Test Of Character Passed As Arsenal Overcome Ref & West Ham

Arsenal 2 – 0 West Ham United

1 – 0 Denilson (5)
2 – 0 Fabregas (83 pen)

Sent off: Vermaelen (45)

The win that was required to send Arsenal to the summit of the Premier League, arrived with a performance that summed up why the squad are serious contenders for that crown. A routine victory became hard fought, a testament to experience borne out of footballing hardship. Roundly condemned as lightweight throughout the season, the squad has pulled together, regrouped and ensured that no-one forget that the title is not won only by the results against those around you. First place may be surrendered this afternoon but no-one is doubting Arsenal are genuine challengers for the title.

Referees are routinely berated, unjustly cast as scapegoats when results reflect poor performances. On this occasion, Martin Atkinson finds his decision-making destroyed by the petard of inconsistency. Thomas Vermaelen’s red card was a poor decision by the officials. The Assistant flagged for the penalty kick but should have communicated with the referee that there was no clear goalscoring opportunity; he had a clear view that Franco did not have the ball under control in that instance. Atkinson was too far behind the play, Vermaelen and Franco obscuring any interpretation he may have had by their bodies. Replays show contact was minimal and on the edge of the area. There is no way the referee can judge the incident under those circumstances.

The spot kick was well struck but the initial save and collection of the parry were outstanding goalkeeping. Almunia has his detractors and would readily admit he is not the best goalkeeper in the world but as his career progresses, the Spaniard is improving, finding a consistency of performance that is often wilfully overlooked. Condemned as being incapable of winning matches with saves, he rammed that criticism back down the throats of those who call for him to be replaced.

Under normal circumstances, he would probably have won Man of the Match. That award surely went to Alex Song, an opportunity to prove himself as a central defender came when he would not have desired one. His performance alongside Campbell was assured, reading the game well, dogged in his determination to subdue a woeful West Ham forward line. Even with ten men, Arsenal restricted the visitors to few clear chances, bodies flung at crosses when Cole and McCarthy entered the fray, preventing them from gaining comfortable headers or shots. When the backline was breached, the woodwork came to Arsenal’s rescue – did Cole’s effort striking a post represent a pivotal moment in the season? Campbell’s exhalation reflected those in the stands.

It was an afternoon which had begun brightly. Denilson broke the deadlock, combining with Bendtner before striking home in a comfortably controlled manner, past Green with the match barely into its’ stride. The goal was the perfect start with the movement of the Arsenal midfield and forwards proving to be too spritely and alive for the West Ham defence. Yet too often the final ball was not delivered to the feet and when it was, Bendtner and Denilson were unable to find the finishes.

On Vermaelen’s departure, the tide might have been expected to turn in West Ham’s favour. Such is the paucity of their form that they did not try to capitalise on their numerical advantage, conscious of the fact that they may leave themselves open to a decisive counter-attack. Those moments came, notably as full-time approached, Arshavin broke clear following Cesc’s deft pass. The Russian though had his head down and the chance went with Eboue free on the right and Cesc following up.

Robert Green’s handling of crosses is an area for which he is roundly chastised. Yesterday proved no different although as a shotstopper, he is altogether more confident, Campbell and Arshavin in particular giving him to prove that the England shirt is not beyond him. He has a decent record when it comes to penalties as well, Upson gave him the opportunity to enhance that by carelessly handling the ball as Cesc flicked it through. The Spaniard though gave no truck to those thoughts, sending the ball into the opposite corner to Green’s dive, confirming the win and top spot.

Overall, it was a good performance, the ten men overshadowing the efforts of the eleven in the first half. Numerical disadvantage makes assessing individuals harder unless they have been outstanding. It such situations, midfield and defence will always outperform if a lead is to be preserved. Eboue and Clichy were excellent in the full back roles. The Frenchman is heading back towards his best form following his lay-off, stifling unwarranted criticism.

The forwards were not their sparkling best, Nasri was understandably not as influential on the right as he had been centrally, Arshavin and Bendtner worked hard but were fruitless in their endeavours. Yet whilst the end product was not there, swamped at times by defensive numbers, their abilities are such that they subdue defences by their threat on and off the ball. It is the whole in a match such as yesterday’s which matters; it was a whole that proved more than capable to the circumstances in which they found themselves.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on March 21, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 257 Comments.

  1. An outstanding performance. Heads never looked liked dropping after another abominable decision. Faith was never lost either by the team, or by what I could hear on the TV, the crowd either. Serious Title Contender stuff.

    I do believe that we can, and will, win all our remaining matches. Maybe we’ll drop a point, maybe not.

    The point is that this team can do it. It really is in their grasp.

  2. Noticed about, if I remember right, about 55 minutes played Denilson had attempted and completed 39 passes. Anyone know if there is a record of a player completing all of his passes in a match (of course they’d have to complete a certain number, like at least 40 or whatever)?

  3. My age shows at times of excitement and stress. We may drop 2 points. How long is it since there was only 2 points for a win?

    It’s a long time ago but about this time in the first Double season we were off the pace by some 7 points with three games in hand, definitely only 2 points for a win in those days. That side was tough but I don’t think it was any tougher than this one.

  4. Fred-den had 72 passes 100%success rate and 6 tackles behind song who had 10.I’m tired of making excuses for AA!he may be brilliant but his attitude suuuucks!against brum drop him for TR7.song was like a gladiator out there.he even outmuscled and dummied cole at one point near the corner flag.diaby’s close control,dribbles and skills were out of this world!if he and song can put such energetic perfomances vs barca we will conquer!rvp back in training and ramsey is walking without crutches,happy days!

  5. Missed the game yesterday. What did Fabregas say about the Barcelona game in his Matchday Programme article?

  6. 2 points can be dropped if we’re leading by a goal and our opponents force an equaliser close to FT? 🙂

  7. Congratulations, Zimpaul. More evidence of the remarkable fecundity of ACLF contributors. Is that four new Arsenal fans in the last year?

