Champions League: Moments Of Madness 2 Arsenal 1

UEFA Champions League
Round of Sixteen, First Leg
FC Porto 2 – 1 Arsenal

(11) 1 – 0 Varela
(16) 1 – 1 Campbell
(50) 2 – 1 Falcao

This defeat was not down to the referee, although the original, perhaps more eyecatching, title of this piece perhaps captures the mood: “Arsenal Lose In Porto Thanks To The Cult Of The Referee. And Yes, That Was A Typo“. Yesterday’s headline said it all: “Injuries are not an excuse. Neither is sloppiness“. This loss was not down to anything bar two instances of concentration being entirely absent. Sloppiness.

This was a match which Arsenal should not have lost. They were in control for long periods and had a lot of freedom to move around the pitch at will. Porto seemed content to let Arsenal play this way, almost reverting to counter-attacking for long periods, a sign of what is to come in the return leg.

To use the boxing analogy, punches were traded in the opening phase, Porto had the better of the initial sparring, shooting wide with good opportunties and testing Fabianski’s nerves. Arsenal soon attained the ascendency before being pegged back by a sucker punch, reminiscent of Steve Heighway’s opener in the 1971 FA Cup Final; if anyone understands the agonies Fabianski will undoubtedly suffer, Bob Wilson will surely do so.

Parity was not long in being restored; ghosts of George Graham’s Arsenal pervaded as Vermaelen flicked on – rather firmly – to the redoubtable head of Tomas Rosicky, his header back across the face of goal, met with gleeful force from Sol Campbell. The remainder of the first half followed a similar pattern. Porto on the back foot, Arsenal breaching the home defence with sublime passing, jarred into retreat by forays on either flank, passing from the home side assured until the final third where feet, legs and various other body parts tellingly intervened.

The opening exchanges in the second half continued in the same vein, the question posed as to when Arsenal would next score. Until the referee intervened. Campbell intercepted instinctively and forced the ball to Fabianski, who controlled and the picked the ball up, correctly awarding a free-kick. The Swede further correctly allowed a quick tap-kick to be taken, Campbell inexplicably – past actions show this may have been instinctive – put his head in his hands rather than prevent the quick kick; punishment was swift, Wenger incandescent.

It is understandable why the Frenchman felt so furious. As much as the anger built with the lack of awareness of the defence, concentration entirely absent, the inconsistency of officiating at this level of the game is enough to test the patience of a saint. Frequently quick free-kicks are blocked; on the edge of the area – let alone inside – such alertness on the part of an attacker is stifled by a preening prancer making sure that everyone is aware that they have taken Brasso to their Acme Thunderer, hoisting their trinket triumphantly to the Heavens watching it gleam, iridescent in the floodlights.

On this occasion, the man who was unaware of Thierry Henry’s ball-handling skills, played to the letter of the law. Uefa and Fifa defend their respective corners stoutly when it comes to questioning officials, Papal Infalibilty pales into insignificance compared with the deification of officials in a football match. Roy Hodgson questioned whether the introduction of technology into football was a pointless search for perfection; I would argue that all supporters, players and managers want is consistency.

Fabianski did well other than these two instances; he was confident in coming from crosses, parrying and holding shots when Porto threatened to breach the visitors defence. And yet, his most recent first team outings are marred by mistakes. Some can be put down to the folly of youth – last season’s FA Cup semi-final, for example – but the path the Pole is treading is fraught with the memories of Alex Manninger, an outstanding prospect but never able to find the consistency required to be Arsenal’s Number One. Hopefully, Fabianski will outgrow this phase and deliver on his promise, for he has the makings of an excellent goalkeeper.

Opportunities to level the scores once more still abounded; spurned, saved or deflected to deny equality. I do not think Wenger has much to complain about in terms of the attacking performance, the midfield passed and moved quickly, Bendtner allowed to move off a Porto defence which held position rather than man-to-man marking. The Dane was lively in the first half, one ferocious drive deflected wide in the early stages, dropping out of the centre on occasion to the flanks whilst linking well with supporting players.

In midfield, Cesc was fouled incessantly by Porto, the hosts rotating that particular duty in order to prevent yellow cards which would have led to bans. Even so, the referee was unduly lenient with the most persistent offenders escaping punishment until the latter stages or entirely. It was a throwback to the ‘Good Old Days‘ of this competition unlike the match itself, the antithesis of what is expected in a knockout competition, first leg.

Diaby and Denilson shared defensive duties but the former surged forward on occasion, one delightful moment left a Porto defender on his backside. On this occasion, like much of the evening though, the end product was missing.

Denilson’s style of play harks back to players of the ilk of Ray Wilkins, once his ‘Butch’-ness had gone. One hopes for the Brazilian’s sake that his hairline is retained for a longer period. Quietly sweeping the ball up with interceptions rather than the crunching tackles which are apparently so desirous of central midfielders in the English game; using the ball sensibly, passing sideways rather than ambitiously forwards where possession is ceded cheaply.

Of course, this aspect passes his detractors by and his rite of passage into Arsenal is remarkably similiar to that of Gilberto Silva, his predecessor castigated for not being a Vieira clone until it was realised that a calm, passing, footballing brain is as advantageous, if not more beneficial than a combustible style.

Wenger will be less happy defensively. Porto identified the flanks as a potential weakness, pushing Clichy onto the back foot in the opening phase before the first goal. However, once those avenues were blocked, they punched through the centre, using bulk as much as brain to fashion openings. Wenger will not be entirely happy that the midfield did not snuff out danger quickly, the stretched nature of the game ensuring that the gap between defence and the next line was too wide.

Ultimately though there is a deficit to be retrieved. Porto offered little evidence that they could protect their slender advantage but Arsenal has, unlike PSV in 2007, the knowledge that scraping through by a 1 – 0 victory will be sufficient. Perhaps it could deflect into the net via the referee, a sense of poetic justice would be fitting.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on February 18, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 188 Comments.

  1. Boom!

  2. Naïve/embarrassing defending strikes again. Yesterday someone lamented “why does this never happen to ManU”. Our table position in Goals conceded for 7 yrs. has been 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 5th and this yr 9th. The slow deterioration of our team defense is the most worrisome problem of all. Even AKB nation has to be secretly concerned.

