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Newcastle Dent Arsenal’s Title Hopes : The Player Ratings

This game was the perfect example of ‘a game of two halves’, in which we were brilliant, breath taking to watch and played the best 45 mins of our season so far in one and we were abject and appalling in the other one. I give you the player ratings.

FIRST HALF

Chezzer6
Had nothing to do at all. Barely touched the ball

Clichy7
Along with Arshavin, had a good game and was very solid at the back.

JD7
Against Lovenkrands and Best, he did ok alongside Koscielny and his good header for the goal was well deserved

Koscly7
Untroubled, kept his shorts white in the first half.

Sagna6.5
Linked up well with Walcott and provided an excellent cross for the 4th goal.

Wilshere7
Head above shoulders better than the entire Newcastle midfield as his composure and ball handling skills were second to none.

Diaby6.5
Shielded the defence with good effect and even went forward a couple of times.

Fabregas7
Arsenal’s skipper barely hit top gear in the opening 45 mins as he sat back and watched other attacking players do damage.

Walcott9
Totally unplayable in the first half. The speed merchant terrorised the Magpies back line over and over and a goal and 2 assists was there to show for his effort

Arshavin8
He must have hated January as February has seen a player reborn, 2 assists and an array of sweet passes showed he’s not as lethargic as we claim.

R.V.P8
Two unusual goals from RVP today, one with the right peg and the other with the head. Had a good half.

SECOND HALF

Chezzer6
Despite conceding four goals, we had him to thank for 3 good saves in the half.

Clichy3
Targeted repeatedly in the second half as he was caught out of position more than once.

Squillaci1
He would have gotten 0 but for the one tackle he made with the scores at 4-3. This dude takes the meanings of slow and pathetic to a whole new level.

Koscly4
For someone that said he enjoys playing with JD, the opposite was on show today with Squillaci beside him. He won none of the aerial battles and looked lost at the back

Sagna3
Guiterrez took him and Walcott to the cleaners over and over again and little was done to provide cover for the centre halves.

Wilshere4
I don’t think I saw the little genius in this half as he was asked to play DM, the rest is history.

Diabyminus 100
As much as I don’t want to blame him for how we fell apart, its hard not too. A rush of blood to the head moment and he paid dearly. 4-0 up and despite it being a reckless challenge, he should have held it together. Has he cost us the Premier League??

Fabregas4
Captain Fantastic was only one of those words in this half. He failed to rally his troops and calm the storm after the red card. When we needed a leader on the pitch the most, he wasn’t there. Can’t fault him though.

Walcott3
He played no part at all, pedestrian if you ask him. He should have lent his speed to help out the defence.

Arshavin3
I doubt if he touched the ball at all.

R.V.P4
It was obvious he carried a knock throughout the half and should have been taken off.

SUBSTITUTES

Eboue2
Gave away the freekick that led to one of the second half goals.

Rosicky0
Not one successful pass, pushed over the defender and forced the ref’s hand to give a soft penalty. Utterly poor and then gave away the freekick which allowed Tiote to tie the game.

In less than 4 days we go from showing superb mental strength to playing like complete clowns and amateurs. Yes the referee was disgusting and Diaby acted a fool, but NO TEAM, I repeat, NO TEAM should lose a 4 goal lead in only 45mins. We were terrible, over confident and lacked skill or leadership in the second half. Just maybe just maybe we don’t want the Premier League trophy. Something really needs to be done with the referee’s as it continues to happen every game. First it was Lee Mason, now its Phil Dowd. God help us.

Your thoughts??

Escobar

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Victoria Concordia Crescit!

Collective Victory

I cannot seem to get enough of the highlights from last night’s game. I was close to tears after Mike Halsey blew the final whistle as I could finally sense the end of my wait for an Arsenal trophy. The players shared my sentiments too, evident in the lap of honour after the game. You could see what this win meant to the fans in the stadium. We finally have a chance to get those haters off our backs.

The first leg was an extremely poor performance from us and as such we had the task of overturning a lone goal deficit. This would have to come against a team who had no intention of attacking us in the second leg. We needed a big, big performance from the lads, one capable of taking us into our first final in 4 years, and boy what did we get?

Just three changes to the side that destroyed Wigan, Arshavin, Denilson and Nikky B coming in for Nasri, Song and Walcott respectively. These changes surprised me but they obviously paid lots of dividends.