  8. Finally, Eastlower acknowledge and salute Eboue!

    http://eastlower.co.uk/?p=1189&cpage=1#comment-89081

  9. Fred stats for all the premiership games can be found here – not sure if there are any other places.
    OleGunner has a board up showing Denilsons perfect 10!!
    When you consider that this was done passing around 11 compared to our ten its even more impressive

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/chalkboards
    all the
    best
    Dave

  10. Have to say that vermaelen showed great character when he was wrongfully sent off.No tantums, just walked off a proud man.
    Arshavin is an enigma, maybe it’s the Russian way not to celebrate with his team mates. IMO he is invaluable to us, as he can always come out with the unexpected.

  11. what about second yellow for upson when hehandled the ball? referees are atrocious against us..evevn hull penalty was as soft as this..y don they do it manutd?

  12. What a great result this is. Stoke, Hull and now West Ham, every game has offered different kind of test and we have emerged winners everytime.
    I think the referees think that it is their moral responsibility to push arsenal out of the title race to contribute to the cause of chelski and man u. Two very very soft penalties in two games is a clear indication of this.
    I think this will be the most memorable season for a long time.

  13. Er, yes Luke. That was my point. It is, in fact, now impossible to drop only 1 point as I originally posited.

  14. Just got back from the game. Alex song MotM. Denilson, Eboue, Gael, Abou, Manuel, Cesc superb. Samir excellent and played on manfully after his knock. Nick and Andrei kept their back four occupied brilliantly. Bacary solid. Sol solid.

    TV…what can I say. Just take it on the chin, son. Excellent before the red.

    Atkinson and his cronies just underlined the refereeing crisis in modern football.

    Supporters in the stadium…excellent.

    I shook DD’s hand when we went in…which is nice.

    ….Arsenal….

  15. MarylandGooner

    Tremendous character shown Saturday after the sending off. Almunia, Denilson, Song, and Eboue all deserve plaudits. It’s interesting to note that the latter three all finished the match in different positions than they they started. This flexibility will be crucial in the stretch run and the Champions League, as we cope with new injuries and disqualifications.

    Another test passed; Brum away without TV will be a tough one, but it would be foolish to discount our chances.

  16. MarylandGooner

    …pardon a Yank’s use of “we” and “our”, but that’s the way I feel about Arsenal.

  17. It takes you a long time to get home Frank.

    The support did sound excellent on the box. A step change there?

  18. I never go straight home, Cb. I have to be very careful.

  19. Song v WH
    Passes – Good 43, bad 8
    Interceptions 2
    Won Tackles 5, lost 2
    Free kicks won 2, given 0
    Aerial battle won 2
    Take on (dribble past) 2
    Clearances 1

    Denilson
    Passes 73, all good
    Interceptions 3
    Tackles won 5, lost 1
    Free kicks won 2, given 0
    Aerial battles won 1
    Take on 0
    Clearances 0
    Shots 3, on target 3
    Goals 1

    Not a bad days work for them. Telegraph put Denilson as man of the match.
    I think the starting line up is the one Wenger will use in the home Barca match (but with Sagna instead of Eboue).
    Keep it tight and use Diaby, Eboue, Walcott as attacking options for later in the game if needed.
    Song’s strong performance in central defence raises some interesting questions in the absence of Gallas. Its one thing to perform well against WH, Hull, Birm, etc. but Barca is another thing altogether and Song has not been a regular next to TV.

    Sol + TV then Song, Den, Fab, or
    Song + TV then Den, Diaby, Fab for Barca at home?

    Also I think he will rest AA, Bendt, Nasri in the Birm game, give Rosicky, Eduardo and Walcott a run.
    AW mentioned that Bendtner is injured (knee and leg) in WH game, but could have continued if pressed.

  20. Birmingham won’t be easy. But they lost a tough match on a tough pitch yesterday in Sunderland.
    They play Blackburn away on Wed night, then Arsenal at home Saturday afternoon.
    Tiredness?

  21. I am a West ham fan and you thoroughly deserved the win. I agree that it was a penalty for West Ham, but Vermaelen should never have been sent off. It was an atrocious decision. That said he could easily have asked for the penalty to be taken again as Almunia moved moved than keepers normally do so I supposed that evened it up a bit. 2nd yellow for Upson? Again harsh but would have been consistent with the sending off.

    Its about time that referees understood that most fans genuinely want to see players kept on the pitch, not sent off over minor misdemeanours. It normally ruins the game and the fans get cheated. There was a couple of tackles from both teams that could have been punished but weren’t.

    No excuses from me and I sincerely hope you can win the title. Zola will prove to be a very expensive mistake at West Ham and I will be staggered if he is with the cluib next year.

  22. Denilson and Almunia are my joint Man-of-the Match recipients in a team of heroes. Simply because week after week they ram the “criticism back down the throats of those who call for [them] to be replaced”, to quote Y.W.

    In recent weeks, Denilson in particular has been the “scapegoat du jour” up and down the Arsenal blogs despite those of us who pointing to his rushed return from two back injuries as main contributors to his less than usual robustness and consistency. The mob ridiculed his “stats” as meaningless, asking us to rely on their long, consistent history of making ill-considered and premature judgments about Arsene’s players. What is even more amazing is their arrogance and presumed superior knowledge to Arsene, who since the 08-09 season has demonstrated unwavering faith in Denilson; making him a starter 9 times out of 10, once he is fit. Combine this with the fact that, on any given day, Nieves usually has more touches of the ball, more successful passes, and more interceptions, as proof that his team mates trust him and that he never hides from the ball.

    Yesterday, was full vindication of the value to Arsenal of Nieves Denilson. Who would have thunk that Nieves would start ahead of Diaby? All the previews had him on the bench including YW’s. Truth is, in the consistent stinking drone of negativity, even I was beginning to wonder if my judgement and faith in Denilson was misplaced. Last week I said on this blog, something along the lines , if you were English, you would be thought of as the second coming of Iniesta or Xavi. Thanks for demonstrating you don’t have to be a 6′ 6″ 220lb clodhopping monster to play defensive midfield. Thanks Nieves and thank you Arsene Wenger.

  23. The Guardian Chalkboard gives Song 9 successful tackles. Why the discrepancy?

  24. I don’t want to be a completely bad person, but I can tell you I won’t be sad if Mascherano’s butcherly instincts were active in his duels with Wayne Rooney today.

