Farewell Andrei

November 22, 2018

I remember it so clearly, we had seen a small genius at work at the Euro’s in the summer of 2008 then there was much in the media that we may sign him. I

Barca had offered €15m for Arshavin, then Spurs came in with a €16m bid but he refused to downgrade from Zenit St. Petersborg to either club. Then on a snowy final day of the TW he signed for us.

I was excited.

But let’s be honest, he never really fitted in, did he? 143 games, a few outstanding performances but not the Boy Wonder we were hoping for. Andrei was 27 when he signed and really should have had a bigger impact because he certainly had the talent.

Highlights: Of course the 4 at Anfield and his brilliant celebration but for most of us it is the winning goal at THOF against Barca. What a night that was ,and what a celebration; taking off his shirt to reveal a T-shirt with an image of his celebration at Liverpool. Do Russians do self-irony?

A loan period at Zenit was Wenger’s response to Arshavin’s weight issues and lack of consistency, followed by a return to Arsenal where he spent much of the 2012/13 riding the pine. A free transfer back to Zenit for a couple of seasons. After that it was all downhill.

Andrei has spent the last 3 seasons in the Kazakhstan PL (sounds a bit Harry Potter) where he was Player of the Season in 2016.

My memories are of a player who never fitted into the system Wenger developed. Arshavin was neither a speedy winger, an Ozil style creator or a Ramsey-like box to box MF. Why did Wenger buy him? Surely not on the strength of one excellent International tournament?

He retires aged 37 with a bundle of cash and a long, fairly successful career behind him, but for me it is a question of “what could have been”? In my opinion he should have signed for Barca and we could have signed Iniesta. Imagine Iniesta alongside a young Fabregas … dreamy.

written by Big Raddy


Quotes of the Year: Arsenal New Year(ish) Quiz

January 6, 2014

What a fine year 2013 was. We were the best team in England during the past twelvemonth, confounding the doom sayers and the “experts” who make a living from sitting on TV studio couches with too-tight trousers and bad haircuts. Now 2014 is a few days old and Gunners everywhere will be hoping for more of the same. Today, for a bit of a diversion, I thought we all might like a bit of fun. Below is a list of quotations relating to The Arsenal, all made during 2013. All you need to do is match the quotes to this list of fine (and not-so-fine) folk: Arsene Wenger, Piers Morgan, Sir Chips Keswick, Lord Sugar, Andrei Arshavin, Per Mertesacker, Ivan Gazidis, Alan Shearer, Tony Adams, Santi Cazorla, Andre Villas-Boas, Harry Redknapp.: All answers are at the end. Good luck. Arsenal Related Quotes of 2013

  1. No mobile signal in directors box, assumed was correct. Composed tweet in stand, got sent after game.”
  2. Arsenal cannot win the league this season, no way, they haven’t proved anything yet.”
  3. I promised myself I would make sure I did things well and, considering the money that Arsenal spent on me, I didn’t want to let anyone down.”
  4. What does Wenger see in Ramsey? A complete and utter liability.” (January 2013).
  5. We are on an upward spiral in terms of confidence and they (Arsenal) are on a negative spiral in terms of results. To get out of that negative spiral is extremely difficult.”
  6. I wouldn’t compare the two squads (Arsenal and Tottenham). Tottenham are much stronger, no doubt.” (August 2013).
  7. It felt like the crowd (at Arsenal) was at the theatre – good seats, expensive tickets and they wanted to see a show, not to support the team.”
  8. It can’t just be all happiness, peace and pancakes.”
  9. Don’t mind and don’t care.” (On being asked by journalists for a reaction to Tottenham being knocked out of the Europa Cup by Basle).
  10. “Yes there is a poster of Gareth Bale in Times Square, but he no longer plays for Tottenham – he now plays for one of our rivals!‘”
  11. “I am greatly honoured to have been appointed _______  of Arsenal Football Club. This is one of the great clubs in the game, recognised and loved by millions. I am looking forward to leading the Club to future success.”
  12. “If they just wanted a figurehead, they should have gone for me. It would have been a better visionary decision.”


