Monthly Archives: March 2010

It’s a massive dent, but not a full crash…

Nasri vs B'Ham '10

So our title push looks to have suffered a major set-back yesterday afternoon following that draw at Birmingham. It was the most annoying game I’ve seen us play in quite a while and the fact that we could have won this game by almost three goals is what pains me. We played a good game yesterday, a very good game but we just lacked that killing effect, that ruthless finishing that has been attributed to Chelsea and United. We started this game 2 points behind United on top and needed to win this one and our remaining 6 to have a shot, but yesterday’s result sees our hopes fading away quick.

Arsene kept his word and started Sol to partner Song at the back, Abou replaced him in midfield, Sagna returned and I got my wish when Theo and Rosicky started on either side of Nikky B who was a doubt. I was licking my lips at the thought of having Nasri and Arshavin on the bench as they could give us enough firepower if required. I did not know they did not have enough fire in their armoury. Arsenal began the game on the front foot and should have taken the lead as early as the third minute but Rosicky miscued his shot from just inside the box. The onus was on us to get the 3 points today especially as United and Chelski were to meet next week. Theo looked like our best chance on the counter as he was continually given the license to torment.

Birmingham had held both United and Chelski to draws at home and were well intent on adding us to that list. They rose to the challenge, well Jerome mostly as he troubled Sol all afternoon with his strength and pace, and he should have put them ahead only a smart save from Big Al stopped that. At the other end, Theo should have done better after reacting fastest to a Cesc through ball and sensing Hart off his line went for goal but Hart stood firm and parried. Again Theo was gifted space in the box after a punt from Rosicky but Hart was again on hand to deny us. Jerome at this point was bullying the Arsenal defence and won a lot of free-kicks. This was the tone of a very drab and frustrating game. Sandwiched in between all this were a lot of hard crunching tackles that went unpunished with the most notable one resulting in a slight knock to our skipper who he stayed on as the referee blew for half time.

The second 45mins started the way the first ended, with Arsenal creating chance after chance. Cesc who had been hitherto quiet started to get into the game. He was stringing pass after pass but the goal just wouldn’t come. Arsene had to bring on Arsha and Samir to give us a bit of cutting edge and they sparked life into our attack immediately. We were attacking Birmingham from all angles now and on 80minutes, we got what we needed when clever movements around the box gave Samir the space to strike the ball into the bottom corner with such devastating effect. I jumped for joy and felt relieved thinking of when the second would come (yeah, that’s how good we were).

One moment though changed the whole game. It wasn’t from Birmingham, it was from us. We were a goal up and Samir was in acres of space, right in front of the keeper, on his favourite foot, with the net begging to ‘cry’. What did he do? My man chose to cut back with no one in sight. I was surprised and thought for once if we had signed Marc Vivien Foe and whom nobody else saw. It was poor decision of the highest order and we pad for it when Big Al flapped a simple Kevin Phillips’ effort in the 92nd minute into his own net. The softest goal I have since…ok, since Fabianski against Porto. Now, I didn’t know which was worse, Almunia’s blunder or Nasri’s pass. A 92nd minute equaliser will readily pass for a defeat to me. I was stunned and short of words, we had controlled this game for long periods and practically threw the match away. 9jabred, my very emotional colleague would have definitely cried had he watched the match, but he missed due to unavoidable commitments.

So we’re 4 points behind United who made easy work of Bolton but perhaps the result of the weekend was at Stamford Bridge where Chelski destroyed Villa 7-1. The fact that both of them won only added salt to injury. Now I’ll give my thoughts on a few things, Arshavin is a fantastic player, world class, but he needs to be more committed and finish chances more often. Yes, he’s got some good goals, but he’s missed quite a number of easy chances too and yesterday, he missed another good one to win us this match. Almunia still does not instill any sort of confidence in the defence with such goalkeeping and Clichy and Sagna are very good but their crossing is extremely diabolical.

As the header suggests, this draw is a slight blip and nothing more I hope. We need to start winning as soon as possible and what better way to start than winning against Barcelona. Iniesta ins’t playing even though I don’t think that will change a lot of things, they’ve still got Messi and Xavi in the team. Cesc is a doubt but I think he’ll make it and be fit enough to start. So all in all, we missed our chance but I feel it’s not over, at least not yet. We still have a chance even though it’s extremely bleak. We gooners have no choice but to keep the faith. We’ll be here to put you in the right frame of mind for the Barca game.

From wherever you are watching, have fun.

Escobar says so!