The game in itself was one way traffic. Ipswich rarely ventured into our half not to talk of our box but one of their trademark long balls left Sagna with concussion and he had to be replaced with Eboue. That did not affect our play though as we set to rip them apart right from the first minute. I guess we were a bit too eager to score atimes and it was clear in the way we finished our chances in the first half. A little more calmness would have seen us lead at half time. But the writers of this particular script had other things in mind.

We picked up in the second half where we had left off earlier. But we just did not have the composure in the final third. I had been on the edge of my seat up till this point and I think I speak for majority of gooners if I say my heart was beating real hard when I saw 60 minutes on the clock but no Arsenal goal. How long did we have to wait? Just a minute, fellas! It was Nikky B’s voice!

His goal was pure class and this is the sort of attribute Bendtner believes will make him a world beater. That goal had composure written all over it, from the control, to the movement into the box, to the finish. I celebrated it as if we had won the Cup itself. You know why? It’s because, a goal was all this Arsenal team needed to get it firing. It would only be a matter of time before they got the other goals, I thought to myself.

The second and third goals came in the space of 15 minutes and I could breathe easy again. I could actually smell silver in the pub I saw the game. It wasn’t from the cutlery or anything in the pub or nearby, I bet it was all the way from Wembley!

In David Hytner’s words,

“The players have vowed to end the wait this season and, in the second half, the sheer force of their collective eventually wore Ipswich Town down and propelled Arsenal to their first final since 2007.”

A few positives before I close the post, Lil Jackie was astonishing last night. I was actually praying they passed the ball to him in midfield every time as he seemed to do something definitive with it each time my prayers were answered. He’s already stamped his authority on his position in this team and Arsene would be crazy to drop him for Diaby or anyone else for that matter. The performances of Arshavin and Bendtner were also encouraging as it showed that our bench players can deliver the goods. Arshavin, albeit a quiet performance, delivered two quality assists while Nikky got the goal of the night.

If you were looking for a perfect night, last night will surely fit that definition. The only blot was Man United’s win against Blackpool after going two goals down. There’s talk of Blackpool being denied a stone wall penalty early in the second half but I do not wish to be drawn into that. We all know how these things work, don’t we? And it will definitely take something special to beat them, won’t it? But hey, we are special!

It’s a bright day gooners, we have one trophy already IMO, and it would be an abomination if we did not destroy either of West Ham or Birmingham in the final. We are second in the League, with the leaders still to play Chelsea twice, and Man Citeh. They won’t win all of those, believe me. It is our duty to take advantage when they finally slip up. We are in the Champions League, and contrary to popular opinion, we are not out yet, irrespective of who the opposition is.

We have the FA Cup this weekend with Huddersfield paying us a visit. It’s a chance for some players to also show what they can bring to this team. Don’t expect anything other than an annihilation!

Oh to be a gooner!

From wherever you are reading this, it’s happening this season!
9jabred says so!

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A game of two universes. So what next?

What went wrong?

After the first 45 minutes of the game against Spurs, I was already thinking of what the title of my post match thoughts would be. I was immersed in how I would praise Arsene as the best manager this club has ever known (that hasn’t changed mind you), how I would shower accolades on Cesc for a vintage midfield performance, commend Nasri for fighting spirit, Cham29 fir striking instincts as so on. My facebook status at half time suggested that we were almost there and all I needed was a repeat or near repeat of the previous 45 minutes. But what did I get?

The second 45 minutes was what pundits and cynics will term “typical Arsenal“. I looked up this word(s) in the dictionary of football and this is what I got:

Inability to kill off games after taking the lead, allowing the opposition back into the game. E.g Arsenal-Spurs (20th November, 2010).
See also: Arsenal-Spurs (31st October 2008), Birmingham-Arsenal (27th March 2010), West Ham-Arsenal (25th October, 2009)
“.

Spot on eh?

The disaster began when we lost the ball after taking a free kick, and Spurs launched a counter and the ball fell to Bale who finished nicely. Then Cesc had a moment of pure madness when he was penalised for a raised arm in the box, VDV struck the resulting penalty with aplomb. Then from a free kick, Kaboul headed past Fabianksi in between Cesc and Squillaci. Game won, Spurs had completed a magical comeback and won at our home for the first time in 17 years.

While I am not one to put blame on people, I think Wenger got a few things wrong. I still do not understand why He took off Nasri for an ineffective Rosicky. Nasri had everything to play for, a feud with Gallas was extra incentive, I doubt any other player in the squad will have the determination to score the goal did. It was evident form his celebration that he wanted to win badly and did everything to get the ball in the back of the net. He also brought on an unfit RVP for Cham29, and Walcott for Arshavin. Overall, his subs were ineffective and below par.

