Thunderbirds Are Go – written by London

If ever there was a game that went to Wenger’s original plan it was surely today with Arsenal beating Bolton by what ended up being a comfortable three goal margin. In an interview just before the game in which Wenger announced the team he was asked if he had made his selection with one eye on the midweek game against Braga to which he was able to honestly answer, no, but had he been asked whether he had made it with both eyes on it he may well have had to fess up and say yes. There is no doubt that the three points were important to him but it was very clear that he never put a single drop more fuel in the tank than was necessary to achieve that goal.

Clichy, Sagna, Nasri and I suspect Vermaelen were all rested; Diaby’s injury might be the only spanner in today’s fine works but with a bit of luck they should all be fighting fit and raring to go on Wednesday. The resting of some gave rise to opportunities for others: Squillaci, Gibbs and Denilson made their starting debuts for the season, all nicely warmed up and ready should they be called upon in the week, this might seem as though I am putting a bit more emphasis than is necessary on the Champions League game but if you saw Braga destroy Seville you will understand why.

Walcott was sorely missed: sublime passes from Rosicky and Fàbregas split Bolton apart, putting Arshavin through one on one with the goal keeper no less than three times; he missed on every occasion, making it difficult not to imagine that Walcott’s pace would have given him just that extra bit of time to compose himself and slot all three home; nevertheless, Arshavin had a very good game, he looked as though he cared and fought as hard as any other Arsenal player out there.

With the Russian squandering his opportunities someone was going to have to score and it seemed as though Koscielny picked the lucky straw; Wilshere sent in a cross to the far post for the on rushing Fàbregas who should have smashed it home but sent it across the box, bouncing of two players before Koscielny swept it home from a foot out to notch up his first goal. If it was a night game we wouldn’t have needed flood lights as his smile would have lit up the ground more than enough. Well done that man.

The goal was the breakthrough that most assumed, once achieved, would put the game in the bag, as other goals would surely follow. We certainly applied the pressure in an attempt to turn this assumption into a reality but as happens so often with Arsenal the maxim of why do it the hard way when you can do it the easy way gets turned on its head.

Bolton sent in a high ball that wasn’t going anywhere when Koscielny, rather than head it clear, sent it across the box to be picked up by a Bolton player who sent it back to the far post which was headed in for Bolton’s equalizer. This is two school boy errors in two games both resulting in equalizers it’s lucky he had scored or his honey moon period might have been over quicker than he was expecting.

The comparison between our two new centre backs became clear, while I think that Koscielny will be at Arsenal for years and grow into a very solid defender it is Squillaci’s experience that is needed right now and because of that he would be my choice to partner Vermaelen in the week.

The break came and went and Arsenal took to the field a good 5 minutes before Bolton which was the first sign of the urgency that Wenger had obviously tried to install in them at half time: it worked. Arsenal upped the tempo and Owen Coyle’s New Bolton, the one with the delusion of playing expansive football, was getting carved apart by the sublime interplay of Arsenal’s midfield. Unsurprisingly, Bolton reverted to type: when push comes to shove they are no more than Fat Sam’s thugs dressed in Coyle’s sheep clothing. (It almost works)

Koscielny was purposely shoulder charged by Davis in such a way that could have caused a serious injury; Davis is a dirty piece of work if ever there was one. Still, Koscielny recovered and carried on hopefully in the knowledge that he is unlikely to face anyone quite as despicable in the near future, well, not until Joey Barton arrives in town at least.

There are certain points in a game where it isn’t clear what Chamakh is supposed to be doing and just when you are getting a bit concerned up he pops to head home the all important second goal making you wonder why you were ever concerned in the first place. A beautiful piece of interplay between Arshavin and Fàbregas who sent the cross over for everyone’s favourite Moroccan to score his second goal of the season.

Shortly after, Cahill was sent off for hauling down Chamakh, it was only a yellow card offence but hey ho who am I to complain, that said, it did highlight what a dreadful referee we had on the day – where do they find them?

Bolton, down to ten men and a goal behind, tried to make a fist of it but with the collective skill-set that Arsenal’s mid-field possess it was only a question of time before the third came along and indeed it did and from a very unlikely source as well: Song, brimming with confidence, burst into the area and chipped the keeper from what seemed an impossible angle, this third goal killed of any remaining hope Bolton may have harboured, it was time to sit back and enjoy.