  25. O/G-Unlike Denilson he will give away needless fouls in or around the penalty area. With or without Ronaldo, ManU will cash in on them, eventually.

  26. Kelsey @ 11:23

    Beating barcelona has that added importance of shutting Arshavin up. Or he could himself make amends by becoming the difference between the two sides. Regardless of his talent, there are times when he plays and behaves like a freelance footballer.

  27. shotta,

    I can dream can’t I?

  28. Great post as usual Yogi. Did we ever have any doubts? A magnificent team performance. Today I will be cheering on Liverpool and Fat Sams Blackburn like a maniac.Frank when we cross the finish line And win the title I dont think you will make it home for a week.

    A word on referees. What are the chances of refs having cojones and sendin Rooney off when he dives or shows dissent and Vidic being sent off for pole axing players . We have more chance of 10 minutes being added to the end of the game so that ManU can claw back the deficit..COYG!

  29. I think Mascherano is a good player, although I’m not sure what he plays is football. He’s the world’s leading midfield gadfly, and has the ability to make himself a royal pain in anyone’s arse. It will be interesting to see whether he can get Rooney sent off before he gets sent off himself.

  30. Poliziano
    The Guardian “tackle” figures include:
    Tackles – win the ball from opponent
    Aerial battle – won a competed for header
    Take on – dribble past the opposition (good to look for the Eboue’s and Nasri’s of this world).

    To know the difference hover your mouse over the blue or red “tackle” and it will show you the time and which of the 3 above the “tackle” was. (Guardian Chalkboard)

    Good example is Song winning tackle over Cole in the 59th minute, he then dribbled past him (hence 2 in the 59th minute – tackle and take on).

  31. Thank you, jbh.

  32. I’m actually going to be rooting for Liverpool more than it’s healthy to, not just today but also in the ‘race for fourth’. Of the 5 teams that can get it, only Liverpool & Everton escape scorn. Villa…nice club but MON negates that. Spuds are spuds. And it’d be nice to see Money City pegged back. Everton have the least chance so I have to settle for Liverpool.

  33. They’re preferable to the scum and to Chelsea, are they not?

  34. Apologies to those who believe that we should leave the pundits to choke in their own effluent, but it’s fascinating to see how they’re beginning to prepare themselves for the real possibility of having to eat some of the excrement which they smeared around before the season began.

    The standard line now seems to be to project their own foolish predictions on to the rest of us and express astonishment that we could have been so misguided. So I read today that we are “unlikely” winners of the EPL – christened this morning “The Improbables”.

    How, I wonder, is it “unlikely” that a team of brilliant, gifted, dedicated young players should win the league? I suppose they’re relying on the fact that youth, brilliancy, giftedness and dedication have not been consistent features of the winners of the past four or five years.

    And, we are told, Arsenal have been “written off” three or four times. So who, pray, did the writing off?

    Despite the fact that our success is “improbable”, we are nevertheless expected to win every game overwhelmingly. Anything less is a sign of “frailty”. Our run-in, it seems, is easy. Well, everybody plays the same teams. But not necessarily, as Eric Morecambe said, in the right order. Difficult to see how playing our present opponents when they are desperate for points is easier than playing them earlier in the season.

    And even the narrative which dismisses the deliriously exciting one-touch football which lights up the pitch as “confection” is beginning to pall, as our youngsters show that they can unsheathe the steel when it’s needed. So the new story line is that our present success results from eschewing brilliance and relying solely on the fortitude which won us the matches at Stoke and Hull and now against West Ham.

    Well, life doesn’t always bring its just desserts, so there is an outside chance that we may not win either the EPL or the Champions League. That will be no failure. And the pundits will no doubt see it as vindication of their preposterous blethering throughout the season.

    But, if we win . . . . . . . . . . . if we win . . . . . . . if we win . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  35. Poli – IMO there seems to be two competing philosophies about defensive midfielders. It seems to me that we are witnessing the demise of the out and out destroyers like Mascherano, Palacios, Cana, Fletcher, Melo et al (I left out Shawcross because he is an animal, not a footballer) vs more technical, versatile types like Denilson.
    With today’s emphasis on outlawing tackling from behind, two-footed-studs-up challenges, clattering in the back of players in possession etc.; it seems to me Arsene is way ahead of his peers on giving emphasis to midfielders who are technically superior to their peers. In response to to the likelihood of more free-kicks in dangerous areas, more teams are giving emphasis to successfully executing setplays just outside the box.
    IMO, the English are way behind their European peers in this area and may well be found out in South Africa.

  36. Good to see Denilson getting back to his form of last year after the injuries. If I was to be critical in one regard its over the fouls he suffers. He usually goes down when kicked or fouled which is a Sth Am trait (as does Cesc). But with the horrendously inconsistent refereeing in this league it is a gamble many times the foul isn’t given so they look weak.
    Despite this he is usually the most fouled in the team, and high in the league table of fouls suffered for the year.

  37. Shawcross is a defender, but I couldn’t avoid that little swipe. LOL.

  38. jbh – I made this point yesterday about his going down with tackles from behind, i.e. Wenger would feel safer selecting him at home as he is more likely to get the calls vs on the road where English refs let most of these challenges go unpunished. Next Sat at Birmingham may or may not corroborate my thesis, the doubt being that if Song is dropped back in defense then Denilson is an automatic pick with Diaby.

  39. It will be interesting. 4 games in 11 days from next Saturday.
    There will need to be some rotation.

  40. This is not a match for people with colour blindness. I have no idea what’s going on!

  41. Yes. Come on!

  42. TORRRREEEEEEESSSSSSSS! 😀

  43. TORRES!!!!! 1-0 ‘Pool

  44. Mascherano is such a mug.

  45. 1 loose cannon

    What a dive he was pulled outside the box and Evra dragged himself into the box and fell like a sack of potatoes. Shit it was so close for a save

  46. Reina saves Rooney follows up.

  47. 1 loose cannon

    The scoussers need to keep their cool. We need you suckers

  48. No way was that a pen!!

  49. Mascherano is on a yellow with 75 minutes to go, this only means one thing.

  50. 1 loose cannon

    the most disgusting site is watching Fergie celebrating a goal.