Scroll down the page to find the answers ………….










Answers to Quiz:

1. Lord Alan Sugar, after getting Spuds fans all excited about a non-existent Newcastle goal against Arsenal on the final day of the season)

2. Alan Shearer

3. Santi Cazorla

4. Piers Morgan.

5. Andre Villas-Boas

6. Harry Redknapp

7. Andrei Arshavin

8. Per Mertesacker (explaining why he roasted Ozil for not saluting the away fans)

9. Arsene Wenger

10.  Ivan Gazidis

11. Sir Chips Keswick on being announced as Peter Hill Wood’s successor as Chairman

12. Tony Adams, responding to the appointment of Sir Chips.


Midfield squad ……. is it good enough?

March 26, 2013

Here is my outlook on the midfield hope you enjoy it .

Oompa loopmas

Abou Diaby. Average player does his shift some games other games he’s just unreliable and prone to giving the ball away.

Should he stay or should he go?

Tomáš Rosicky.  Great player but he seems to have lost his way since the injury set back, can be unplayable at times but this season we have not seem him at his best.

Will he sign a new deal or will he be wanted elsewhere? Let’s not forget he’s getting older and we have players like the Ox who can play on the wing.

Mikel Arteta (vice-captain). I like the man from Spain, he’s a grafter and a gifted player when he feels like it .

His form has been a little patchy this year but he does his best for the club.

Jack Wilshere. Wonder boy jack is one of the best English players in the England squad when he’s not injured and he does an amazing job in midfield for Arsenal.

We’ve got to keep him – for a lot of us on here, he’s the next to wear the captain’s armband.

Aaron Ramsey. Love him or hate him, I personally think he’s doing his best. Yes he’s a youngster, but he can spot a pass and he can score a few and he’s one for the future.

We must keep him .

Santi Cazorla. Excellent, fantastic footballer and one of the players of the season so far he works hard and he can cross dribble and shoot and he’s gives 100% every game – another player who like to score.

Francis Coquelin. Not seen much of him as he’s a bit part player and is often used as a sub. When he comes on he does very well and I’m sure some Spanish clubs will be after him in the future.

Andrei Arshavin. I liked the Russian with the basin haircut, he has lost his way or he can’t regain his place in the team I can see him leaving in the not too distance future .

He will always be remembered for his one man show at Liverpool a few seasons ago .

sheep pic


Emmanuel Frimpong. This pong would not be out on loan, I’d recall him, he gets some tackles in and he is not scared of any player and he’s built like Mike Tyson .

What AW will do with the pong we will have to wait and see.

I’ve friends who are Wolves fans, he went there on loan before he had an injury and the wolves fans loved him and chanted his name every game.

Ryo Miyaichi. What a waste of money simples, buy him then loan him out, will he ever play a first team game in the Premier League.

Denílson. He looks to be enjoying his loan spell back home and can’t see him returning now or in the future but again I liked him when AW played him and he used him a lot.

I have not included the Ox or Theo as they play up front more than midfield but those two are another who in time will be a fantastic acquirement for Arsenal in the future.

What’s your opinion on the state of our midfield?

Sheep Hagger ™.

Santos – Arsène’s worst value signing?

February 13, 2013

Is Santos Mr Wenger’s worst ever signing? Some would say so; at £6.8 m he certainly appears to be  an enormous waste of resources. The Brazilian has started just 13 games.

But is he worse than the £4m spent on Squillaci, (take away the “m” and the Italian would still have been expensive!)

Looking back at the signing and selling costs, AW has done a superb job but occasionally gets it wrong. For example, I would say that Hleb was a poor signing but we paid £11.2m and sold him two seasons later for £11.8m, so despite a unrewarding time on the pitch, Alex did well for the club.

What of Richard Wright? Cost £6m and arrived as the long-term replacement for Seaman. Sold on for half that having played just 22 games. He did win a PL Winners medal at AFC.


