Phillips Turns Screw In Title Race

Birmingham City 1 – 1 Arsenal

0 – 1 Nasri (81)
1 – 1 Phillips (90)

Had Aston Villa not capitulated at Stamford Bridge, conceding seven without showing any semblance of pride in their performance, I wonder if the reaction to this draw might be more muted. It was as if every journalists prayer had been answered. As was the case two years ago, a late Birmingham City equaliser has dented Arsenal’s title challenge. Whether ’tis but a flesh wound or a fatal blow remains to be seen. Every point is sacred [Thwack! That’s enough plagiarising Monty Python – Ed].

Samir Nasri’s goal nine minutes before time looked to have been enough to take the required three points but a freak equaliser from Kevin Phillips during time added on left Arsene showing the strain. Commenting on Mancini v Moyes – The Italian Job III – during the week, Wenger proferred the view that such emotions show managers care. A four-letter outburst is atypical of Wenger but identifies the disappointment he felt about the result as much as his opinion on the tackle inflicted. In that instance, I am not convinced that the challenge was that bad, the reaction a sign that journalists are getting on his nerves.

Too many have been quick to blame Almunia for the goal; their prejudices against the Spaniard shine through as a beacon for those unwillingly to accept it was a fluke. Perhaps the Spaniard should have done more in keeping the ball out but in attempting to get sufficient height to help the ball over the bar, he forsook distance. Those chastising him mercilessly show the fickleness of football, forgetting last week’s penalty save or saves earlier in the match when the scores were level. Such is the lot of a goalkeeper.

The outcome could have been a lot worse yet it should have been better. Birmingham struck the woodwork when Johnson’s effort looped over Almunia to the far post, Dann under pressure skied the rebound over the bar from a yard. I’m being kind to Dann; even under pressure he should have scored quite comfortably. Almunia produced a good stop from Jerome as the interval beckoned. One other save in the first half was the sum of his contribution to the afternoon before Phillips equaliser, identifying how much pressure Arsenal exerted.

Almost from the kick-off, Arsenal went at their hosts. Diaby’s effort was deflected wide by Bowyer following an incisive run by Rosicky early on. Just past the quarter hour mark, Walcott brushed aside Ridgewell only to see his effort parried by the onrushing Hart. The remainder of the half contained a lot of toil with little or no end product. Few efforts were on target; even fewer troubled either goalkeeper.

In the second half, Arsenal took charge but initially failed to put any meaningful efforts on target. Rosicky once more troubled the defence, Diaby shot straight at Hart. The introduction of Nasri and Arshavin – surprisingly leaving Fabregas on the pitch – gave more urgency. The Russian teed up his captain but once more the effort produced a comfortable save. Diaby provided a shoulder charge that Tommy Lawton would have been proud of, burying the shot but Howard Webb had already halted play, deeming Diaby’s challenge a foul.

The breakthrough came with Nasri picking the ball up on the right, cutting inside before striking low and hard into the corner of the net. It was a cracking finish, worthy of winning a match. That should have been the match sewn up; Arshavin’s finish was woeful with a clear opportunity after that and Hart made a decent save from Fabregas’ freekick. Opportunities spurned to costly effect.

Defensively, Arsenal coped comfortably with Birmingham. Sagna and Clichy got forward well although the delivery from the right was more consistent than Clichy managed. Campbell marshalled the back four well, Song provided decent cover when pace outdid his defensive partner. In midfield, Denilson went about his work quietly and became more assertive as the game went on. Fabregas, even before injury restricted him, was to some extent a peripheral figure. Perhaps if he had the choice again, Wenger would have withdrawn his captain to allow Nasri into the middle of the park at an earlier stage, or even moved Rosicky to accommodate Eboue on the flank.