Showboating was now the order of the day and Arsène sent on Vela who, after what seemed like a fifty passing move, slotted home sublimely to finish off what was, all in all, a very good day at the office. If we beat Braga I think we can safely say our season is really up and running.


Player ratings.

Almunia: clumsy, sloppy and some really good saves, it was the usual Big Al jamboree bag: the good the bad and the ugly. 6

Eboue: this didn’t really work with Rosicky I am not sure why, usually you can’t stop him bombing forward but he was quiet, still what he did he did well. 6

Squillaci: so far so good, his experience showed and was very welcome; it is going to be very interesting who Wenger picks to partner Vermaelen in the week. 7

Koscielny: getting better every game, the goal will help, had a particularly good second half but he has got to cut out the school boy errors. 6.5

Gibbs: ok lets get this clear, Gibbs is a good left wing back but he is not as good as Clichy yet. In truth he didn’t have that much to do but it is hard to shine on the left when the Arshavin show is in full swing in front of you. 7

Fàbregas: I am convinced it says in his contract that “if he can breathe he plays” this is how we have kept him for so long: our Captain does not do sitting on benches, the best player we have by some distance, I can’t speak highly enough of him. 8.5

Song: fit and hungry, lean and mean, the Cameroonian mid-field machiiiine had fun today, bolstering the defence in the first half before moving up to play in the attack…..what? Yep, that’s what it looked like. 8

Wilshere: getting better every game, not quite there yet but it won’t be long.7

Rosicky: it’s easy to forget that names like Little Mozart are not dolled out quite as easy as people might think in the football world, today he lived up to this name. 7.5

Chamakh: like all attackers they play better after they have scored, with confidence oozing he showed us all what a great addition he is to the squad. 7.5

Arshavin: worked much harder than usual or certainly gave the appearance of caring more, this might be because he felt a bit embarrassed at missing the one on one he had with the keeper after five minutes. 7.5

Can’t wait for Wednesday.

Written by London.

46 Responses to Thunderbirds Are Go – written by London

  1. London says:

    Morning all

    What a great day and the sun is shining to-boot.

  2. Just one Arse for me says:

    Got to say that Song was immense, the guy just goes from strength to strength and his attitude is one of a consistent professional in an age of mercenaries. That goal was simply wonderful, much underrated by most blogs so far, in fact most seem to have missed it entirely.

  3. London says:

    Morning Just One

    He certainly isn’t underrated on this channel.

  4. Nasdribble says:

    Did anybody notice denilson made 47 passes only one unsuccessful in 21 minutes i used to loathe him but this season i shifted to almunia and i noticed our passmaster

  5. London says:

    Morning Nas

    I noticed Denilson’s fine contribution, this man is going to have us eating our words in the same was as Song did or at least to some he did. Denilson brought a controlled calmness to the game, you knew that his pass was going to find its man unlike Diaby who can be erratic which can create more stress than is necessary. I also now expect Denilson to take Wilshere’s place in the pecking order.

  6. Big Raddy says:

    Great read London. Must have taken ages to write. I enjoyed the Kos smile and the Coyle’s sheep clothing lines. Very creative!!

    As to the game, you have summed up my feelings, though I would have placed more focus upon the appalling refereeing display. To be booed by both sets of fans simultaneously takes work.

  7. Mayank says:

    Entertaining post London, but I can’t see what you saw in Al. I thought he looked solid. He’s looked solid in all games tbh. Seems he’s regained a bit of the fire that made him replace Lehmann.

    Also, Ros seemed to disappear later on in the game.
    It’s clear that Ros and Cesc love to play together. Hardly miss a trick between them.

  8. London says:

    Hi Mayank

    I would love to respond to your comment but I am a bit lost as to what you mean: “I can’t see what you saw in Al. I thought he looked solid.” Are you saying that you thought I was overly critical? I will try and guess. Almunia was far from solid, his very first kick of the game almost cost us a goal and there was other sloppy moments, that said he made some incredible saves which undoubtedly kept us in the game.
    As for Ros I think the fact that he was quieter in the second half had more to do with where he was told to play, in the first half although he was supposed to be on the wing he kept on cutting in which has the good effect of him being more involved in the game but the bad effect that the play become narrow. My guess was that at half time Wenger told him to stay wider forcing one of their defenders to go out to mark him and by doing so making more space in the middle for Chamakh etc the down side to him being further out is that he seems less involved.

