Cook, Thief, Wife, Lover, Internet and Arsenal.

October 10, 2014

The title? Nothing whatsoever, just happen to like a film, and the words.

So, what’s on the chit chat menu for today? How about Blogging itself, and more broadly, the Internet and how it has altered football.


Back in the good old days, turn up Saturday at midday in chosen boozer. Meet mates you haven’t seen or spoken to since the last match. Drink four or five pints. Get to the North Bank three minutes before Kick Off. Final whistle, maybe another swift one and away into the night.

Therefore, my brief conversation starter for this bright sunny morning asks these questions:

–        Is blogging good for your Arsenal experience?

–        Is the increased transparency the internet provides good for football?

–        Throw Twitter, Facebook and Players into the mix, and what do you get?

–        How much would you like to read Stan and Arsene’s Text accounts?

written by MickyDidIt89


My rant about everything Arsenal

June 4, 2011

Last week we published parts one and two of GunnerN5’s rant ……………… here’s part 3.

Heart, Desire, Commitment, Passion, Pride.

Over the years we have been blessed to have players that exhibited many of these characteristics.  I’ve had the privilege of watching many of them both live and on T.V.

Names like;

Mercer, Lewis, D. Compton, Barnes, Forbes, Roper, Neil, Simpson, Storey, Mclintock, Graham, Kennedy, George, Nelson, Sansom, O’Leary, McNab, Brady, Adams, Dixon, Parlour, Winterburn, Bergkamp, Vieira and Van Persie all come to mind. They all had/have huge hearts and most of all – a winning mentality

You may remember others but my intent was to list some, not all, of the players that I remember as being worthy of mention. Sadly enough from our current squad only RVP stands out and this in my belief is the crux of our problem.

Seven are from Arsene’s early years, five of whom he inherited, only Van Persie and Vieira were his personal choices. Vermaelen and Wilshere are both showing the will that is required and could also become leaders.

When I look back on the past few years it has been really frustrating when good to great starts to a season simply evaporate away and leave us in basically the same position as previous seasons.

My contention is that our issue has little to nothing do with the size of our players or the size of our budget but has everything to do with the size of our player’s hearts.

Conditions and circumstances change for every game and we should adjust our game plan to suit the reality. Unfortunately this does occur and we end up at the end of the season wringing our hands in despair. We’ve learned to our detriment that beautiful football does not always equal winning football.

We can play Barca-ball till the cows come home and run around the meadow like little school boys – but us soon as we come up against teams of men who are used to playing in fields full of cow dung we show no heart or desire or commitment or passion and most of all no PRIDE.

We don’t demonstrate the hunger to go the extra step or track back or to make the tough tackle. Boy what I would give to see Adams heart in Arshavin’s body – what a player that would be – and frankly just the type of player(s) that we sorely need.

We never seem to learn from our mistakes……

Which brings to mind a Tommy Cooper joke.

He said doctor, “I’ve hurt my arm in several places”

The doctor said “well don’t go back to those places”“

In the end my question is “can players be taught these characteristics, or are they a part of ones DNA”?

End of part 3 of rant…

Written by GunnerN5

The U-Turn Wenger Must Make

April 19, 2011

I bet you’ve never heard of the period in Rembrandt’s career when he gave up painting portraits and turned instead to singing bawdy ditties for a living (it’s generally referred to as his ‘blue’ period).

Or the time Luciano Pavarotti stepped away from the rigours of being the world’s greatest tenor and tried, briefly, to succeed as a tap dancer, much to the consternation of seismologists everywhere.

Or Charles Darwin’s stint as a pest control officer (and his subsequent memoir, The Extermination of Species).

And here’s why you’ve never heard of them: they never happened.

Strange as it may seem, people who find they are very good at something tend to achieve long term success by continuing to do what they are good at.

They don’t wake up one day and decide to do it all differently.

So what happened to Arsene Wenger?

In his first six years at Arsenal his teams netted three League Titles and four FA Cups, playing a brilliant brand of 4-4-2 football that combined pace, power and skill.

Now we play a very different style of football – in a 4-3-3 or, as some would say, a 4-5-1 formation which, so far, has achieved no silverware and does not look like achieving any this year either.