There were performances which showed toil but little reward. Walcott, after initial promise, faded and was largely anonymous before being substituted whilst Bendtner simply worked hard to pressurise the home defence. He had few clear opportunities on goal, a sign perhaps that McLeish was aware that the Dane is a striker on form. He was shackled well for a lot of the time, forced out of the area to link midfield and attack, which he did effectively.

Overall, this is an opportunity lost. To take the lead late on should have been the signal to close out for a win. This was a game earmarked as tough – don’t forget Birmingham has not been beaten by any of the top six at St Andews this season. Others have tough games to come and it looks as if a draw or Chelsea win is the preferable outcome when they visit Old Trafford next weekend, since they have the harder run-in.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on March 28, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 138 Comments.

  1. As a team we just have to keep fighting. I have come many times here to say we need more experience men and we should have gone to the market during the transfer break. But saying that is the reason we drew would be narrow. The team have shown they are capable of winning it. Things like this happens and we cant but keep on fighting. Chelsea drew their game last weekend but came back emphatically. I think Arsenal can do same. We just need to keep fighting till the very end. St Andrew was always going to be a difficult game but the boys played well albeit generous in front of goal. Its not over lads and we can still win this one.

  2. Dissappointing yet Diaby had a great game. First class performance from him. But I wonder why he isn’t trying the long shots anymore. He used to be great with them. Also Cesc should share the freekicks with Denilson and Nasri. Our free kicks to predictable. Devastated but it’s not over until the fat lady sings!

  3. Spot on! Too many people castigating Almunia and failing to realise that flukes do happen… It just happened at a time not quite convenient for us… Let’s hope the lads just get their groove on afresh and go on to the next one! Barca are goin down!

  4. Eighteen more games of football will decide this season.

  5. Flint McCullough

    Good report YW.

    This would have been a good result earlier in the season.

    I could only watch it on a intermittent stream but it appeared Mr H F Webb did us no favours particularly with the bookings of Song & Clichy, whilst ignoring similar or worse challenges from Brum.

    This was the difficult game we were expecting playing against a very well organised & capable side on a difficult pitch.

    We did what champions do & got the late goal but undid it all by not taking the chances to kill the game.

    The goal was a fluke. Almunia had to make the parry at point blank range but it looks to me that the problem was there was just not enough pace on ball for it to be sent over the bar. Too much to catch but not enough for it to reach safety.

    Almunia has done well recently & the situation remains the same, if there is a significantly better & available ‘keeper out there sign him. The if is still as big though. For me there are no faultless ‘keepers in the PL, it is a very hard task with the modern ball & better attacking skills.

  6. We will win the league, just watch.

    Chelsea to draw at manu, draw and lose against liverpool and tottenham.

    ManU will draw v chelsea, lose or draw agains citeh and sunderland.

    Provided we win all our games, which is very possible, we will finish 1st

  7. basically, we need chelsea to draw twice, or lose once and draw once, whilst we need manu to do the same

  8. Yogi, thank you as always for the only balanced report of the match on the web. The finger pointing at Almunia as depressing as the result itself. Positives were an imperious performance from Diaby and another solid contribution from Song at the back – those two currently among the top players in the league for close ball control.

    A shocker from Howard Webb – totally inconsistent on yellow cards and the disallowed goal – and offsides also inconsistent as between B52 being given offside while not interfering while Benitez wasn’t flagged…..

  9. 1 loose cannon

    Zap- 6 wins and a draw is a very good run but its a shame we don’t have any spare points to cover the 2 dropped yesterday while Uinted and the chavs had those extra points. Lets hope United don’t win against Chelsea if they win then it will be really hard to see them let it slip, but we can hope. We jsut need a little bit of luck to go with our results and we might nick it. I feel we will thrash someone to sort out the goal difference, it looking like its going to come down to that in the end or possibly a point nothing more.

  10. It’s not fun to see AW upset, but I still found that press conference pretty funny.

  11. The mancs winning next weekend would be the worst thing possible for us, that is the title over with.

    If they draw, we would be 2 points off the top, or if the chavs win, we would be 3, but they have very hard games and it is tough to see them winning out.