    AW inherited a great defense which combined with his offensive genius gave us the glory years. Lee Dixon recently said that during his time there was not much defensive coaching after AW arrived. The person who writes Arsenal column (the brain) indicated that we do no defensive drills on the training pitch. There has to be a connection.

    I think its time for AW to give up a little bit of his control and hire a defensive coach. Defense is clearly not his strong suit and we need someone who can get stop the slide. The need to upgrade some of our players is another debate. However, changing the defensive mentality of this team is an absolute necessary first step if we ever want to be better then 3rd place or CL semifinals.

  3. Good post YW. I agree with your thoughts on their 2nd goal as well.

  4. Off to read the post now!

  5. Good post YW, agree with it all…. except comparing Denilson to Gilberto is an insult to the ‘invisible wall’.

    Gilberto was not only a great player, World cup winner, and quietly effective, he knew how to position himself on a football pitch, and most importantly gave 100%.

  6. One thing is certain, our keepers ain’t good enof. Keepers win point but our lose them. The goals were just not acceptable, not for a team with title ambition. Support is all we can give to our dear arsenal, atleast we still hope for a good performance at the groove. After matches like yesterday this is the only blog you find something calm and rational. Great job!

  7. Just read these comments on another blog, are they correct.

    Refs errors

    “1.He gave the free kick because the Porto player told him ,not because he saw it.
    2.He took the ball from Fabianski,gave it to the Porto player whilst at the same time he obstucted Campbell from defending (see picture 3).
    3. The ball was put forward from the actual position.
    4.Th referee made the sign for indirect free kick after the kick was taken.”

    “1) He allowed the free kick to be taken 2 yards from where the offence took place, giving a clear advantage to Porto.
    2) Allowing the kick to be taken quickly is fine but the referee must surely be fully aware of what is happeneing – he has his back to the play and cannot possibly see that the kick has been taken legally.
    3) From the moment he gives the free kick he is supposed to indicate it is indirect by having his arm in the air until the ball is touched by a second player, in this case the scorer.”

    “Law 13 prescribes in detail where the kick is to be taken from: “an indirect free kick awarded inside the goal area is taken from that part of the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal line, at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred”. That law is not observed in this instance. Even if a referee allows a player to take a free kick quickly, it must still be taken from the place prescribed by the laws of the game.”

    I am not suggesting that our players were not negligent but to me this free kick can never be correct. I have never witnessed this is all my years of watching football.

  8. who on this team is going to step up and offer some protection to Fabregas? Porto fouled him with impunity yesterday. Someone for Arsenal needs to take out one the offenders just to send a message that this cynical fouling will not go unpunished. All we get are some stupid shoulder bumps from Nasri when a hard purposeful tackle is what’s really needed.

  9. All goalkeepers make mistakes – name me one who hasn’t?

    OK, Fabianski has made some mistakes in recent fixtures, but he is still very young for a goalkeeper, and has done enough to show to me that he has the potential to be a very good one.

  10. I have said many, many times on this blog dogs, its ALL about the sloppiness and you know this.

    Matt what are you suggesting partner? You dont feel Denilson was trying yesterday? Why you coming at me like that cus?

  11. YW,

    Can I ask you a question please?

    Do you see an improvement in the defense over the past 3 years?

    It is not a barbed question.
    I have no loaded reply.
    I’m just curious as to your thoughts.

  12. I would agree with that Matt. he needs to play at the weekend. Mistakes aside he was solid for the remainder of the game; he made a couple of good saves and took crosses with authority.

  13. The only thing Denilson has in common with Gilberto is they are both Brazillian.And that all

    Gilberto will be playing for the best team in the world in South Africa when Denilson will be watching on tv.

  14. I have made my opinion on Denilson known many times so no need to bore anyone again…

    Last night just added a few more examples of what i have been saying.

  15. Why the Denilson bashing? I dont get it, what did he do wrong in this match? He had nothing to do with the goals scored against us.

    Stop jumping all over the guy for no reason.

    Geez, you guys find a scapegoat and dont ease off for a second.

  16. I am not a fan of his, but he was no worse than many other last night. In the last 20mins or so he seemed to roll his sleeves and get stuck in as well which was good to see.

  17. Joe, the defence has gone backwards dog, clichy and sagna are having a long dip in form, were getting found out on the wings and you know this. Thomas ‘Verplunk’ Vermaelen has done well but Gallas needs to be replaced soon and thats the bottom line G. Sometimes I just dont know where Clichys heads at fool. Sometimes clichy makes a mother f~ucker wanna sing, but other times Clichy makes a Mother f~ckers head ring-a-ding-ding and you know this

  18. Matt, are you saying Denilson is wank?

  19. just re-posting fungunner’s link for everyone who hasn’t seen it:

    “A post from a working referee. He is an Arsenal fan, but the rules seem pretty black and white – the ref got it wrong.
    I knew I was right about the signalling, as well”.

  20. I hope Fabianski is given a run of games to settle down and prove himself and gain some valuable experience.
    He did make some fine saves but communication between defense and keeper was non-existent.

    What plans does AW have for Mannone? He is older than Fabianski. And then there Wojciech about whom I hear good things.

  21. YW

    you say it is a game we should not have lost because we we in control of the game for long periods.That is bullshit

    We shouldnt have lost at OT and Stamford Bridge because we were in control of those games as well but we did

    That is the reason why this Arsenal team will not win anything.We control games but throw them away because we cannot cut out the INDIVIDUAL errors

    We lack defensive strength and Concentration from the whole team

    the priority in the summer transfer window MUST be a World class keeper

  22. Denilson is not the problem. Debating about him covers up the much bigger issue. See my comment at 2:45.

    Our entire defense intermittantly goes AWOL. Our team defense has been getting worse 7 yrs in a row.
    AW is not a defensive coach and he needs to upgrade some of our players but most important he needs to add people to his staff who can coach defense and change the defensive mentallity of this team.

  23. “the ref allowed a quick tap kick”. I felt he actually did nothing. The kick was taken by smart thinking Porto with the ref conned by the roar of the home crowd…….so much so that he failed to calmly put matters right.


    A world cup referee’s viewpoint. As opposed to a ref on a blog.

    But it does not matter if the free kick “was fair” or not. What matters to Arsenal is that we did not defend the situation. We switched off, whilst the opposition did not. It is that simple.