The defenders had a nightmare of a game, and Koscly in particular was found wanting many atimes. The Squilacci-Djourou combo showed great promise and I still don’t understand why they were not paired again. Cesc had a game to forget, Clichy and Sagna did little going forward and Song was awful in his positioning, thus giving VDV ample space to cause damage.

I did not realize the effect of this defeat until I tried surfing the web I discovered that I could not visit my usual football sites without being greeted with comments and views on the game. I was in deep pain and the only respite for me was Chelsea’s loss to Birmingham. In statistics though, you’ll learn that both events are independent and mutually exclusive!

My worry now is how we respond to this defeat, our 3rd at home in November. If this home run continues, we should expect 3 more defeats (Chelsea, United and L’pool). 6 home defeats and we DEFINITELY won’t win the league title. Are there any positives? Yes. Chelsea lost their 3rd league game in a row and we are still only 2 points adrift the top of the table.

The players have been in the press talking of how important it is to respond in the game against Braga. We need to do that in style, and even if we do beat them 10 zip, it still won’t remove the fact that we have no record to hold over the Spuds any longer. How sad?

Roll on Tuesday, I can’t wait for us to get a huge win so the ghosts of Saturday’s game can be partly exorcised. One thing is for sure though, the scar of that game will be on the mind of every gooner…except of course we in the league come May.

It’s a cold day in Accra today, very weird that is. I’m off to get some breakfast and prepare myself for a barrage from my Arsenal-hating pals. Not my best of times you bet.

From wherever you are reading, look for positives.
I’ll be doing the same all day.

Another must-win game

Arsenal-Everton

As if there is a game we should be glad to lose…

So, in my usual drunken fashion I shall be at E-bar with a bottle or do I say bottles of vodka and barbeque posted around the pool table area hoping, No! scrap that, praying for a repeat of the scoreline in last season’s corresponding fixture.

It is amazingly unlikely though. Why? Last season’s fixture was the season opener and Everton are notoriously slow starters. Also, we had our full strength team, now, well we do have a number of people still on the treatment table and, well, suspended.

For instance, TV5 is still out and the gaffer is clueless as to when he’ll be back. Our favourite waiter, Almunia has not got any mention of late and has been out for a stretch now. Koscly’s ban is effective from today’s game and RVP is unlikely to start. Diaby’s back though, so is Gibbs and Bendtner who rather ridiculously claims he will leave if he does not start more often. Go ahead then Nikky, and murder your fledgling career! Like you are actually going to get the nod ahead of Chamakh, a better player in my opinion.

Anyhow,everyone seems to be in order so a 4-4-3/4-5-1 is what you’re likely to see. I do hope Theo gets the nod because he WILL give what is a rather slow team, with the exception of Pienaar and Saha a hard time. All in all if we exploit them with our wide men well and our speed, my guess is we will be fine.

Everton like to play a compact game because of the fact that they are rather slow, so if we stretch them with our width and pace, we should cause them all sorts of problems. Hopefully Cesc and Nasri will do what they do best; wreck havoc and Chamakh will pick up from where he left off. Fellaini and Osman will not feature which is good news as far as I’m concerned.

I will stick my neck out and say we’ll have this one, even though I know we could also come out with a draw. Whichever way I must be very light-headed come the end of the game so I guess wouldn’t be too depressed if we do drop points until I’m conscious again.

That being said, from wherever you’re watching, have a ball.
Ita will!

The new dimension to our play.

We want more of this

During the off-season, gooners worldwide clamoured for new additions to bolster our rearguard and forward line. This was heeded by the club with the arrival of Chamakh on a free,the relatively unknown Koscielny from FC Lorient and the veteran Squillaci from Sevilla. Not exactly the signings you need to win the league, everyone thought; seeing as our rivals boasted the likes of Drogba-Lampard-Terry (Chelski) and Vidic-Scholes-Rooney (United). But we had no choice than to settle down, as it was obvious that none of the 50+ defenders, strikers and goalkeepers were going to be wearing the red and white of Arsenal this season.

