From Messi to Shawcross.

Funny old game football. A week ago we were facing sublime skill, at the weekend passion and unlikely hope, and tonight aggression and anti-football. It is a testament to the Beautiful game that all types of football can be encompassed inside 7 days.

We know what to expect from this Stoke team under the tutelage of Mr Pulis, it will be park the bus, long throw ins and long, long balls to test the aerial expertise of our defence.  The midfield will be tigerish putting our skill players under intense physical pressure and yet trying to remain within the rules. Pulis will not be distraught if another Stoke player gets a red card because his defence for any loss will be that Arsenal are a team of foreign pouffs and divers…… “Same old Arsenal, Always cheating.”  Mr Wenger doesn’t speak to Pulis which tells me all I need to know about the Stoke manager.

Lest we forget, Ryan Shawcross is a stalwart in the Stoke defence, an innocent according to his manager, a nice guy who doesn’t deserve the criticisms from fans according to the pandering British press, and an out and out thug according to Aaron Ramsey. I expect to hear a strong vocal “welcome” for young Ryan which will hopefully temper his tackling and remind him that he caused a brilliant young talent to lose a year of his career; though I doubt he has the sensitivity to understand our dislike.

It should be noted that Shawcross is not the only hardmen in the Stoke team – they are full of them. From Carew upfront, to Faye, Delap, Whitehead and Diao in midfield, to Collins and Robert Huth in defence, Stoke are packed with aggression. This will be no easy ride for our artists.

But we have developed the ability to fight fire with fire, and it is some time since we were bullied out of a game. Wilshere and Cesc may be delicate players but they can handle themselves in the heat of battle as can Song and our defenders. Plus we be without the finesse of Van Persie who will be replaced by the added bulk of Chamakh or Bendtner (I would pick Nik who is better defensively).

Sadly Koscielny is out for tonight, a big loss considering the style of Stoke’s attack. Szczesny will have to use his height and strength to counter the Delap effect; I imagine this will be a baptism of fire for him and that our young keeper will not have faced tonight’s type of bombardment, but having come through the Barca game, I expect him to take Stoke in his stride. The inclusion of Djourou and probably Nik B will assist the defence at set plays.

I expect Theo to score the first goal.

My team:

We are on a super run of League form. Apart from the 20 minute madness at Newcastle, Arsenal have been in great shape. Mr. Wenger will be looking for another 3 points tonight and hope that our rivals start to drop points.

Iron Maiden on Sunday and today it is the turn of another of Britain’s great Rock acts, Lemmy from Motorhead, who was born in Stoke in 1945 (can he really have made it to pensionable age?!). Though Stoke’s most famous son is of course Robbie Williams.

COYRRG

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141 Responses to From Messi to Shawcross.

  1. London says:

    Great read BR

    Morning all

  2. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    BR

    You know your music :)

    Chamakh or NB52 ;) AW will need to toss a coin coz both were out of sorts against the Mystic East.

  3. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    This is the most important game of the season IMHO. No slip ups can be allowed. Its 3 points nothing less.

  4. Big Raddy says:

    Morning GG. Hope you had a fine holiday.

    True about Nik, but at least he had an assist at the O’s and scored a cracker v Ipswich. Chamakh on the other hand seems to have lost all confidence

  5. Big Raddy says:

    Got to go and clear the snow ….. again.

    back later

  6. Harry says:

    Morning all…….Nice preview Raddy…..

    It is a big change from Messi and Co, the artistry, sublime skills and moves akin to John Travolta, then tonight we are visited by the cow kicking tub thumping, one dimensional cloggers from Stoke, lead by Tony poface, he gets right up my nose….

    Well if there is one thing Spuds showed last night, expect the unexpected, they thought they would win by 4 or 5 goals after they majesticly dispatched the elite of milano last week, someone neglected to tell them that to get to the game last week, all of the milan players used their free bus passes..I digress..

    Seriously, we have to be seriously up for this and that includes the fans, I know realistically we wont get the same atmosphere of last week, awesome night, but we miss create a vociferous noise and get behind the team, they all do react to it and they have all commented on how it helps…..

    With RVPMVP out tonight, for me it has to be B52 in down the middle, Cham lacks belief, something Nik doesnt. Nik will also help out more on set pieces, whereby Theo should be deployed on the half way line for a quick break.

    Massive Blow with Kozzer out, but must be fit for Sunday.

    It is going to be a humdinger out there and not for the faint hearted, we need to crush their spirit and dont give them any hope, as you said the boys in the middle can handle themselves, Song is a Warrior and will hold his own, Jack and Fab will be all around their midfield…The worry for me is the back 4, we must cover them and not allow stoke at them with their tails up at any stage. They just need to be a little more aggressive to the challenge.

    Comment on the discussion on the last post about spuds, Manu And Chelsea and who to support should the unthinkable happen…..If an englishteam is to win besdides us, it has to be United, I want us to be the first london team to win the CL.

    What is the meeting point for tonight?

  7. Nigel Chelmsford Gooner says:

    Do you know after Stratford Hotspurs and Chelski Stoke are the team I detest the most. Sorry, not Stoke but Thugs United. Pullis is disgrace and he is everything that is wrong with the beautiful game and their fans are the most foul mouthed racist bunch of muppets I have ever had the misfortune to come across. If we come out of tonight without an injury I will be amazed.

    Come on you Reds stuff them!