  9. barumgooner says:

    Nice post London. I think you are a bit harsh on Almunia. Made some terrible clearances early on and played a free-kick across his own goal line for some bizarre reason but other than that he was pretty good I thought. I agree about Arshavin, really seemed to be involved and happy and was unlucky not to get on the score sheet. Chamakh is a work-horse, tireless unselfish running and going to be a really popular player I think. After the match I said to my son that I would give MOTM to either Song, Chamakh or Kos

  10. Rasp says:

    Morning London,

    Excellent match report. I would have given Almunia a 5 at best, simply because his decision making rather than his ability was poor.

    I thought Rosicky had a very good game and I was bloody annoyed when everyone went streaming out of the ground and didn’t wait to clap the players off. Rosicky made a point of running over to throw his shirt into the crowd and clap the fans. As he walked off the crowd were booing the ref instead of applauding Rosicky, I’d give the fans 6/10 for that. We’ve been entertained for 90 minutes why not just show some appreciation?

  11. Rasp says:

    Squillaci is a brilliant acquisition. He slotted straight into the system and has become one of the new era of Arsenal clone CB’s. He looked like he’d been playing with us for years and hardly put a foot wrong. The only thing that let him down was that he missed a sitter of a header and should have crowned his debut with a goal.

  12. London says:

    Morning guys

    I just thought it would be a bit mean not to recognise the saves he made, but he really doesn’t do himself any favours does he? Someone should send him a book of basic goalkeeping for Christmas, although, thinking about it the book might not need to be sent, Schwarzer may well deliver it by hand.

  13. tommystout says:

    Good summary London
    I agree with you on most points.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the game yesterday and it looks to me like Fab1 is back, how many times did he open them up yesterday. Chamach too was so hard working he is going to be a star for us.
    Davies should have been off, robinson should have been off and cahill WAS off … nice to see bolton havent changed !!! coyle needs rid of robinson and davies b4 he plays the game he want to play.
    Thought typical diaby yesterday getting injured again but that was b4 i saw that tackle properly.

  14. Rasp says:

    Hi tommy,

    I felt sorry for Diaby. It was a bit of a hospital pass but he still got to the ball first. Robinson should have got a straight red for that tackle as it was over the ball and studs up. Cahill should only have got a yellow, but Davies should have got a 2nd yellow=red for the head butt/shoulder charge on Koscielny.

    Oh and EE should have got an oscar for his starfish performance towards the end. I particularly liked it when he was lying behind the goal spreadeagled face down and sneakily stretched out a hand onto the pitch as the keeper was about to take the goal kick causing the ref to come over and hold up the game 😆

  15. London says:

    Yeah, that was a funny moment, it always makes me laugh how long it takes for Arsene to give the physio the nod to go and see what is wrong. You can see them all sitting on the bench raising their eyes to the heavens clearly saying there’s nothing wrong with him, he will get up in a minute, mean while like a child seeking attention Eboue screams louder and louder.

  16. Rasp says:


    Can you see the new widget I’ve put up comparing this season’s progress with last? I’ve had to compress it and don’t know if it’s legible for everyone..

  17. barumgooner says:

    So true about Eboue. Little Jack got pole-axed aswell I think. Did he get taken off due to injury or tactics ?

  18. SharkeySure says:

    Good report London, great result yesterday

  19. 26may1989 says:

    Re Davies, does anyone know whether referees are allowed to issue two yellows for separate incidents in one phase of play when he’s played an advantage on the first incident? Attwell carded Davies for his late challenge on Wilshere, but before that Davies had scythed down Rosicky (looked about the same as Cahill’s foul on Chamakh) and Attwell had played an advantage. It took ages before the ball went dead after that, but when it did it was for Davies’ foul on LJ. We all wondered whether the referee would remember to book Davies for the Rosicky foul, which was clearly a booking, but in the event Davies could, should, have been shown two yellows.

    But perhaps referees aren’t supposed to do that – after all, a player won’t be on notice that he’s been booked when he commits the second offence. But on the other hand, if a referee should book a player after playing an advantage if the foul deserved it, then why not show the two yellows?

    Of course, Attwell’s performance was so rank yesterday, truly appalling, that he might not have intended booking Davies for the first foul or he might have forgotten it, but ignoring his failings, they were both clear yellow card offences.

    Anyone know the answer?

  20. Rasp says:

    Hi bg,

    I think Jack was just tiring although he had been the subject of some serious attention from his team-mates of last season.

    Hi sharkey,

    It was also nice to see manure, citeh and totnum all drop 2 points.