One of Richard’s good days

And Gio Van Bronckhorst, Signing for £8.5m and started a meagre  42 appearances. A poor return for such a fine player who was well worth the £3m Barca paid for him – his 2 seasons cost Arsenal £5.5m.  He played 105 games for Barca and won the Champions League.

Franny Jeffers. Our fox in the box signed with huge expectations for a huge£ 8m. Big Ears was just  20 years old when he signed and still a lad of  22 when he was sold to Charlton for £2.6 after just 13 starts. However, he won 2 Cup Medals during his time at Highbury  A loss of £5.4m – well over half his purchase fee.

Reyes. A marmite player – to some the superb talent who was kicked out of the Premiership, to others he was a man who refused to adapt to the English game. Antonio came at a cost of £13m, and was sold for £8m which was a decent return in my opinion. Nonetheless, Arsenal lost another £5m on the deal

Edu. Lovely player. Bought for £6m and given a free transfer just 3 years later. Why a free? Another £6m thrown away. And before we dismiss £6m, remember this is a huge amount of money. It will buy you 40 Mini-Coopers or 3 Michu’s or a house in Hampstead.


Corinthians of Brazil’s Director of Football

Wiltord. A World Cup winner, a member of the Invincibles, scorer of the winning goal at OT in the Double season of 2001/2 and voted Arsenal’s 33rd Best Player of All Time in 2008 (there really are some deluded fans out there!); it may be churlish to say Wiltord was an expensive flop but we paid £13m for him and he left on a free when his contract expired. Was he worth the money? I leave you to decide. £13m will buy a wing of a hospital.

But, in my opinion, the worst bit of business done by Mr Wenger is still at the club and he is a diminutive Russian. Arshavin cost us a whopping £15m, a club record, and how much can we sell him for?  Zip. Thankfully, he has run down his contract and will be leaving in summer, but the cost to Arsenal has been immense. Not just the loss of the transfer fee but also a colossal wage to a man who has continually flattered to deceive. The loss on Arshavin’s transfer fee  equates to almost £250 for every person attending a home game and you can double that with his wages.

Would you rather have a Monkey (£500) or a Meerkat?


Какая пустая трата денег

What do you think?

Note: The above figures have come from different internet sources. They are not confirmed by AFC.

Written by Big Raddy

How was it for you?

October 31, 2012

How much fun was that game last night? Not the first 35 minutes obviously but by the end of 120 minutes I couldn’t actually remember how I felt when Reading’s 4th goal had hit the back of the net.

Aaaarrrrrggggghhhh that was how I felt and it’s also how I feel now because my whole match report has disappeared into the ether 😦

What to say quickly so that you can all carry on chatting? Bullet points it is then …………….

How can we concede 5 goals?

What an amazing come-back, although we do like to do that in this cup competition. Why isn’t that desire there for some PL games?

Theo Walcott – what an absolute star he was last night, I shall be very upset to see him in another shirt. He’s dangerous, so dangerous.

Olivier Giroud – looked comfortable last night as an Arsenal player. The difference between him and Chamakh is that he fills the space that he stands in whereas Chamakh always looks like he wants to be invisible.

Arshavin is going to need a month to recover from last night, he worked so hard, I can’t believe he played the whole 90 minutes, he must have been exhausted even before Miguel had to go off injured and from then he had no chance of being subbed.

Well done again to the away supporters who were magnificent.

Bringing on Giroud and Eisfeld were important substitutions.

Hahaha to McDermott for bringing on a sub in injury time only for time to be added on for us to score the equaliser.

Any number of players could have scored any number of goals once we got started but why wait until you’re four down to up your game?

It was fantastic, a real roller-coaster of a game and we’re in the next round phew.  If anyone wants to write some player ratings we can add them on.


Arsenal at Euro 2012? Interim Report

June 12, 2012

I can’t speak for anyone else but my prime interest in what has been a very good tournament (so far) is the Arsenal players. After one round of games how are we faring?