We are often referred to as the best team to watch. The neutral’s favourite. The armchair viewer’s wet dream.

But, being harsh, our style has actually become quite boring.

The drama in football is all in and around the goal – the shots, the headers, the saves, the game-defining moments. Yet most of our play is based on lateral movement outside the opposition’s penalty area, usually in front of their back four ten.

We play from side to side and back again, like a bunch of crabs at a line dance.

Our eventual forward thrusts usually start well (some quick passes and one-two exchanges), but such is their intricacy that inevitably one pass goes slightly astray or one run doesn’t quite come off and the move breaks down against the packed ranks of defenders.

At the very least, most teams have learnt how to counter our current playing style and it’s only the teams whose managers remain resolutely cavalier (like Ian Holloway at Blackpool) that end up getting a good pasting.

So, in simple terms, 4-4-2 was successful for us; 4-3-3 is not (so far, at least). With 4-4-2, Arsene built two great teams.  With 4-3-3, he has built a great-looking team that hasn’t won a bean. So why did he change that successful formula?

After the Invincibles were broken up there was a transitional period when we continued to play a more-or-less 4-4-2 formation with Adebayor as our lead striker, but there were many occasions on which Ade played as the lone man up front. It was part of a gradual move towards the way of playing with which we are currently familiar.

The main theories for this change appear to be:

  • Arsene had long been an admirer of the Ajax/Barcelona style and wanted to build his own team in that image.
  • The financial constraints of the stadium move meant Arsene knew he would have to build a team from within and, if he was going to do that, it was an opportunity to train all the teams, from youth level up, in the style of play to which he aspired (youth players being less stuck in their ways than seasoned veterans, who might find it harder to adapt to a new system).
  • Arsene decided that, in Cesc Fabregas, he had one of the greatest midfielders we will ever see, but to release his talents fully required 4-3-3.
  • After TH14 left, Arsene has not been able to find (or at least afford) the kind of world class striker who could lead a 4-4-2 (even though Adebayor flattered to deceive for one season).

It’s probably a combination of reasons (particularly the first and third), but as this season heads for yet another disappointing end, it may now be time to call a halt to the experiment.

It has not been a failure. It has kept us competitive in all competitions for years and maintained our presence in the Champions League despite the lack of cash available for star signings.

But it has not proved capable of getting us over the finishing line in any competition, not even the Carling Cup.

I have enjoyed the ride – the attempt to be the British Barca – and I respect the courage and sense of ambition that have driven it. But now I would like Arsene to return to what he’s good at: building a championship winning group of powerful, skilful players who operate in a devastating 4-4-2 formation.

It doesn’t even need a major overhaul in personnel, although a top out-and-out striker is absolutely vital (an established big name, or another gem unearthed by the boss).

It just needs an admission that the current approach is not good enough, not in the English Premier League, and that there is no shame in returning to something that worked in the past.


The future is so bright…….Jack’n’Aaron both strut their tekkers…..

March 27, 2011

Written by Harry

As 69,000 and a couple of blow up sheep packed into the Millennium stadium, to watch a home nations clash, something that has sadly been missing from the annual footy calendar, it was however just seen as a mere sideshow to the main event for many gooners…..

As GIE pointed out yesterday, watching Jack and Aaron go head to head was that added ingredient that made watching an England match worthwhile, perhaps even more interesting than John Terry’s love life for a change…..I must admit as much as I am proud to be English, at times I have found it hard to watch them play, often more painful than sitting on a whoopee cushion full of nails…

On to our two boys, I am not sure Jack looks quite as good in an England shirt, perhaps it was a bit over stretched from Frank Lampard normally wearing it…………

Aaron looked the part as the new Welsh Captain, the youngest in their history, lining up in the tunnel. Aaron understandably looked very nervy and as the play got underway, his nerves were certainly unsettling our welsh maestro…..But a game of this intensity can only help Aaron get his sharpness back..

Jack settled very easily and as England dominated early doors, he just seemed to glide around the pitch as if he was dancing on ice. His movement and positioning just seems so second nature, he makes the side tick as he moves through the gears more effortlessly than Jordan’s knickers come down. Tenacious in the tackle, strong on the ball, his maturity is only blighted by his occasional reaction to certain situations where he feels he didn’t get a decision from the referee……but in some ways that’s his desire to win which sets him apart…..