    We should have defended the free kick, and then we could have complained as much as we liked about its award.

  25. Does anyone know any rules about when and where a quick free kick can be taken.

    This is my point, if I am the team that has been awarded the free kick I would want to take it quick everytime. So within the rules where does making a wall come into play, why does the ref ever stop the team taking the free kick in order for the defending team to set up a wall? why does the ref need to blow his whistle at any time.

    Some clarity anyone?

  26. goonerandy, Graham Poll? come on now.

  27. Paul N, ok listen up dog –

    ‘A quick free kick can be taken anywhere at any time as long as the ref allows it’

    Weve benefited from this many times partner so lets move on, cut the sloppiness out at the emirates, and crush Porto’s balls. Are you with me cus?

  28. Brown Bomber,

    Priority No. 1 – World Class Keeper

    Priority No. 2 – Some new clothes for Pat Rice

  29. Also how can it not matter if it was fair or not, when we say fair we mean within the rules of the game.

    The same article you posted is where I got the comments from and some have stated that other referees believe that this goal should not have been allowed for some of the reasons I posted above.

    The problem is that rules should be plain and clear. Yes the mistakes were terrible but that doesnt justity a goal being allowed that shouldnt be.

    Not to mention a clear penalty that shouldve been given. That wouldve possibly made it 1-2, so I dont see how this loss had nothing at all to do with the ref.

    Not so in my view.

  30. Unless I was watching a different game, we seemed to pass the ball away an awful lot. Can anyone go back, watch the match again today and tally up everyone’s intercepted passes? My general sense is that we gave the ball away too easily.

    Also, I’m all for letting the youth develop, bloom and ultimately flourish. But if this offseason shows that it comes at the expense of Cesc leaving, followed by the departures of others who don’t want to re-build following a Cesc departure (I’m thinking AA, Gallas, Sagna), is it worth it? One step forward, two back then? I hope Arsene knows what he’s doing. We’ve been hitting the gas the last 4 years, spinning our wheels. Will we be able to leap from the rut we’re digging or are we just making it deeper, muddier, more inescapable?

  31. Paul – I know. Embassasing as the guy is a twat. But a qualified one.

  32. Don’t have a lot to add to what has already been said above by YW, but:


    Thanks for the Untold Arsenal link.

    In contrast on SSN I caught a debate at lunch on the legal issues surrounding the back pass (they even had an expert referee!), but no comment on the referee’s actions and position after he’d blown for the whistle.
    To be fair they did have Steve Coppell on who diplomatically said it was poor refereeing, but that was 15 seconds after a five minute story.

    I won’t besmirch the reputation of referee’s without any, er,


  33. What we need is a defensive coach and a new goalkeeping coach.The amount of stupid goals we have given away through errors this season is just a joke

    Get Keown and Seaman back the coach the first team

  34. Goonerrandy Please spare me the Graham Poll world Cup Referee crap. Wasn’t he the same guy who gave a player three yellow cards in one game. We know he might have done same if he was officiating last night. The rules are clearly stated, the ref was culpable.

  35. ‘Diplomatically said it was poor refereeing’

    ie. ‘If you think refereeing like that is acceptable, you’d better call out the Riot Squad.’

  36. Graham Poll is just talking about spirit, responsibility of defenders and AW’s complaining…all bollocks…Walter’s tals about the laws of the game…that’s final…goal should have been disallowed

  37. William, do you know the complete rules regarding this instance.

    Can you post them if so.

    Again, I have never witnessed this before and other refs have said it was wrong.

  38. a qualified one who was criticized for many errors, he obviously doesnt know the rules too well.

    3 yellow cards comes to mind, the guys an anti arsenal clown.

  39. Paul N,

    Here are the complete rules homeboy –

    ‘A ref can do whatever the f~ck he likes’

  40. Oohhhh my life.

    The point is that we did not defend what was put in front of us. The ref gave a free kick rightly or wrongly. And our keeper gave the ball back and turned around with a free kick ten yards from his goal.

    It does not matter if it was a free kick or not, or where it was taken from, or what coloured boots the ref had on. What matter is that he gave a free kcik and we switched off. It is that simple.

    For the sake of argument I could agree that it was no way 100% not a free kick. But that still does not make our players any less at fault for Porto scoring.

  41. John

    You hit the nail on the head.This team is great going forward but so naive at the back.You only have to look at the Stoke cup game.First Stoke throw they score just like they did last season.No lessons were learned at all.

    Keown is a great shout but didnt he have a fall out with Wenger the same goes for Seaman.

    Seaman or Poom??? no fucking contest

  42. Graham Poll the same referee who allowed a qiuck free kick by Henry v Chelsea at Highbury.When i dont remember any of us Gooners complaining.

    Stop blaming the referee.If the Mad Pole hadnt picked up the ball none of this would have happened

  43. goonerandy, we made mistakes, no one denies that, its a forgone conclusion.

    Denying the rules of the game because you are so upset that we shut off is also irresponsible in my view as the ref is the JUDGE of the game.

  44. What would Seaman do? I think, while we’re hiring and firing defensive coaches and goalkeeping coaches we ought to have a batch of rubber W.W.S.D wristbands made-up and dished out to all our young goalkeepers.

    Last night for example, prompted by his unavoidable and garish W.W.S.D wristband, Fabianski might’ve thought to do this…

  45. I’ve had a quick look through the laws of the game, and I can’t find anything about when a quick free-kick should or should not be allowed. I suppose it is down to the referee’s discretion. In fact, setting up walls and having centre backs lumber up the length of the pitch would seem to be contrary to the laws of the game. If a player from the defending team prevents a free kick being taken, he should be booked. If a player from the attacking team delays the free kick, he should be booked for time wasting. It seems many of the rules are customary rather than explicitly written. In this case, the rule book is unable to help.

  46. I don’t understand your last paragraph Paul.

    The point that we made my mistakes was my original point, but I seemed to get dragged into an argument with people who seemed to believe that the ref was 100% at fault for us letting in the 2nd goal. That is all.

  47. Seems like the governing bodies of football need to work it out Pz.

  48. Poll personalised the issue, a sure sign he didn’t analyse the situation correctly.

    It is irrelevant whether players under Wenger ever played quick free kicks.

    The criticism is not against the free kick taker. I have not heard 1 person say Porto shouldn’t have taken it quickly.