Arshavin.  AA had a super game and was involved in most of the attacking Russian play. Contrary to the pundits knee-jerk reactions, AA played in his normal position of right attacking midfield. He was pacy, beat his man at will and his passing was excellent. We have seen games like this from him before but they are few and far between. More of the same please and then let’s get a juicy fee for him.

Rosicky. TR struggled in a team which look poor. Forced to go wide to find space he could not influence the game,  and his own high standards he will disappointed. There were some tidy flicks, turns and passes but in a team with Milan Baros as the lone striker it was always going to be difficult against a Russia team possessing a fine midfield. Expect better tonight.

One for Irish …

Bendtner. Didn’t score but played well. He plays a different role for Denmark than earlier in his career when he was primarily on the left. Used s a lone central striker he had his back to goal most of the game and looked to bring the onrushing midfielders into the attack. I thought he worked hard but without much success. His new role for Denmark is what I hoped Chamakh would bring to Arsenal – why didn’t AW give Nik the same opportunity?

Szczesny. Nightmare of a game which will haunt him for years. A poor decision led to the Greek goal and another to his sending-off. It could be said that he took the red rather than concede a certain goal, in which case it worked well for Poland. Can’t see him getting another game in the tournament.

RvP. Another man who disappointed. I cannot recall him being so wasteful in any game last season. Was it the expectation? Was he too tense? In his defence he created the chances and was in position to score, if he continues to find the space he will punish Germany.

Podolski. My first real look at him and I liked what I saw. Played much deeper than I expected. He is strong, direct and has a good shot. Early days but I can see why we bought him and why he scores so often.

The Ox. Needed much better service from an England team which showed no creativity. If Hodgson is looking to O-C to be the spark then he must tell the team to get the ball to him early. A few good runs and a couple of decent passes. He was understandably tense and frustrated with himself when things went wrong. We have signed a gem.

Walcott. 3 minutes of action. One touch. Better than Ashley Young.

All in all a bit disappointing. I hoped to see Koscielny start ahead of Mexes (who has the worst haircut I have ever seen) – perhaps he will get his chance later in the competition.

How are we doing?  5 out of 10.   Have the ability – Could do better.

Written by Big Raddy

Now is the time to make Arshavin Arsenal’s Playmaker

October 13, 2011

‘We cannot allow ourselves to indulge in sadness and melancholy’

Andrey Arshavin, December 2010 (after MU away game)


With the departure of Cesc Fabregas and the long-term injury to Jack Wilshere, Arsenal is left with a hole, in more ways than one. It is a cruel double blow to have neither of them available for this pivotal position, especially during this transitional period. Since the start of the new season, the much-changed Arsenal team has looked unfamiliar to us, as if it has lost its identity, its USP, its typical style of football, and the main reason for this is, nobody has been able to make the ‘hole position’ theirs until now. It comes as no surprise that our results in the League have also been well under-par, and now is the time to make some bold moves so we can regain momentum and confidence again, and shake-off this mantle of sadness and melancholy once and for all.

The Playmaker position, just off the striker – the Dutch call it ‘de hangende spits’ (the ‘hanging-off’ striker) was made for Dennis Bergkamp and vice versa, back in the mid-nineties. He epitomised what can be done to a team and its style of football if the right player takes up the no. 10 position. DB10 was always able to find space for himself, so the defence and midfield had an outlet, he was able to hold on the ball and allow the attacking midfielders to move forward, but he was just as capable to set up a quick attack for his fellow striker and wingers – often with an inch-perfect defence-splitting pass that would make you go weak in the knees for joy – or to take on defenders himself and score goals from just outside the penalty area, or inside the box. Dennis had it all: brilliant first touch, superb vision, a winner’s mentality, a professional through and through, and somebody who took pleasure in doing beautiful things with a ball on the pitch. It was this quest for beauty that has made him such a special player and made him immortal to us, and, in a way, he made us all feel a bit immortal along the way.