As the game developed  Wales were still predominantly on the back foot under immense pressure from England, Aaron’s Captains armband was weighing heavy as he tried too hard to affect Wales play. You could see the frustration etched on his face. It just seemed that everything he tried didn’t come off, with some missed passes and losing possession under pressure on a more than a few occasions……

Jack really seemed to be the lynchpin as he continued to probe, always open for a pass, at every opportunity he took the ball and moved it on quickly, often getting a kick for his troubles, his vision saw him set Bent free on more than one occasion with subtle and sublime passes, the only thing Jack lacks for me is a more selfish streak when the goal was in range, because he really has a powerful shot when unleashed.

Although Ramsey will probably want to forget the first half, his presence throughout the 2nd half saw him become more influential as Wales made a more of a fist of it, but in truth they never really looked like getting back into as England stood firm.  Aaron looked calm on the ball and controlled in possession but just lacked that bit of sharpness which would have aided Wales more.

Overall I though the game was disappointing and became a bit flat after England went two up, perhaps caught in two minds as to go for the throat or hold what they had……A welsh goal in the last 20mins would have made the match interesting, but Ramsey and Bellamy couldn’t get a shot on target…

An unbiased opinion from me saw Wilshere get England MotM (ahead of Young) and I gave him a solid 8 for both halves, he was withdrawn on 81mins…..

Ramsey gets a 6 overall, 5 for the 1st half, but a much improved 7 for his endeavours in the 2nd half, where for me he was Wales best player in last 30mins…..

The experience both our young stars will get from games like this can only be good for Arsenal, next season I really think these two will help fully establish Arsenal as a dominant team in the Premiership. Both have great individual talent and confidence to dominate and control games, adding that little bit of difference when needed, a drive and determination to succeed.

Both are leaders in their style of play and the confidence they have to play football, is what will see them become more influential as their careers develop, without doubt Arsene has two of the most talented youngsters in Europe within his grasp……

Both have room for improvement and they are not there yet, but I feel there can only be exciting times ahead at the Emirates with these two, I just hope we keep them both for the next 10-15years…………….

Those Rose Tinted Glasses and Me

March 25, 2011

Life is strange; I have just sat and watched the budget and our elected representatives in their place of work. There they were, the guardians of our votes and futures, seemingly incapable of listening to each other. Argue oh yes, quoting the figures and highlighting the same points, anything that apportions blame as directed by the spin-doctors who briefed them.

Members of a tribe every one of them, not an original thought allowed among them. Simply regurgitated negatives or positives depending which tribe they belong to. Mind numbing stuff, but say it often enough and the morons out there who vote us in will believe it.

Sound familiar folks, we read blogs and articles, listen to experts and pundits, pore over Magazines and papers, devour radio and television, produce statistics and facts and now in this digital age, prolong the agony and the ecstasy by publishing them on line in a continuing roller coaster of argument, agreement/disagreement, discontent and sometimes anger. What then is the cause of this mental anguish? Why a professional football club.

Grown men and women unable to agree on what they saw, what is happening and why and what will be the final outcome. All this activity based on the antics of 11 guys who spend their working lives training, practising and up to twice a week, kicking a ball around for a hour and a half in front of thousands of people.

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, we watch the politicians with something akin to contempt, thinking if our children acted like that we would sort them out. Then unthinking we turn to AA and begin to air our own prejudices, likes and dislikes and battle is joined again.

Of course we have areas of agreement times of purring contentment and blissful exhilaration and these are enjoyed to the full as the belief floods across the entire fan base.

But now as the season nears it conclusion, animosities and divisions begin to manifest themselves among the faithful, as doubt and despair begin to overtake the more negative of us, made worse by the certain cheerfulness of the positive types, who believe it ain’t over till its over and the manager knows what he is doing anyway.

Nine games to go, second in the league, five points behind the league leaders, a game in hand and they still to come to our place. The potential for a verbal on line war is enormous as the countdown begins, will we, wont we, Can the Spuds do us or will we win the damn thing at WHL as in days of old? Will Chelsea do us a favour and nick some points from Utd whilst continuing their charge up the table? All fascinating stuff, guaranteed to  ruffle the decorum of the blog as we count down the games.