    The point was about the referee’s handling of the incident.

    By any measure, the referee made 6,7 incontrovertible mistakes.

    1. Free kick was taken from wrong position.
    2. He did not signal that the kick could be taken which the laws of the game says he must.
    3. He did not ensure Arsenal players were the requisite distance from the ball when the kick was taken. The rules say the kick must be retaken if the defending players weren’t 10 yards from the ball.
    4. The free kick was taken while his back was turned.
    5. He was talking to Sol Campbell when the free kick was taken, and he was blocking the Arsenal defender.

    Add to that 2 debatable points;

    1. By taking the ball from Fabianski to allow the kick to be taken he was supposed to allow for a wall to be formed.
    2. It is debatable that Sol’s ball was a deliberate back pass.

    Paul N,

    The answer to your question is that an idirect free kick is to be taken from where the incident occured. It was taken 3,4 yards ahead of where the incident occurred.

  49. i don’t agree with what the referee did to the gunners

  50. I agree with all of that.

    But as I have said, my issue was not with the free kick. Dodgy as it may have been.

  51. Got you GA.

    My point is if the ref is wrong then the goal is wrong regardless of where we turned off.

    From what I have read the ref is wrong so the goal should be dissallowed.

    Something isnt right about it.

    Anyway, its spilt milk really. The first goal and the obvious penalty are the things that really make my blood boil.

  52. Paul – You don’t “got me” mate. I could not care less over the details of the free kick. My point has always been from the very start that we switched off and did not defend as we should have done. If we had, Porto would not have scored as they did.

    As soon as the ref blew the whistle for a free kick in our area our defensive unit should have moved up a gear. But that did not happen, and we paid the price.

  53. I find it hard to believe that the ref and the linesman both missed what was an obvious trip on Rosicky as well.

  54. Mr. Poll as the experienced referee he claims to be, should have based his analysis on the FIFA. His “ANALYSIS” was clearly petty and an attack on individuals whether stating the obvious or not. The issue at hand is clearly whether the ref was right or wrong and not whether Henry has been a beneficiary of such similar decisions. Clearly cant remember him scoring like that from inside the 18 yard box, rules must clearly be different for direct and indirect kicks.

  55. I’ll tell you what makes my blood boil – that we have “fans” who hang around on blogs and never comment except to suppress praise of players they are unable to appreciate. These dogs in the manger are beneath contempt.

  56. I fully understand what you are saying.

    Read again.

    “Got you GA.

    My point is if the ref is wrong then the goal is wrong regardless of where we turned off.”

    I think your opinion is very faulty because you take all responsiblity away from the one who is getting paid to govern the match. He represents the law of football.

    We kool!

  57. LimparAssist:

    WWSD and WWAD wristbands would probably work better then whatever we are doing now.

    How do you think we can fix our defense? Clearly the boss has no clue at this point. He has been letting it deteriorate since the 2004.

  58. Right about that PZ, thats the worst.

    I always think of the push we could give our team if the fans were more grateful and positive towards our players.

    Case and point, Denilson is getting dogged out all over the internet.

  59. It was end to end stuff. We looked vulnerable on the flanks. Porto played well by going forward.


    After the goal, should Sol have knocked the ref out?

    Then there would have been a scandal between a player twice nominated by managers to be in World cup tournament squads against that of an incorruptible referee.

    I’d like to heard Graham Poll’s thoughts on taking a blap to the head from Sol Campbell.

  61. Something real to complain about. Diaby is injured.

  62. I get you Paul. And you are right of course.

    My point is that we should have defended it properly and we would not be hoping for it to be disallowed. Different points I suppose.

    All good. 🙂

  63. Bollocks. Hopefully not for long.

    Arshavin and Gallas still out as well. Worrying.

  64. Medial knee injury…how long will Diaby be out?

  65. totally agree GA!

    We have to stay focused at all times, thats not the idiotoc refs fault.

  66. Yes its all good!!!!


  67. Yup, you’re right LA.

    No point complaining, it’s bizarre though.
    What a season with the referee’s!

    Have to laugh at the ref last night.

    Next time Fabianski will aim to boot that ball as far as Tenerife before giving it back to the referee.

  68. We all like a breather when the ref stops play.

  69. There was a sliding tackle Diaby made toward the end of the game where he came in with his non-tackling leg bent right back underneath himself. I thought at the time, that looks painful, so I’m guessing it might have happened there. But he carried on so, I don’t know. Our injuries mount anyway.

  70. If the free-kick yesterday happened within the rules, then the rules need to be changed. Handling a back-pass is a minor infringement, and should not be punished with an almost certain goal. Perhaps more intelligent refereeing in the past has concealed a deficiency in the rules.

  71. I saw that too Limpar, he got up straight away though so can’t have been an instantly painful one. sometimes they’re the worst though… Hopefully he’s not out for long, he was great last night (until it the opportunity to shoot presented itself)

  72. time to give eboue back his place the guy he never stops running and can beat his man

  73. Any chance of recalling Chezney? 😉

  74. PZ,

    The referee didn’t signal for the indirect free kick.

    No grey areas.

    Black & White.

  75. Anyway, what’s done is done.

  76. When the referee asked for the ball from Fabianski he should have drop kicked it right into the fuckers bollocks and ended any possibility of him indicating when and where the kick was taken. Could quite possibly have been the fellows last game ever, which would have been a satisfactory outcome to a wrongly awarded indirect free kick.

  77. The referee was closer to fabianksi then Tenerfie.
    So, that would’ve been the easier option.

    Makes sense to me.

  78. If that’s true about us not practicing defensive drills, then it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to get worse collectively at defending. I really hope that’s not the case as no-one at our level should omit such a hugely important aspect of training.

    We will always score in matches, but we dont seem to understand that it’s not always going to be 2 or 3 goals per game, and if we havent been practicing defending, we’ll be dropping points all over the place which we can’t afford to do now.

    If we dont practice defence, i’m surprised that we’re only 9th in the league for goals conceded.

  79. . . . . . . . . . . . a refereeing display of fearless impartiality rarely encountered beyond the confines of the Eurovision Song Contest . . . . . .

  80. I am glad that Cesc has made reparation for his comments last night by supporting Fabianski today. I think that Fabianski will go on to be a great keeper.