The fans stuck to the old but popular saying, ‘Arsene Knows’ and hoped for Koscly to do a Vermaelen and Chamakh to be our 20+ goals-a-season striker. Then today, it struck me that we missed out on something, our midfielders have grown, not only in performances, but in experience and stature and they are now getting the recognition. Though relatively young, our midfielders have spent at least 3 seasons playing together, the combination of Fabregas-Denilson-Song-Diaby are less than 25 years old but they can boast of well over 500 games for Arsenal among them, and I stress the “well over”.

Every time we hear Arsene say at the beginning of the season how playing together as a unit has helped the players grow and that they will be mentally stronger and better from past experiences. Is this finally becoming a reality? I should think so.

Arsenal repeatedly get the stick for how soft our core is and how opponents roughen us up each time we play. It looked as though that routine will continue this season, but against opposition like Bolton and Blackburn we have more than held our own, dominating both games, scoring 6 goals and conceding 2. Not bad eh? It’s funny how many times the midfield has been changed this season and how it has hardly caused any disruption to our play. Are we losing the ‘soft core’ tag or is that we have we found a way around these teams? It’s a bit of both, I think.

Our early season form and good fortune is mostly down to the efforts of our midfileders. Take a cue from key games such as the City away, Shakhtar at home, Braga away, and the League Cup game against Spurs. Earlier in the millennium, we used to be feared for how efficiently we “shared” our goals. Midfielders like Pires, Ljungberg, Vieira and Parlour put in more than their share of goals but as the years went by, it all dried up…Hleb et al.

But these crop of midfield players are determined to change that, contributing over 42% of our total goals. Nasri, 23 is enjoying his most productive start to any league season with seven goals scored already and quite some assists. Arsene says he’s beginning to show his “inner Pires” and I cannot agree more. His range of passing has improved vastly and so has the ability to cut in from both flanks, deliver a killer pass or end a good run with a goal. He’s got this mixture of confidence and arrogance, and his maturity on and off the pitch coupled with his leadership qualities has been a joy to behold. He showed utmost composure to bury 2 penalties against Spurs on their turf. His versatility, playing comfortably on either wings, attacking midfield and even in defensive midfield has prompted Wenger to add that he is becoming a complete midfielder.

Another who has matured in bounds this season is Alexandre Song. Would you believe that someone who had just 3 shots on target the whole of last season has already put in 4 goals in October. That’s more than Arsharvin and Cesc, including the extremely important winner against West Ham, which brought chants of ‘We’ve only got one Song’ from the fans.

Truth be said, Song had a shaky start to the season, picking up stupid bookings and getting caught out of position. Maybe it was the World Cup hangover or adapting to the new hairstyle(hilarious eh?). But his transformation has been nothing short of fantastic as he ventures forward more and is always lurking around the penalty box. He’s become the all action box-to-box midfielder we crave and as his transition from defence to attack is mesmerizing. Can the hunger to win titles be at its peak among this crop of players?

It would be serious injustice if I omitted Wilshere from this. The young midfielder at 18, is fast becoming a main stay in the Arsenal midfield. Given the opportunity due to Cesc’s absence, he has grabbed it with both hands giving mature and inspired displays that bely his age, scoring a goal in Europe and and also adding assists. A red card has shown that he has this edge to his game, he loves getting stuck and won’t be pushed around. Against top teams, he did not hide behind the older players and always demanded the ball. You can see it in his eyes, he’s got this winning mentality.

But for the injuries to Ramsey(another one of them) and Cesc he might have found himself farmed out on loan again. He has made a name and endeared himself to the fans. A Man-Of-Match performance against Spurs in the League Cup, more than staed a case for his emergence on the world stage. Just yesterday, he was rewarded with a new long term contract rumoured to have tripled his pay. Wilshere, to me is the future captain of Arsenal…at least he’s got Arsenal DNA!

Honourable mentions must also go to Fabregas, Denilson and Diaby for their performances so far. Cesc yet to hit top form has a couple of goals and some assists. One thing about his game he’s that even when he’s not playing to his usual standards, his presence gives the others a lift. Denilson has also put in solid shifts each time he’s been called upon. Some may point to his somewhat poor display over the weekend, but this is the only player who featured in all 3 games last week; art least he played the most minutes.

If we do win the League come May, let these guys not be forgotten because it would not be because of Van Persie’s magic goals, or Bendtner’s now-refined finishing, or Chamakh’s work rate and the penalties he’ll win, or even Vela’s chipped goals. It will be because the boys in the middle picked up the mantle when the forward guys were could not deliver.

From wherever you are reading, have fun.
Escobar says so!

Gunners expertly dispatch Trotters.