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A tricky visit to the Brum looms

Gallas rant VS Birmingham '08

So our quest for “the holy grail” requires us to pay a visit to one of the teams with the best home league records. Birmingham City haven’t lost at St Andrew’s since September, and Manchester United and Chelsea have both dropped points there, both coming back with somewhat lucky draws. We all should be well aware that the closest we’ve come to the title since 2004 was in the 07/08 season, but our challenge started to crumble on a certain sunny afternoon at the same stadium. In one match, Theo bagged his first league goals(a brace), Dudu suffered THAT horrific injury, we conceded a goal from a free kick, we were denied many clear penalties but later went on to concede a silly one. All these in 90minutes of pulsating action that ended with the whole world seeing the baby side of Gallas. Those memories still linger in the mind of every gooner till today as the moment everything changed for us.

Two years on and we visit again with a slightly different first eleven ready to banish every memory. A lot has happened to this team in those two years, and Birmingham fans will watch a different Arsenal tomorrow. The “class” of 2010 have more steel, mental strength and belief than that of 2008. Ramsey was done an “Eduardo” at Stoke some weeks ago, we would not have won that match two years ago but this time we won well. We were a man down against West Ham for over 50mins and yet we covered every blade of grass and won the match restricting them to half chances. This year we haven’t got Ade but we’ve got Nikky B, there was no Arsha or TV5 then, Clichy and Cesc have become “men” since then. These lads have all the belief in the world and the only thing that can stop them now is themselves.

Onto team news, TV5 will sadly sit out this one due to suspension, there are some doubts over Nikky B’s fitness too. Gallas isn’t lucky enough to make it in time for this one too. We’ll be missing these lads plus RVP and the likes who have been out for quite longer periods. So I expect Song to continue alongside Sol in centre defence even though I suspect Fish Head might get the nod. The midfield should be largely unchanged, maybe Diaby coming in for Song in the event of his(Song) deployment to defence. The front three should basically be the same that has served us well for quite a number of games with Arsha and Samir on both wings. Bendy’s fitness worries may just see Dudu start this game and you can be sure he’s going to settle some scores with the home fans. Even though Arsene has continually stressed the importance of this match over the Barcelona tie, I feel me may need some rotation up front and the idea of Rosicky and Theo starting in place of Arsha and Samir isn’t quite a bad one.

So even though I’m not feeling as confident as I expected, I still back us to see of the threat of this really decent Birmingham side. I think it’s going to end in a 2-0 win for us and I hope and pray I’m correct. This is one of the two “tasking” matches left in our run in with the other being the visit of Citeh to the Ems, but if reports are anything to go by, Robin should be back for that one which makes it a splendid match up. Yh, I know we’ve still got the Spuds left but c’mon, it’s the premier League for God’s sake, they haven’t done it in about 13 years or so and are NOT going to do it now, not when it matters to us most!

It’s Friday lads and still quite some hours to kickoff, so there’s still lotza time to party and do crazy stuffs.

From wherever you are reading, have fun.

9jabred says so!

Cesc not bothered + plus Titi wanted Arsenal last. Thanks Rovers!.

Titi+Cesc
The good old days

In probably his first interview on the Champions League draws, el capitan Cesc maintains we would have had to face Barcelona sooner or later if really wanted to be champions. When quizzed on how he felt about the draws, Cesc simply smiled and said “If you want to win this competition, you have to beat everyone who is coming” He then added that if we had been drawn against Bordeaux or Lyon we would have taken it the same way. He continued:”Barcelona is a great team, but we always go with the same mentality and that is to win, we are going to play against the best team in Europe, probably in the world“. And in a move to assure the fans, el capitan said the lads are really looking forward to it as it is another opportunity to play against a great team in a great stadium and he feels it will be an exciting contest.

In the same vein, according to Barcelona right back and Henry’s team mate Dani Alves, of all the Barcelona players, he was the only one unhappy with the draws. He’s said to have wanted to face the Gunners in Madrid, in the final. This reaction reaction is hardly as it’s obvious Titi’s heart is still at N5 and the Frenchman just recently in an interview spoke of the Gunners using the words “we” and “us”, clearly an establishment of how much he still loves the club. Said Alves, “Speaking after the draw, Alves said: “In the dressing room, the draw was well received except by Henry. He wanted French opponents and Arsenal in the final”. One has to pity him because he never wasted any chance to assure gooners of his undying love and also proclaiming he left simply because he “had to” leave, and I agree with him because he seemed to need a change of environment. The infamous marital problems he had only helped hasten his decision. We at MG wish him luck and hope he does well even though we want him to lose. Yes! Arsenal first!