  81. Why are people moaning about the referee and the goal? If we were good enough we would have come back and scored! There was lots of time to come back into the game.

    The real question is, why did we bottle it after their second goal?

    Why did we look defeated? This is worrying.

    However, Wenger is clever and is blaming the referee – turning the attention in him rather than the weaknesses in the team.

    Sick of it.

  82. What an utterly, utterly, stupid comment, ‘gooner1’

  83. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    So Matt is willing to let Fabianski make quite a lot of mistakes and chalk it up as youth, but will go out of his way to slag Denilson who just turned 22 two days ago and actually had a good game. As far as I’m concerned you’ve got it ass backwards mate.

  84. Frank, you’re a mug. Everyone knows that on this site.

    You have no capacity for critical thinking.

  85. Denilson is shit. How can you say he had a good game? he didn’t do anything.

  86. Arsh Shavin:

    I’d put the ‘Defensive Drill’s’ anti-Wenger smear in the same Basket that holds the ‘Ivan Gazidas signed Andrey Arshavin’ rumour.

    As Brady’s Right Foot said last week, Gallas’ tackle on Ngog (and one or two by Sol last night) is a sublime Skill. It helps to be able to Run & Kick as well, but that level of defending is almost the best sight in football.

    The thought that players with the innate Skill of Gallas and Sol Campbell (& others) don’t practices ‘defending’, which is something they’ve been doing since childhood, isn’t really worth thinking about. I could be wrong, and the entire coaching staff, including Stevie Bould, at AFC could be completely insane, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  87. Denilson isnt shit gooner1 by any means. Just because he doesnt go on mazy runs, ping a 70 yard ball onto nb’s chest etc etc, he does all the unnoticed work (only unnoticed if you dont understand football that is). He pulled his finger out in the 2nd half i thought.

    Fabianski was to blame for the loss simple as that. We get bad refereeing decisions against us every match, we don’t get our keeper making 2 absolute howlers like that – normally in a whole season let alone one match. I do think he’ll become a good keeper in years to come but he just isn’t good enough to play for a title challenging team at the moment.

    We’ll put the game to bed at the Emirates.

  88. California Gooner

    Not sure why all the excuses for Fabianski. The ref had his role in the second goal, but these were two horrendous brain-cramps he suffered, something that has happened a few times before with him. The consequences are huge. If Fabianski was named Eboue, Almunia or Denilson, everyone would want him on the bench around now. I really do wonder if Manone is not a better option — of course he could make mistakes too, but he seemed very much ready when thrown into the team last fall.

  89. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Poliziano at 4 18, I’m with you pal.

  90. Lol, fair enough Finsbury!

    Just something Brain had mentioned before…

  91. Forget the poor goalkeeping errors, forget the referee decisions…

    why did we not step up after they scored?

    I thought the team looked beaten. We struggled to get back in the game. I didn’t look like we could score again.

    We should win at home and get through the next round. Fingers crossed though.

  92. If you are not sure then read the posts, California Gooner. People genuinely believe that the referee gifted Porto with a goal.

  93. What is critical thinking?

  94. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Gooner1 you’re a shit supporter. If you can’t recognize what Denilson does on the pitch that’s your own damn fault.

  95. We lost because we are not good enough.Get used to it

  96. Actually that is completely wrong, Paddy.

  97. Nasir Jones, lol….Denilson is a liability. He’s failed to deliver this season. He hasn’t stepped up like Song and Diaby have.

    Compare Denilson to the midfield players at Man Utd and Chelsea and you’ll see why we are sitting 3rd in the league.

    Shame is that the quality players like Flamini, Diarra end up leaving our club.

  98. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Gooner1 talking bollocks again. We had a penalty waved off you bumbling mong. We started the second half superbly only to be undone by Fabianski once again.

  99. Moan, Moan, Moan….excuses, excuses, excuses…..whinge, whinge, whinge….

    Like Manager, like supporters…

    Just face it, we’re not good enough.

  100. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    I’d take Denilson over Anderson, Carrick, Scholes, Obi Mikel, Lampard, and Ballack.

  101. Who is moaning and whinging Gooner1? It looks like you are 🙂

  102. Arse Shavin and Finsbury Parker.

    I made comment about not doing defensive drills in practice in my 2:45 comment by reading what Lee Dixon said and from a comment made by “The Brain” who writes Arsenal Column and occasionally blogs on this site. I mentioned to him that I thought our defensive problems could be solved on the training pitch. I do not who he is but I assume he is somehow associated with the team. His return comment was (paraphrased). “That will not happen because they do not do defensive drills in practice”. I obviously do not know exactly how they practice defense but the evidence suggests whatever we are doing now has not worked for a long time.

    The most important point is that our defense has been slowly getting worse for 7 years and has taken a quantum leap in the wrong direction this year. You can not argue with the statistics in the table. The boss indicated last summer that defense was the difference between us and United and he would fix it. Look what has happened. Even the most loyal AW fan would have to admit there is a problem that he has not been able to fix.

  103. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Yeah we hear you Gooner1. No one is moaning and groaning besides you. You’re soft and don’t have the bottle to watch a man’s sport kid. Try World of Warcraft or something.

  104. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Oh and I forgot Fletcher. I’d take Denilson over pretty much every mid on Man U and Chelsea outside Essien.

  105. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Fuck Diaby is out now too. Sigh.

  106. Arse Shavin

    I haven’t read that, but I’m sure the Brain’s comments were specific, and there is always room for improvement etc.

    It seemed to my untrained eye as if the squad were given a defensive ‘tutorial’ during the long run last season, with RVP scoring almost all the goals and getting almost all the assists.

    If that didn’t satisfy those who yearn for a GG ( not implying that the Brain is one!) style of football I don’t know what will.

    The xenophobes use petty jingoism and hide behind a perceived & made up ‘Clash of Football Cultures’, which they claim is AFC’s biggest problem. Of course, those who want to drive out AW, appreciate the momentum they get from such smears.

    This leads to deluded, vain statements such as:

    “AW revolutionised English football with the power and athleticism of players like Viera & Petit, and his training/coaching methods.
    But now it seems he’s forgotten everything he’s ever known about Sport, & wants to play a team of Midget’s who play Tippy Tappy Rubbish, who don’t know how to Tackle (Defend) because they come from hot countries where they don’t have mud, therefore they don’t know how to get ‘Stuck In’.”