    Still all to play for.

    On Almunia, either he needs to improve next season, or we need to find a new keeper.

    Granted his early season form and dropping were in part due to family problems, but he has consistently made errors that we cannot afford.

    He is a good goalie, but this season he has not been Arsenal good. He is average in the premier league, in a side that is otherwise superb. That is just the reality of his season.

    For those people on here who can’t accept that, I suggest you go check the stats. Look at the goals conceded, shots to saves ratio, the castrol index scores, it all shows the same thing.

  12. Congrats YW for your balance and fairness. No knee-jerking, no finger pointing. From the minute the Brum goal went in the English commentators on Fox Sports immediate reflex was to blame Almunia. Easy target. Not surprisingly, the mass of Arsenal bloggers, who claim to be immune to this sort of punditry, went into scapegoating overdrive. Proof positive of how fickle is our support. That is why I am very choosy about the blogs I post. I choose genuine supporters over fickle glory hunters. How much of us are truly prepared for the twists and turns of this run-in?

  13. Dude it was all Denilsons fault. As usual. that is what i read other places anyway. Denilson and Almunia. if we played someone els we would have won. Atleast that is what the boys at my playground say. I wish they were our managers and not aw: they are all 16 and super smart. One even plays footbal himself, he knows what he talks about…

  14. Thanks for producing a balanced report Yogi. I was unable to see the game, but I was pretty disappointed with the result. Although I would have taken that earlier in the season, right now it feels like a loss. Still, it’s not all over yet so we can only continue to hope for the best and the players have to not let it undermine all their hard work so far. The mark of champions is how they recover from setbacks and so far this season this team has done that very well.

    Is there any news on the injury to Cesc?

    OOU, what happened in the press conference? I have not seen it.

  15. The scapegoater-in-chief could not wait until he returned to Spain to post his usual diatribe yesterday. Comfortable with his mojitas he is back posting his usual drivel.

  16. WTF, deni had a good game yestreday

  17. i agree arsenehollis. We have to hope chelsea win or its a draw

  18. AW lost patience with the shit-stirring, Passenal. He was asked the same two questions over and over – “Is Cesc out for Wednesday” and “Was it a bad tackle”. I think he knew that they’d go straight to McLeish and wanted to call them out on it.

    Still, he probably shouldn’t have gone in front of the press after the way the match ended.

  19. Bradys right foot

    Anyway still gutted have that feeling in the pit of my stomach still judt can’t shake it and didn’t sleep to well last night.

    To be honest though i’ve had an absolute blast following our boys this season, i hope we can win a trophy. I genuinely think this team could go on to be one of the great Arsenal teams but they have to win something first and the sooner please god the better.

  20. 1 loose cannon

    I think people need to just grow up a bit now and lay off Almunia. it was just a freak goal could’ve gone anywhere even Philips had no idea where the ball hit him.
    I’m surprise how Diaby’s goal has been ignored I thought there was nothing wrong with the goal having looked at it again. Would Howard Web blow his wistle if it was Rooney at old Trash? I doubt it. He wouldn’t want to upset Alex Fungus.

  21. Thanks OOU.

    I know what you mean BRF – I veer between extreme disappointment (compounded by the other results), rationalisation and acceptance! But whatever happens these boys are definitely getting closer and closer to that first trophy. When you consider how far they’ve come this season without one of our best players as well as other significant injuries and without a recognised striker for a large chunk of it and it’s not over yet.

  22. Bradys right foot thanks for saying that, it makes a lot of sense. Arsenal in the mid-20th century didnt win anything, particularly 50s and 60s (apart from early 50s.)

    Yet, that era created players that would turn out to be vital for the future for arsenal football club. These trophyless years were the building blocks for success, and what is happening now is exactly the same, except on a larger scale. Hopefully this time the drought wont last as long.

