Another Week, Another Drubbing.

February 8, 2010

As we have come to expect, Arsenal made their customary bright start: decisive passing between Fabrégas and Arshavin, driving runs from Diaby and strong tackles from Song all of which sent a combination of pride and adrenalin rushing to my brain, finally giving me the confidence to venture out from behind the sofa where I had been hiding all afternoon and allow myself to imagine that today, just maybe, this could be our day. As you are aware, this false dawn lasted all of seven minutes before Arsenal managed to locate their foot, take aim and shoot themselves in it.

Chelsea sent in a corner, Terry headed it back across the area for Drogba to bundle it home. The commentators on Sky tried to blame Song; well, perhaps he could have done better but the real culprit, as I see it, was Clichy who had walked over, waving his arms in a mental hospital kind of way, to the other post which Nasri was protecting, why Clichy thought that that post needed two players to protect it is beyond me. If Chelsea had done the same thing we would have laughed but it wasn’t Chelsea, it was Arsenal, the club that I love and yet again we were undone by schoolboy defending.

Not happy with just shooting ourselves in the one foot we then, just ten minutes later, shot ourselves in the other and again it was Clichy who was culpable: one of our attacks broke down high up the pitch, the ball found its way to Drogba who charged down the right wing free from any interference from our left back who was busy getting muddled up around the centre circle with Vermaelen; Drogba cut in, easily going past the late arriving Clichy before hitting the ball as hard as he could past the helpless Almunia.

Two chances for Chelsea and two goals, by contrast, the two real chances that fell to us turned out to be “if only moments”, the first in the form of a twenty yard cross field pass from Fabrégas, so magnificent that the only thing that it lacked when it arrived to Arshavin was a silk cushion to gently land on, this was probably the most inviting opportunity to come the Russian’s way in ages and it deserved to be clinically dispatched past Chech; but; as I said; it turned out to be an “if only moment” and the shot was comfortably saved.

The second chance fell to Nasri who found himself one on one with the keeper, the first and only time that Wengerball worked, that’s to say we finally managed to pass our way around their defence to create a guilt edged opportunity but unfortunately the Frenchman hesitated and the chance evaporated along with our title hopes.

Wenger may continue to say that we are still in the title race and he is, of course, right to maintain that mantra in public; I mean, what would we think of him if he threw in the towel before it was a mathematical certainty? It has to be said that we tried to make a fist of the game and I suppose simply losing this week is a slight improvement on the humiliation we suffered last week……I know, I know, I’m desperate but there is surely only a hand full of die hard supporters who are still clinging to the idea that we were eleven points behind Chelsea when we lost to them at the Emirates and we managed to claw ourselves back into the title race.

Well what else am I going to do on a Saturday afternoon? Next up Liverpool and then it is easy fixtures all the way to the end of the season; every winning run has to start somewhere.


Le Crunch …….

February 7, 2010

We need to win this one to keep the dream alive. This was the year when we felt that the boss actually believed we could win something. We’ve been cruelly hit by injuries and although they’ve reduced in number, it seems we still occassionally produce performances that are inexplicably lacking in desire and belief – those favourite words we so often hear Arsene quote. Not many of us would put our houses on a win at Stamford Bridge today, but one thing we do know about our team is that they perform well when the underdog. The players have the talent. Brain must outwit brawn. Nothing less than total focus and commitment from kick off to final whistle will suffice.

The passage below is from Raddy’s excellent article yesterday, we’ve reproduced it because it describes everything about the set-up for the side that needs to be said.

Following our poor display last Sunday, I have little idea of the team AW will play. Almunia will start only because there is no real alternative. The Back 4 pick themselves. Can TV/WG  keep out Drogba and Anelka?  Seeing Anelka’s goal celebrations always upsets me, AW could and definitely should have re-signed him, and Drogba seems to love a goal against us. Malouda and Cole are improving, whilst our full backs are looking shaky. Clichy has to find his form, and Sagna remember that we play in Red & White.

Chelsea have a formidable midfield even without Essien. Fat Frank and Ballack are highly intelligent players, and Cesc will have problems escaping the returning Obi.  In my opinion Denilson has to rest for this one. He must be mentally shattered after his recent mistakes.  I am hopeful that Eboue plays, his power and defensive abilty will be important against Anelka who likes to cut in from wing positions.

I look forward to Arshavin going back to his natural position and Bendtner starting. Nik got the usual 20 minutes returning from injury and should be available to start. I expect him to play and  Theo to come on  after 70 minutes. I want to see AA humiliate Cashley, I want to see Nik hold the ball up for the onrushing Cesc prior to our Spanish genius sliding the ball under the hapless Cech. I want to see Song bully Ballack and Obi, showing that he is The Man, and not the young apprentice.

Despite the pessimism all over the Arsenal blogsites, this game is not lost pre-kick off, our team has not gone from winners to losers in one poor game. A win would be a huge boost towards our run in, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility.  Should our players find the touch that has been missing and eradicate the silly errors, we can win.

By Big Raddy


Stamford Bridge Over Troubled Water…………….