    Anyone up for a game of Argy-Bargy?

  107. I think I just heard Howard on the radio….loooooooool….what a sad old clown…..

  108. Diaby out??????????????


  109. How can be this unlucky????????

  110. Guess what Frank David Dein has a new job and it’s with that England lot.

  111. Frank,

    Your attack on Cesc is a disgrace. He didn’t name Fabianski and just said it was schoolboy defending which it was.

    You preach support at all costs and then turn on our captain and best player when he has the temerity to tell the truth.

    To use your own words, why don’t you f*** off.

  112. FRANK I HAVE JUST REALIZED HOW GREAT A PROPHET YOU ARE!!!!! If arsenal beat Hull, stoke, Birmingham.wigan blackburn draw with Spurs, and win all our home games we win the EPL and once we beat Porto get Bordeauz in the quarter finals and Inter in the semis we can get to the ECL final where I am sure we could beat are a genius.


    I am confused.

    Frank wrong AIC right???


  114. ALEX Its OK for Cesc to go as long as we have Denilson

  115. Just joking…………..AIC is and will always be a PARASITEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  116. MARIA HAVE you ever heard about the AFC spin machine?

  117. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    SOLGOONER doing his best to look like an absolute dunce.

  118. Nassir Where d0 you get all your superb knowledge?

  119. Cesc should know better than to direct insults like schoolboy errors especially while he is captain. Most the media have been running with that line today.

    Fab is just so bloody eager which think leads to these errors.

  120. ………………….AIC IS A PARASITE……………………..
    ……………….AIC IS A PARASITE…………………….
    …………..AIC IS A PARASITE……………………
    ………..AIC IS A PARASITE………………….

  121. very nice, YW!

    “One hopes for the Brazilian’s sake that his hairline is retained for a longer period”.


  123. Nasir Jones-Nasri


    Keep reveling in our defeat. We will see who has the last laugh.

  124. FinsburyParker at 5:26

    How do you explain the fact that our defense has been getting statistically worse for the last 7 years and this year even faster deterioration? Even with our run a 0 – 0 draws last year we still gave up 13 more goals then United.

    You do not have to play boring defensive football to play good defense. United and Barcelona prove that you can have it both ways. However, you have to play good defense to win. The team that gave up the fewest goals has won the EPL 7 of the last 8 years.

    I am not anti-Wenger but I do think that even he can make mistakes and somehow he has lost track of how to get his teams to play good consistant defense. We can not blame inexperience or referees or bad luck forever. Goals conceded is the single most important statistic to determine who will win. Somehow AFC has lost track of that fact.


  126. @ YW
    An apology first – I am pushed for time so I will have to read your post properly another time.


    @ goonerandy

    Going back to the debate on the previous post – “Let’s agree to disagree” is one of those statements which riles me because it is sounds like such a cop-out. So I over-reacted to that, I apologise. However, I don’t resile from the substance of my statements which were that the rules quoted in the link I posted appeared to confirm unambiguously that the ref should have ordered the free kick to be retaken etc etc and why. It is no answer to that to say, Graham Poll thinks otherwise, without saying why he thinks those rules don’t apply or why he interprets the situation differently. Just being Graham Poll and a World Cup referee is not reason enough in a case where there appears to be clear evidence that correct procedure has not been followed.

    And please note that I am not taking the interpretation of another person as gospel, but referring to rules which he posted. Also it’s the quality of research and evidence that counts, not where it’s printed.

    So if, having read the article, you can explain why the procedures etc didn’t apply, or you can supply any new facts, I’d be interested to read your explanation (sometime in the next week or so) but at the moment I see no reason to change my view.

  127. Wow.

    The following was exceptionally vain and deluded:

    “The most important point is that our defense has been slowly getting worse for 7 years.”

    Arsenal League games ’02/’03

    Played: 38
    Lost: 6
    Goals Against: 42
    Position 2nd (78 pts.)

    Arsenal League games ’03/’04

    Played: 38
    Lost: 0
    Goals Against: 26
    Position: 1st (90 pts.)

    “…and has taken a quantum leap in the wrong direction this year.”

    Arsenal League games ’08/09

    Played: 38
    Lost: 6
    Goals Against: 37
    Position: 4th (72 pts.)

    Arsenal League games ’09/10 (To date).

    Played: 26
    Lost: 6
    Goals Against: 30
    Position: 3rd (51 pts.)

  128. I question how much you know about “good defense” just from the labels you apply to it.

    Defending is relative. You talk about is as if it’s absolute.

    To say we’re the 9th best team in defending in the league is simplistic.

  129. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    I don’t claim to have this vast knowledge of football and I’m just as gutted as you are that Fab couldn’t earn his paycheck. But you take it to a whole different level, SOL. Give the caps lock a rest, too, Junior.

  130. My 5:26 post was addressed top Arsh Shavin, not you Bill.

    “Goals conceded is the single most important statistic to determine who will ‘win’.”

    Funny you should have said that.

    I have to go, but did you like the list of Goals Against I supplied for you to look at?

  131. I don’t think our GA will exceed the ’02/’O3 extreme of 42.

  132. you still banging that drum bill about 7 years of stats
    stats dont prove nothing 102% of people know that

  133. oh great post YW liking the hairline ref

  134. I remember in 02/03, accrdoing to most p(l)undits AFC had a RM at RB, a CM at CB, and a ‘Winger’ at CF.

    Thank **** the team went the next season unbeaten. Can anyone imagine the response if they hadn’t?

    Another assist for the ‘winger’ Rosicky last night.

  135. *according*

  136. he is a star FP and can head a ball an’ll

  137. problem with most pundits and wapping journilists is that they expect you to play as if your on a highlight reel. Probable because thats what they only ever watch the highlights. When they do get down to a game they’re astonished that the teams turn around at half time.

  138. Anyone got a time frame for Diaby`s absence ?

    He`s been great lately too.

    Three points on Saturday & we`ll all feel much better.

  139. Rosicky was brilliant in the first half yesterday. Loves to get ‘stuck in’ too. And there was one of those passes to Fabregas, outside of the boot…

    Almost as good as some of those challenges by Sol!
    (Good thing he’s been practising!)