  8. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning all, Great preview as ever Radders and funny you should mention how a great of the heavy rock scene has made it to pensionable age. A rock great of a similar vintage, Ronnie Dio, didn’t make it as he died last year. Rock on Ronnie, Rest In Peace \o/
    Anyhow, back to tonight – does everyone know that Pubic’s decided to make that epitome of anti football, Shawcross, their captain?
    It doesn’t surprise me as a team is personified by their skipper, and whereas as ours is all about artistry, skill and vision(Cesc) their captain is all about anti-football, lunging reckless tackles and cro magnon sensibilities.
    Every neutral should be behind us as we stand up for the values of the way the beautiful game should be played.
    Stoke’s approach is all about as pig ignorance, laziness(let’s kick ‘em off the ball if we can’t get possession) and cowardly tackling with a niggardly regard for fellow professional’s well being.

  9. 26may1989 says:

    Lovely preview Raddy, thanks. Completely agree with what you say, and your predicted line-up.

    Had to smile when I saw Gnarley describe this as the biggest game of our season, partly because we (correctly) say it about every game we’re playing right now and partly because I absolutely agree. There’s been lots of talk about Chelsea’s two fixtures against United being decisive for the destiny of the title, the Grove or Old Trafford. But with the winter postponements, Stoke, who have beceome our bêtes noires, quietly assumed make-or-break status for our title hopes too. The two games against them, along with the games against United and Spurs, really are the games of our season, however much we will enjoy a League Cup Final and running Barca for their money.

    I have split views on Stoke: on the one hand, I detest them for maiming one of our brilliant young players with recklessly aggressive football, for the way in which they value muscle over technique, for those anti-football long throws, for the tolerance referees show them and for Pulis because he’s Pulis. There’s also Stoke being a non-place in nowheresville, complete with a chippy attitude about London and Londoners, the fact the BNP and the EDL are big there, and the pro-Fergie lapdog approach Pulis has (e.g., coasting to easy defeats against United and terminating player loans at Preston when Ferguson Minor got the sack). There’s plenty to dislike in that lot. (Plus my wife’s former boyfriend is a native of Stoke and a fan of the club – and he’s an utter tool.)

    But there’s something I admire about the club too. Pulis, for all his holier-than-thou-let’s-not-forget-it’s-a-man’s-game crap, is a very astute manager. He’s assembled a really respectable squad without spending much, mopping up and polishing rejects like Etherington, Higginbotham, Begovic, Huth, Delap and Shawcross, and playing them alongside genuine journeymen from across the divisions. Their playing style may be ugly, but it’s coherent and organised, with a very strong core and a clear playing philosophy that gives the players a strong focus. They also use their fans at the Britannia to good effect.

    In fact, I think, since their return to the top division, there has been a lot more to them than they’ve been credited for. I remember seeing a couple of years ago Tuncay provide real inventiveness alongside the muscle. To add to that creative element, last summer Pulis recruited Eidur Gudjohnsen and Jermain Pennant, suggesting that the team would evolve into something more complex. But Tuncay was allowed to go last month and Gudjohnsen has been loaned to Fulham, muttering that his more technical style of play cannot fit with the prevailing ideology at Stoke. Pulis got another viking veteran, Carew, in his place, providing a far more basic proposition.

    Stoke are effective, and will be mighty tough opponents tonight and when we go back to their place later in the season, but the dumbing down of their already utilitarian playing style suggests they will increasingly focus on a very basic style of play. Pennant has some ability, we know that, and he will have extra motivation against us, but there isn’t too much creative ability beyond him. The goal threat will come from deadballs and hitting us on the break, by getting it to potent players like Jones or Carew. But the fact that Stoke’s top scorer is Robert Huth says a lot.

    Tonight, I think pace and flank play will be key, we need to get the ball wide and attack the penalty box from the wings, as their wingers and full-backs aren’t as good as the players in the centre of the pitch. I don’t watch closely enough to know their usual formation, but I would be surprised if they didn’t have a five-man midfield of something like Delap, Whitehead, Diao, Pennant and Pugh, in front of Shawcross, Huth and Begovic. I think we’ll win but only by one goal. It’s going to be tough going, especially with Squillaci having to fill in and without van Persie. The fans will need to turn up again, and hopefully the righteous anger about Shawcross will provide extra motivation.

  10. dandan says:

    Super Write up Raddy, Mr Puker and his “sickophants” will be a test tonight, because they will pray on the knowledge that we have a huge game on Sunday and none of the lads will want to miss out through injury.
    So expect boots being left in, flying elbows and all the other thuggish garbage that this team of sadistic nutters delight in collectively dispensing whilst laughingly designating it football, in the hope that we will let them have the ball. Lets face it they wont get it any other way.

    Have just seen by the way, that live on line footy have included tonights game on their schedule.

  11. charybdis1966 says:

    I’ve just read that the club convinced a section of fans not to hand out 500 whistles outside the ground tonight to be used everytime Shawc**t touches the ball.
    We should make sure that the Shawc**t effect gets the crowd behind the team.
    We should never forget what the Stoke captain did to Aaron.

  12. charybdis1966 says:

    For newer readers of AA, I’d like to point you to what I wrote here shortly after Aaron’s double leg break last year:

    http://arsenalarsenal.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/saint-ryan-slain-by-satanic-frenchman/#comment-3399

  13. tommystout says:

    good preview BRaddy as always, and that one of May26.
    I’m fearful for tonight for injuries, freak goals and shoddy refereeing. Tonights ref is the guy that sent off shawcross, so hopefully he will be sympathetic to us and stokes bullyboy tactics.
    As always we will create chances, i just hope for once that we are clinical and take them…. i really hope that this game is killed early and then we can play keep ball.
    Didnt know Dio had passed – Charey, sad. Makes me feel old to see all my childhood heroes going grey and wrinkly.