Me I can’t see a problem, why? I have rose tinted glasses, don’t I, Its going to be doddle, sit back folks, pound the keyboard and enjoy the ride to glory.

Written by dandan

Arsenal – Cannon Fodder?

March 23, 2011

Aura and Grrrr

Written by mickydidit89

I think we, The Arsenal, need a new Aura.

Now, we are not Chavs, so we will not simply pop out to Harrods and buy the most expensive one available. No, because remember we have Class, and while that is something quite tricky to define, we all know that we have the stuff in abundance. As a club it does have much to do with breeding, but also about the way in which we conduct ourselves. However, I believe during different eras of our long and proud history, we have donned more than one type of Aura. We have moved on from the greased back “we’ve got bigger shorts than you”  Chapman years, through to the nine pints of Lager “what are you looking at” Graham era, and this begs the question as to  what type of Aura are we sporting now. Well, I happen to believe that it has become slightly too shiny, and most definitely a little too slippers-and-cigars comfortable. I think we need a little more Grrr about the house, and a little less “no, after you sir”.

“Well Micky, all this Arsenal and class bollocks. So you really do think you are above the rest of us then?”. “ Well, errr, yes actually”, but what is this based on? Thinking about the class thing, at Highbury we had The Marble Halls for example. Is the fact that the other lot have mere concrete and lino floors good enough reason to look down on them. I happen to think it is, but then I have a thing about flooring materials. The Halls kind of dealt with the Class bit in a physical way, which enabled us to flirt with Grrr, whilst always having the Posh bit to fall back on. Now we have gone all Carpets and Diamond Clubs we need more than ever to counter balance this with some unique Arsenal style of Grrr.

It is time to roughen the edges of our Aura.

Now many here will remember the marching band before kick off at Highbury. I do understand that this idea is dated. I also remember them trying to introduce Majorettes and thinking “no, this is all wrong”. So, what’s to be done? Firstly, it has to be bye bye to that bloody Dinnasorous thing. What kind of soppy message does that send out. Hardly a call to arms is it.

So, here it is, my brilliant suggestion, and I did not need to look far to realize the answer was right before me.  Cannons. We are The Gunners and proudly have the Cannon on our crest. So how about four 24-pounder Howitzer Cannons (these boys are VERY VERY loud) positioned at the four corners of the pitch. We fire them off as the teams hit the field, then every time we score. Believe me, we will get used to it, the opposition on the other hand will be needing clean shorts.

Now I realize that The Lunatic Fringe of Islington Council Health and Safety Department will be less than impressed, but you know what, sod ‘em.

What do you reckon?

Has Denilson Played His Last Game For Arsenal?

March 21, 2011

There are certain things Arsene Wenger never does.

These include never inviting pube-scratching meat-head managers of opposition teams to sample his fine claret after a game; never responding to chants of “Arsene Arsene give us a wave” with anything other than the sort of brief, embarrassed arm-flick normally only used by teenagers horrified to have bumped into their dad while out with their mates; and never subbing off a player at half time when they’re playing crap.

On Saturday he broke the last of those taboos.

Denilson was having an absolute stinker in the first half against West Brom. Manuel Almunia may have stolen the accolades for Dick of the Day with the sort of suicidal sprint normally found only in the world of lemmingkind, but Denilson was having his own private meltdown.

Opinion is divided on Denilson. Some men like a neat and tidy Brazilian. Others prefer something a bit more luxuriant.

Myself, I have always felt there’s a role for him in certain games, where we expect to have a lot of the ball and where we have other, more creative, players who can make something happen. In those circumstances Den can play a role in midfield, moving the ball quickly from player to player, switching the direction of play: never incisive, but usually accurate.

On Saturday even this part of his game went missing. Even those simple, sideways passes went too often to a man in a striped shirt.  He played like a cross between Ray Wilkins and Ray Charles.

But, despite his woeful performance, I was stunned to see that he had been substituted at half time. The TV commentator assured us that this was tactical, not due to an injury. Unbelievable.