  51. Not everyone can be Alex Song Gunnah.

  52. 1 loose cannon

    Torres need to calm down

  53. 1 loose cannon

    Evra is doing his best to get a liverpool player sent off falling like a little girl everytime

  54. Am sick and tired of inconsistent refeering…Jeez,we need a total overhaul of refeerees

  55. I absolutely hate the sight of Patricia Evra.

  56. haha Maria I know that’s why I love him! Torres looked well frustrated after the penalty, looks like he’s off to chelsea this summer if liverpool don’t get champions league

    Him and Masherano are looking like they could get sent off

  57. Any links to the game?

  58. I’m not sure who I hate more out of Ferguson and Evra.. what do you guys think?

  59. Fergie his been around longer!!

  60. but Evra is such an arrogant $*&$! I love seeing him decked by other players and generally being beaten

  61. Looking at mascherano makes me happy to have Song at Arsenal

  62. 1 loose cannon

    liverpool look sharp but as we konw at at Old Trashford Manure always have an extra player, the ref. 10 minutes extra time, Penalties galore you name it.

  63. When it comes to beating a man then quickly crossing I must admit Valencia has become very good

  64. MarylandGooner

    At 22, Song is not even physically at his peak yet. Imagine his strength and smarts @ 25!

  65. Evra is a disgrace for football.

  66. Yeah but he is so one-dimensional @ United.

  67. Rooney lining up the free kick :S

  68. yeah he is one dimensional i agree. but he seems to beat most defenders with that single dimension haha

  69. Half time, not a lot to talk about except Howard Webb’s woeful decision

  70. He has more in his game than that, but I am guessing he gets instructed by red nose to feed Shrek even crosses so he can get his heading game on.

  71. MarylandGooner

    gawd the penno was pathetic on replay

  72. Mascherano is an idiot.

  73. any idea how long vermaelen will be suspended for?

    if it’s 3 games, he will miss the spurs game.

    i wonder if sol can play against birmingham and then barca. it may be too hard for him fitness-wise.

    or maybe silvestre has to come in for the birmingham game…

  74. Whats happening to Steve G? He seems out of sorts.

  75. Howard Webb, serving his long time master, SAF, with that penalty.

    The game is just too boring to watch. Manu’s attacking style is too one dimentional. Give the ball to the wingers to cross, and hope one of the players get a touch in. Ridiculous. How can one bare this sort of football for the next 45 minutes, let alone for the whole season?

    Come on Torress, inside out to Vidic, and get him sent off.

  76. TrevorH,

    i think zola has been doing a good job with west ham. at least the man has some class, unlike some other people we know.

  77. __Arsenal__

  78. “The game is just too boring to watch. Manu’s attacking style is too one dimentional. Give the ball to the wingers to cross, and hope one of the players get a touch in. Ridiculous. How can one bare this sort of football for the next 45 minutes, let alone for the whole season?”

    I’m watching…

    On an unrelated matter, they say that people only watch Nascar racing for the crashes.

  79. Haha Big Al. I have no doubts over the Nascar matter. Spending hours watching cars race around a circular track isn’t quite excited. Unless offcourse you are entertained by some shattering glass, metal, and some blood.

    This is just as worse, except even a brawl doesn’t seem likely to happen so far. Worse than Nascar. Maybe Nani, can start show boating, and Stevie G takes him out with a punch. As long as his team mates, are protecting him, he will go for it.

  80. The commentator has just gone orgasmic watching that goal. Unfuckinbelievable. It’s as ugly a goal, as Chelsea’s long balls. No class, simple cross, poor defending from Johnson. And a header in. Who wants to pay to watch such crappy football.

  81. ZimPaul – I just caught up on your post. Congratulations to you and Jen for bringing another ACLFer in this world. You (and Paul N.) have a big responsibility on your hands, apart from football. But I am sure you and Jen are up to it.

  82. 1 loose cannon

    The scoussers have let us down. I was banking on this fixture for th shites to drop points.

  83. Liverpool are paying for their caution.

  84. Where is that swaggering, adventurous Pool of late last year?

  85. Hey, it’s not over yet. Sadly.

  86. 1 loose cannon

    Still time, they might do something useful the lazy gits

  87. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT. There you go Big Al. They’re at it to, entertain us now.

  88. 1 loose cannon

    How is it that tortoise Neville did not get booked?

  89. Dunno, SG but let’s hope they make an appearance.

  90. Haha, yes. My word, Gerrard’s useless these days.

  91. Where do you think this leaves us if the mancs win?

  92. Apart from conceding points to ManU, Pool is gifting 4th place to the Scum.

    As I write, the 17 million right back just showed his true colors, a waste.

  93. In second place, Deano. Was that a trick question?

  94. Finally some movement from Rafa.

  95. Nani just tried to con the ref. What a classless mob!

  96. The only creative player in the Pool’s team is still on the bench. Rafa, is a bit crazy. Should bring on Benayoun. Gerrard should play in the reserves for a while, before he should be allowed to be played in the first team. Useless performance so far. He’s so unconcerned that he’s not even bothreed to dive today.

  97. “He’s so unconcerned that he’s not even bothreed to dive today.”

    Lol, well I am guessing his figured out quickly yhat it isn’t excatly at the Kop end were reserves his best performances for.

  98. 1 loose cannon

    Shotta- The scum will not get that 4th spot you will see they are a bunch of losers. lets hope the scoussers can get something out of this game. They look like they’ve given up already.Uselees. Why are they sitting deep they should throw the sink at them at this stage.

  99. MarylandGooner

    utter tedium at OT… dire football

  100. Pool and Rafa deserve their fate. In the final analysis they showed no faith in playing football. They lack creativity and belief, exemplified in the performance of Gerrard. Do you think Wengder would leave his most creative player (in this case Benayoun) on the bench?

  101. Jesus christ. Torres…

  102. MarylandGooner

    Torres missed a sitter!

  103. Dire!

  104. 1 loose cannon

    Torees blew it. what a chance missed

  105. Just blow the f**** whistle. Pool doesn’t deserve to win anything. Rafa left it too late to bring on the substitutions.

  106. 1 loose cannon

    2 mins left and Agger put a cross in Row Z absolute shite

  107. hmm…..webb is a disgrace.