Koscly goal

Arsenal once again banished memories of past games against Bolton with an efficient display on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Going into the game, we had many injury concerns, with Theo Walcott getting injured on international duty and Robin extending his time out. We were definitely short up front; with Nikky B and Nasri not up for a start, I eagerly awaited what kind of attack we were going to line out with.

When the team sheet was released, I heaved a sigh of relief as we were still strong in attack, with Arshavin and Rosciky on either side of Chamakh. Changes were also made to the back four: Gibbs and Eboue came in for the rested duo of Clchy and Sagna respectively; Squillaci also came in for the slightly injured Vermaelen to Koscly at the heart of the defence. It was a joy to see Wilshere start alongside Cesc and Song in midfield; Arsene definitely had the midweek Champions League fixture on his mind.

The game in itself was virtually all Arsenal. In the opening 45 minutes, Cesc and Rosicky pulled the strings, moving the ball around quite well and attempting the most delicate of passes. Quite a number of these passes made their way to Arshavin and he wasted them, chances that he would normally bury on a normal day. This is a worrying sight as on other days and against better teams, we might have paid dearly for those missed chances.

In the 23rd minute however, a Wilshere cross from the right was met on the far post by Cesc who squared in across goal to Koscly who managed to nudge it into the net. He was understandably happy with himself. I guess his happiness went into his head as he misjudged a long ball from deep in the Bolton half and tamely headed back when a clearance would have been more appropriate. His header only made its way to an unmarked opposing player in our box and Bolton drew level. It was unimaginable given the fact that we dominated the entire game. Arsenal pressed for a goal before the break but Bolton were very glad going into half time on par.

In the second half, Arsenal picked up from where they left off and continued the search of that goal. Their efforts were rewarded on the hour as Chamakh steered home a header from a Cesc cross. We had the advantage now and needed to get more to kill off any hopes of a comeback. We were celebrating again when Alex Song finished off a lovely passing move involving Cesc and Arshavin. He beat his man and chipped the ball delightfully above the goalie with the ball strolling over the line. 3 – 1, in the 78th minute with most of the possession, you did not see a way back for Bolton in this one. All we had to now was pass the ball around and exploit any other chances.

The Grove was raised to its roof with the last goal. Vela who was on as a substitute got on the end of a 24-pass move and slotted past the keeper. It was undoubtedly the goal of the weekend. Arsenal at their imperious best, and Vela contributing his own share of goals.

Final whistle, game over, mission accomplished. We just defeated our one time bogey team and in style too. There were a few positives to take from this game, the wonderful debut from new boy Squillaci, the goal by Koscly, Cesc’s performance, Chamakh and Vela’s goals. The major negative in this match is the injury to Diaby. Another injury? Oh please! How do we end all these worries. It’s becoming a norm and a bad habit at that.

We have the Champions League next. It feels so good to be participating in Europe’s number one competition once again. We have a relatively easy group, and with the way injuries have dealt with us, more rotation is needed. So I expect to see some “new faces” in the midweek.

That’s it gooners, we are second, we have beating Blackburn and Bolton and drawn away to Liverpool. Not a really bad position to be in, is it?

Thoughts?

From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!

Transfer deadline is today. What’s in it for us?

Will there be more?

It’s that time of the year again. The day when most football fans wait eagerly for transfer news concerning their teams. The day when all the transfer rumours we have been entertained with since the end of last season will cease, at least for about 4 months. Trust me there will be a lot of players moving clubs before 6 p.m UK time today (when the window shuts) but what we wonder is if any of them will be headed towards N5.

We have already done some very good deals over the summer, bringing in Chamakh from Bordeaux, Koscly from Lorient and Skilly from Sevilla and of course “the signing of the summer” according to Le Boss, retaining the services of our talismanic captain Cesc Fabegas. Wonderful piece of business, each of them, if you ask me but the problem is if we will be just fine with just these three additions. Earlier in the summer, Le Boss himself declared that he was not sure who his number 1 was, going into the new season. That is a very bold statement considering Manuel Almunia has been number one for over 3 seasons now and receives little competition from his number two Fabianski.

Words have been bandied around that we have set our sights on Fulham goalie Mark Schwarzer, the Australian international. The deadline to add him to out roster for next season is now and if we do not sign him today, Arsene would have done nothing but unsettle two players in my opinion. You will agree with me that this will be no different from what Barca treated us to all summer. If Le Boss is serious about replacing Almunia, he should bring out the cheque book and give Fulham what is reasonable enough for a goalkeeper of our calibre. Our initial bids have been made public and if we do not wrap this up today, Manuel will know he is only first choice not because Wenger believes in him but because we were unsuccessful in our bid to bring in a replacement.