We have all sat through games where it was obvious that a change of personnel was needed, but Arsene has stubbornly refused to put on a sub before the 60th minute. More often it’s the 70th minute before he’ll make a change, even when we’re losing or struggling to break down a park-the-bus defence.

So for him to remove Denilson at half time feels to me like a significant statement. On one level it shows how desperate Arsene was to win the game (and remember, we were only one nil down at half time); on another level it could well indicate the moment when Arsene has finally given up on the young Brazilian.

Denilson came to us from Sao Paulo in 2006 as the captain of Brazil under 17s.  In his early outings for Arsenal he looked like he could become another Cesc Fabregas, but that promise has never been fulfilled. He just doesn’t seem to have progressed. He has never made the step up into the full Brazil team and it’s not hard to see why.

This season, with the emergence of Wilshere and now Ramsey, he has probably become a sixth or seventh choice midfielder, playing only when others are injured or suspended.

Admittedly, the holding role in which he was cast on Saturday is not his natural position, but that does not excuse his poor performance.

Sadly, it looked to me as if his confidence is shot. This may be a result of being pushed down the pecking order; it may be because of the moans and groans of the crowd at The Grove whenever he does something wrong; it may just be because deep down he knows he’s not good enough.

Whatever it is, Arsene had seen enough by half time at the weekend and hauled him off.  With key players returning from injury I suspect it’s quite likely we’ll never see Denilson in an Arsenal shirt again.

It’s probably for the best. With Almunia showing the mental fortitude of a dormouse, Diaby displaying the focus of a goldfish and Squillaci looking as safe as a knitted condom, the last thing we need for the title run-in is another nut job in the starting line-up.

The most likely move for Denilson would be to Spain or Portugal in the summer, but I could see him heading home to a team in Brazil.

He has played some good games for us (most recently away at Man Utd in the Cup, when he was one of our better performers in a disappointing display). I would much rather that he had fulfilled his promise and become a must-have member of the squad. But that’s not the case. It probably is time for him to go and Arsene may well agree.

If he does ship out in the summer, I will wish him boa sorte but I won’t have any regrets.


Who are the real footie fans?

March 18, 2011

Written by Red Arse

I am a fan! Like many Arsenal fans I call myself, with a great deal of pride, a ‘Gooner’. This clearly identifies me as a fan of the greatest footie club in the world. I bet you do too.

But here is the thing. Although the behaviour, the thought processes and the values of many who also call themselves Gooners chimes very closely with my own ideals, there are many others who seem to have decidedly different views of what constitutes a real fan. We cannot all be called fans, can we?

So, let’s see; who is the real fan?

Excitedly approaching the Emirates on a match day, with the noise of the crowd and, the occasional whiff of sweaty mankind, combined with the oniony smell of greasy hotdogs, you quickly become immersed in an environment recognisable to all fans from childhood.

At the game, when we take our allotted seats, we are immediately aware there are strong visual signals that all fans are indeed not the same.

Over there, behind the goal, are a group of shirtless wonders proudly flashing their six packs, or fat bellies, depending on your view point, while they drink copious quantities of beer and laugh with their mates. Next to them are men and women of indeterminate age, solid, experienced, proudly wearing their club scarves, hats and shirts, the love of their team shining out of their eyes. These are out and out fans, who attend games come rain or shine, are always enthusiastic, always willing to sing and chant and always encourage their team, come what may. The life of any club!

Over to their right are some very respectable looking young guys braying like donkeys over some indecipherable private joke, who probably only attend games once in a blue moon courtesy of a business contact. Perhaps fans of convenience?
Just a couple of rows behind them is sitting a rather harassed looking father trying to calm a couple of young munchkins with painted faces, smartly bedecked in club shirts, who are busily slurping Cokes and jumping on and off their seats. These are the fans of the future, already exposed to the opiate of Goonerdom!

Over to the left, again, there is a bevy of young women, faces aglow, scarves worn jauntily around their necks, chatting animatedly to their beaux, and giggling their denials of lust for the players’ thighs, or nether regions. These are the breeders of the young fans of the future.