  108. 1 loose cannon

    another shit cross from Agger. useless

  109. What a waste of time. Sh*tP**l.

  110. Gerrad is the most overrated player in the History of the EPL!!!! The Scousers can never be relied upon

  111. oh well, liverpool are really a massive disappointment.

  112. First time I’ve watched a complete game by Liverpool against anyone other than Arsenal… god they SUCK!

    They were ok playing against us last time but are complete shit now! I think they didn’t have any decent chance other than that early goal by Torres.

    Thank god I’m not a Liverfool supporter. Rafa is clueless.

    They have no creativity at all. And Gerrard… what’s so good about him??

    All our players are so much better than he is.

  113. Apart from a small minority of miserable feckers given succour and comfort by the Grovers, who isn’t grateful to Arsene Wenger from sparing us the bankrupt policies and methods of Benitez?

  114. I think we are more disappointed than a pool fan, LOL.

  115. And Man Utd wasn’t impressive either. They really are a one man team now.

    No one playing in the EPL now would dare to go in with a tackle like Ryan Shawcross against Rooney – all because he is the star of the England team and it’s the World Cup after this. This is so bullshit.

  116. I think I just wasted away 2 hours of my life watching that dire anti-football match.

  117. i guess we really have to win every single game now. i really thought pool could at least hold them to a draw.

    i guess they are really poo.

  118. 1 loose cannon

    Gerrard does not want to play for Rafa anymore he was not committed at all for few games now. Very negative tactics, crap football, Rafa deserves what he gets. Never mind, we march on. the Mancs will drop points in some unxpected places I’m sure. It really down to us not to slip up.

  119. LOL nice one no7… they really are poo

  120. the bad news is that by the time liverpool plays chelsea, they may be alr out of the race for 4th and just let chelsea swamp them.

  121. God that was tedious. Man Poo were dull but efficient. And what the feck happened to Liverpool? were they all on steroids last season or something.

  122. I can’t help it, every time I see Johnson I say to myself “£18 Million, what the fuck!!”.

  123. Who the hell actually goes out and buys Maxi Rodriguez? You already have a shit, work horse type in Kuyt. Why buy two of them? And why the hell would you play both of them at the same time?

    Rafa is useless. If he gets the boot after this season he has no one to blame. It really is telling what a shit manager Rafa is if he can’t build a decent squad with all the money he has spent. I guess it’s pretty obvious why we are turning record profits and Liverpool are languishing outside of the top four.

  124. And we think we would win the world cup; Gerrard, Lampard and Johnson anyone???

  125. 1LC, I don’t think Gerrard’s display today came down to not wanting to play for Rafa. I imagine Maradona himself would look mediocre around such shit players. If it weren’t for Rafa’s cowardice he would’ve played benayoun or Babel out wide. But he didn’t and that’s why Valencia had a field day.

  126. Blackburn concede in the 5th minute. They’re not going to take points from Chelsea.

  127. blackburn has, what, 6 injuries? not much hope…

  128. Sorry guys. Liverpool is enough. No more of this wretched stuff for me until way later. These teams are dire.

  129. Gerrard and Torres have been petulant, disinterested and ultimately rather twattish for months.

  130. Arshavin Website:
    On Denilson
    “Yes, he was the best in this game. Not because he scored early in the first half, but because he worked miracles in the second one. He kept on snatching the ball from West Ham players, he was everywhere, ahead of everybody like a “clockwork bunny”. In my opinion, Denilson showed phenomenal game”

    Arshavin played injured… his leg was “darned” after Hull game… Quite quaint. I guess the translator likes darning better than “stitching”.

  131. Oh f*ck it, are Blackburn another one of those sh*tty towel teams?

  132. Shotta that guff about two competing philosophies on defensive midfielders is utter garbage.

    Whilst Denilson is superb, it is bunk to suggest that Wenger is playing him response to the outlawed tackle from behind (which happened years ago) and is somehow leading a transformation in the way the position is seen.

    Denilson is very similar in style to makalele, who has been doing that to its finest for over a decade, this is not a Wenger idea.

    Pirlo for Milan played at the base of the midfield for one of the best club sides of the last decade and he was a converted playmaker.

    Arsenal had Gilberto before Denilson FFS.

    Your list of “destroyers” are largely a bunch of second rate hacks who at some time were linked with Arsenal because fans wanted someone like Flamini. Fletcher doesn’t even fill the holding role for manure, Carrick does because he is ludicrously immobile and he is more of a ball player. Melo is in the same mold, he isn’t small, quick, and a runner like the rest on your list of media creations. (Again, you have very little to offer but some slant eyed junk that the media has fed you or your reaction to it)

    Barcelona play with Busquets and Toure, both of whom are tall, graceful on the ball, but not really blood and thunder tacklers.

    Giving away a ton of cheap free-kicks is just shit play, whoever does it and whatever there other attributes. Your a mug also.

    I know that you have only been watching football for a couple of years, but as much as I love Wenger you sound like a plank saying that he “way ahead of his peers on giving emphasis to midfielders who are technically superior to their peers.”

    Wenger is not the first manager to realise that having technically superior players in midfield helps you win for christ’s sake. You retard. Wenger is a genius because he can find them and make them play together, his secret isn’t in the idea but its execution. He modeled himself on Ajax and AC Milan.

  133. You seem like a nice chap, arsenehollis. Instead of responding like a grown up person to shotta half your text contains insults. Real class!

  134. Congratulations on the baby Zimpaul.

  135. Zimpaul man

    Congrats… Thank God for His grace for a great delievery

  136. Feel free to go fuck yourself EvilFiek.

    Maybe class includes minding your own business? Or not setting yourself up as some judge of class itself? Or have you decided differently?

    This is a forum about football not a tea party for eligible young ladies, get some spine instead of your sarcastic comments that do exactly what you are accusing me of. Twat.

  137. blackburn equalize !!!

  138. dioufffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

  139. Blackburn 1:1. Pundit says “Out of nothing” but in fact Blackburn have been dominating play (in a very sh*tty way) the whole second half.

  140. no7…hahaha….cheering for diouf?

