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Well, it is not the best time for me to restart my blog. The 4 part extravaganza touted as the decider to a whole season is underway. Halfway through, we have drawn 1 lost 1. But what exactly went wrong here?

Denilson, Clichy, Almunia were below par. Denilson especially had a hand in all 3 goals.

The first goal, after Nani did his trickery to beat Clichy and Nasri, it was Denilson as the second line of defence. Firstly, he was very far away and then he didnt tackle Nani when he could have. Almunia’s very erroneous judgement lead him to finger the ball into his own net. He wanted to touch the ball over the post but infact led it into the goal.

The second goal was a classic counterattack. Vermaelen did a fabulous job of recovering to coverup Park. But he needed help to cover which neither Denilson nor Clichy could provide. Denilson was definitely in such a good position to stop the ball from reaching Rooney. I was weird to see Verm covering so much ground while Denilson could not.

There was nothing stopping the 3rd goal. Again Denilson gave the ball away and Song came in to tackle hoping that he would win it back, which he didn’t. This gave Park a free run. It was 4 on one and Clichy did well to stop Park from supplying to the other 3 but realised too late that Park would take the shot on, and I guess Almunia also wasnt expecting it.

Well this is the advantage of hindsight. I would not have been able to guess this before the game. Infact the ESPNStar pundits had gone for either a win for arsenal or a draw.

Fergie has of late had a very cautious approach to the big games. At the OT, he played a 4-3-3 to counter our formation. At the Emirates, he played Rooney on his own as expected. But the master stroke was Nani on the right. I honestly believe that Valencia would have done a better job. But nothing takes away the credit from Nani.

Our defensive left flank over the past 2 games has been the focus of attention. I really dont understand how this has come about. I honestly believe that Clichy is a very able defender. And infact was glad that he was back.

Arsenal need to hold their nerves for the next couple of games. Only a win against Chelsea can bring us back into the race. It would be very naive of us to expect that Chelsea and Man Utd will drop more points.

Sorry, I have really asked a lot of questions and not given many answers. The next couple of games will hopefully be an answer. I hope to see more of Walcott and Bendtner. Also I hope Clichy can really be a rock like Sagna is down the right. As for Denilson, I cant say much. I have been a fan of him, but his inability to cover up distances quickly could be a major handicap. Ramsey maybe an option. But I am hoping Wenger considers Rosicky in that role. Eastmond also did a fine job earlier and can very well be tried.

Ciao for now…

DV600635

All the Wolves talking to the press before the match about getting something out of the arsenal game definitely went out of the window in the first half. Wolves were too restrained and were often caught between offense and defense.

The times it seems are definitely changing. Arsenal have definitely found a very credible answer to the ‘parking the bus’ mentality. But this and other reasons contribute to Arsenals amazing run this season.

Firstly, the defending especially in the first half especially in the starting few minutes of the match has been exceptional. I think very often Arsenal have had problems coming from behind. A lot in the arsenal game depends about the momentum of play. Being a goal down is not a thing we see as regularly nowadays., which is a good thing. The Bad thing though is that when the job is done Arsenal fail to make to make the defense strong during the closing minutes. With the amount of running that the midfield is doing, esp. Song, there are usual mistakes like the Wolves goal that was let in late. Song actually did not move which actually hindered Vermaelen from marking his man Craddock who eventually had a free header in. The solution has to be found from within. And I think concentrating hard for 90 minutes to defend is not only the job of the defence but of the whole team, and this is where Arsenal have lacked.

That said, the finishing this season has been fantastic. With the midfielders having more opportunities of shots on goal from within the box, it is no surprise looking at the scorelines. Many a time it has been this finishing that has helped us kickstart a game. Case in point the game against Spurs. The likes of Van Persie, Fabregas, Arshavin have really done a fine job converting the chances that fall to them. Compared to last season it seems like we are creating twice as many chances and converting twice as many as last year. Adebayor is one player we are definitely happy to have left, he used to do the bulk of the squandering of chances. If we see the game play especially of Arshavin, we can understand this new Arsenal mentality. He has very less of the ball as compared to the end of last season, when he was just given the ball to ‘do his thing’. Now he goes through long spells with just a few touches. His dribbling has reduced but his touches have put Arsenal in much better positions. ( 2 assists against AZ Alkmaar) His goalscoring also has been like a bolt from the blue. Like the Wolves goal which nobody expected to go in , or the one against Man Utd, a game in which he hardly any contribution otherwise. But that says how Arsenal has developed, knowing the importance of putting the ball in the back of the net. The Man Utd game for example, even though we dominated, the goal wasn’t exactly as result of the domination.