Cesc Fabregas was a different ‘no. 10’ for us: more of an attacking midfielder than a striker, with a great ability to pass the ball within tight spaces and to boss the midfield area. However, what he had in common with Dennis was the ability to pick a defence splitting pass and to create something out of nothing, for which he also had the vision and touch. He was another great Arsenal player although not in the same category as Dennis, but then who is, or will ever be?

Jack Wilshere is a very promising player for both Arsenal and England. For me, he is our future ‘nr. 10’ as he is similar to Cesc in many ways, with great vision and a superb passer of the ball, very good in tight spaces and with a phenomenal fighting spirit and stamina. He came off age last year during our game against Barcelona, and to do so at such a young age is truly astounding. We are unbelievably lucky to have him, and I am sure he will be another Arsenal great. The only thing missing until now is Jack’s goal scoring ability/record, and until this improves he can compensate it with his vision and passing ability, which should lead to setting up many successful attacks and assists.

So, who is going to fill this position for us until Jack returns?

The candidates are: Aaron Ramsey, Thomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun, Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin. I cannot see Arsenal change the system to 4-4-2 in the near future, so I am going to base my views on the current 4-2-3-1 system. In the ‘2’, Alex Song is our ‘pure’ DM and there is back-up for him from Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin. For me the best partner to Song in the ‘2’ is a typical box-to-box midfielder and either Aaron Ramsey or Mikel Arteta should play in that position. The DM’s partner should be an all-round midfielder who can defend, and go forward, create chances for others and score goals himself. Both Arteta and Ramsey can offer this, and we are lucky to have two such good players to cover this position.

But who should play in the hole: who should be our Playmaker? Ideally, a player for this position should have vision, hold on to the ball really well, a great passer of the ball and ability to score goals with an average of 0.25 goals or higher, per game.

For me, for now, it is neither Ramsey, nor Arteta. For different reasons, I find it too early for them to be given this vital role in the team. I am not convinced that both of them have the vision that is required for this key position and with PL goal-scoring records of 0.16 goals per game (Arteta) and 0.12 (Ramsey), I do not feel they are prolific enough either. However, it is early days and both could claim this position over time.

Rosicky has the vision and the passing ability, but lacks the stamina and consistency to really claim this role. When TR played in this role this season, he gave Arsenal its identity back, but he cannot do this twice a week for us and his goal scoring record is not great either with only 0.13 goals per game. For me, Rosicky should be the second choice for the Playmaker role, and he is a good squad player for Arsenal to have (just think back to his second half performance against Udinese in Italy).

Yossi Benayoun could be a possibility, but as he is on loan at Arsenal I don’t think we should give this position to him on a regular basis. His goal scoring record is the same as Arteta’s (0.16 goals per game), so not bad but also not brilliant. I would like to see more of Yossi in an Arsenal shirt so I can make a proper assessment of his abilities.

This leaves me with two remaining possibilities: Robin van Persie or Andrey Arshavin. Both are options I would like us to try out, just to see whether it works. As a captain, RvP is isolated as our lone striker. If he were to play in the ‘hole position’ with either Chamakh, Park, or even Gervinho or Walcott, in front of him, he could be both a better leader of the team and improve our attacking options. He would not be a typical Playmaker, but fill in the role similar to the way Rooney does at MU. If we were to opt for a 4-4-2 formation, as many of us would prefer, this would work very well.  It would mean a strong decrease in focussing on our passing game and continuous emphasis on breaking quickly – a bit like the Arsenal of the early parts of the last decade. We have the wing-players for it now with Walcott, Gervinho, Ryo and Ox, and with Chamakh and Park we have the typical strikers to make this system work for us. We could add to this strike-force at the next TW and all could be rosy again.

However, as I said earlier, I don’t believe we will adopt a 4-4-2 system in the near future. In the current 4-2-3-1 system, we need a playmaker in the middle of the ‘3’. As we are not talking about a classical playmaker – as in a 4-4-2 formation in which the player next to the DM would be: a role that would fit both Arteta and Ramsey a lot better in my opinion – we need somebody in this role who can hold on to the ball in tight spaces, pass it with ease, find gaps in defences easily, makes good attacking decisions in a flash, and can score goals from just outside the box as well as inside the box.