  14. charybdis1966 says:

    Yeah TommyS he sucummbed to stomach cancer last May.

    He wrote some great stuff, and I believe his brief tme with Sabbath produced some of their best music, Heaven & Hell.

    Who can forget Rainbow in the dark, The last in line, Holy diver, don’t talk to strangers?

    Ah…..the memories.

  15. Big Raddy says:

    26. Fine comment – between the two posts we have pretty much covered the game! And you are right that there is much to admire about Stoke’s ability to remain at the top table with a very small budget and fanbase. ….. but …. there is another way as witnesssed by Blackpool and Wigan.

  16. Harry says:

    Agreed Chary, whistles wouldnt have been a good idea though, just a blanket of noise will do, it will up the atmosphere as well……..

    Well up for this tonight, 3 points and no injuries is the requirement.

    Agree with 26M that pace tonight will be the key, I would be tempted to rest Nasri and throw arshavin down one side and theo the other.

    4-1 to us tonight…..

  17. Big Raddy says:

    Ronnie had a hell of a voice for a little chap and according to some sources was responsible for the rise of the “cornuto” as heavy metal’s handsignl of choice – though the first time I ever saw it used on a stage was Ozzy many many moons ago.

  18. 26may1989 says:

    Cheers Raddy, and on the button re Blackpool and Wigan.

    Chary, since I wasn’t aware of AA at the time, thanks for the link to your 2010 post in the aftermath of Shawcross’s assault on Ramsey – agree with everything you said then, and sorry to see that you had to go through major surgery yourself. Hope you’re in good form now!

    And have just noticed Gnarley’s new avatar – excellent stuff. Even inspires me to get my avatar act together at some point…..

  19. charybdis1966 says:

    Radders, I remember Ronnie saying that he got that sign from his grandmother who used it to ward off evil spirits \ /
    I remember him using it in one of his first bands, Elf, which I think predates Ozzie in Sabbath.

    26May – I’m glad you liked it, it was something I empathised with at the time and you need your family(in Aaron’s case the “Arsenal family” ) to rally around for you.

  20. Big Raddy says:

    Chary I was thinking about when I saw Ozzy with the cornuto and it was over 32 years ago at the Bristol Colston Hall. He was crap.

    I can date this because it was a very early date with my second wife. She had never been to a gig before and it took years for me to be able to persuade her to see another!! (her second was Sade in Oxford )

  21. Rasp says:

    Afternoon,

    We’re spolit! thanks for the excellent posts Raddy and 26m. Unfortunately my memory of that tackle is too horrific for me to have any admiration for tonight’s opponents – so I say to the crowd, give him hell ….. ‘No Shawcross Redemption’

    Welcome to Nigel Chelmsford Gooner, sorry I missed your comment earlier. I agree that just surviving without any injuries for the CC final will be an achievement.

  22. Rasp says:

    Raddy, chary,

    Since you’re fans of the ‘ol heavy metal, did either of you get to see Uriah Heap or The Edgar Broughton Band?

  23. 26may1989 says:

    Sorry not to be joining the music chat, metal is outside my remit – soul and indie boy, me. Raddy’s probably horrifed, but Sade in Oxford sounds great to me!

  24. RockyLives says:

    Great preview Br (and 26m)
    Tommy said it for me: let’s hope we get some goals early on and then play keep-ball. Not sure why, but I feel nervous about this one.

  25. Rasp says:

    Hi Rocky, yet another ‘most important game of the season’, with the chance to widen the gap after totnum losing yesterday. Unfortunately I share your feelings and fear a turgid 1 pointer.

  26. Red Arse says:

    Richard Wagner, (Tannhauser, Ride of the Valkyries), Beethoven, (Moonlight Sonata, Symphonies, well anything really),
    Schubert,
    Bruckner,
    Bach,
    Haydn
    Salieri

    OK, I’ll get me coat ……………………… but they used to be “heavy metal” in their time. :-)

  27. Red Arse says:

    Well done BR and 26,

    Class posts! :-)

  28. RockyLives says:

    Hello Redders :)
    Do you reckon Wagner ever did the ‘cornuto’?

  29. Rasp says:

    Hi Red Arse,

    Good to have you back, I hope the last few days went well for you.

  30. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rocky,

    Me too. I am not at all confident about tonite, but hope the boys do the biz and stick two fingers up to me! :-)

    My friend put this advert in the London Evening doodah,

    FOR SALE BY OWNER.
    Complete set of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 45 volumes.
    Excellent condition, £200 or best offer.

    No longer needed, got married, wife knows everything.

  31. Red Arse says:

    Hi Guys,

    Released on parole this morning, battered, bruised and v. fragile. Back to get the results next week. Oh well.

    Remember;

    1. Sex is like air. It’s not that important unless you aren’t getting any.

    2. No one is listening until you fart.

    3. Always remember you’re unique. Just like everyone else.

    Sorry, my humour is as bad as ever! :-)

  32. charybdis1966 says:

    Yeah Radders, it has to be said Ozzy has a pretty crap voice but his showmanship is what won him the kudos. He can’t of course compare vocally to Dio, Geoff Tate or the mighty Rob Halford but I sometimes wonder if his reality TV show has made him more known to the general populace rather than his bona fide metal heritage.
    I commend you on your bravery for taking your partner to the Sabbath gig, as for the Oxford one, the least said, soonest mended !