Meanwhile, after our win over West Ham, we could watch the matches involving United and Chelski with some degree of confidence. We hoped one of Liverpool and Blackburn could do us a favour by preventing a win for their opponents. But as it turned out, those scousers were no match for the kings of “very old” Trafford. Even though they scored first, the moment they conceded the controversial (and I mean very controversial) penalty from which Rooney scored on second attempt to equalize, the game always looked like it would end in disappointment for us gooners. And it sure did, as Park who was having a blinder popped in with a header from a Fletcher cross to win the game for United. If only Torres showed enough awareness to kill of United…

On the bright side though, Chelski dropped points away to Blackburn after taking an early lead through Didier Drogba. Serial “spit master” El Hadj Diouf leveled things and made sure Carlo Ancelotti left the pitch wondering what went wrong. He confirmed a lack of confidence among his players during his post-match conference. We can only hope that run continues.

So all in all, we are second, 2 points behind United and also behind on goals difference but 2 ahead of Chelski albeit with a game in hand. Now Chelski have to beat United to get back and this suits us just perfectly. Let’s hope we win our games and our rivals clear up each other one way or the other. I’ve stated a couple of times and I’ll repeat again, I do not care how we win or how they lose, all I’m concerned about is seeing that cup back at N5 come May.
It seems slightly uncertain at the moment and even though United have the advantage now, it’s still a great possibility. Never stop believing in those lads, Keep the Faith! In the Spirit of the Arsenal!
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!

Arsenal take the tough route, again.

Cesc VS WHam '10

The visit of West Ham to the Ems should “normally” be a walk-over based on our current form and renewed belief. But that assumption ends on paper, because the match I all saw was everything except a routine, easy victory. It was hard earned and luckily too. The build up to this match was dominated by the results of the Champions League 1/4 final draws that sees us trade tackles with favourites FC Barcelona. All football fans, journalists and analysts just couldn’t imagine what to expect when the two “football-playing” teams meet, coupled with the sub-plots involving two men re-uniting with teams they both love dearly. Arsene though treid to make sure his team was focused only on the next match, as he believes a good league form can be transferred to Europe.

As expected, Cesc returned to the starting line up with Diaby making way in one of the 3 changes. The others saw Song and Eboue replace Sagna and Rosicky respectively. Early attacking from both sides promised an entertaining game on a wet afternoon, Denilson lost the ball in midfield allowing Behrami to surge forward before releasing a pass to Mido who sent an over-hit cross into the box. It did not take long for Arsenal to open scoring though, Clichy floated a cross n Bendtner flicked it to Denilson who then exchanged passes with the Dane and fired low into the bottom corner from 20 yards out. One-nil-to-the-Arsenal, just 5 minutes on the clock. A massacre on the cards? Not really.

West-Ham proved they were no push overs and that their performance was better than their league position. Diamanti won a freekick minutes later and it just grazed the bar. The game showed no sign of slowing pace as Eboue and Arsha continued to terrorise West Ham full backs. As expected Fabregas was continually and rotationally fouled by Kovac, Diamanti and Behrami winning a free-kick off the latter. 35 minutes gone and Eboue again showed great attacking verve to go round the defence before crossing for Arsh who failed to make any contact.

The first booking of the game went to Diamanti who stopped an Arsenal counter by bringing down Nikky B. An Arshavin pass found Cesc who beat the off-side trap at near post only to see his shot charged down. A long punt by West-Ham beat the whole Arsenal defence asides TV5 who tussled with Franco and was adjudged to have fouled him, the assistant raised his flag and the referee duly obliged, PENALTY! RED CARD SHOWN! Vermaelen got his marching orders, our first red card in 69 matches, 77th of Arsene’s tenure. Le Boss was furious and justifiably so cos the replays showed minimal contact. Diamanti, who had scored a penalty in the reverse fixture stepped up towards the North Bank. He shot well but Big Al guessed right and stopped it. Brian Clough famously said that a great goalkeeper is worth 12 points a season. Almunia’s denial of Diamanti could be worth all of those at once. The half time whistle came soon after and Wenger could be seen furiously berating Martin Atkinson.

The second half saw a positional change with Song dropping into the defence and Nasri to midfield. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Arsenal had the first chance of this half with Arshavin glancing a header over. That was about it as West-Ham started to keep the ball and send long punts into our box,and Zola smelling blood decided to throw on Carlton Cole to ruffle Song and it almost paid off as he held off Song to lay the ball for Diamanti who shot tamely at Big Al. AW had seen enough of the opposition dominating midfield and he sent on Diaby for Bendtner. This sub was a master-stroke as Diaby’s elegance and industry improved our play and on one occasion allowed him exchange passes with Eboue who sent Arshavin racing only to see his shot saved.