  141. Get in there blackburn!!!

  142. Drogba goes down several times every game and has to be attended by the physios, but somehow he is never injured. How does he do that?

  143. well, arsene himself said barca wasnt the first team that played this system, but ajax.

    and it is true.

    basically, arsenal, that great ajax team and barcelona have one similarity:

    the players all have good technique and understand the concept of space.

    i know there is something going on between some people here.

    i am neutral.

    i just want to say that arsene’s genius lies in the way he has developed the club for the future. the way he has brought the players together and nurtured them, their love for the club.

    in the current state of the world we are in, he is one of the few at the highest level of football who is doing this.

    you can even say it is crazy, because we all know there’s another way which is to spend and saddle the club with debts. but we know all about that.

    anyway, wenger comes across as crazy to most people.

    but you know, there is a thin line between crazy and genius.

  144. evilfiek,

    because he was diving?

  145. Maria

    Forgot to respond in the excitement of the result to what is a cool stat on Song’s yellows.

    I can remember a few of those counter-counter-attacks. But obviously what sticks out is the crazy last yellow.

    The point is, the players & staff at Arsenal FC,
    especially this season must ‘consider’ the referee’s when discussing ‘tactics’.

    It is as Shotta-Gunna said above, the team must adapt to home and away games on behalf of the referee, probably every team/club has to.

    So, for anyone to claim, that any discussion of the referees, of their incompetence/prejudice/bias/whatever is irrelevant to a discussion on ‘tactic’s’,
    well,
    it doesn’t make any sense.

  146. C’mon Fat Sam!

    Shake yo booty.

  147. Evikfiek…he was taught how to play dead by barbra woodhouse…thats why

  148. It seems Chelsea bought a new trampoline, Drogma & Anelga are diving like mad.

  149. Full time??????

  150. C’mon just 2 mins more…hang in there

  151. Lol @ G4E

    @ Finsbury

    Interesting.

  152. No comment upon Howard Webb’s performance from me.

    Nope.

    None whatsoever.

    His hug for for a ManIOU player lasted longer then Lucio’s on Drogba!

    Wtf?

  153. now fat lamps going diving too

  154. Maria…a minute left…chelsea corner

  155. FULL TIME!!!!
    Happy happy Joy Joy!

  156. YES! YEEEES!

  157. blackburn 1 – chelski 1

    Ha Ha

  158. YEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  159. What a disgraceful shove on Roberts. Chelsea are true villains.

  160. Delia-----Block112

    People, Blackburn just equalised.
    The crowd was really rocking in the second half and I have never seen so many strangers hugging one another when Cesc’s pen hit the back of the net .
    Where are the Chelski travelling mob ,nowhere to be seen on my screen, probably don’t venture further north than Watford. 1-1
    Great ,one down one to go . Come on you reds!

  161. Should have left the Manyoo game too. I brought my recent bad luck with me!!

  162. yup…n thats what villains deserve. A goal from Diof!!!!!

  163. Ha ha. Where r u now Dave. Hiding in your hole I hope.Finally the penny drops for the pundits. Chelsea flatter to decieve. Poor travellers only performing at home. A draw the least Blackburn deserve. where was the English grit in the lashing rain Lump hard and JT anonymous. A tuff place to visit for any team and we wil have to be at our best when they park the bus. Chelsea imploding. COYG.

  164. Diouf saves the day. Salgado still has it. The Chavs drop points.

  165. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Congrats, ZimPaul!

  166. If Chelsea drop another two points before they meet MU I’d like them to beat the mancs.

  167. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

  168. @G69
    Villa should be a good opportunity for them to drop some points.

  169. Bring it oooooooon!!!!

  170. Well well well

  171. well chelsea have to go to portsmouth, spurs, man utd and liverpool

  172. Sam Allardyce is known as “The Guru” at Stamford Bridge, but I suspect his popularity will be at a low ebb for the next few weeks.

  173. i hope dave didnt commit suicide. maybe he was in a blackburn bar.

  174. Or perhaps he disappeared down one of the 4000 holes – together with the team.

  175. Zimpaul congrats on the baby, always nice to welcome another Lil Gunner into the world 🙂

    Well done Diouf and all at Blackburn, see what happens when you actually decide to play football?

    And hats off to Kanu for scoring the winner against Hull, Pompey deserve to stay up, fantastic fans and atmosphere, decent side who always fight to the last. Physical too but not like Stoke, Hull and other crap teams, they genuinely try and play footy.

  176. Am stuck watching Fox Soccer Channel. Warren Barton giving his expert/professional opinion on how good Cesc is and how good he thinks he could be if he would only play for the full 90 minutes, claims he is not giving enough to each game.

    Warren Barton has judged Cesc and has found him wanting………….ahhahahahahahah..:)

    It’s just too funny

  177. What a pleasant surprise?
    Walrus Sam did us a favour today. Hell I’ll take it.

    Well, well, well. That poor old nameless chap is getting crazier every day. Keeps digging a hole for himself. Oh dear, oh dear!

  178. Irishgray, I was just watching that.

  179. ArsenalArseneArshavin

    A question??

    has our game against Spurs been rearranged??

  180. Congrats to zimpaul and Blackburn. In that order.

    It really looks like it will go to the wire this year and don’t we just deserve it more than the others. We have been written off at least three times, had shocking injuries AGAIN and had our own fans give up on us and turn on the greatest manager in our history. Amazing if we win it. Arsene would be so proud, i would love to see the smile spread across his face as Cesc lifts the trophy.

  181. MU has to travel to Bolton as well Evil. I think my prediction that they’ll drop at least two points before they meet Chelsea will come true. If we’re level with them and Chelsea are one point behind us, I will want Chelsea to beat them. Chelsea looks to be shit away and they have to meet Liverpool and Bolton away in their run in.

  182. Sorry Chelsea has Spurs away.

  183. Warren Barton I think is retarded.

  184. Manure still have to play the Chavs, Spuds and Money Shiteh away. Lots of points to be dropped 🙂

  185. Hope you guys realise that before this season is over we will have cheered on the Spuds to 2 victories-Chavs & Manure never thought I would see that 🙂

  186. Chelsea have had a tough time of it recently and it has seemed to coincide with the John Terry “affair”. I hope he realises what a selfish individual he has been.