The contribution of certain players has been immense of how Arsenal shape up. Van Persie – Arshavin in attack, Song – Fabregas in midfield and the back 4 Sagna-Gallas-Verm-Clichy have been really great. The spine of the team has been intact and this has shown in the movement and the understanding. The wolves match didn’t have Clichy, and you could immediately see lesser breakthroughs from the left. The default ball was played to Sagna on the right. Also, when Song wasn’t there for the starting 23 minutes, there was a certain uncertainty in the way our midfield was functioning. Diaby, I must say, has lost a tremendous opportunity to stake his claim for a permanent midfield role after the injury. If the time before the injury was anything to go by, he definitely cannot be relied on to take Song’s place when he is not available(African Cup) .

These factors combined have created a fear in the opposition even before they sort their own team out. Self-goals and defensive lapses from the opposition speaks volume of the stature of the team. This is a common feature against the big sides across Europe and around the world. The fear in the opposition itself forces them to make mistakes, but most of the time you still have to put the ball in the back of the net. A feat that Arsenal have done many times. The long injury list Arsenal maintain and yet the bench seems stonger than ever. But we still need to have a proper person to Deputise for quite a few players I mentioned in the Arsenal Spine. Song for now, seems to be doing it all alone at the moment.

The times are changing for the better and hopefully will remain so.

Sorry for the delayed post. But have had computer issues as well as time issues. I will be writing posts a little less frequently for some time and will be hoping to add a little more quality into them. Your comments as always are welcome.

Alan@India

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I play a weekend fantasy game as many of you guys do. And yeah I picked Mannone, wat a steal!. But I also picked 3 other Arsenal players. I knew atleast one would score. But all 3 !!! wat luck!!

So as Fabregas, Vermaelen and Arshavin scored, I celebrated a little harder than usual. Fabregas also had a bunch of assists which should increase his score for the week.

All in All, one of the most satisfying games for an Arsenal fan. I wasnt home when the match started. The update that I got was that Arsenal were down in the 4th minute.  What a horrible start I thought. I knew that Sam Allardyce knew all about beating Arsenal. And I was sad of the thought of it being one of those days. But then I got an test msg, from a friend and fellow Arsenal fan. The words ‘ What a screamer!!’.  I made some investigative guesses, hmm….arsenal fan praising an opposition goal hmmm…., or was it a delayed text of the Nzozi goal ……unlikely.

As luck would have it, the was Verm(the Germ :D) who scored. What a scorcher that was! Arsenal did concede when I switched the TV set on.

The rest as they say is history.

Fabregas had a fantastic game. His passes were perfect ,his vision was brilliant, his celebration apt.  He had more of the ball, mainly because of Blackburn’s inability to keep hold of it. I have been a a firm believer that Fabregas should play deeper in our own half. But I have to accept, it did help his game that he had both Diaby and Song covering him up. Diaby had to control his usual attacking instincts, which he did well. But, again Blackburn did not pose much of a challenge.

Dunn played well for Blackburn, and I think deserved a penalty for Vermaelens challenge on him in the box. Thankfully, it was not given and the Arsenal show continued. (It would have reduced Verms point earned also , so I am doubly thankful).  There was a pattern in all the goals. Van Persie and Fabregas had a role to play in most of them. These two are central to the whole Arsenal structure as Wenger has deviced this season. Fabregas is the orchestrator, he is the one with an eye for a pass. The Arshavin and Van Persie goals were wonderfully crafted Fabregas assists. Van Persie on the other hand is the person who brings others to the game. He uses the players on his left and right well, and when he holds back a run it enables another midfielder to make one. He seems fit and happy. And has not lost his finishing touch.