The long ball tactic continued and when a through ball to Cole bobbled off Songs heel and fell kindly for him he took a shot which hit the bottom of the post and went out. I was almost wetting my pants at this point. Only a last ditch block prevented Stanislas from drawing level and at the other end, Campbell should have done better with a header which Green dealt with ease. As time wore on , Zola brought on fresh pair of legs with Benni and Mark Noble coming on for Mido and Kovac. 10 minutes of normal time left, Cesc won the ball in West Ham’s half, sent the ball to Eboue who displayed amazing skill to hold the ball and return the pass to Cesc at the right time. He tried to dink the ball around Upson who had no choice but to handle in the box…PENALTY TO THE ARSENAL!!! How Upson stayed on despite having a booking already is beyond me. Cesc placed the ball on the spot and sent Green the wrong way,his 15th league goal of the season.

Relief and joy written all over the fans’ faces at the Emirates. Now I could relax and enjoy the rest of the game and with the points fully safe, AW replaced Arsha with Eduardo. Exhibition stuff now as Arsenal passed the ball around till the final whistle.

We answered our critics again today, and even though it wasn’t an emphatic win, the boys showed great character and mental strength to play like that even with a man down. Special mention must go to Eboue(8), Diaby(7.5), Cesc(8), Song(9.5***) and Almunia(8). Everyone played wonderfully but these guys particularly ensured we got our 6th straight win in the league and kept a clean sheet. It’s absolutely surprising and laughable how Vermaelen gets the same punishment as Shawcross-a 3 match ban. So we are on top with just 7 matches to go and I have this strange feeling we need to win all or at least 6 and a draw to clinch the title. Let’s hope L’pool and Blackburn can do us some favour tomorrow and keep us on top.

Today’s game was not as easy as we expected but we still got what we wanted and with the way things are turning out, one thing is assured: If required, We’ll do it the hard way. This is our season!!! C’MON YOU SMOKING GUNNERS!!!
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
Escobar says so!

So, we get the BEST of ’em all + West Ham Preview

Nasri vs WHam '09

I really can’t describe my mood as I write this but you can bet I’m not the happiest man on earth (not even one of them). I just saw the Champions League draws and when teams like United, Lyon and Inter got Bayern, Bordeaux and CSKA Moscow respectively, we got FC Barcelona: the perfect game for football purists. If you want to be the best, you have to defeat the best right? It means we are going to play the world’s best player, with the world’s most functioning midfield(i won’t bother with the names) and a defence that “plays football”.

It’s really going to be interesting to see who gets more possession of the ball, as the winner of this battle ultimately wins the tie. Now let me assure you, even though Barca are favourites, we will not concede possession to them like Stuttgart and other teams have done. Other teams couldn’t defeat them because they couldn’t keep the ball well and couldn’t muster any threat on goal with the little they had. We’ve got arguably the highest scoring midfielder in the world at the moment, 17 goals and 16 assists(I think it’s more) is something even Xavi will kill for. We need Song and Diaby to come to the party, Arsha could be our Messi, Nasri our Iniesta, don’t worry about Nikky cos somehow I trust him on this one. Nikky against Pique is going to be an interesting one! But we need to believe we can do this because it’s really possible…Atletico Madrid and Rubin Kazan anyone?

So first things first, we have West Ham coming over to the Ems this weekend. This is a done deal for me but any elements of complacency should be erased. We play our normal game, we win this and we might be top on Monday depending on the outcome of the United and Chelsea games. Man U host a Liverpool team who are regaining their belief and confidence after drubbing Lille 3 zip last night. Torres also looks the part now and I hope he does the same to Vidic and help prevent a Man U win. I’m only hoping on this even though I feel United will win comfortably, I pray I’m wrong though. Chelski travel to Blackburn and this is going to be a very tricky one for them. They need to win for their fans and owner, but anything other than a win will surely see this team capitulate almost completely. The lose this and you can bet on them losing at least two more before the end of the season. I have the same feeling as the United game so there’s no need stressing the point.

So Titi is coming back home in most likely his final season at the Camp Nou, you can expect a standing ovation for him even louder than the one Becks got at very old Trafford. He’s our hero, the reason why I watched football, probably our greatest ever player, probably the greatest foreigner the league has known and definitely the best striker it has seen. I always dreamed of this match hoping for a huge Arsenal win but a Titi goal. So why can’t we beat them 4 zip and he scores a consolation ending the tie at 4-1 to the Arsenal! I know you must think I’m crazy but I don’t see us losing this one…not home and not even away. But first we need to focus on the weekend and get the required points to take us top and we also need to score a lot to improve our goal difference and to help the Sport Relief aid that makes league sponsors Barclays donate £1000 for every goal scored and £500 for every shot on target. What better opportunity to donate to charity.