  23. How the f*ck did Craig Gardner remain on the field yesterday. Apart from seriously hacking Cesc, this poor imitation of a footballer was involved in a number of heavy fouls usually wrestling players off the ball. If Song can get a card for his first offence, a foul admittedly, then how the f*ck did Gardner end up with one yellow only? If Howard Webb is England’s #1 then refereeing in England is in serious trouble. The man is either incompetent or corrupt.

  24. I think if we are honest, we didn’t deserve a win yesterday. For a great chunk of the game Birmingham out battled us and we were way under par. Misplaced passes and a lack if cohesion were blatant and cesc didn’t look on his game even before he got crocked. Plus sides were diaby who was brilliant, watching this guy play is a joy his skills are fantastic and the introduction of nasri who should be starting everygame now he us a man vang in form! It is going to be a struggle now but the fact is everyone is calling for more experience and the boys are gaining that with every high and low of this run in and they are gaining together. If it’s not to be this season there are certainly great years ahead – keep the faith!!

  25. im sorry but that was a fucking shit reaction from manuel, thats just fucking painful to watch. I feel sorry for him, but im afraid he just isnt good enough. It hurts me to say that since hes a nice guy im sure but fucking hell, for a team trying to win the EPL, its unnacceptable. For what the teams been through, what we as fans have gone through, we dont deserve to be completely let down by a rookie mistake like that.

    If we get slaughtered by barcelona, imagine how the team will feel after that.

    Well, a win over them would erase everything wouldnt it.

  26. Our attack as creative as they are just dont put enough chances into the back of the net. For chances created to one’s converted we are well off the mark.
    Also Cesc is not a good free kick or corner taker, some one else should be delivering the balls into the box.
    Almunia, well I dont really know if it was his fault but his stats are not good for a top flight keeper. I think we could do better.

  27. Yogi

    Thank you as always for the only balanced report of the match on the web. The finger pointing at Almunia was as depressing as the result itself. We should have wrapped the match up with the second goal – simple as that.

    Positives were an imperious performance form Diaby and a very solid display from Song at the back – these two surely now among the top players in the league for close ball control.

    A shocker from Howard Webb – totally inconsistent on yellow cards and the disallowed goal – and offsides also inconsistent with B52 given offside when not interfering while Benitez wasnt flagged for the goal

  28. Thanks for the link zap – some balanced comments from AA and I’m glad he’s talking about the team not losing heart as a result of this game.

  29. we will win the league.


    we will.

  30. 1 loose cannon

    Zap- I agree he could’ve done better but we can say that about Sagna’s clearance we could also point the finger at Arshavin for not putting a clear chance away so it is a bit harsh when Almunia has to take the blame its a team effort lets hope they can cheer us up on Wednesday and forget about the Brums. By the way their pitch not worthy of an allotment never mind a premier league club

    Lots of noise on Samir’s site

    Does fabregas have a website?

  31. Shotta, nice to hear from you mate, I may just send you a postcard from the Emirates on Wednesday.

    If you can’t see that the goalkeeper was at fault for the goal we conceded then I feel for you. It would explain a lot though – you have always appeared to be talking shite where football is involved. I guess that isn’t your strong point, being so new to the game, keep up the good police work on the blogs though, that is a valuable service to us all.

    There is no diatribe and no scape-goating to say that Almunia has not had a season to remember and that unless he can improve we may need to move on and look elsewhere. That is just sane and part of watching football. It is normal to rate some players, not others, or disagree with the managers decisions. If everyone thought every player was great and the boss was always perfect, there would be no conversation.

    The key fact and act of support is that come Wednesday any decent fan will sing their hearts out for the team and for Almunia. I hope he plays a stunner and all the people like me who doubted him look like fools.

    I am sure your work on the blogs will also urge the team on, in some karmic way.