The goalkeeper position is not the only place we need reinforcements. Events over the weekend have made it clear that our glass-man, Van Persie will not last us a full season AGAIN. This leaves us with only Chamakh and an injured Nikky B as cover. We are only an injury to Chamakh away from starting Arshavin up front alone a la last season. Bringing in a cover for them will not be a bad idea but once again what if my predictions are wrong and we have all these guys for a long period say three months? What will become of the new player? This doea not really matter, if he is good enough, he will get playing time.

It is as though, Armand Traore and Jay Emmanuel Thomas will be going out on loan deals to Birmingham and Sunderland respectively. Also, a new defensive midfielder who can push Song for a starting place and act as cover will not be a bad idea will it?

That’s it gooners, brace yourself for the most ridiculous of assumptions and inferences today. What we do today might just be the difference between winning the title and being also-rans. Arsene get in there and do what is best for this great club, whatever you think, even if it means signing Francis Jeffers for $40 million!

From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!

A Theorrific Show: Arsenal Hit Blackpool for Six

Theo Walcott

On a scorching Afternoon in North London with Fab and RVP on the bench, we sent B’pool crashing to earth with a Walcott-inspired performance. AW made three changes to the squad with Walcott,Rosicky and Song replacing Eboue,Nasri and Koscileny respectively.

The game started slowly with ‘pool having enturing forward and Arsenal playing the waiting game. Their first meaningful attack came after Song fouled a pool player and the resulting free kick wasted. If only they had a premonition of what they were in for…

13 minutes gone and our first goal arrived, a counter attack from the left with Clichy releasing Arsh who fed Chamakh, got it back, fed rosicky and got it back again before releasing Theo who slotted calmly past the goalkeeper.

The Tangerines responded with a free header from a freekick which was inches wide after poor marking from Clichy. At this stage Rosicky and Wilshere had started to pull strings and Chamakh was fouled after bursting clear with Theo flashing the resulting kick wide. It did not end there, another cross-field pass from Wilshere was cut out before an attack could emerge. Rosicky also went for goal only to see it fly wide after good build up play between himself and clichy. Blackpool resulted to long balls to get out of their own half which did them no good.

Another attack this time from the back with TV5 to Walcott to Rosicky back to Theo again who raced clear before feeding Arsh who hit it on the volley bringing out a good save from the goalkeeper. Walcott was proving a real menace to the Blackpool defence and on 24 minutes he set Chamakh free with a “blind” pass and he missed the goal by a few yards.

We were in ascendancy especially Rosicky who cut through the defence and the Lil Mozart characteristically released Chamakh was felled just “around” the 18-yard area. Penalty and a red card for Evatts the defaulting player was the result. Up stepped Arsha to convert..2 goals up with one extra man, or two if I include the fans.

You would be forgiven for thinking Cesc and RVP were on the pitch. Another arsenal attack saw Walcott weave through the defence again running through like hot knife through butter only for Chamakh to hesitate in pulling the trigger with Arsh firing wide from the follow up. B’pool were in complete disarray and kept losing the ball, it proved fatal once more as Chamakh won the ball and released Wilshere. The lad fed Walcott who spun around Nistelrooylically before bending a right footed shot into the bottom corner. 3-0… Just 39 minutes on the clock.

The carnival had just started. 2 minutes later saw another attack with Clichy releasing Chamakh whose shot was turned around by a Blackpool goalie bent on denying him his first League goal. Rosicky and Wilshere continued dominating play and the Czech captain set up Arsh, leaving just two Blackpool defenders to take on 4 Arsenal forwards. The ball fell to Walcott and he deftly laid it into the path of unsuspecting Wilshere, whose touch was a tad heavy. Blackpool were 3 goals ahead at half time in their previous game, they were on the receiving end of a similar trashing from us after 45 minutes.