    26May – I wouldn’t worry, music is so subjective that there’ll never be any agreement on musical tastes which is fine; it’s just I feel that as a music genre metal gets so little mainstream respect for it;’ longevity and huge underground following.

    Raspers – Uriah Heap I do recall although slightly before time but hugely influential, for some reason they are mentioned together with Tredegar and Budgie.

    RedA – you know me well enough to know that Bruckner is one of my favourite composers and therefore Wagner by implication; I’d add Mahler and Shostakovich to that list. And you are right, I often think that if some of those guys were alive today they would be heavy metallists.

  33. Smith14 says:

    Afternoon all.

    I’m really looking forward to today’s game, I think it’s important for attacking Football that we take them to the cleaners.

    Apologies if this is not the done thing but a mate of mine has been working on a new blog and has posted today to reflect a lot of the feelings echoed hear about our distate for Pulis and Stoke in general. Follow the link on my username if you fancy a read.

  34. 26may1989 says:

    Smith14, fascist firewalls are stopping me seeing the link. Could you post it?

  35. 26may1989 says:

    RA, your number three put me in mind of this bit from the Life of Brian:

    Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t NEED to follow ME, You don’t NEED to follow ANYBODY! You’ve got to think for your selves! You’re ALL individuals!

    The Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals!

    Brian: You’re all different!

    The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!

    Man in crowd: I’m not…

    The Crowd: Shhhh!

  36. Smith14 says:

    26May1989

    the link is http://wearethenorthbank.com/?p=185

    Apologies that I can’t make it live. a) I don’t know how to and b) I have a similarly totalitarian firewall at work!

  37. Red Arse says:

    Hi CharyB,

    We have discussed music interests before so I know that you have eclectic tastes.

    Your suggested additions of Shostakovich and Mahler hit the spot! How about Paganini, Lizt, Verdi and Mendelssohn?

    Sadly, I am a tart for sentimental music (depending on mood), Diana Ross (Lady Sings the Blues), Sam Cooke and Josh Groban, and I recently found myself singing along to “Some Enchanted Evening”, and others from South Pacific. Oh the shame of it! :-)

  38. Smith14 says:

    There you go, it is live now!

  39. 26may1989 says:

    South Pacific?! Brilliant RA! Still, we;ve all probably got some gruesome musical skeletons in our closets…..

    Cheers Smith14, I’ll look at it tonight, once I leave Stalag 17, aka my office.

  40. Red Arse says:

    Hi 26,
    :-)

    How about;

    1. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.

    2. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.

    3. Some days you are the dog, some days you are the tree.

    4. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

    5. There are two excellent theories for arguing with women. Neither one works.

    I am in my Zen mode today, with musical effects! :-)

  41. dandan says:

    No shame Red Arse, you need a voice to sing most of those

  42. Red Arse says:

    Hi Dandan,

    You have immediately spotted the flaw, and it’s why I can only “sing” on my own! :-)

    And when I well up, no one can see me either! :-)

    Really good to get back and chat to you guys, now off for a rest so that I am OK for the game tonite. (Going to try and use your suggested stream, Dandan).

  43. Harry says:

    Well thats my admin done for today, time to get ready for tonight, cannot wait, game by game it is getting more exciting, we have so gotta win this, no excuses, no refs etc, win and win big, statement of intent to old red nose……..

    Has anybody suggested a watering hole yet for a AA meet up? I have peaches contact number so will ring when close to ground, I can taste that first pint already and I can taste a fine victory…..

  44. dandan says:

    RA have a listen to a girl who can sing and a guy who can write. Enjoy

  45. Carlito11 says:

    Hi all- no time for anything at the moment! Great pre-match(es) BR and 26M. I’ve got fire in my belly for tonight’s game- Stoke “fans” have been all over twitter the last few evenings calling us “dirty Arsenal” because they sit higher in the fairplay league than us (how the f**k did that happen?)!!! Some Birmingham knuckle-draggers have got involved as well. STOKE AND SHAWCROSS- WELCOME TO HELL!!!!
    btw- I’m up for a meet beforehand Harry and others- I can come wherever but if a suggestion is needed let’s meet at the Tavern- a good spacious option on a rainy evening.
    RA- great to have you back and on form!

  46. Carlito11 says:

    We’ve got the same ref as the Ramsey leg break game and Pulis has made Shawcross captain!!! As if the game wasn’t spicy enough already- hoping for a humdinger!

  47. charybdis1966 says:

    Harry, usually Peachy/Raspers get the pre match venue and it’s usually the Tavern on the Blackstock Road, where we meet before Everton was the exception.
    Sadly I won’t be there tonight, but have aperoni for me.
    Will you be there for Sunderland ?

  48. Carlito11 says:

    I won’t get involved in the music chat either- funk/ soul and other genres of dance predominate on my ipod- that’s why I call the stadium “The Mothership”!

  49. charybdis1966 says:

    Carlito, as Stoke fans brag about playing the game in a “manly” way then surely they are the diving cheating wimps now?
    They revelled in the notoriety of being called dirty before so how come they appear to be against it now?
    Hypocrites as usual.
    The Brum Scum have got involved because of Eduardo so they’ve got testosterone to hose around on twitter now.

  50. Red Arse says:

    Dandan,

    That is ace! I love Neil Sedaka’s work, and his distinctive singing style.
    I hope to be out and about tomorrow and intend to buy that if it is on DVD. Thank you. :-)

    Rocky, sorry I forgot to respond to your “cornuto” joke earlier. I went to a fantastic Fish and Chip shop cum restaurant recently. Having had a wonderful meal I chatted to the boss, who is of Greek Cypriot origins, on the way out (and whom I knew only on a nodding acquaintance basis) I complimented him, his staff and his fantastic food, I raised my hand in an “OK” gesture (index finger and thumb together in a circle, with the other three fingers extended), as I was going out the door, I was astonished by the change in his demeanour to a heavy scowl.