Higher up in the stands are the alumni, students out to enjoy themselves, with their club scarves, and bobble hats perched precariously on their mops of hair. Perpetually fidgeting, yelling and bursting with animal spirits, they never remain still and unceasingly shout out their support throughout the game, while loudly deriding the opposition with scatological glee as well as assuring the referee he has no father! These will be the senior fans of the future.

Then over there, in the plush areas are the ‘respectable’, prawn sandwich fans in their smart suits, sipping wine and laughing like hyenas at some indecipherable private joke. These fans are here to be entertained and remain seated at all times, while politely clapping any goal attempt but, of course, never indulging in the common man’s singing or chanting. Fans? Well, their dosh is important to the financial stability of the club, so let it go!

For me, my love and support of the club is unconditional, and I have probably been many of these different types of fan as I grew from an awestruck child to manhood.

What type of fan are you? In truth, I don’t suppose it matters. We all love the Arsenal!

Perhaps the following sums up what being a fan means to us!

A young man was watching football. He noticed an empty seat in front of him. It was a better seat than his, so at half-time he went down to the empty seat. He asked the old man sitting next to it “Is it okay if I sit here?”

“No problem”, said the old man. “It was my wife’s seat, but she’s dead. We’ve been to every home match together for 40 years, and we always had these two seats.”
A tear rolled slowly down the old man’s cheek.

“Don’t you have a friend, or someone from your family, who’d come and sit with you?” The young man asked, gently.

The old man wiped his eyes and said, “Yes, but not today. They are all at my wife’s funeral.”

Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network

Fergie’s Had a Punt on Arsenal to Win the Title

March 7, 2011

Something very, very fishy is going on (and I don’t mean David Platt’s increasing resemblance to a grouper).

In a season which promised to be the most competitive in recent memory, the top clubs seem locked in a battle to NOT win the Premier League.

It didn’t start out this way.

Chelsea began the campaign exactly as they finished last year, slipping into their rhythm as smoothly as a well-soaped mobile phone slips into Ashley’s, er, back pocket.

United embarked on an unbeaten run that, although unspectacular, had some mug pundits talking about them challenging the record of the mighty Invincibles.

Manchester City unveiled a gazillion pounds worth of human bling.

And even the Tiny Totts were rattling a few doors and windows after accidentally discovering that their non-scoring, under-performing, unwanted left back was actually the very best player in the world ever, honest.

And then the contest to NOT be champions kicked in.

Chelsea started mislaying points like a blind darts player; United were about as successful on the road as a hedgehog with no legs; Citeh were stymied by their ultra-cautious Italian manager parking the bus for tough games like Wigan at home; and the Spuds found that their new hero Bale was less of interest to Real Madrid than to anthropologists searching for the missing link.

The only consistent team were Arsenal, who were, to use the cliché, consistent in their inconsistency.

It’s at times like this that you can rely on a manager and a team who have done it many times before to take the thing by the scruff of the neck. And, sure enough, for a while, the claret-conked Caledonian and his boys looked like they were going to claim the title without any serious challenge.

But that’s when the weirdness started happening.

Arsenal, having slowly and oh-so painfully emerged as the most likely challenger, started to shoot themselves in the foot.

First, away at Newcastle United, we romped to a four-nil half time lead… then collapsed in the second half to draw four-all. Fans, players and manager were all on the floor, while the media hyenas played tug of war with our corpse. You couldn’t imagine what it would take to lift everyone up again.

We needed a knight in shining armour and, that very same weekend, along he came. Sir Alex of Sozzle duly managed to engineer a first defeat of the season for his team, against bottom placed Wolves no less.

What had seemed a disastrous, dispiriting two points dropped for Arsenal suddenly became one point gained in the race to catch United.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. Arsenal are on a good run and morale is high. Even better, the first trophy for nearly six years is surely just a formality: turn up at Wembley, batter the Brummies and the Carling Cup will be ours, right?

Well, we all know what happened.

Fans, players and manager were all on the floor, the media hyenas etc etc.

Then, within a couple of days, along comes our kind knight again, allowing his team to lose to Chelsea. Three more points in the title race gone awry and just the pick-me-up Arsenal needed.