We’ll win this weekend for sure and if we don’t, then maybe we don’t deserve the League afterall. We need to send messages of intent with our performances to Barca from now on. I know there are a lot of gooners who are sad with the draws, cheer up! It’s up to us to prove our doubters wrong, all we need to is be efficient. To all you scared gooners, say nothing, just keep the faith!

From wherever you are reading, have fun!

9jabred says so!</

HULL 1-2 ARSENAL: GUNNERS SHOOT DOWN BRAVE TIGERS

Nikky B VS Hull '10

87 minutes gone and I was angry and decided not to write the post-match. Why??? My Arsenal renowned for slick football were having a dis-jointed performance. The game started at a high tempo with Arsenal signalling their intent,a Diaby through ball to Nikky B was over hit allowing it to trickle out for a goal kick. Hull’s first attack ended with a wayward short from Altidore. Knowing a 5 goal margin win would send us top it didn’t take long for d opening goal,Sagna brought the ball forward n exchanged passes with Eboue before giving it to Nasri who laid it back to Bakky who found Arshavin. Looking crowded out, with a bit of luck he weaved his way in between two defenders before leaving Mendy for dead and shooting into the bottom corner with the outside of his boot. We were just going to stroll past them I thought. But credit to Hull, they pressed forward looking for a reply, Bullard who was by far Hull’s best player won and took a freekick and from the resulting corner he blasted wide. Arsenal continued to show promise and Eboue showed a quick change of feet to bamboozle 2 defenders but was called back for a foul on Sagna,the resulting freekick wasted.

As we were starting to boss the game,disaster struck,a jimmy bullard long ball was flicked on to J.V. Hesselink who despite being offside,the flag stayed down and Campbell in a bid to win the ball upended him. Penalty was the decision, Almunia guessed right but the penalty was too strong. Game on! Hull continued with their ovelry physical approach and it resulted in a booking for Dawson after he went in late on Denilson. Before play could resume the referee pulled back play and booked Bendtner and Boateng for a scuffle which Bendtner was the victim(why book him then??). Boateng was left cursing his luck as shortly after that he was sent for an early bath after a dangerous tackle on Sagna but before that Clichy’s penalty claims fell on deaf ears after he was tripped in Hull’s box…..HALF-TIME.

It looked like it was going to be a long evening for Arsenal with Hull repeatedly playing what I personally term as ‘The 9-1-0 formation’ by playing all their players in their own box. A rare misplaced pass by Nasri gave Zayatte the chance to run at the Arsenal defence where he was tackled by Campbell,in truth it should have been a second yellow for him seeing as he got little of the ball. Play was stopped for Zayatte to be taken off,but showing great desire to continue he gingerly re-entered the field only to fall and be taken off. Missing their captain and best defender Hull had only one option…stay back…And stay back did they. AW threw on Walcott for Eboue which almost payed off immediately with Theo running onto a loose ball before cutting it back for Nasri who layed it to Arshavin, he had a lot of time, but blazed wastefully wide…talking about the best and worst of Arsha not to mention the sorry state of the pitch

With not much time remaining, Eduardo came on for the tired Nasri. Hull continued to repel wave after wave of Arsenal attack and it looked like Arshavin and Nikky B had a bet on who would be more wasteful. Normal time was up and the assistant referee put up 6 minutes. Six minutes to save our season and the boys responded well, long punts from our defenders continued to trouble Hull and when Campbell passed to Denilson,totally unmarked from 25 yards he shot(I had my heart in my mouth waiting to scream goal) but Myhill could only parry the ball(how he wished he didn’t) to Nikky B who buried it into the net. GOAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!! I screamed hurting my hand in the process….but who gives a flying hoot right?..we just scored. The expression on his face said it all. After a few back and forth long balls, the referee blew his whistle.We just won one of the trickiest matches left.

In all honesty it was a less than average performance. Again…WHO CARES? That’s what champions are made of right?

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

AND UP NEXT IS…

Arsha VS Hull

So our quest to bring the league title to the Ems this season sees us traveling up North this weekend. We visit a Hull City team, 19th place on the log and who were recently battered 5-1 by Everton. I don’t expect it to be easy though as I believe they really have something to fight for in this match, but we should do about just enough to see them off. I’d really love to see Phil Brown and Hull return to where they came from – the championship.