    I am a scared in case I inadvertently gave him a Cypriot cornuto. And apologising might make things worse. :-(

    I’d better stick to a cornetto in the future! :-)

  51. Carlito11 says:

    Chary- I normally ignore wind up merchants- but this lot are getting to me because there are some seriously nasty undertones to what they’re saying. Should all help create a ‘hot’ atmosphere for them this evening! :-D

  52. Harry says:

    Ok, we (Rasp and Peaches)ended up outside an off lience at the Barca match, pubs were rammed and I had my youngster in tow, on my own tonight, eldest is ballboy as usual so he goes straight in……

    The tavern it is then? Ok Chary, yep will be at the Sunderland match as well, shouldnt be missing any before end of season now, only missed 2 so far due to work…

    Should be about by 1800hrs, Carlito, peaches has my mobile number, so will contact you via peaches,. she has yours?….

    Will check back in a bit, off for shower…….COYRRG……

    Oh to be oh to be a Gooner……..

  53. Carlito11 says:

    Harry I can be there for 6 tonight. I’ll be in the bar with the big screen that opens onto the Blackstock Rd- or having a cigarette out front. I have Peaches number if I can’t see you and she has mine.

  54. charybdis1966 says:

    Carliot, i remember they got involved in a peaceful march in support of our manager before a game at our place once, punches were thrown and the usual hooligan behaviour you’d expect from the in-bred pikey scum that follow Stoke.
    I don’t understand why they would want to get involved in that- it was nothing to do with them.
    I hope there’s a heavier police presence than normal tonight as you never know what might kick off.

    Goood stuff Harry – I’ll catch you before Sunderland for a few.

  55. Carlito11 says:

    Off back to work- thought I’d leave this interview with Ignasi Miquel- interesting Catalan/ Estuary English mash up going on with his accent!

  56. 26may1989 says:

    Robert Huth was impressively manly when the other week he handled the ball in the penalty area, then went down clutching his face as if he’d been Squillaci-ed. The hypocrisy of Stoke fans knows few bounds.

  57. charybdis1966 says:

    And 26May, you just know that if one of our players did that the knobs at Skysports would be replaying that in slo-mo and super slo-mo on a 5 minute loop until a retrospective red card was issued to us.
    Like they tried to do with that Gallas challenge on the Bolton player(he was back playing in 10 days btw and they were trying to equate it to the Eduardo incident)

  58. Rasp says:

    What a shame Diaby is still banned, tonight would have been a good game for him to ‘boss’ the midfield.

  59. 26may1989 says:

    Absolutely right Chary – a comparison of that Gallas challenge with Shawcross’s challenge perfectly sums up the difference. Gallas’s challenge was late and was poor, and perhaps it did deserve a red card, but because it wasn’t at pace, any injury to Mark Davies was never going to be a career-threatening injury. Shawcross’s challenge on Ramsey had the risk of causing serious injury built into it, because it was done at pace. The number of people who say that it was a fair challenge really pisses me off, complete know-nothing idiots.

  60. Gooner in Exile says:

    Sorry haven’t been on, will google Tavern on Blackstock Road and hope to find it, will hopefully (met line allowing) be in the vicinity between 6-6:30 peaches has my number too (starting to think she’s a collector :) )

    If not you’ll recognise me by my Retro Away shirt. Oh and I’ll be the big bloke drinking alone or outside getting nicotine levels up pre match.

    Great pre match Raddy, like others on here I’m nervous about tonight Chesser will need all our backing tonight!

  61. kelsey says:

    Afternoon all.

    We will throw in the towel tonight I am afraid, and the news is not good about RVP it appears it is a long term injury and Kos is out until April and Djourou until mid March.
    Almunia has been recalled for tonight to see if he can keep his legs closed for once, and Cesc has finally put pen to paper with Barca, as Samir has agreed to join him in a package deal.

    Arshavin may score a brace tonight but will be dropped as he doesn’t do semis or finals.

    Birmingham will have at least one of our players crippled on Sunday together with the other two tonight.
    Barca game is a waste of tme with so many injuries,and we don’t want anymore,so we might as well concede now.
    Jack wants out as well as he hasn’t had a good punch up for at least a month.
    Nevertheless I remain positive

    We are the Arsenal

  62. Rasp says:

    Brilliant kelsey,

    You forget to tell everyone that Arsene is leaving to go and manage totnum :lol:

  63. Carlito11 says:

    Hi Rasp- you coming to the game tonight? GiE- I’ll be wearing this season’s shirt with “Carlito” on the back!

  64. dandan says:

    Kelsey I told you about those bloody wine gums, leave em alone mate.
    PS hope things are looking up.

  65. Rasp says:

    Hi Carlito,

    I’m being a martyr and letting my daughter go in my place tonight. I hope to go next weds for the replay and I believe Rocky is going to be around so perhaps we could have a pre-match beer or several then?

  66. Carlito11 says:

    You are an extremely generous Dad rasp- hope she knows how lucky she is! Next Wed should be good too. Offski COYRRG!

  67. AA bloggers personal secretary here – Carlito, Harry and GiE have each others phone nos now so its up to you guys to sort a watering hole. I probably won’t get to join you but if I can I’ll call. Just gonna email 26may cos he thought he’d be around to meet up.