The second half started the way the first ended. Just after two minutes, Rosicky released Sagna who skipped past a challenge before pulling it back for Diaby who swept home beautifully. 4-0…all kinds of things were happening, including a decent cross from Sagna! We kept up the tempo with wave after wave of attack orchestrated by master conductor Rosicky. Another attack yet again led to beautiful interplay between Sagna and Diaby. The move ended with a well timed pass for Theo, who took the ball in his stride, composed himself and bent it curled it in with his weaker foot for his first Arsenal hat-trick. Goal number 5, and still counting…

The mauling didn’t stop there, a breakaway led Arsha feeding Chamakh. Our Moroccan skied over the bar from 2 yards with the goal at his mercy Well, we were goals up, so he was easily forgiven. AW had had enough of “serious football” and decided to strut some training ground stuff. Enter Cesc (who got a rousing reception by the way) and RVP for Diaby and Arsh respectively. Walcott exited shortly after to a standing ovation and on came Vela. Chamakh who desperately search for his League’s first got what he craved when he powered a headed past the goalie from a RVP corner. His celebration was more of relief than ecstasy.

We switched gear and kept everything cool, we were still in control of possession and Wilshere almost iced the cake with a goal but fluffed his lines… Even though Cesc and RVP were on for just few minutes, they managed to show why they are the two most influential players in the team. Vela even had the time to put the ball over the heads of three players one after the other but he scoffed his shot when it mattered most.

Final whistle… 6 goals, 3 points, the least result befitting such a perfect performance!

There was really no message sent to the rest of the League as we were expected to come out with all three points. I am glad, Yes! But over the moon? No! If we can managed this sort of result against the likes of Everton, Fulham and Citeh, then I might hang myself upside down in joy. For now, it was a routine victory and we still have a lot of work to do to wrest that title back to N5.

News making rounds today suggest that Squillaci will fly into London today for his medical. While I have my reservations concerning him as a player, we need that cover at the back very badly and I’ll be more than happy to have him.

P.S:MGFC are closing in on a new player, Osagie Edet. Terms have been agreed between the involved parties and the move is only subject to a medical. Osagie, an attacking midfielder is technically gifted and we can achieve a lot more with his goals and assists. He’ll be joining a team of superstars like Escobar, iamfaf and 9jabred. Mouth-watering team innit?

From wherever you are reading, have fun.
Escobar says so!

A TALE OF 4 STOPPERS…WHO SHOULD BE NUMBER ONE?

Number 1 and 2and Given

The goalkeeping situation at our club becomes more and more confusing and frustrating with each passing day. Recent stories concerning our custodian in goal for this season have sort of robbed our backline of some stability it so badly needs. Since the curtains were drawn on last season, gooners all around the world have been clamouring for a new goalie amongst other signings. Well, we got Marouane and Koscly, two players who have proven themselves to small extent.

Arsene started the whole thing with his declaration that he had no confirmed Number 1 going into the new season. Why Le Boss will utter such and has not done much about it still beats me. Four names have been linked to the post of the top man with two fothem already at Arsenal. Our first choice goalie for next season is likely to be one of Almunia, Schwarzer, Given and Fabianksi. Yes, the same Fabianski!!!

Shay Given, 34, was snubbed by Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini at the weekend and had to watch from the substitutes’ bench as Joe Hart excelled in his absence at White Hart Lane. At a point, he even had to applaud the outstanding Hart. Given had indicated earlier in the week that he was not prepared to play second fiddle to anyone at Citeh and has been given the green light on a move away from the Eastlands.

Mark Schwarzer, 37, is said to be desperate to join us after an initial bid was turned down earlier this month. He missed Fulham’s season opener with a back injury but his representatives have made it clear to the Fulham board that the Australian shot stopper wants to move across London due to the lure of Champions League footie. Our current number one Big Al meanwhile feels demoralized with the current situation. He admitted that he might look to move away from the N5 should we secure the services of either men as they will be direct competition with him for top stop, and most likely relegate him to the bench.

The last and definitely least popular of them all is our second choice Fabianski, who yesterday said that he was determined to prove himself a worthy number one. Fabianski joined from Legia Warsaw in 2007 and has not had the best of times. He is trailed by high profile errors and has practically lost the confidence of the fans. While He has a great future, I feel we currently need someone who’s going to calm the defence down and be consistent, at least more consistent than what we have now.

Almunia is not a bad keeper, he is at decent; but maybe at a club like Arsenal, we need more than just a decent goalkeeper. All the blame should not fall on Almunia alone, the outfield players ( Denilson and Diaby anyone?) should take some stick for not protecting him well enough. Take Barcelona for example, Valdes is in no way better than Al, but his team shields him well against onslaught from opposing teams.

While Given and Schwarzer are rated over him, it should be noted that they have not actually experienced what it feels like to play at a top club like Arsenal; Champions League football every season and regular contenders for the title. The pressure and demands is much more than what is obtained in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Fulham or even Man Citeh. As such we can not really judge them on how they will perform with us. Schwarzer did not set the World Cup on fire in my opinion.