  187. COOOOOOOME ON YOUUU SPUUUUUUUUDS!!!

    Nope…sorry just can’t see myself doing that ever!!!
    Will have to hope for 2 draws then 🙂

  188. Matty Boy if he hasn’t realized by now he never will.

    Besides I for one hope he doesn’t as he would be a better player if he ever did.

  189. It’s strange cheering on teams you have been programmed to despise. It’s funny in those situations when you are with friends and Spu*s or someone score and you all cheer and then look guiltily at each other like you know you have done something bad and wrong.

  190. I know it happened to me today when I started cheering on Blackburn!!

  191. It is weird. I could have almost kissed fat Sam’s walrus chops tonight. Almost.

  192. Have to say I am very disappointed in Liverpool. Can see Torres leaving in the summer. Would anyone think Arsene might buy him? Will be one hell of a bidding war with the likes of Money Shiteh, Real Madrid and Manure interested.

  193. Harry Flowers what have you been Smoking man?

  194. This table makes pleasant reading. Every week we get closer and closer. COYG.
    Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
    1 Manchester United 31 22 3 6 72 25 47 69
    2 Arsenal 31 21 4 6 73 33 40 67
    3 Chelsea 30 20 5 5 70 28 42 65

  195. I said..almost!

  196. And (more importantly) do you have any left? 🙂

  197. More like Happy Flowers LOL

  198. Have to say I am loving Sol Campbell being back, the guy is so passionate, did anyone see his reaction to Almunia saving the PK? He was leaping up and down pumping his fist and yelling his head off!!! Love that guy!!

  199. Let’s hope we win it outright and it doesn’t come down to goal difference.

  200. Is it goal difference or is it the head to head record between whoever is tied at the top? Because if it is the latter then we could be screwed.

  201. Our next three fixtures are Birmingham, Barcelona, Wolves.

    How funny. And it makes me proud and warm inside.

  202. By the way just read that RVP will be back in training next week. Also that Aaron Ramsey is walking around without the use of crutches. 🙂

  203. We just have to stay focused on Birmingham now, get the 3 points in the bag and then we can focus on Barca. I am so excited we got them in the draw. At first like most fans I was a bit nervous but the more I think on it and the more I hear from other Gunner fans ,the more I am relishing it!!

  204. Off to the pub 🙂 COYG

  205. I just found this, the last bit makes things very interesting if it’s true.

    # If two or more teams finish level on points the team with the better goal difference will finish higher.
    # If two or more teams have the same points and the same goal difference, the team which has scored the higher number of goals will finish higher.
    # If two or more teams finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored, and the championship, a relegation place or European qualification is at stake, they will then play off to decide who finishes higher.

  206. guardiola is resting iniesta and xavi for the game against zaragossa,henry and puyol on the bench

  207. 1 loose cannon

    very disappointed with that penalty decision it was outside the box. the ref bottled it as Fergie was starting to wave his arms about having a spitting fit.
    I think a 100% run till the end of the season will get us the title. We still have to play the Spuds and city but to me the biggest game is alwyas the next. One at a time. We just cannot afford any slip ups at all, it very tight and I think it will come down to goal diffenrece between us and Manure so we need to start banging more goals.

  208. We need only one more result to go our way, the rest is in our hands – Man U drawing with Chelsea. As long as we win our matches comfortably & overhaul ManU’s GD, we win the title!

  209. Man U get a dodgy penalty at OT. Hardly a shock though is it.

  210. I personally think there will be lot’s more points dropped by everyone as teams get a bit nervy and others battle for their premier league survival. Players will start thinking about world cups and how they shouldn’t have shagged their best friends ex and others will more than likely eat dodgy Lasagne.

  211. 1 loose cannon

    We get decisions against us all the time even at the Emirates and we had to dig ouselves out the shit hole that the refs put us in. Just for once I would like to see a decision that would go against Manure at Old trashford just once.

  212. We have to put up with that sort of thing due to the Man U bias that exists in the media. There is a big Liverpool bias too but when they meet, the Man U bias is stronger and wins. Unfortunately for us there is quite a strong anti Arsenal bias in the media. By media I pretty much mean Sky Sports but it is prevalent in other places too.

  213. It’s not exactly in the bag, but we have the title in one hand, and the bag in the other. We just have to concentrate on what we want to achieve. Our players seem to want it so badly. Just calmly put the title in the bag whilst everybody is looking and it’s ours. No-one will suspect a thing as they were all expecting and hoping Man U and Chelsea and Liverpool (HA!) to already have it in the bag by now, but they haven’t. And besides their bags have big holes in whilst our bag is a really classy leather holdall type bag with a zip and a small brass padlock to which only Cesc Fabregas has the key. He sometimes lets Arsene Wenger borrow the bag because he trusts him. We all do.

    In Arsene we trust.

  214. Brilliant Matty Boy, what a star you are.

  215. it’s a case of 2 penalties, isnt it?

    compared to vermaelen’s ‘foul’, mascherano’s looked much worse. if vermaelen was penalised, mascherano had no chance.

    except that it was outside the box. normally, you would expect the ref to give a freekick, because that was where the foul began. i saw this kind of thing happen a few times.

    but hey, it is man utd. if it was liverpool, yeah, penalty. but man utd is bigger than liverpool. so sorry, liverpoo.

    you have been living off dodgy decisions. now you are paying for it.

    does it occur to anyone else that liverpoo might really have to win the europa league, JUST to be in the europa league next season?

  216. 1 loose cannon

    Watching Barcelona I have to say they looked ordinary most of the time except one man, Messi is just pure magic very quick feet and great finisher, just scored a wonderful goal. Song you better be watching. No doubt we need to look after him Wenger does not normally man mark players but he might make an exception for this guy.

  217. My God!!! Was scouting Barca, Messi is easily the best player in the world, forget the deluded and biased English journos Hype about Rooney. Just saw him take out almost a whole team in the box. Rooney can only dream of such. We just need to be wary of him, simply cut the supplies to him. Ball retention will win us the semis place!!!

  218. If you wanted any more proof that pundits are idiots how about this from Tony Gale on Sky before the Man u v Pool game.