February 5, 2010

When I think of Chelsea, I think theatrical ….  Managers from Tommy Docherty, through to Ruud Gullit and onto Mourinho. Players from Jimmy Greaves to Zola, Osgood to Vialli. A club that has a touch of glamour mingled with spontaneity and fallibility.  Tommy Cooper was a season ticket holder, Dicky Attenborough is on the Board. But then came the Russian who changed the face of Chelsea and football as a whole. The fun was taken out. The glamour moved from the team to the Manager by bringing Jose to London. The team became efficient instead of imaginative. They won titles but lacked likeability, to the point where they became unattractive –  proof of which is that  despite winning cupboards of silverware in the last 5 years, Chelsea are still not London’s  second biggest team, they are probably 3rd behind Arsenal and THFC.

Would anyone apart from Chelsea fans and MU haters be pleased if they won the PL this season ? They represent all that has gone wrong in football. From the snarling two faced “Husband of the Year”, ex England Captain, to Lampard, Cole and Drogba. Admirable players but hardly the sort of image one wants for a Club.  What must a cultured  man like Ballack have thought the first time he met his team mates? (Though his enormous wage must be a fine palliative!)

Being a London team  and easily accessable to tube, I went to Stamford Bridge every season. It was a chilling place to go. No cover for away fans, extremely violent home support,  a running/dog track around the pitch, and The Shed –  A place to hide the red and white scarf. But SB has grown into it’s surroundings and become as expensive and plush as the streets around it. Gone are the local pubs, replaced by the Pitcher & Piano and other soulless wine bars – much like the team itself.

Sunday:  We got smashed by Chelsea at the Emirates, and we go into the game on a run of very average form. The losses to Stoke & MU and the stuttering victories over Bolton do not inspire hope. However, we have only lost twice at the Bridge under Wenger, and Chelsea have been on a poor run, coming into this game on the back of a draw against a Hull.

Following our poor display last Sunday, I have little idea of the team AW will play. Almunia will start only because there is no real alternative. The Back 4 pick themselves. Can TV/WG  keep out Drogba and Anelka?  Seeing Anelka’s goal celebrations always upsets me, AW could and definitely should have re-signed him, and Drogba seems to love a goal against us. Malouda and Cole are improving, whilst our full backs are looking shaky. Clichy has to find his form, and Sagna remember that we play in Red & White. Chelsea have a formidable midfield even without Essien. Fat Frank and Ballack are highly intelligent players, and Cesc will have problems escaping the returning Obi.  In my opinion Denilson has to rest for this one. He must be mentally shattered after his recent mistakes.  I am hopeful that Eboue plays, his power and defensive abilty will be important against Anelka who likes to cut in from wing positions. I look forward to Arshavin going back to his natural position and Bendtner starting. Nik got the usual 20 minutes returning from injury and should be available to start. I expect him to play and  Theo to come on  after 70 minutes. I want to see AA humiliate Cashley, I want to see Nik hold the ball up for the onrushing Cesc prior to our Spanish genius sliding the ball under the hapless Cech. I want to see Song bully Ballack and Obi, showing that he is The Man, and not the young apprentice.

Despite the pessimism all over the Arsenal blogsites, this game is not lost pre-kick off, our team has not gone from winners to losers in one poor game. A win would be a huge boost towards our run in, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility.  Should our players find the touch that has been missing and eradicate the silly errors, we can win.

By Big Raddy


Let’s Forget What Arsene Didn’t Do And Concentrate On What He Can Do

February 5, 2010

Okay, so we didn’t sign anyone.

Some people wanted a new keeper, others wanted a defensive midfielder while a hell of a lot wanted a striker.

Actually I got that first line wrong, we did sign somebody, Sol came back!

Yep, it mightn’t exactly be as exiting as AA23 last January but Sol looks as tough as ever. Not too bad a guy to have on the bench if you ask me.

Just for a day lets forget about the lack of activity in the transfer window and have a look at what changes Wenger can make to the squad and starting XI.

Most would agree that Almunia has had a shocking season.

He doesn’t know whether to come off his line, if he does he flaps at it. He’s not commanding and couldn’t organise a nun-shoot in a nunnery never mind his defence.

I’m still at a loss as to how Mannone went from having a more than decent spell in goals to not even been on the bench anymore.

Wenger knows more than any of us about their state of mind and how they train but I saw nothing so bad from Mannone that warranted him going from playing every week to not been on the bench.

Fabianski has become Flappy No2 to Almunia’s Flappy No1. Whatever happened to Arsene giving players a chance and if they do well keeping them in the side?

At the back I think we are okay – despite the silly goals.

Vermaelen and Gallas have been awesome all season. Sagna has been decent at the back but average going forward.

Left-back seems to be a problem but I feel it comes more from midfield than anything else.

On the right, Sagna gets cover from Rosicky, Eboue or Bendtner when they are in front of him. Clichy doesn’t get the same from Arshavin, Diaby or lately Nasri – this has to be looked at.

Another problem is Denilson.