For me, this player is Andrey Arshavin. Please don’t get me wrong in thinking I am a huge fan of Arshavin: he is not consistent enough, and does not work as hard as is required, but then – as we all know – he is not playing in his best position either. Arshavin has a PL goal scoring record of 0.27 goals per game, which is the same as DB10 had for us. He is great passer of the ball and can split open defences easily. He holds on the ball reasonably well, although this is not one of his strong points. He can score from just outside the box, and I have no doubt he would link up well with RvP.

It is only a matter of time until Arshavin leaves Arsenal, but I think he deserves to be given the ‘hanging-off’’ striker position, just this once: at least until Christmas this year. He is our best option there and it would be cruel not to give him a last opportunity to show us all how really good he is. Why Arsene Wenger has not done this until now is a mystery to me, but hopefully the current lack of alternatives might change his mind.


Keep it tight or they’ll kill us

October 6, 2010

Written by SharkeySure

Whilst still marvelling at the eloquence of yesterday’s post by charybdis1966,  I have to disagree with what I think is its central theme, namely that Chelski and Man IOU sit back in the belief that we can’t really hurt them.

The game on Sunday kicked off in a very end to end fashion, with both teams attacking with abandon.  After the opening skirmishes Chelski  retreated a little for a couple of reasons.

1. Diaby’s position.  These days Chelski  pass the ball around in their own half much more than they did a few years ago, and Diaby (ably supported by Song) was harrying Mikel and the Chelsea rear guard into mistakes or longer passes. In attempting to retain possession both Ramires and Essien were drawn deeper and closer to Mikel to offer more support.

2. Chelski were fearful of the early impact that both Arshavin and Nasri were having on the game, and it was also clear that Chamakh was going to give Terry (spit) and Alex  a lot more trouble than they were used to from an Arsenal CF.

From memory, their goal seemed to come slightly against the run of play but nevertheless it was a very good goal, and once they have scored then we all know that its ‘park the bus’ time.  So whilst I acknowledge that Chelski may have ‘invited us into their lair’ as a spider does to a fly, the difference is that I believe that was always our eight legged friend’s original plan, but  Chelski’s was an adaptation to the unexpected circumstances they faced.  I should give them credit for that but I won’t,  instead I’ll simply say ‘well played Mr Arachnid, enjoy your lunch’ !

Man IOU’s case is slightly different to Chelski’s for the simple reason that Chelski do not change their system to play Arsenal, its still their tried and trusted 4-3-3, that either pushes on or sits (/gets pushed?) back.  Red Nose gives up on his 4-4-2 whenever he plays Arsenal and has done for quite a while now.  Fergie goes 4-5-1 with Rooney either up top on his own, or shunted out to the left wing, much to Andy Grays dismay;  and workhorses like Fletcher and Park get their first starts of the season.  His  sole aim to is to crowd the midfield and prevent us from passing his team to death. He really does not expect to outscore us in an open game.

The Prawn Sandwich mob in the stands were aghast when Red Nose first started doing it, as it seemed to go against absolutely everything that the Club and Red Nose stood for.   I believe it was after the flying boot to Beckham’s forehead game, that Fergie ranted and raved like a frothing inarticulate loon and realised that it was better to shut the game down, even at home, than to see his team outplayed as they were on that day.  He does not expect to outscore us in an open game, and resorts to safety in numbers to stifle our brilliant attacking play, well, what else would an Arsenal fan call it !!

Goodbye Denilson – written by RockyLives

September 20, 2010

Written  by RockyLives

In a game of many villains for us it may seem odd to pick out one, but I’m sad to say that Denilson does not belong in the Arsenal first team.

Before I elaborate, it’s worth having a quick word for each of the other villains of the piece (and some heroes):

Alex Song: idiot for the first booking (he was carded for the dissent, not for the non-foul). Idiot for the second booking: when you’re in a minefield you don’t start doing Riverdance. Song knew that another booking would mean red yet he kept making niggly fouls. The obstruction that led to his second yellow would be a booking seven times out of ten. Aside from the bookings, he seemed leaden-footed and went marauding forward on too many occasions leaving us vulnerable in midfield, as if his goal against Bolton has made him think he’s Thierry Henry.