    Enjoy your weekends Gunners.

  140. Paulie, if it’s grade 1 (which it must be if he carried on playing) then maybe 2-3 weeks.

    FP, that was a lovely pass. Trivela from Mozart! And the commentators on itv didn’t even mention it. Philistines.

  141. Did anyone see the way the interviewer was purring over Sol. It was a joke!! Can’t imagine him touching Gallas like that. What freaking racist mugs those media types are.

  142. FinsburyParker and Ole:

    Our position on the table with respect to goals against the last 7 years add validity to the idea that we have gotten worse compared with the rest of the league. The total number of goals allowed is not as important as how we compare with our competition.

    Even the boss said after last year that our downfall was defense. Our defense compared with the teams we are competing with for the top spots is our downfall. Help me to understand if that logic is somehow flawed.

    Arsenal table position goals against since 2004
    (1st), 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 5th 9th.

    United table position goals against
    2nd, 2nd, 4th, (2nd), (1st), (1st), 2nd

    Chelsea table position goals against
    3rd, (1st), (1st), 1st, 2nd, 1st, 3rd

    The league winner is in parenthesis.

    This is the major difference between us and them. Not counting this yr, In each of those years but 1 the team that gave up the fewest goals won the league. That seems simplistic but rather clear cut.

  143. Oh just shut the **** up Bill!!!!

  144. Thanks Limpar A – just two weeks I hope

    On Eboue. He`s got to be close to a starting place now either at RB or in midfield as he brings so much pace to the side. I hope he gets a chance on Saturday.

  145. Brilliant analysis Bill.

    I’m stunned.

    Not a lot I can add to that.

    (So goals against don’t matter now?)

  146. Enjoy your weekends Gunners.

  147. ole maybe you should take your advice in your comment at 6.01 and apply them to your own debates regarding denilson??

    why are the stats on our defence simplistic and yet denilsons stats are concrete?

    very selective..

    but that said we dont need the stats to tell us our collective defending is poor, our gk situation is in crisis, and denilson wont be attracting interest from barca or real madrid anytime soon..

    not saying hes a bad player..hes just not very good…

  148. nasri johns-nasri

    You French idiot. Your blindness makes you unable to see how crap and a waste of money Denilson is. Seems he fall under the same dagger like Senderos. They are all crap footballers brought here to milk struggling Arsenal fans dry.

  149. Maria at 7:25.

    Maybe your right. I have been on this blog for several months and never seen anyone change their mind and type “maybe your right”, me included. I am not sure why we do it. No one who really makes any difference to the club actually cares what we think anyway.

  150. Denilson is at best a championship level player, hasn’t got the quality to play for Everton, City, Spurs, Villa and yet plays for Arsenal.

  151. I’m glad someone had a word with Cesc and he has publicly backed his team mate now. Although his disappointment was understandable yesterday, you don’t hang your team mate out to dry especially as the captain. You win as a team and you lose as a team.

    Re the free kick, no one has mentioned that we have had 2 free kicks following back passes this season. One in the PL and one in the CL. Both times the referees made us wait while the opposition lined up their wall on the goal line and no goal was scored as a result. So what was the difference last night?

  152. haven’t been on the site for a while, funny to see the same arguments and name calling by the same people. i think this site is just about the last one who have any faith in wenger any more, it has been clear for the past three years that we have been getting progressively worse and that wenger will never change his principals to reverse that trend.

    as i said for years, i agree and understand that we can’t compete financially and it was time for wenger to accept that the domestic cups should be taken seriously sadly he has gotten even worse on that front. so roll on 2011 when his contract runs out as nothing will change until then.

    about last night, the real topic wasn’t the goal but how poor we were from front to back, the team that ended the game last night has to be the weakest wenger has ever had in a competitive European game.

    no point getting angry anymore it is all so inevitable, i would rather lose to porto than get killed by chelsea or man utd in the next round.

  153. On Lukasz Fabianski’s display…
    “I do not want to come out individually on Lukasz’ performance tonight and judge him in front of everybody. I believe that you have to accept that you lose as a team and win as a team. Any individual performance has not to be analysed publically.”

    On Tomas Rosicky’s penalty claim in the second half…
    “I believe there was a strong penalty claim for us on Rosicky which was unfortunately turned down. I feel as well that the repeated fouls in midfield were not punished enough…

    On Sol Campbell’s performance…
    “He had a decent game. He is disappointed with the second goal but he had a decent game. When you play at this level you do not want to concede goals like that. He scored an important goal which could prove to be vital in qualification. We will give everything in the second game at home. That is all we can do. I am disappointed because we lost the game but we have a good opportunity to do it at home.”

  154. Are you insane?
    “Denilson’s style of play harks back to players of the ilk of Ray Wilkins… using the ball sensibly, passing sideways rather than ambitiously forwards where possession is ceded cheaply.”
    He lost possession on most of his touches. He passed neatly sideways to Porto more frequently than he found an open Gunner. He dribbled into trouble, lost the ball, then sat and ball watched.

    Going into January I was worried about Song being gone, but figured we had Denilson, who, I thought, was a bit small but had a motor that would never stop. Well its February now and now I’ve seen that he is indeed too small, and worse, he is performing more abysmally than Eboue when he got subbed last year… Too many times our ‘defensive shield’ didn’t bother to get back at a pace over the average slug. He needs to be taken out behind the shed by TV (or better Tony Adams and Vierra) and told that if he continues to play as lazy as he has been that he will pick up one of those (not so) mysterious injuries that will keep him off the team sheet. I have no problem with a defensive player going forward. Our system depends on it. I do have issues with them not running back to their position to help the team where they should be.

  155. “Both times the referees made us wait while the opposition lined up their wall on the goal line and no goal was scored as a result. So what was the difference last night?”

    A group of Arsenal fans (You know the ones: season-ticket holders for 40 years, loudest singers on match days, and so on) clubbed together to raise enough money to bribe Martin Hansson to give decisions against Arsenal. They couldn’t stomach the idea of an Arsenal team without their favourites and including their most hated players winning the game.