Fab’s goal also was a masterpiece. It was just meant to happen. When he was substituted, it was as though he had given more than a full match performance in 75 mins.

The subtitutions also gave us fans a glimpse of the future of Arsenal. Ramsey gave a delightful ball to Walcott who nearly controlled it well but was unable to hit the ball hard enough. This almost seemed like a rerun of a Fabregas assist to Henry. Ramsey, Walcott and Bendtner they will be the backbone of the future Arsenal team.

Ramsey gave a fine account of his skills. It was almost like seeing Fabregas continue the game from the stands.

This Arsenal performance was a show of strength. We have players in the first 11 and in the bench who can come in and score. More importantly this structure is suiting most of the Arsenal players. Walcott is getting to play more centrally rather than hugging the sideline. Bendtner is getting his shots on goal. Also, with Arshavin and Rosicky, we have experience. We are winning even when they are not at their best yet. And this should be great sign.

Vermaelen_585x350_616462a

It has been a very satisfactory week for Arsenal fans. The 4-0 trashing of Wigan was a very routine affair. The scoreline gave us too much credit. But I think it was Wigan who failed at beating us at our game.

The game as such was not one which Arsenal completely dominated. Infact, I thought we played below-par. We had played better against Man United. One very worrying thing that I noticed, obviously many others noticed too, was a very unhappy Fabregas. This not only affected his game but also took the joy out of his goal. He did not seem like himself throughout the match. The knock that he seems to have picked up close to the end of the match made matters worse. I just hope that this has nothing to do with the apparent pressure on his young shoulders as captain of Arsenal. I sure hope that he is not frustrated with his time here.

Rosicky‘s comeback was great to watch. He is a person who sure bring back the balance in this Arsenal team. Infact, contrary to the ManCity game, he did fly in to challenges. Surely, he is gaining confidence again and should be in the thick of things. His comeback should have a positive effect on Fabregas. I think much of Fabregas’ frustrations(if any) have been because of the enormous responsibility he has as a senior central midfielder. Rosicky can be one to share that burden. Rosicky’s ball control as ever was amazing. Arsenal profited from his knack to timing his passes brilliantly. I would love to see him take more shots on target.

Vermaelen has been a real find this season. I mean I can’t imagine Toure scoring goals and defending the way he has done this season. I am pretty sure he is a future captain of Arsenal. His two goals came in very un-Arsenal circumstances, but they were the ones that were the difference between the 2 sides. There was no way Wigan would come back after that. The first goal was a goal reminiscent of the goals Vidic, Terry, etc have scored for their respective teams. The second goal was a class act. It was a strikers goal. A goal, Van Persie would have been proud of. The sweet finish will remain in the minds of the Arsenal faithful for quite some time.

The other games that Arsenal did have an eye on was the Manchester Derby and the Chelsea-Spurs clash. Frankly, as long as the games did not end in draws, I knew it would be good for Arsenal. Obviously, I was one of many Arsenal fans who enjoyed Owen’s last gap winner against Man City. I was just glad to see ManCity’s great start been destructed. They had been hard done though by the refereeing. But then again, one expects such things to happen to away teams at Old Trafford. I have to say, had Adebayor been there it could definitely have been a different result. Maybe Arsenal fans would have loved it more if ManCity, with Adebayor, had lost. Mark Hughes seems like a soft guy and this is really playing into the minds of his team. No ManCity player has been disciplined so far and Mark Hughes seems to be losing the grip on the conduct of his players. Case in point, Bellamy and Adebayor.

The Chelsea-Spurs game was one for Chelsea to win all along. They played with ruthless professionallism(not sure if such a phrase exists!). They were just too strong. Spurs though, have been hit more by the injuries caused during the match than the result. Spurs gave in some string tackles. But with strong Chelsea personnel like Essien, Ballack and the lot , they were unable to rattle Chelsea. I was just imagining the Arsenal players instead of the Chelsea men. We would have started to complain already rather than do what the Chelsea players did,i.e., get on with the game. In this respect at least this is one thing we can learn from Chelsea.

The Carling Cup match should see some new and some old faces in the side.