Phil Dowd: many people’s hate figure for allowing the Sunderland goal in the fifth out of four stoppage time minutes. But we all know that the official allocation of extra time is a minimum and anything above that is discretionary. After the flak that the ref in the Everton v Man Utd game took last weekend for blowing the whistle during an Everton attacking move it’s not surprising that refs this week were hyper-sensitive to the issue. Anyway, we’ve benefitted in the past from extra-extra time goals ourselves. If I was going to take issue with Dowd (who was generally pretty good) it would be over the fact that Bramble twice scythed down our players on the edge of the box as they bore down on goal and neither foul produced a card.

Rosicky: he had a good game overall, but the penalty miss makes him a villain. However, even the best players fail to convert pens occasionally and there’s no point dwelling on it.

Jack Wilshere:  London made the point on here yesterday that in the first half he was leaking balls like a pair of torn underpants and perhaps should have been rested after the Braga game. He certainly struggled in the first half, but I thought he played very well in the second and, unlike the more experienced Song, was careful not to incur a second yellow.

Andrei Arshavin: will whoever has pinched his shooting boots please return them immediately to Mr A. Arshavin, Ashburton Grove, London N5. No questions will be asked.

Heroes: although Sunderland played really well and made a few half decent chances, Almunia, Kozzer and Squelchy all played well. Up front, Chamakh put in a tireless shift but in the last 15 perhaps he should have been replaced by Vela. Nasri and Rosicky also had good games overall.

And so to Denilson.

Let me start by saying I’m not a Denilson hater and I don’t like scapegoating players. I was at the Wigan game when so-called fans were booing Eboue and I was not one of them.  I was away at Fulham when a 17-year-old Alex Song was shamefully booed by the traveling support and I did not boo then either.

Two seasons ago I thought Denilson was a promising player, tidy on the ball and efficient with his short passing game. He was far from the finished article but, if he continued to progress, he had the potential to end up being a first team regular. What’s more, he was Brazilian and we all know that Brazilians have an extra bit of brain devoted exclusively to footballing skills (it’s in place of the ‘don’t cut down rain forests’ bit of the brain).

Sadly little Den has not progressed and has, in fact, regressed.  Two seasons ago he seemed able to maintain his focus and work rate.  That’s not the case now. He was rightly condemned for some of his woeful performances last year (being overtaken by the ref during a Man Utd break which led to a goal was a particular low point). Looking at his 37 minutes and 15 seconds yesterday it seems he’s learnt nothing from that criticism. In that relatively short space of time I counted three occasions on which the Sunderland player he was challenging did a give-and-go, and Denilson turned to stand and watch the path of the ball instead of going with his man. It was as if he was a spectator while his opponent raced ahead into dangerous positions. Even Sunday League players know that when the man you’re supposedly marking or closing down gives the ball and runs you’re supposed to go with him. On other occasions when Sunderland won the ball in their own half and attacked at pace, you could see most of the Arsenal players sprinting back to cover – apart from one: there was Denilson, jogging gently back as if it was the end-of-game warm down.

To reluctantly steal a quote from Alan Hansen, it’s as if his football brain is not fully developed; as if his awareness of what to do in crucial situations has gone adrift. I feel sorry for him, I really do. I would love nothing more than to see him turn into a world class midfielder. Elements of his game are still good – his short passing in particular – but it’s not enough. He has become a liability and I have no doubt his inattention will lead directly to us conceding goals this year.

I have a sneaky hope that Arsène knows this too, which is why Denilson has slipped down the pecking order behind Wilshere and Diaby (and no doubt behind Ramsey too when he returns).

I will never boo him, I will never barrack him, and when he turns out for Arsenal I will support him, but I fear the time has come to say goodbye to Denilson.