If we are to mount a successful challenge for the title this season, we will need more than just a good keeper. Koscly is suspended for the next two league games I believe, God forbid, if anything happens to Djourou, we’ll be down to bare bones at the back…in August! The new keeper if brought in will need some time to get used to his defence and vice versa and the beginning of a new season is not quite the ideal time to bed in.

Had the goalkeeper, whoever he is, signed during preseason, maybe I might be singing a different tune. But for now (this season at least), I feel the devil you know well is superior to the angel you do not know quite enough.

What do you guys think?

P.S: Nasri will today undergo minor surgery on his knee following a meniscal injury sustained during the match against Liverpool on Sunday. He will be out of action for a month. Familiar tales eh?

From wherever you are reading,have fun.
9jabred says so!

HERO TO ZERO IN BARELY 10 MINUTES: THE REINA SHOW.

Reina horror

Everyone related to the Arsenal should be grateful to Pepe Reina for the one point we came out with from today’s game. After making probably the save of the weekend just a few minutes earlier from a brilliant Rosicky shot. The Czech captain exchanged passes with RVP, danced around a few challenges in the box and let it fly. I already stood up for what I thought was a sure goal, but funny enough the net was not rattled. How on earth did that not score? On replay, Reina actually had a hand to it, raising it just over the cross bar.

A seemingly harmless Rosicky cross saw the Spaniard clearly ridiculed after vying for the ball with Marouane which the Moroccan knocked against the post. The ball then fell to Reina, who fumbled it and actually threw it into the net himself. Handing one of your rivals a goal at the death, when a win would have boosted morale at Anfield? You simply had to feel sorry for him.

On second thought though, I think it’s just a case of fate paying Pepe back in his own currency. The bald Spaniard was at the centre of the Fabregas Barcelona shirt controversy. He actually made the announcement and clearly ridiculed Arsenal and us fans.

The match in itself was quite a tensed spectacle in which two debutants for both sides saw red. First was Joe Cole who was given his marching orders on the verge of half time for a scathing challenge on Laurent Koscielny near the byline. It looked quite nasty and “committed” as the English press would describe it but the decision on what colour of card to issue was the referee’s. Ironically, the same man who was fouled for Cole’s dismissal would follow suit after handling the ball in the 90th minute. He had been booked a minute before for a bad tackle to Kuyt’s groin. It was only normal for him to get sent off after committing a somewhat deliberate handball.

We had most of the ball, with the home team prepared to wait and hit us on the counter. Bar a TV5 shot which Reina did well to parry away, our possession amounted to nothing in the first half. The second half though saw both sides trying to take the initiative. Liverpool drew first blood when Kuyt intercepted a sloppy pass from Jackie and fed Ngog. The young Frenchman rifled a shot from a difficult angle through Almunia’s near post. Anfield went mad!!! Maybe, just maybe Al could have done a bit better; TV5 also sholdn’t have given him that sort of space. Our late equalizer came courtesy of the Reina show, and in a week when rumours are rife about us signing a new keeper, Al did little to build Arsene’s confidence in him.

I need to touch on the few positives I took from this game. While there is definitely room for improvement, Koscielny did not look out place against the big boys. He looked confident and his touches were assured. The red card aside, he had a good game. Another good thing was a great game from Rosicky. Mozart, as he’s fondly called changed our approach completely and seemed to bring life into our attack.

Some negatives though, Nasri bottled up AGAIN. He’s really inconsistent and needs to step up in big games. He seemed to play with the handbrakes and was sometimes too careful to open up the Liverpool defence. A complete opposite of Rosicky! Arsha also looked disinterested in the whole show. His passes were wayward and tired. He generally looked unfit. Theo still needs to improve his crossing. Yeah, it was just one chance, but we need to make these chances count. Our bench was a funny one with no natural centre back present. What would Arsene have done had Koscly gone down under the Cole challenge? Bring on a half fit Song? Lastly, if we think Diaby is our back up for Song in the defensive midfield position, then we are not serious about winning the title.

So, by and large, our first weekend ends in a draw, a lucky one for that matter but it’s all good. You can not rate a draw at Anfield as a disaster, can you? Forget the Chelsea win and an almost certain Man United win, it’s just the beginning of the race. As the Nigerian will say, NO SHAKING!!!

From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!

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