I actually quite like him as a squad player. He is often quietly effective but lately he has just been quiet. It has gotten to the point where we are often playing with ten men on the pitch because he is so….well, useless.

I’ve made my suggestion well known that I think Super Tom could play that role. In fact I’d suggest Wenger should try a different midfield against the Chavs, one which mixes defending with attack.

Song would take up his usual role in front of the back four and be under orders to stay there. Ventures up field would be kept to a minimum.

Denilson would be dropped to the bench and Rosicky would become the link player.

The Czech is aggressive in the tackle, disciplined and has one hell of an eye for the pass – so why not?

Cesc would be there doing his thing while on the right of the front three I’d go with the African Pele.

Eboue has come on a lot from last season. Tries his heart out and can defend and attack, so why not put him out on the right wing?

Give Cashley some defending to do while also making it difficult for him going forward as he’ll be playing against two full backs.

Lets face it, Eboue is a better option at the moment than Walcott.

If Bendtner is fit, he should start as CF.

Chelsea suffer from the same flapperitis as our goalkeepers. Cech is really not the same keeper as a few seasons back. The way to get at the Chavs is to get in crosses – at least Bendtner is tall and can head a ball.

Trying to play through Chelsea is difficult cos they will crowd the midfield but spread it wide, cross it in and make Nikki put Flappy Chav under pressure and see what happens.

Its also time to move Arshavin back to the wing.

He’s not a main striker and I wonder whether his greed against Manchester United came about from him being under pressure to score as opposed to him being a gloryseeker?

In short my team for Chelsea would be:

Almunia

Sagna

Vermaelen

Gallas

Clichy

Song

Rosicky

Fabregas

Eboue

Bendtner

Arshavin

I’d rather see Mannone or a scarecrow with extra big gloves in goals but he’ll stick with Almunia.

I’ll stop rambling now!

Just to fill you in: Eduardo is out of the Chelsea game. So too is Vela but its not like he’d play. Diaby is a “maybe” and Wenger has decided not to sign Stefan Savic after all.

Your thoughts….


Arshavin cost 80p

February 4, 2010

I am surprised, I don’t know why but I am surprised that there are still so many inaccurate myths doing the rounds about Arsenal’s transfer policy and no matter how hard I try to ignore them they still ruffle my feathers.

Top of the Pops at Arsenal are: we could have bought Alonso if only we had offered the asking price; next comes, the club refused to offer Flamini a new contract so he left to AC Milan and number one of my bug-bears is the idea that we almost lost Arshavin by holding out until the last minute for the best possible deal.

I can only assume that these rumours were started by people desperate to find something to write about on a slow news day, a kind of slow news day like today that I am using in an attempt to correct one inaccuracy in particular.

The Arshavin deal, in my opinion, is fundamental to understanding what the whole of the, post Abramovich, Arsenal transfer system has been forced to evolve into.

The central tenet of my argument is that it was Zenit, and not Arsenal, that kept the negotiations going until the last possible minute; the reason being that by doing so they hoped to attract other clubs for the purpose of creating an auction. It’s not rocket science, it really is quite easy, what possible reason could Arsenal have had to drag it out to the last minute?

To try and pay less than the asking price I hear you say……….Wrong.

There was never a fixed asking price for Arshavin, Arsenal being well aware of this offered what they thought he was worth, if Zenit had been successful in enticing Man City (a euphemism for any team with more money to spend that us) into the fray then we would have had no choice but to back out; so, with this possibility looming, why offer an unnecessarily high price from the outset.

I suggested a couple of days ago that some people (not on this site) seem to be under the delusion that buying players was as easy as buying apples and clubs like Arsenal, who have money in their pockets from the sale of other players, can simply waltz into any supermarket, chose a player within their budget, go to the check out and pay for him.

Continuing the theme: if the Arshavin deal was an apple in Tesco and it had a price tag of £1, it would be wrong to assume, as many do, that you could just pick it up, walk up to the check out and pay for it; you may be able to take it as far as the check out but you will not be able to buy it before Tesco have found out if Man City  are interested in buying it as well  and if they are then we all know that no matter how much Arsenal offer they will offer more. So, rather than suffer the embarrassment of losing an auction it surely makes more sense to give up any hope, there and then, and put the apple back.

Some may suggest that it might have been better to offer £1.25p for it at the beginning but even so, Tesco would still not have sold it to us before they were certain that Man City were not prepared to pay more.

The clever solution that Arsenal came up with was to pick the apple up and shout at the top of their voices, making everyone aware in the shop, that there was something wrong with it, in our case this took the form of Wenger commenting that he thought that “Arshavin lacked stamina” which was broadcast all over the media, with this doubt ringing in any other potential buyers minds Arsenal went ahead and offered 80p for the apple, accepting, that if Man city came in, then, so be it, but if they didn’t then Arsenal would know that we were the only club interested in buying this rosy cheeked Russian and Zenit would have no choice but to sell him to us at the price we were offering, which is exactly what happened…..we paid 80p for Arshavin, a clever bit of business if you ask me.