“You will see Wojciech Szczesny, Ramsey, Gibbs, Wilshere and certainly Vela,” said Wenger. “Traore will play.

“Some experienced players will guide the team like Senderos and Silvestre. But overall it will be a very, very young team as usual.”

I would love to see Senderos’s comeback. This could be a time for fringe players to prove themselves and we usually see some real good performances from them.

Sadly, I may not get to see the same in India :( .

Ciao!

Alan@India

Focus on the result…

Hey The Animal here…first post from me…

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Again kids versus men. Even we the fans are beginning to act like kids. Doomsday prophecies are becoming the only constancy in our changing emotions. One day hailing the new era and the other blaming everyone on the field in an arsenal shirt. Let us just focus on the  big picture here. We lost. To a team on the rise, against a policy we all hate.

We lost out on growing into our big boots. We focused on the thing which was supposed to be the most trivial aspect of the game. A player. Agreed he played the game in a spirit of hatred and should have been sent off for his challenge on Persie. But the point was that we lost the match and it was that WE lost the match. Enough on the player concerned is already written no nonsense from me.

The game was the fast and physically challenging encounter we all expected. Citeh impressed with their chelsea-esque physical presence and their players finished when they had their chance. It was the same with the United game, we didn’t finish our chances. Towards the end we should have scored atleast 4 goals more. Now That would have been a game!!

We need to focus on the big picture before every match. We need to understand that a game is a game. Doesn’t depend if we are playing ManU or Stoke. Our boys too should grow up and understand that we should give all in our 90 minutes. It is an attitude we have to take to every game. We need to give the game the due respect it deserves and focus on getting 3 points in the bag. We still lack the maturity to win all our games just on sheer class.

Buying great players might help but what would really help us all out is belief. Belief in our whole squad. At the moment only Wenger trusts the squad. Barring a few other purists everybody else is crying Big money transfer. We have a real good squad and we need to get behind the players. Show them the LOVE.

What I really hate is all the pity votes we are getting on all fronts. Shut your mouths all you wierdos stop enjoying our misfortune. We are big enough to rise from all this shit.

-This post is written by “The Animal”, fellow Arsenal fan…I thank him for the same.

In a few hours, Mark Hughes will face the first real test of the Premier League season. While, Arsenal will want to bounce back from the very exciting but sad loss to the bigger Manchester Club.

Arsenal will be without Arshavin. And that coupled with the fact that Eduardo will be out of mid-week because of the suspension means that we may very well see Eduardo play a whole 90 minutes.

Apart from Arshavin the whole team will be rearing to go. Fabregas in particular will be the man to watch out for. Also Bendtner, he would want to show his class in front of Adebayor showing that he does deserve the place.

The likely team

——————Almunia———————–

Sagna—Gallas———Vermaelen—Clichy

——–Song—Fabregas–Denilson

Bendtner—-Van Persie—–Eduardo

Manchester City have a very different story to tell from their previous matches. They have not really dominated all the games. And their defence has been rock solid. They go into this contest without a goal conceded. All thanks to the world-class Shay Given. He is my Man to Watch. Also Adebayor will be out to show Arsenal fans what they are missing.

They are definitely without Tevez which shouldnt be a great problem for them with Bellamy in fine nick. The real sweat will be over Robinho. Mostly, he will play though. The injury seems to be just a knock.

As to the duels on the field, there should be quiet a few. Even though there will be a warm reception from Arsenal fans for Toure, same cannot be said of Adebayor. Neither has been missed this season. And they will be trying ever so much to prove a point.

Especially Adebayor. He would definitely want to score. And I do see him causing some trouble to Vermaelen and Gallas. The set-pieces is the ones that we have to watch out for.

Thats it for now, short and sweet. I am sure no one will read this before the match. I do see some goals in this one and I hope it isnt from a certain Togo Striker.