  21. Rasp says:

    Hi 26m,

    My son’s a qualified ref, but is playing cricket today. I’ll find out later for you unless someone comes up with the answer in the meantime.

  22. 26may1989 says:

    Thanks Rasp, appreciated, I look forward to hearing more.

    Just read this by 1979gooner on on Another Arsenal Blog on Attwell: I agree with almost everything said there, other than the take on the Song/Lee/Cahill/Chamakh incidents that resulted in Cahill being sent off – I thought Lee was fouled and that Cahill should only have been yellow carded (though the advantage should have been played). But 1979gooner speaks much sense about referees’ lack of understanding of the game (a regular bug bear for me) and Attwell’s loss of control yesterday, and that in what wasn’t exactly a very difficult game to manage.

  23. Rasp says:

    I agree 26m,

    I think someone already commented that it is unusual but significant that both sets of players were unhappy with the ref. He made poor decisions affecting both sides – although we suffered the most 😉

    A couple of the incidents were right under his nose. I guess EE got the yellow for protesting about Davies’ assault on kozzer. I’m not sure any of our claims for penalties were valid although most were the opposite end of the pitch from me.

  24. 26may1989 says:

    Rasp, I think a couple of the pen calls were good but they weren’t the most obvious of Attwell’s errors.

    The unity of the criticism of Attwell made me think of that game against Liverpool years ago, when Graham Poll contrived to send off three players (Vieira, McAlister and one other), prompting a united chorus of “You don’t know what you’re doing”.

  25. RedandDread says:

    Like a few other people who have posted earlier, I am a little bemused at why you gave Big Al such low marks. Aside form the earlier clearance howler he played very well. He made a couple of stunning reatcion saves and did not “flap” at any corners. His decision making at set peices seems to be slightly better to date. Would Schwarzer have been that much of an improvement, not so sure. I enjoyed seeing our centre halfs really battle with Davies and Elmander and we showed great fight and tenacity at the back.

    Many Gooners are going to be eating humble pie in regards to Denilson this year-he may not light up the league but he will prove a great asset in our midfield engine room.

    Wonderful to see Rosicknote (no more!) enjoying his football and playing with that unabashed freedom, verve and creativity.

    And lest we forget…..Good to have #4 running tings in the way that only he can!

    Glad to get those Fukin’ (B)easts out the way for now. Would be happy if we never had to face any team that was, is or will be associated with Fat Prat Sam Allergidice

  26. London says:

    Good comment R&D

    Re Almunia: I tried to find some middle ground as I fully expected some to focus on his errors while others would focus on his saves. When you consider that due to his sloppiness we very nearly conceded two goals I’m not sure a mark any higher than six could really be justified.

  27. barumgooner says:

    Rasp I was at that end and the only one that should’ve been given imo was the Chamakh one. Looked stonewall to me. You are right though that the ref was consistently wrong with most decisions to both teams.

  28. tommystout says:

    4 matches so far
    3 sendings off – i know that the ref made many mistakes yesterday esp robinsons challenge, but are we seeing a different line of refereeing, they usually seem a little reluctant to send ppl off against arsenal through fear of play acting and the like.
    Anyone know how many opponents were sent off against us last season?
    Rasp i like the new widget and can see it properly.

  29. Rasp says:

    Welcome R&D,

    Almunia’s shot stopping credentials have never really been in question. Its his strength, distribution, decision making and communication with the defence which are someimes called into question. He showed weakness in all those areas yesterday at times. I don’t subscribe to the theory that discussing a player on a blog will destroy their confidence. I, like many others, applauded a little too enthusiastically when he came and collected a cross cleanly – he makes us all nervous, but of course, we have to want him to be ‘the best he can be’.

  30. Rasp says:

    Hi tommy,

    Have you noticed from that widget that all but one of our losses last season came in two’s (consecutive games), and after winning 6 games on the trot in Feb/March, we only got 4 points out of the last 15. I blame that primarily on the loss of TV and to a lesser extent Gallas.

  31. London says:

    Who did we lose against in the third and forth game last season?

  32. barumgooner says:

    Both from a shitty northern city one wearing blue the other red.

  33. London says:

    Yuck, now I remember…..that will learn me.

  34. barumgooner says:

    Rasp, when we lost TV last year i honestly thought we wouldnt get another point. The confidence and belief of the team just disappeared

  35. Rasp says:

    Can anyone relate the ‘pairs of losses’ to any other factor, e.g. international breaks etc?

