For all the doom and gloom that has been associated with anything Arsenal over the past week, last night’s Champions League game between Real Madrid and Spurs gave me enough reason to smile. I watched as Real’s £220m starting XI walloped a Spurs team that cost just above £75m, 1,2,3,4 goals to nill. And all I could do was pity a team that was not ready to be where they found themselves. Adebayor renewed his rivalry with the Spurs side and scored two fantastic headers. Not like he did not warn them. So it’s 10 in 13, eh? Well done son.
Make no mistake about it, Spurs have had a dream Champions League debut but it’s been basically trial and error for them. They topped their group but conceded even more goals than us. Then in the round of 16, they played a Milan side that was not interested in playing football. They got an away goal and cancelled each other out in London, booking an appointment with Real.
Quite a number of non Arsenal fans mentioned how far Spurs went and the point that we could not laugh at them since we did not make it that far. Even though we did not make it that far, we can be proud of our achievement; we beat arguably the best team the game has ever seen, in London and lost 3-1 at the Camp Nou. Some Spurs fans point to Peter Crouch’s sending off as the turning point in the game, but the fact is unlike our game against Barca, they were already behind and can have no complaints whatsoever about the decision.
To “more Arsenal” news, Nasri’s agent has confirmed that the French man is happy with us and will not leave during the summer transfer window. Alain Migliaccio pointed out that the 23-year old could be interested in playing in the Serie A but that will not happen next season as the player is focused to do well with Arsenal. Probably our player of the season, Samir has scored 14 goals in all competitions, 9 in the League, 2 in the Champions League, 1 in the F.A. Cup and 2 in the Carling Cup. This is a welcome development as we were already preparing for a summer full of rumours about the futures of Nasri and Cesc.
Meanwhile, the nominations for both the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards have been announced and I am a bit surprised. The nominees for Player of the Year are Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, our own Samir Nasri, Blackpool’s Charlie Adam, Man United’s Nemanja Vidic, West Ham’s Scott Parker and Man City’s Carlos Tevez. I wonder why Van der Vaart and Nani are not on the list. However Nani’s name comes up in the Young Player’s category, alongside Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, Nasri, Jack Wilshere, Manchester City’s Joe Hart and Everton’s Seamus Coleman. So Samir has the chance to make it a clean sweep of both honours, following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo (2006/07) and Andy Gray (1976/77).
As an Arsenal fan I’d like if our players made a clean sweep of the awards, Nasri for the main gong and Wilshere for the young player award, but its rare to see the main gong go to a player whose team didn’t win any trophy unless of course the player in question was excellent all season, so I’d say Vidic is the early front runner for the gong. But everyone on the list deserves it as well.
Still a few days till our next game away at Bloomfield road against B’pool, and NO this won’t be a walk in the park, this is going to be VERY tricky seeing as we’ve stumbled against teams like this and we all know survival sometimes trumps title fight so let’s hope our players can do the deed and finally win a game. Rumours of Song’s injury flaring up again will be softened by the return of fitness to Emanuel Frimpong, the English-Ghanian youngster damaged ligaments in pre-season and played for the reserves yesterday, I hope he’s promoted immediately I really don’t want Denilson in the team again.
From wherever you’re reading, here’s hoping tonight’s game between Utd & Chelski can live up to yesterday’s with goals aplenty.
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.