    “Apart from Xavi & Iniesta Fletcher & Carrick must be the best mid-fielders in Europe.

    As CB would say, you could not make it up.

  219. 1 loose cannon

    Cool steve- very clever tactics from Guardiola Messi is not in any particular position he plays across the front line he scored from the right and the left hand side it will be difficult to mark him. He is also a little diver which the penalty he won wasn’t a pen the ball sticks to his feet, amazing. On the positive side I saw see bags of space at the back it will be perfect for Walcott. Zaragoza exploited it and scored 2 goals. I noticed a certain Mr Pennant playing for Zaragoza

  220. Goddammit
    I do not want to see United win another title, i’m getting so fucking sick of it!

  221. 1 loose cannon

    Rooney and Messi? I can’t help laughing. You cannot compare a bricklayer to an Artist. If I had a rock I’ll make Rooney carry it and give it to Messi to turn it into an artwork.

  222. well dupsffokcuf,

    i sometimes wonder if i am watching the same league as the journalists, pundits etc.

    on another note, can sol play 2 games in such a short time? birmingham and then barca?

  223. 1 loose cannon

    Harsh- They haven’t won yet still lots of 90 mins to play in Fergie’s case 98 mins when his team is losing. We can still do it.

  224. We are going to play Song at CB against Birmingham. Silvestre and Song with Denilson and Diaby in front. Then against Barca we’ll have Verm and Campbell with Song and Diaby/Denilson in front.

  225. 34 goals in 27 league games for Messi now. Why do I bother watching such dribbly rubbish when I could be watching highlights of the god that is Rooney taking a pen.

    I’m hoping for a li’l bout of flu for Messi in a couple of weeks. Rijkaard just said he reckons he’s better than Maradona was.

  226. TV may have been sentoff, at least he’ll have 2 weeks rest before the climax of the season

  227. California Gooner

    Yes, Messi’s form is scary. I’m thinking something radical/crazy: have Eboue man mark him and take our chances with the rest of the crew… I’m trying to figure out who else we could play against him and nobody really comes to mind. Maybe Nasri. I don’t think Denilson is quick enough. Perhaps Clichy on speed, but he will have to stay very tight. Scary good.

  228. What a beautiful piece of writing in your comment at 1:02pm, Merlot. Your style is elegant and engaging.

    @ irishgray
    Hope you guys realise that before this season is over we will have cheered on the Spuds to 2 victories-Chavs & Manure never thought I would see that

    ha ha ha – whatever it takes, eh!

  229. California Gunner

    Man-marking Messi (“crazy/radical”) would be uncharacteristic of Arsenal. Agree that Messi is scary, but Barca is no one-man team and I doubt Wenger will do it (man-mark Messi). I’ll let Wenger plot how to shoot them down over 2 legs. Campbell will definitely be saved for next Wed against Barca. Would he even be on the bench this Saturday?

  230. Chelski had a bad day at the office. Haha. Hahaha. Hahahaha! 😀

  231. We now need Owen Coyle and Jack Wilshere to do their stuff this Saturday against Man Poo, and MON Villa to ensure that Chelsea’s bad days are in front of rather than behind them.

  232. Well said, Cesc.

    “A lot of people thought we would be in the position of Liverpool in terms of fighting for fourth spot, but I was definitely not one of those people.

    “I have always said if I don’t believe I can win something, I wouldn’t play football. I play football to win and enjoy – and that is what I am doing here.”

  233. Arshavin on Denilson:

    “Yes, he was the best in this game. Not because he scored early in the first half, but because he worked miracles in the second one. He kept on snatching the ball from West Ham players, he was everywhere, ahead of everybody like a “clockwork bunny”. Arshavin said

    “In my opinion, Denilson had a phenomenal game “

  234. illmatic

  235. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Nice one, KS. Arshavin’s face after missing that sitter at the 3 minute mark is hilarious.

  236. I take The Improbables label as a compliment. Let’s see in May. 🙂

  237. Thanks for kind words everybody. Jen and baby doing well. Maybe it’s the emotion but the West Ham game, watched at the hospital in a daze (we cheekily got a room with Sky Sports to watch the game, talk about fanatical) with a one-day old baby, him sleeping and blinking, was the best the season for me. The spirit. Denilson. I woke him up with celebratory shouts and laps around the room at the opening and closing goals. Ulp …

    What the hell happened to Liverpool? Some kind of greek tragedy in three acts.

    oh and thanks to Diouf for spitting a draw in our direction …

    Arsenal seem so determined.

  238. I always said diouf was a delightful man, charming character.

  239. KaMAN Arsenal

    Birmingham away is no easy place to go. Alex Song will hopefully be in central defence, denilson will probably join cesc and diaby in midfield, while i would prefer to have rosicky, bentdner and nasri as the front 3. We shouldnt underestimate them at home especially.

    we saw yesterday that points will be dropped where we least expect them, i think manu dropping points has to be our main concern, citeh and chelsea will HAVE to get something from them

  240. Mascherano always seem to be able to do something stupid, and the referee can always be expected to make dubious decisions in favour of Man U at OT regardless of all the noises made by Benitez to try level the playing field.

  241. News of RvP is getting louder on the airwaves. He recently appeared on Dutch TV apparently. Medically fit and kicking a ball around for the last few weeks. Training starts with the squad this week at London Colney….clickclickclick

    …..Arsenal….

  242. Zap dont be a donut all your life, Diouf is a disgrace

  243. Frank, Indeed, apparently RVP has spent the week at cheltenham in the maternity tent

  244. Male horses do not usually provide placental products in abundance.

    He was in Rotterdam last week.

  245. Its the race horses wives that provide the placenta frank, thats why Punjabi’s head wasn’t right

  246. Punjabi is a gelding

  247. He had a reversal

  248. In his latest post, Pyles wonders why his god of football is in poor form.

    “As Chelsea collapse, Arsenal keep churning out good results. But Arshavin’s form is poor. I wonder why.”

    His mistake is in taking extreme bigoted views on how good (bad) a player is.

  249. If Punjabi is a-gelding, maybe John Terry should pay him a visit.

  250. Congratulations, ZimPaul! Wonderful news.

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