So onto team news, it seems Cesc missing matches against Hull has now become a regular fixture, he’s missed the previous two matches against them even though we won both. He still hasn’t recovered from the hamstring injury he picked up against Burnley,but hey, we’ve got Nasri! Don’t get me wrong though, I am not in any way insinuating that Nasri is better, I’m just confident that he’s a more-than-capable deputy. There is also some doubt surrounding the availability of Sol, Bakky and Rosicky, even though I expect them to pull through the fitness tests and start the game. Gallas, RVP, Djourou, and Gibbs are still some way from being fit for selection, so we need everyone we can get now.

Hull will come at us tomorrow with their fans behind them and they will try to be physical again. An early goal will see us silence the fans and settle well into the game. Get a few more and keep it together at the back and it’s job done. I hope to see another Phil Brown lecture on the pitch reminiscent of the one at Man City. We have to win to keep pressure on United and Chelski who have relatively easier home matches this weekend and with United not playing until Sunday, we can go top by Saturday evening.

After this game provided we win, we are left with just two more tricky ties: Birmingham away and Citeh at home. Yeah, I know we are yet to play those tiny spuds, but it’s the Premier League, what do you expect? This is our best chance to win it since 2005 and you can bet the lads know that, my finger’s crossed on Nikky nicking at least one, with Theo also coming to the party. So let’s go all out and show them what it means to be associated with the Arsenal. C’MON YOU MIGHTY GUNNERS!
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!

Oh Prophet Arshavin…Arsenal 5 – 0 Poorto!

Bendy hatty VS Porto
Don’t worry I did not make any mistakes in the title, I typed this immediately after the final whistle so you can bet I’ve got emotions running real deep. It’s coming rather late though due to educational commitments. Now picture this, a Man United team without Rooney, Giggs and Ferdinand, or Chelsea team without Lamps, JT shag, and Drogba, don’t even imagine those dirty scousers without Gerrard and Torres! Now put these teams against an in-form Porto side and you know exactly what to expect. Last night, we were missing 3 players who are the benchmark of their positions: Willie in defence, RVP up front, Cesc speaks for himself. Yet we were able to “source” a team of 11 talented players who swept aside Porto n made their absence extremely negligible. So what’s this talk of lack of strength in squad depth?
You may wonder why the topic but after the Burnley win, people were all over Nikky B and you really cannot blame them. The dude just missed 5 gloriously-inexcusable chances in front of goal. Arsene in his usual manner defended and attributed it to a bad day at work, pundits had a lot of comments, negative and positive but one man’s comment stood out: Andrei Arshavin. When quized on what happened to Nikky B, the little russian smiled and said “Unfortunately, or fortunately, he did not score today. Why fortunately? I feel he was sparing his goals for Porto!” Classic stuff eh? Roll on three days later Nikky B’s scored his 1st senior hat-trick for Arsenal in a round of 16 fixture in the Champions League.

Onto the match, there were no surprises in the starting XI except the sight of Theo on the bench. I felt he deserved a run of games after his last performance, but as usual, Arsene knows best! We had scored an away goal and we would have gone through with a 1-0 win, but you trust ARSENAL, we NEVER play such football! We attacked and set the pace from the first minute; Andrei was a demon, he was alive, alert and amazing, tearing into the defence at will and even creating one for Nikky. The 1st of Nikky’s goals came off a superb through pass from Nasri who had his probably his biggest performance after the United game two years ago. It fell to Andrei who didn’t get enough of d ball but still managed to set up Nikky to slide into an empty net. Best start possible for us and Porto knew they had to score to progress. The started to show signs of attacking intent but the second arrived shortly. Andrei (again!) left 3 Porto defenders for dead before driving a low cross into the box for Nikky to tap into an empty net once again. We were playing some unbelievable soccer but even though they had a few moments of theirs, they would have been rejoicing when the referee blew for halftime.
The second half started with Porto showing some renewed vigour. We had not gotten into our rhythm yet and Porto were all over the place. They even came close to scoring when Samir cleared off the line from a corner. The Frenchman who was more than made sure we didn’t miss Cesc then weaved his magic. He got the ball on the right, went at 3 Porto players in the box and with a combination of great body swerve and amazing close control, he found himself free with the goalie. He dispatched the ball with the gusto and class that made everyone stand up for an applause. Definitely the goal of the round before Robben’s magical. Nasri was almost perfect tonight, pushing forward when we had the ball and harassing and tackling when we didn’t. His passes were pinpoint and he had a few cracks at goal too. He pulled his hamstring and was substituted, leaving with a standing ovation from everyone. Our fourth came off a counter attack led by tormentor-in-chief Andrei who slid the ball to Eboue (on for Rosicky), the Ivorian rounded the keeper before also playing into empty net. He’s fast becoming a cult hero these days Eboue. It was Eboue who was fouled in the box for Nikky to score his third from the spot from what was probably the last kick of the match.