    Wine gums!!! Maybe I’ll have those instead of a beer :P

  68. London says:

    Clever little comment Kelsey, it had me going, I only realised you were pulling our legs at Nasri.

  69. Anyway I’ve missed all the blogging today too :(

    Just seen that the game is on liveonlinefooty so thats good

  70. Rasp says:

    Nice to see we’re still signing Barca’s emerging young talent (Toral is the latest), whilst so far they have signed our has beens – who’s got the better policy :?

  71. johnQ says:

    this girl was the reason we lose to Leyton Orient! hopefully Stoke didnt use this trick tonight!

  72. Gooner in Exile says:

    Bloody Met Line!!!????!!!! ETA now 7pm hopefully everyone will still be around.

  73. Carlito11 says:

    I like that JohnQ! GiE I’ll still be at the tavern at 7- meeting some others here then.

  74. Big Raddy says:

    I have no pre-match nerves which is worrying. Hope I feel the same at half-time.

    Can’t go with the Sedaka, he is a step too far for me. After years of rock I am on Diana Krall and L. Cohen with some Mumfords thrown in- plus all the old chaps.

    I still buy at least 4 albums a month and think the current crop of new music is the best since the ’60’s.

    Enough of that …. time to concentrate on the important matters of this evening.

    Come on you Gunners

  75. charybdis1966 says:

    Carlito, if you’re around do you have the tweet address for your boycott talksport thing ?

  76. RockyLives says:

    So AW’s gone with Bendy ahead of the Chamster…

    Team is:
    Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Nasri, Fabregas, Walcott, Bendtner.

    BR gets 11 out of 11 :)

  77. Irishgunner says:

    “If you take Adebayor on loan, you’re not going to be winning the league” – well said Dunphy.

    Evening all.

  78. goonermichael says:

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES

  79. goonermichael says:

    Squiddly diddly

  80. Gooner in Exile says:

    Bloody ell Stoke are DULL! sitting two seats from the divide to Stoke fans…..they are as brain dead as their manager, one of them asked (shouted) if we enjoyed watching this football? I told them it was better than trying to look for the ball amongst the floodlights.

  81. SharkeySure says:

    Lol GiE….wot a strange question to ask.

    So far so good, but we certainly need to get a 2nd and sharpish. Won’t be easy though as Stoke are hell bent on retaining their 1-9-1 shape.

    Fabregas off. F**k !!! Only saving grace is that he went off quickly, as opposed to running around on it for a bit longer. Fingers crossed but I’m not too hopeful re Sunday

  82. Gooner in Exile says:

    Do we know whats wrong with Cesc yet?

  83. goonermichael says:

    It’s his knee according to the bbc

  84. goonermichael says:

    the commentator says a precaution

  85. goonermichael says:

    2049: More news on Cesc Fabregas. And it’s better for Arsenal fans. The latest is that he was taken off as a precaution, rather than because he could not carry on. Oh, and we have kicked off again at the San Siro.

  86. goonermichael says:

    dirty scum

  87. goonermichael says:

    pulis is filth

  88. Big Raddy says:

    I bloody hate Stoke. 2 violent tackles this half neither of which were called as fouls let alone carded. This ref has lost it

  89. Big Raddy says:

    Not at all sure about Denilson coming on.

    And poor Theo. Looked very nasty and on his weak ankle

  90. goonermichael says:

    we need another goal

  91. goonermichael says:

    denilson is always giving away freekicks

  92. SharkeySure says:

    I’m really starting to question why Arsene has so much faith in Denilson. I no longer blame Denilson.

  93. Irishgunner says:

    Woohoo – 3 points is what its all about.

  94. SharkeySure says:

    Great win if not a great performance. Good to see the boys winning a bit ugly and running down the clock at the end !!

    Onwards and upwards !!!

  95. SharkeySure says:

    Irish – agreed !!

  96. Big Raddy says:

    Very nice win and good to win ugly.

    But there are some serious questions to be asked as to why we totally lost any thrust once CF had gone off. Nasri and AA just couldn’t find a telling pass.

    Though once again Nik got an assist and looked more comfortable central.

  97. ryandanielwood says:

    I think it would have been a real mental knock had we not taken three points as we potentially have lost two key players for Sunday and onwards. I’m really glad there was no higher price to pay.

    In other news, Shawcross is a tool of the highest calibre…cheated from start to finish.

  98. Big Raddy says:

    Another great game from Szczesny, his save from Carew was vital and he did well under the aerial bombardment

  99. goonermichael says:

    If that was the mancs people would be saying stuff of champions, didn;t play that well but we got the points. united are still rubbish away from home.

  100. ryandanielwood says:

    I second that Raddy the first save coming after a HUGE spell of no action, his concentration and defensive organisation of the back four served to win us the game as much as the squids header.

  101. goonermichael says:

    If Chezzer had been playing on Sunday we wouldn’t need a replay.

  102. SharkeySure says:

    I think it was really difficult Raddy, they seemed to have 11 defenders plus a keeper.

    Fabregas is undisputably world class, and hence he is one of the few in world football who can unlock practically any defence, with a moment of inspirational thought allied to technical genius, all combined, packaged and delivered in the beat of a bees wing. He’s a pretty hard act to follow.

    Respectfully.

  103. goonermichael says:

    my avatar doesn’t show up here. It shows up on other WP blogs

  104. SharkeySure says:

    Its cos you’re not welcome GM ;-)

    Says me with no avatar…

  105. Carlito11 says:

    In the q for the tube- dirty game from stoke. We lost a lot when fab4 went off but second half nasri got in the game more. None of the regulars around me were in attendance hence no singing :-( djourou chesney wilshere all superb tonight. Good team effort and well happy with the three points! Chamone :-D !!!

