walcott, Vela, Wilshere
Subs: Mannone, Cruise, Ayling, Emmanuel-Thomas, Sunu, Randall, Coquelin

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quick Monday Round-Up

Not a lot happening...
from the Guardian Cesc says he wants a Didier Drogba type forward, and Arsene says the youngsters will play at Olympiakos. As everyone has seen, the Ruud Van Nistelrooy to Arsenal link gets debunked by the boss while he talks about Silvestre being a quiet leader. There will be a full Olympiakos preview tomorrow, with Cesc, Arshavin, Gallas, Denilson and Almunia all not expected to make the trip. There are 45 players available for selection in the Champions League, with some players not available because they are away on loan.
I think the team will be this:
Arsenal (4-3-3): Fabianski, Gilbert, Senderos, Vermaelen, Silvestre; Ramsey, Eastmond, Merida; Walcott, Eduardo, Wilshere. Subs: Mannone, Cruise, Coquelin, Bartley, Randall,Watt, Sunu.
More tomorrow

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Injury update

From Arsene's press conference, Eboue had a muscular problem, Gallas a hamstring, Traore a hamstring and Rosicky a groin problem. He is hopeful that Eboue, Gallas and Traore are not serious, but Rosicky is out for a while. Eduardo had a thigh problem, which is a recurrance, but according to the medical staff he should be back next week.

Arsenal v Stoke City, player ratings

Almunia -- 4.5
The Arsenal goalkeeper really does not inspire confidence, and was saved by Vermaelen and Gallas as he seemed to go to no man's land on the long throws on a couple of occasions.
Sagna -- 7
Had a good game, his usual solid self defensively
Gallas -- 7.5
Dealt with the long throws and set pieces well today, as we all knew of Stoke's threat. Silvestre and Song's performance defensively in the mid week showed how much we would miss either him and Vermaelen, and hopefully his knock isn't serious.
Vermaelen -- 7.5
I could write almost the exact same thing for Vermaelen as I did for Gallas. Glad to see his return to form after Drogba terrorized him last week.
Traore -- 7
Best performance from him. His cross lead to the blocked Fabregas shot, and he played well defensively. Obviously his ankle knock is a concern, especially as Silvestre is the replacement.
Denilson -- 7
Replaced Song really well. Made some very good tackles, and his performance was overall excellent.
Fabregas -- 7
Passed well, set up Arshavin early, and passed well. His missed penalty, however was a dissapointment.
Nasri -- 7
Tackled well, played well, and was solid. Like the rest of the team, played better today than last week.
Rosicky -- 6
Started brightly, but then somewhat faded at the end of the first half, and it was either this or a picked up injury that prompted Arsene to take him off.
Eboue -- 7.5
I think he played really well. Obviously he had some passes go astray because he's Eboue, but he was good attacking, making some very good runs. He couldn't do anything about Cesc's shot, and we seemed to lose something on the right when he came off (even though Ramsey scored). Hope he's not out for that long.
Arshavin -- 8
Magnificent in the centre forward role. Probably should've had at least one more goal, but the one he took was finished brilliantly. I think he should take Van Persie's role.
Vela-- 7
Added a different option with his pace when he replaced Rosicky, and has very good ability. I think he should start instead of Eduardo, who was dropped completely (probably injured.)
Slower than Eboue and a different team, and seemed to give the ball away easily, but took his goal very well after good play between him and Arshavin.
Frightens me when he plays. Complete nightmare.

Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City; Good Performance see's normalcy restored

The 2-0 result against Stoke doesn’t quite match Arsenal’s dominance of the game, and despite the pundits hacking on about Wenger’s love of over-intricate football and not enough size, the reason we didn’t win 5 or 6 nil was down to luck and some good goalkeeping by the Stoke keeper. Certainly Arsenal came out of the gate with a lot more confidence than quite a few fans and were unlucky not to be 1-0 up after 5 or so minutes when Arshvin’s slightly heavy touch let Sorensen (the Stoke keeper) get a jump on the ball and make a great save. Arsenal pressing didn’t amount to a goal, though Eboue was having a very bright game and Stoke’s threat was mainly the Delap long throw. That a team, with a number of good players, were reduced to such tactics says a bit about how a small team has to find a niche to stay in the premier league but there is a touch of anti-football about it, and certainly it gave Almunia kniptions (Almunia looked a little lost on these threats, but since he didn’t let anything get by him, I’ll leave criticism for another time. When Arshavin drew a penalty and we thought that the pressure would final pay off but the keeper guessed the right way and moved early to save Fabregas’ shot (which granted wasn’t top drawer)—we were missing RVP again and it looked like things might not go our way. However Arshavin, again, made a darting run into the box, held off a stiff challenge and finally beat the goal keeper. Yet another bit of luck for Stoke saved them, as Traore crossed and it hit Faye and bounced off the post and then Eboue’s leg as Fabregas' shot from close range and was almost already celebrating. So at the end of the first half only 1-0 and, from the fan’s perspective edgy as the Delap's continued. Vela was on for Rosicky in the second half. Rosicky had a decent half, don’t think he was injured, I think Arsene wanted to make sure that Vela got a run out, and he certainly was a threat and gave Arsenal another look. But it was Ramsey who scored the second goal, after Arshavin was strong enough to hold up the ball on a one-two. It was a wonderful struck ball by Ramsey, screwing it past Sorenson with the outside of his right foot. Ramsey came on for Eboue, who did pick up a knock. A shame really because he was having a bright game; ironic also that Eboue got in the way of an Arsenal goal (nothing he could do about it) and Ramsey scored one. I could say something about the will of G-d, but I won’t. For me, Ramsey hasn’t been as good as people say, and often his passes are not that accurate or not well thought out, but today the goal made up for it. It the second half, Arhsavin, again was denied by the woodwork. So luck would have it that it was 2 not 5 nil (one hit the bar, one hit Eboue, and the penalty save). But it was a good performance. The only thing to worry about is injuries, Eboue but more worrying Traore who was replaced by Silvestre with a few minuts to go. He seemed to take a knock on the ankle. Traore actually had one of his best games I’ve seen, and after being burned by Wright-Phillips mid week, Stoke offered no real threat to him. He was solid in the tackle and also made a few great runs, though his crosses were not that great, he created space and opportunity and it was his cross that came of the cross bar and Fabregas whacked at Eboue on the line. Gallas also limped off at the end of the game, so lets hope that’s not serious. But Arshavin had a magnificient game, and though Eduardo was out with an injury forcing Arsehvin in a central role, I think he is, on the strength of this performance the best person suited for it.

They have a week off now. I think it’ll be Senderos and Silveste in CL mid week.