So a 5 – nil win we got when we needed one to go through, all the players stepped up their performance and came to the party. We played the same Porto team Chelski struggled against earlier in the competition and according to Arsene, we beat them in style. Last night we made a statement to the whole of Europe, and you can bet no one saw it coming not even most gooners. I expected it though (yh i did) even though they beat my expectation of a 4-1 win. It’s really looking rosy for us these days with the results we’ve had, and even Arsene was bullish about our chances and who we were going to meet in the next round. I’ll summarize his comments in 3 words though, LET THEM COME!
Escobar will provide the ratings, he loves that so much. So you just be good and let’s savour the good moments as true gooners.
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!

RATINGS:
Almunia-7:Had a relatively easy evening and dealt with everything Porto could muster.
Sagna-7:Composed at the back standing tall to all of Varela’s marauding runs and competent going forward to help the attack.
Vermaelen-7.5:Marshaled Hulk and Falcao throughout the game and was a commanding presence at the back.
Campbell-6.5:Somewhat rusty and made some sloppy passes but grew into the game and took control.
Clichy-7:Steady defending altho caught out cold by Hulk just once but a good performance overall.
Song-6.5:A few mis-hit passes and uncharacteristic loss of possession at times but protected his defence all night.
Nasri-9.5:Star man..ran the show all night,demanded the ball at all times,got forward whenever possible and dictated play.Amazing slalom run that led to a goal that has been ear-marked already for goal of the season.
Diaby-7:Along with song held the midfield in place and got forward wen necessary,hardly gave away possession and won a lot of 50-50 tackles.
Rosicky-6:One touch too many and tried to do too much…hooked off after the break.
Nikky B-9:If there’s a to silence your critics after a poor game,is to deliver a solid performance.Scoring a hat-trick buries them.
Andrei-8.5:From Russia with Gloves.the quick footed nibmle rusiian displayed a class that bellies this century and planet.And to think Cesc was missing.
SUBS:
Eboue-7.5:The Ivorian seems to be in the form of his life.Energetic performance and great run to catch up with Arshavin and showed a strikers composure to round the keeper and score.
Walcott-6:Had one shot saved and did little else after coming on.
Denilson-6:Came in and slotted into midfield with ease.

Champions League Preview:Arsenal vs Porto

Porto-Arsenal
Imagine saving money to buy a house for a long time and then after buying it you wake up the next day to find out it’s been burnt down. You know that feeling,well that’s how it might just be for Arsenal fans if we don’t get a positive result against Porto on Tuesday night. Given that Cesc is going to miss out through injury you would forgive anyone for doubting our chances of progressing. But on a brighter note we have Arshavin poised to start and Alex Song returning and given the performances of Nasri in the playmaking role on Saturday one must not worry much. What did you just say?…Porto are no Burnley….Noted!!!

For Arsenal to come out tops in this contest the idea of exiting the tournament this early should not cross their minds at all. Porto’s record at the Emirates is encouraging but they come into the tie knowing an early goal will knock Arsenal of their stride,so that must be avoided at all costs. Theo Walcott’s return to form and the returning Arshavin should give us more attacking options and barring any bizzare defending Campbell is also a welcome boost. We have to come out with all guns blazing in the first half and try to get an early goal which will leave the tie finely poised.

Closing down the Porto full-backs will be essential seeing how they ripped apart our defence in the first leg. I’m confident their strikers will pose no threat given Hulk’s less than impressive goal ratio. Another aspect has to be in the midfield where Porto will pack the midfield or stick to their guns and play a flat 4-4-2,if that happens our midfielders will have to work extra hard. A lot of positive’s were taken from the weekend game and if the players can show the same fluidity of play and convert more chances then we’ll definitely be looking at an entertaining game of football

By all means we have to win this game because we don’t need a setback at least not know that we’re in rich vein of form and the possible negative psychological effect it could have on our season.

Possible Line-Up:
Big Al,Clichy,Vermaelen,Campbell,Sagna,Song,Nasri,Abou,Arsh,Nikky B,Walcott

Prediction:Arsenal 3

Porto 1

So people have a nice time watching the game and most importantly, keep the faith.

From wherever you are reading, have fun.

Escobar says so!

THEORRIFIC PERFORMANCE. BRING ON PORTO!