  106. Irishgunner says:

    Walcott out for Sunday

    Cesc has a hamstring problem that will be assessed tomorrow

  107. Big Raddy says:

    SS. Respectfully, when Stoke came out and tried to kick us off the park early in the second half, we had the space to create but just couldn’t get any player free.

    Not being nasty and very upset that Theo is out for Sunday, but he had a poor game. After his first 5 mins, he wasted possession time and time again, and his miss from AA’s pull back was sympomatic of his performance

  108. Irishgunner says:

    ” I couldn’t believe we scored with a header against Stoke but tonight we looked more dangerous from corners and set pieces.” – Arsene Wenger

    :lol:

  109. Big Raddy says:

    Irish.

    Can I change my most important player for Sunday from Theo to Van persie? :-(

  110. Big Raddy says:

    BTW. Not only are we only one point behind MU, we are also 7 points ahead of MC in 3rd.

    Come on you RR Gunners

  111. Gooner in Exile says:

    Good defensive display by back 4 and Sczezney.

    And a little mention for Jack, under the cosh and looking for an outlet he was the man who made a run into the corner flag and showed the balls to get there and hold it up. Exhibition stuff from AA and SN in last 5 keeping the ball.

    Stoke cnuts cheered stretcher for Theo, tools of the highest order!

  112. Irishgunner says:

    Will RvP be fit???

    My replies are slow in coming – I have to have an even amount of replies from both sides, so far I have ONE from birmingham and 5 from Arsenal – I fear I will have to disappoint some unless the Brummies stuff starts flooding in :(

  113. SharkeySure says:

    Sz and DJ. Saving Arsene a fortune in transfer fees.

    Throw in Wilshere and you can start to see why he doesn’t spend when all are going crazy for new signings.

    Add in Song, Clichy, Fabregas and Nik B, to get you a group of seven players for whom the total valuation is around the £200m mark, with only Song costing over £0.5m.

    Even better still, all of them have at least 5 years of ‘playing the Arsenal way’. You can’t put a price on that, just ask Mancini

  114. kelsey says:

    would almunia have saved carew’s shot ?
    the worst tackle was delap’s.studs showing on sagna,no booking.

    djorou is our lucky mascot.

    nic made the goal, otherwise was really poor.

    strange game.could have been 3 up in 10 minutes and once cesc went off we lost all momentum.
    what an absolutely awful side are stoke,no resemblance of actually trying to play football.

    sqillaci had a really good game,pleased for him.

    theo will be out for quite a while and my guess is that at best cesc will be on the bench for sunday
    good night everyone with or without avatar.

  115. SharkeySure says:

    Raddy – agreed. There was more room in the 2nd half, and whilst we did create some chances, on balance I’d have to agree that we are entitled to expect more from the two you mentioned (Arsh & Nas for anyone who’s unsure)

  116. SharkeySure says:

    Lol, Kelsey. Nite

    Ps. I agree with everything you’ve just said

  117. goonermichael says:

    I’m off too. See you all later. just 1 point behind now :)

  118. London says:

    I was pleased with Arshavin tonight especially his effort, not sure where the concern comes from. I expected more from Nasri once he moved into the middle replacing Cesc; although, he will move out to the wing now that Theo looks likely to be out for Sunday which in my opinion is a blessing in disguise. Walcott was poor and I better stop there with the adjectives; no I can’t, he was absolutely rubbish, his control was pathetic. If both Cesc and Walcott are out on Sunday then Wilshere should play ahead of Song and Denilson.
    Szcesney: is the answer and as someone said if he was playing on Sunday we would have won but if he gets injured we need his replacement to have had some recent match practice, thus the choice of Almunia was the correct one.
    Sagna: focused as ever.
    Djourou: on the money
    Squillaci: the goal will lift his spirits no end.
    Clichy: his passing in the first half was pathetic.
    Song: he may have been a bit slow against Messi, Iniesta and Xaxi who isn’t as I said before but Barcelona don’t play in the EPL, Stoke and the like do and tonight our Alex was the Man.
    Fabregas: some might suggest that Van Persie would be the biggest miss on Sunday…Wrong.
    Bendtner: I thought he had a very good game and will be happy for him to start on Sunday if the Boy Wonder is still in the sick bay.
    This was supposed to be a comment on Arshavin but I got carried away.

  119. London says:

    Ooops forgot Wilshere, I think that must be because he exudes confidence, excellent tonight.

  120. SharkeySure says:

    London – I’ve just said the same to Wonderman on the phone re Nasri replacing Theo, coupled with Arshavin’s resurgence.

    Have to respectfully disagree re seeing Denilson start on Sunday. I’d happily see Diaby picked ahead of him. Both players can be distinctly average or even poor on their day, but one of them might just dominate the midfield with his skill, pace and power.

    Which one ?? I’ll tell you tomorrow ;-)

  121. SharkeySure says:

    What suspense ‘eh….

    Hitchcock had nothing on me.

    Nite all

  122. London says:

    Hi Sharkey

    I was working on the basis that Diaby would be injured.

  123. SharkeySure says:

    Probably not the worst plan in the world that London. There must be a nurse in the sick bay that he’s got the hots for.

    He often gets injured when he’s not even played.

  124. Gooner in Exile says:

    Thought Nik B was left to battle on his own tonight he spent a lot of time trying to move Stokes back 6 around, but it’s a hard task when players aren’t running past you and the opposition aren’t moving.