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Arsenal:

Almunia [5],
Sagna [6], Gallas [7], Vermaelen [7], Clichy [7],
Denilson [6] [Eduardo], Song Billong [6], Diaby [6], Eboue [5] [Bendtner]
Van Persie [7], Arshavin [7] [Ramsey]

Almunia [5]

Sagna [6], Gallas [7.5], Vermaelen [7], Clichy [7],

Denilson [6] (off 79), Song Billong [6], Diaby [5],

Eboue [5] (off 71), Van Persie [6.5], Arshavin [7] (0ff 81)

Subs: Bendtner(71), Ramsey(81), Eduardo(79)

The first clash of the Big 4 did not dissapoint. Both sides of fans were treated to pulsating football, manipulative referees and theatric players – a regular site at Old Trafford. As usual, every ManUtd fan(including Mike Dean) supports what happened during the match.

The Match started off very cautiously. Man Utd were trying to match Arsenal in the formation they adopted. It was very surprising to see Ferguson was a single-striker approach clearly signalling his caution towards this game. He wanted to cut down on the Arsenal fluid passing. And wanted to steal as much possession as possible. What he hadnt thought about was, how Manu would score. That worrying was left to Giggs & Rooney. The rest of the team had the only focus to keep the tackles going and stop Arsenal attacks as soon as possible.

Arsenal were a little jittery though at the start. Gallas‘ cool head surely calmed the young Gunners. The first half though on the whole was the Gunners show. The only pity was there was only 1 goal to show for it. Arsenal were the ones doing all the attacking. This good attacking play did not result in as many chances on goal though. The telling point was definitely the disallowed penalty claim. Fletcher just wiped out Arshavin in the penalty box. He took out the player first and then the ball. That decision effectively set the tone for the match.

Arshavin though came back just fine with an absolute screamer. Foster saw the ball come towards his goal, and even put both hands to it but couldnt keep it out. That though was the whole summary of Arshavins first half. He did prove that even on a bad day he can finish. His celebration was also apt after the much publicised Eduardo dive.

As Arsenal attacked the first half, Manutd tackled. Valencia was rough with his challenges and Fletcher was also clamouring on players. But, the referee seemed very determined to keep his cards in his pocket. Fletcher is a very intelligent player. He tackled hard when he knew that the referee would go light while stayed away from the action the rest of the time. His performance was great but same cannot be said of the referee. He failed to have the command over the game. And ultimately when the yellow card did come out, it was when Arsenal had started to play Manu’s game.

The second half also started as the first but with more chances in front of goal. Arsenal should have scored in this period of the match but were left to pay for their misses. And RVP chance saved expertly by Foster and a serious misjudgment of the ball by Eboue saw the score stay at 0-1.

Manutd, it must be said were very patient. Giggs had a fine second half. He passed towards Rooney in a very uncomfortable position for the Arsenal defence. Rooney did his bit to draw a foul. But this was also a questionable decision by the ref. Although the striker does get an upper hand in most such decisions. But then again, this was Old Trafford so everyone ‘knew’ it was a going to be given a penalty. That Rooney was on his knees when Almunia made contact and that he kicked the ball out of play(a ball he was never going to recover if not tackled) was promptly overlooked. The referee did award a penalty to which I grumbled, but a yellow card !!! that was truly outrageous.

There is no way one can describe the own goal. Maybe Almunia should have come out. Maybe someone should have called out to Diaby to let him know that he was unchallenged on the ball. The goal as bizzarre as it was truly despirited the Arsenal. This is the first time this season that Arsenal have gone behind and the players were already losing hope. Diaby whose many mistakes in the first half had gone unnoticed started to feel the pressure. He is surely one not known for his pace, but tried his best to run the ball down. I must say he gave it his all, but Arsenal still lacked the spirit.

Wenger was not ready for the turn of events and had to hastily bring on Eduardo,Bendtner and Ramsey none of whom had any impact. What confused me was the substitution of Denilson. Why sacrifice Denilson when Diaby was clearly having a torrid time. The embarassment that Wenger had to face at the end of the match just capped a dreadfull turn of events for Arsenal.

But the message was loud and clear. The Arsenal-Manutd rivalry is back !

Esp from the post match comments of Wenger, when asked about the penalty claim of Arshavin.

You should ask the referee. You know what you get at Old Trafford, but I don’t want to go into the performance of the referee

Cheers

Alan@India

P.S. Explanation for Rooneys penalty

http://vsrinivasan.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/is-everyone-against-arsenal/

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