Theo Burnley goal

In my match preview, I asked for 3 things from this match, a huge win, a clean sheet and a Fabregas goal. I got just one, but the style in which I got it is what makes me smile. It was a chance to start a run of 10 good games and did they take it well. The press was waiting eagerly for this match, waiting for an Arsenal horrible tackle, a tired performance or at best an Arsenal loss but the boys surely made them have a re-think with the kind of start they had to the game. The starting line up told a story of its own, Theo and Eboue on the right was a statement of intent from Le Boss. We were going to attack from the right and fast too. Theo had been shrouded in criticism prior to kick off with Arsene backing him to be a great, so he had a lot of questions to answer.

Arsenal controlled the entire 1st 45 minutes, playing some slick amazing football but they just couldn’t walk the ball into the net. They did “walk” it into the net, and it was none other than Cesc. The captain started the move with an amazingly floated pass to Tomas on the right, Tomas gave it back to him on the edge of the box, and he immediately passed back to Samir. Nasri delayed a bit but spotted Cesc’s untracked run into the box, made the pass and the rest was history. He had done it! 14 goals he has sored this season to equal Bobby’s record. However, Cesc looked like he tweaked his hamstring and came off for Diaby. It looked like a precautionary change to me but we’ll wait for news from Arsene. Arsenal kept making sweet passes and carving out chance after chance, but couldn’t add a second as the referee blew for half time.

The second half didn’t look like changing anything as Arsenal bossed possession and created great chances. Nikky B was most guilty, missing three crystal clear chances including a sitter given to him on a platter by Theo. One interesting thing about Nikky is that even when he’s missing, he still gets into good positions to get chances. Arsenal then paid for those missed chances when Emmanuel Eboue’s hoofed clearance was headed back into the danger area by Leon Cort, David Nugent ran in between two defenders and lifted the ball over Manuel Almunia. 1-1 and the Ems went quiet, Wenger was furious, the fans were shell-shocked. The players didn’t let their heads drop though, Theo who was having a game of his life got the ball on the right, took a few touches and curled in a delightful ball into the far post. Top class goal but I can’t say much about his celebration though, LOL.

We were clearly on the ascendancy now and a third goal was beckoning. It was a matter of when not if, and it finally came in injury time when from a short corner, Eduardo played it to Andrey Arshavin, who smashed a left-foot shot into the bottom corner. Game sealed, match over, all the players had to was wait for the final whistle which came in no time. It would have been a complete attacking performance had we taken half of our chances, the keeper was called into action almost every time we attacked. Special mention must go to Theo for a complete performance, arguably his best for us. He was everywhere, running past, dribbling defenders, and as if he read Escobar’s post, his final ball today was world class. He was named man-of-match and deserved his goal.

All in all, everyone was glad and 3 questions were answered today. Can Arsenal play when the spotlight is on them? YES! Is Walcott going to be a top player? DEFINITELY! Will Theo be on the plane to Madiba’s land in the summer? ABSOLUTELY!
So it’s Porto visiting on Tuesday, and I don’t expect anything other than a win for us. We have the away goal and the home advantage, need I mention a ravaging Theo and the fully rested Arshavin. The tie is ours to lose and Escobar provided the ratings and will be here to put you in the mood with his Porto pre-match post. It’s not really a bad thing being a gooner these days, is it?

From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!
RATINGS
Big Al-6:COULD have made a better effort on the lob instead of waiting for it,that said, comfortable afternoon.
Eboue-7.5:Linked well with Walcott on the right as his probing runs often kept Burnley in their half.
TV5-6.5:Kept his composure and dealt with everything that came his way.
Fish Head-5:Caught flat footed while trying to play the offside trap,nervous defending at times.
Clichy-7:Uninvolved during midweek, so he was full of running and had it easy defending against Eagles.
Denilson-6.5:Good game,went about his job well and got forward when he could, covered well when Cesc went off.
Cesc-7-Unusually high rating despite playing less than a half.Took his goal well and almost got an assist for Nikky’s early miss.Sad to see him limp off.
Nasri-7.5-Did really well and supported the attack. Assumed d role of playmaker after Cesc’s withdrawal and did not disappoint, great pass for the opening goal.
Rosicky-6.5:Full of energy and used his quick feet to get out of trouble and draw out the defenders.Should have scored in the first half.
Walcott-8.5(MOM):What a way to answer your critics?Ran at the defence with real drive and scored a sweet goal with his weaker foot, should have had a hat-trick of assists.
Bendtner-6:Miss after miss after miss…probably left his shooting boots(and scoring head) in Denmark but good positioning throughout and credit on the assist for Theo’s goal. Good to see the fans applaud when he was withdrawn.
SUBS
Diaby-6.5:Came in for Cesc and did a good job in winning countless aerial balls.
Andrei-6.5:Came on and got a goal.Could have had two.
Eduardo-6:On for the last 15 mins and should have got himself on the score sheet.