    Got to say again our back 4 were superb, stood up to all Stokes physicality really well. Particularly Vlichy getting in some viral headers and NikB did a very good job defending against Shawcross at set pieces.

    The whole back 4 were high giving at the end to congratulate themselves on the Clean Sheet and performance, JD came over to the Clock End fist pumping away, that’s how I want my defenders to be. Chasers organisation is great to see, and playing a high line defending set pieces FINALLY!!!! :D

    Can’t get over the neanderthals approach to the game. JOKE but if that’s what they aspire then mores the pity, I don’t want to hear another Stoke fan say that they’ll accept it to stay watching Premier League Football week in week out, well they don’t watch PL football they watch a wrestling match (I chose to ignore rugby as that’s more skilful than anything Stoke serve up).

    Tomorrows headline “Walking amongst Giants”?

  125. harry says:

    on train, still raging about the ref and the filth that are stoke, pullis is a disgrace….
    Three points, but injuries ahead of final….just hope rvp makes it…….

  126. Gooner in Exile says:

    Sorry didn’t get to meet up with you boys, last time I rely on the met line, it’s taken as long to get back to my hotel in Rickmansworth than it does to get back to Norwich!

  127. RockyLives says:

    Watched on the telly, which always gives a different perspective to being there in person but…
    I think the criticism of Theo is harsh. He made several chances early on and, although he struggled to get through their two banks of four and faded second half, he never stopped working and did some great tracking back.
    Song gave the ball away at least as much as Theo (probably more), just like he did on Sunday, but he seems more immune to criticism at the moment. I would add, his break-up play and ball-winning was first class.
    Bendy had a good first half but was largely invisible second half (partly because we spent more time on the defensive). However, he always helps out well in defense against these big ‘hoof it in the box’ teams.
    AA looked lively – he tries a lot of difficult things that don’t come off, but his form is definitely back.
    Nasri, as some have said, just didn’t manage to be a Cesc replacement when he moved to midfield. Cesc is a hard act to follow but I thought Samir could have been more involved.
    Jack had another excellent performance.
    The back five were outstanding against a team of dirty giants. The Squid played really well (and got the winner) so maybe some of the premature writing-off of him that’s been going on will start to wane.
    The crucial thing was three points, which we got.
    Next up, Wembley.

  128. London says:

    Morning all

    I am a little less emotional this morning and would like to retract my comment that Walcott was rubbish, this is too harsh and as Rocky said he didn’t stop trying. That said, I stand by my criticism of his control…….pathetic.
    I don’t accept that Song should receive similar criticism for the fact that he made a couple of poor passes; there is a big difference between that and having poor ball control. In short, Song’s job is to break down the opposition’s attacks as early as possible which he did very well, Walcott’s job is to find a way past the two banks of four, set up by teams like Stoke which, due to his limited skillset, he is unable to do. As for the early chances, he did not create them Fàbregas did, Walcott just fluffed them.

  129. Gooner in Exile says:

    Cesc has said on Twitter that he is not sure whether he will be ready or not but will not sleep if necessary as he says he has waited too long to captain Arsenal in a cup final.

  130. Gooner in Exile says:

    Have to agree with London Walcott was poor last night in general, with a couple of moments of brilliance.

    And lets remember he wasn’t on the pitch when we scored against Barca.

    However he is still a great impact player to have in late stages when the game opens up.

    We didn’t have a good shape at all once Cesc went off. Very concerning. If Cesc can’t make the final my suggestion for captain is Jack, he was great last night organising those around him and having polite words with the ref after the studs up on Bacary

  131. Oh my, poor Cesc :( I do feel that Nasri hasn’t quite returned to his sparkling form yet and that would explain why we missed the spark when Cesc went off but Arshavin certainly has and was one of the most hard working players on the pitch last night.

  132. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Evening to you all

    The two injuries are something to be concerned about, but after a gutsy 1-0 win for a maximum 3 points, how can anyone be disappointed with any of the players?

  133. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    …….& well done again to Arsene Wenger & Pat Rice.

  134. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    2 words worry me about the Carling Cup final, Hleb & Bentley ;)

  135. charybdis1966 says:

    Hi Gnarley, I think Hleb will be on the bench at best for the Brum Scum and i don’t think Bentley has been playing that much for them either; perhaps that’s wishful thinking.
    I bet you’re fearing a long range punt from him scoring ?

  136. Gooner in Exile says:

    Agreed GG, I think we just needed Theo to show us he can be brilliant without Cesc around him. But we will surely miss him as an outlet against Brum and Barca.

    One thing really surprised me with Stoke last night they kept bombarding Sagna from goal kicks and free kicks in their own half, I would have thought Clichy would have been a weaker side to our defence aerially.

    Sagna looked dead on his feet at the end having to compete in so many aerial challenges.

    Also if I was McLeish i’d have noticed that Song got beaten in the air quite a lot in the last 20 minutes by trying to jump from standing while Stoke players were taking running jumps.

    Reckon that’s the difference in conditioning, our team are fitter when running across ground whereas Stoke are clearly set to jump for 90 minutes.

  137. kelsey says:

    Morning all.

    re Theo.

    He invariably flits in and out of games for us and England. I thought he did OK.
    I would say work in progress.

    I agree with peaches that Samir is not at full flow.

    I said a few days ago not to rotate keepers at least for this season, and after last night I stand by that.

  138. We have a New Post

    Morning kelsey :)

  139. Hi, thanks for this comment :)

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