  36. Rasp says:

    …. or was it that we mainly lost to other top 4 teams and those games always seem to come together?

  37. tommystout says:

    Just heard that the Diaby x-ray was clear, they’re looking at ligament scans now as he twisted his ankle on the follow through.

  38. tommystout says:

    that was quotes off twitter

  39. Rasp says:

    I’ve just read this on a very good Bolton Wanderers blogsite….

    “Sam Allardyce recognised that Arsenal play with little width, so he denied them space in the middle of the park and defended deep. Coyle on the other hand, chose to go with a high back line, when faced with Cesc Fabregas, who can put an accurate ball over the top with his eyes closed. On the scale of foolish things to do it ranks alongside a water buffalo showing its arse to a crocodile before going for a paddle.”

    I love the the last sentence 😛 Congratulations to the author.

  40. Morning all

    London – great write-up and I love the Thunderbirds association. Having 2 younger brothers, I was a big fan first time round and then had a son just when they were re-born. For those who don’t know the Tracey boys all had amazing machines with which they went around saving the world from disaster – the thing is they were all pretty much interchangeable and that’s how the mid-field felt to me yesterday. Cesc played in the front three for the first half and then Song did for the second half, Diaby came on, Diaby went off, Denilson came on, Chamakh went off, Vela came on all the cogs still clicked into place, it still worked seamlessly.

    It seems like we have a squad at last, even with the injuries, the balance was much better than last season. A lot of the time yesterday the play was a joy to behold.

  41. Neamman says:

    hahah God that is a LONG time ago!!!
    Great review and the rating were pretty good. I feel so much more confident this year than last, even when we were doing well last year I never felt we could go all the way. This year.. I really think we have strength in depth and if Chelsea hit injurie or a bad patch.. we could do it!
    Just have to comment on the poster who said..I have transferred my loathing to Almunia.
    WHY WHY WHY loath any one of our players, each and every one of them are better players than all of us here put together. Have you ever seen a player improve when his own fans boo him????
    I just cannot understand why anyone would boo their own players??? What sort of fan is this? If you have to boo then boo the manager who picked them!!! Not that I would ever boo AW who i rate as our best manager ever.
    Yes, you pay your money so you can boo.. well please go buy a season ticket somewhere else.

  42. Rasp says:

    Hi Neamman,

    We have a couple of posts coming up on monday and tuesday that I think will be right up your street in terms of nostalgia and positivity!

    Its good to have your company on here, I’m guessing you are abroad in a different timezone due to the time you generally come on – but ignore me if you think I’m being nosey 😉

  43. Neamman says:

    Hello Rasp
    No problem, Im a Kentish Town boy, whose father was a spuds supporter, I think I chose Arsenal because of the shirts, I dont like whie shirts, also Im competitive.. I like some edge when watching football.. As it was the time of the spurs double side I was thought of as dumb to choose Arsenal over I happy I did!!!
    Lucky my old man didnt support Arsenal.. i may have chosen spurs! hahah
    Yes I split my time between Canada[where I live] and Asia [where I work and do some business]. I am very lucky, I love my life!
    I have watched games in the weirdest places, this year it has been China and Thailand. Luckily the EPL is popular world wide so most weekends the game is on somewhere. As an aside I can give anecdotal eveidence of which teams are the most popular.. well MU is far and away the shirt i see more than anyone else. Then Real Madrid, Barca and Argentina. 5 years ago Arsenal were perhaps number 2 but now we rate just below RM, Barca and just ahead of Liverpool. Chelsea is getting more popular and I never, never see a spud shirt!!!!

  44. Rasp says:

    Thanks Ernie,

    I guess the Invincibles sold a lot of shirts worldwide and recruited new generations of Arsenal supporters. Manu work hard in the summer touring the far east etc in order to sell shirts and garner support – we just go to Austria for a couple of days and play magnificent football 🙂

  45. kelsey says:

    Lovely post London,

    as I stated earlier today the injuries maybe a blessing in disguise as it gives others a chance to shine, as peaches indicated earlier.

    No question the squad is stronger and the defense looks better in the air. The two new boys together with Gibbs had never played together before .

    Almunia had a good a game as we can expect but the one fault he could correct is his distribution of the ball.

    Of course the talking point over here is Barcelona losing at home to the newly promoted (mighty) Hercules from Alicante.Some of you may have seen the game on Sky, but for the upmost in madness, the commentating was something else when the goals went in, one just couldn’t beat the Spanish.They went absolutely mental.

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