  156. The Keystone Cops are a better defensive unit than Fabianski and Campbell. This was bad folks. My grandmother could have stopped that cross ie goal. She has been dead since 1976. Jokes aside this was bad. The good news is that we only lost 2-1. The away goal is important. This is what happens when half your midfield is out and your best keeper. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Costumes and all.
    It could have been worse. We are still in the drivers seat. Shut em out and win 1-0 or better yet 3-0. There is hope Thanks

  157. As much as we are all disappointed let us not rush into conclusions that have no real bearing on the result of last night. Denilson was not at all to blame for any of the two goals; I doubt we need a new coach (defensive) to teach Fab that he should pick a back pass; the team played generally well excepting the two errors by Fab.

    Also I don’t get the argument sometimes about Arsenal losing to Man U and Chelsea! Chelsea has lost 4 games this season and we have lost 6 and ManU 5 believe so that shows we are not very far away from them. Even when we had all the wonderful players people here like to remind about we used to lose some games to Man U. Even during the “Invincibles” season ManU eliminated us from the FA cup and Chelsea eliminated us from the Champions League. So some perspective is needed people.

  158. meant “to teachFab that he should NOT…”

  159. Denilson has no urgency in his play, and that to a DM means he doesn’t track back or even make enough tackles.

    Yeah, he played well in the second half, but ONLY because Diaby went deeper to the DM position (probably because of his injury) and Denilson was playing in front of him, with less defensive duties.

  160. This was bad. At least we are only down 2-1 and have the return leg back home. We scored the all important away goal. The bad news we lost but the good news is that we have the all important away goal. Hold serve at home. Shut em out and kick butt and take names. I wrote to you from stats page.. Thanks. Fabianski needs to be shot at dusk for stupid play.

  161. I wish that an billionaire would buy us and tell the boss that he has $300 Million to spend and he has to spend it next year and to forget all his principles and just buy a team that will win the quad for the next 5 years. I know he could do it if he was made to spend the money.

  162. “Yeah, he played well in the second half, but ONLY because Diaby went deeper to the DM position”

    Huh? he played well because…!?

    That doesnt make sense to me, if he played well he played well, if he was poor he would be regardless of Diaby.

  163. I don’t want to say too much on Denilson – because Maturks is here – but he had a decent game. I don’t know how reliable these stats are but they were sent to me. They have a scoring system a bit Moneyball like and Denilson came out top.

    It was however, Arsenal’s disorientated system which Porto took advantage of and found large gaps to make joy out of.

  164. What was Denilsons part in either goal also, Porto didnt do much offensively, yes they ran but we played good defense apart from the errors so what the backside are you talking about.

  165. I don’t want to say too much on Denilson – because Maturks is here – but he had a decent game. I don’t know how reliable these stats are but they were sent to me. They have a scoring system a bit Moneyball like and Denilson came out top.

    It was however, Arsenal’s disorientated system which Porto took advantage of and found large gaps to make joy out of.

  166. Wenger also seems distraught on Diaby’s injury.
    Here;’s the scoring system they use:

  167. Brain but they had no joy apart from our mistakes. They were fast but it never came to anything did it?

    If they were not gifted the goals they didnt have a chance of winning.

  168. Arsene’s method of playing average players as often thinking they will improve will never do with Denilson, Almunia, Fabianski the same way it failed with Senderos.

    Its interesting he said he sold Gilberto because he was slow and had no pace to track back. Now Denilson ticks all the above and yet get games week-in-week-out.

  169. Paul N: I’m not disputing that the goals were avoidable but I like to take the whole picture of games and that’s where most of their attacks stemmed from – taking advantage of our frailties in the defensive phase. If you have it, watch Paulo Sousa’s half-time analysis again – his grasp of English isn’t great but he talked with great coaching knowledge.

    I have done an analysis on Arsenal’s defensive game also but I don’t want to feel like I’m taking Yogi’s customers. Click here if you want to read it though.

  170. F*ck Off Howard

  171. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Haha look at all these mongs throwing a quality Arsenal player under the bus. Once again, Denilson played well last night. What a bunch of miserable pricks.

  172. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Fucking hell Bill. Why not just throw on a City or Madrid top?

  173. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    I agree with Paul N. It was up and down, but Porto looked toothless outside of a bit of stuff on the wings. The bottom line is Porto was given an inexplicable lifeline through Fabianski. End of story. We could have easily won that game 2-0.

    And once again the mongs come out the woodwork spewing venom at a player who actually had a good game.

  174. Bill,

    Your analysis is superb and irrefutable.

    Pay no attention to the others. You’ve substantiated everything you’ve said.!

  175. I just thought to tell you Bill. You don’t play good defense. You defend.

  176. And a comment from JonJon!

    Has Diaby grown a footballing brain JonJon? I seem to recall you saying he couldn’t make it at Arsenal.

    I remember than and wonder why I should believe your claims about Denilson.

    About stats;

    I’ve said to Bill several times, that yes, we concede too many goals.

    But his analysis of judging defensive deterioration based on goals conceded & position in the stakes is simplistic.

    Your defence could be better and yet you concede more goals. Or vice versa.

    There are many signs that our defending is much better than the goals conceded suggests.

  177. Substantiated that the defence has got worse over the last several seasons?

    That the team with the ‘best defence’ usually wins the league?

    I agree with Joe. Superb & irrefutable analysis.

    There is a funnier, and slightly more interesting conversation about last nights game on the Guardian Football podcast.

  178. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    What a shameful comment, Bollo. F*cking scumbag.

  179. From the FIFA rules:

    “The Indirect Free Kick
    The referee indicates an indirect free kick by raising his arm above his head. He
    maintains his arm in that position until the kick has been taken and the ball has
    touched another player or goes out of play.”

    It’s so easy to watch the ref raise his hand to signal the kick AFTER it was taken. I can’t believe anyone is arguing that the goal should stand. It’s not falling asleep to not defend something that is not permitted by the rules.

  180. We may have conceded 30 goals this season but when you take a closer look, 10 of those came against united n chls (H & A), and if you take away the 4 goals we leaked against citeh, then it actually doesnt look that bad…. 16 in 21…. In other words we have improved our defending against the rest (against whom united n chls hav surprisingly fared less better). This is the diff. The arrival of TV5 has made this season ( n not discounting his partnership wt billy who’s also stepped up) and it is the reason why were still in the race. If we can maintain it there’s no reason why we wont be champions come May… So keep the faith gunners!

  181. A poor defense let us down but I’m confident that with a full strength squad we can win the return leg

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