And now we arrive at the weekend just passed. Arsenal have a great chance to put pressure on United by beating Sunderland at home. Through a combination of inept officiating, obdurate Sunderland defending and wayward finishing the game ends goalless. When we could have stepped on United’s throat, we stepped, instead, into some doggy doo-doo.

Fans, players, manager are all on the floor etc etc.

But, astonishingly, for the third time our knight in shining armour comes to the rescue, taking United on the short trip to Liverpool and having them wilt like limp lettuce against their old enemies.

Once again, two points seemingly dropped in the pursuit of United has turned into one point gained.

For United to be so kind to us once – and with such perfect timing – may be coincidence; to do it twice is remarkable; to do it three times is downright suspicious.

I can think of only one possible explanation: that wily old Scot has had the biggest bet of his life – he’s placed a fortune on Arsenal to win the league this year.


When side roads and roundabouts get you nowhere

March 6, 2011

Written by Wonderman

There are  some Gooners who will have seen today as a missed opportunity to put pressure on Man U, and would have their disaster faces all ready to show the world. Would they be wrong? Probably not, but was it a serious blow to our title charge? Again probably not.

Was Arshavin off side before he rounded the keeper and slotted? Didn’t look so to me, should the same player have been granted a penalty? Possibly, but I also think that Bramble did what an experienced centre half would have done and was given the benefit of the doubt.

With a 0-0 it is always a ‘challenge’ to produce a match report, but from my perspective before the match I was not expecting an easy game, especially as a little research told me that Sunderland had lost their previous 4 games. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to work out, what with their lack of form and having a manager who knows a thing or two about defending, to guess what their tactics would be. But lets look at our own team.

I always worry when I see Denilson and Diaby in the same midfield, add Bendy to that ( more on him later) and it would come as no surprise why we did not win today. The first half to use a cliché was nothing to get excited about. Sunderland defended rigorously closing us down aggressively in central areas and doubling up on our full backs. Other than Nasri dancing into their 6 yard box and going near post, their goalie was fairly comfortable, Why ? because our centre forward wasn’t running channels today and when he was put in delightfully by Arshavin in the 8/9th min his touch deserted him (as it does more often than not). His other party trick was to be on the other side of the pitch to the ball.

With all of that taken into account Sunderland’s defence was in dream land no threatening movements to alarm them and everything going to plan. But to be fair to Nikki B when you have Denilson passing sideways and backwards 99% of the time and Diaby twisting and turning himself into a tizzy then slowing play right down, it left only Jack to look for a forward pass….a big problem if you are looking for goal scoring opportunities and he cant do it on his own. Defensively we looked quite solid with the exception of the odd underhit back pass we kept Gyan quiet.

Arshavin was having on and off success , but as I have already said when you keep making runs and the ball doesn’t come, you soon stop making runs. The first half came and went  and Chesney had his palms stung once. Nasri was trying his best to make penetrative movements but Sunderland had done their homework and at the break it was 0-0.

The second half  saw us begin to exert more pressure on their final 3rd. Denilson was replaced by Cham to ironic applause, bushing Bendy out to the right. Cham immediately started running Channels and moving defenders giving them something to worry about and creating more space for his team mates the effect was instant. We forced corner after corner but could not break through other than Chams header against the post. Some good interplay in midfield led to Arshavin being set 1v1 with the goalie and he slotted coolly but was incorrectly given offside.

Shortly after, another forward ball sent him on a sprint to goal closely followed by Bramble who fell and made sure Arshavin made no further progress in the box, the crowd screamed for a penalty but the ref refused. By this time Rosicky was on the pitch but again did not add to our forward momentum. With a few minutes left Sunderland started forcing a few corners and the concern for conceding a late sucker punch was tangible. But we held firm long enough to put a final flurry of corners which were fruitless.

I left the stadium wondering….

Why Ramsey wasn’t introduced as that boy knows what a forward pass is…..

Why was Jack again our man of the match trying to drag everyone forward and battling from start to finish…..

Why Denilson doesn’t have a North on his compass……

Why Djourou seemed to trip over his own feet every time he came over the halfway line in possession of the ball…..

Why Bendtner doesn’t do simple things well enough for us when we need him to…….

Whilst most of us would have expected  3 points at least we got 1 and kept a clean sheet…the title race is still on.