    Arsenal under Wenger is the highest of levels and many good players can’t quite cut that. Cygan was a good player, had good games for us and an high-level career overall. However, he wasn’t, on balance, Arsenal quality on a consistent basis. We all knew that, we all sung for him, we all wished him well, but we found something better and we should have.

    Alternatively, denilson had a poor patch of form mid-season, but it is quite obvious that he is a quality player and an asset to the club. The boss dropped him for a while and now has eased him back in to form. That is quality management of a quality player, but it is a nonsense to argue that it never happened and he was always perfect. Similarly, Arshavin is having some struggles now, especially in front of goal, but I think he will come good, I struggle to see though that Almunia will make the step up that we need. Form is temporary, and so on, but I am not convinced Manuel is Arsenal class. Simple as that.

  32. 1lc, its coming up (fabregas’s website)

  33. Arsenhollis

    Well said.

  34. we need manu and chelsea to draw.

    manu will lose v citeh, draw v tottenham or sunderland.

    chelsea will lose to liverpool and draw to spurs. or the other way round.

    if we win all games, we’ll finish 2 points ahead of chavski, and 4 ahead of manu.

  35. no Scapegoating or whatever but a team can always improve – there is no such thing as the perfect team.
    We are only as strong as our weakest link, so to single out one player is not right but you have to be honest and sometimes ruthless but you can always make a team (perform/acheive\do) better.
    Not blaming manuel cause we had enough chances to win but that was a soft goal to concede and the mistake highlighted for me anyway an area where we can make an improvement – i hope manuel can recover from this as he has competition and if le boss feels he needs to go he wont be no. 1 as when he dropped jens for him. (may not happen till next season though)

  36. Check out Walter the referee’s view on the match yesterday and the titla race in general as influenced by referees.

  37. 1 loose cannon

    arsenehollis- i agree with most of your points but It is not necessary when people insulting him calling names over many blogs. Whether he is good enough for Arsenal or not that is up for to the manager to decide that. Wenger sees him train everyday so he must think he is good enough to do a job. Anyway a positive and constructive criticism is good but when people resort to insulting the guy then it is not right.

  38. I think ALmunia will play the rest of the games this year, baring injury or suspension and should do. Fabianski hasn’t shown that he is ready to step up yet.

    However, long term, we may need something else. Honestly, I think that Almunia’s reputation comes from the fact he plays for Arsenal, rather than having played superbly. We plucked him from a small club and gave him his chance, but just maybe this will go down as one where the boss got it slightly wrong.

    John Cross on the arsecast said that Wenger has hinted that he will reevaluate over the Summer, which apparently is a softening of position bought on by the goalies struggles this season. The manager is not stubborn, despite what some may say to try and attack him.

  39. 1LC – I don’t think I did insult Almunia, although I probably called shotta a gimp, or something like that.

    Eiither way, it doesn’t really matter how you describe it on here or any other blog. So long as he gets full support every game that is what counts.

  40. The most pathetic thing about the scapegoater-in-chief is the hypocrisy. Baiting overseas fans for living outside England….from the comfort of Spain. Superiority complex from being able to watch games at the Emirates; yet any of us who have ever watched games live know that events happen so rapidly it is better to have the benefit of TV coverage with replays from several angles to make accurate assessments.
    Give them rope they simply hang themselves.

  41. Zap your going mad bruv, relax because I have a feeling Utd and Chelsea are going to drop points when you don’t expect them to. Inshallah we keep a clean sheet at the Emirates v.s Barca ya rab!!!

  42. i dont think almunia has done badly and has had a decent career so far minus the medals. He looked good in 07 on our title charge and he’s looked decent this yr but is no van der sar, reina or cech (imo are all better keepers). I like almunia he is a good keeper but i dont personally think he is the best out there or should be our no.1. while he is i support the player but i think we\he can improve.
    He should be carefull cause wenger can be ruthless – look at senderos\Ade\Toure

  43. Paulie Walnuts

    Having only seen MOTD highlights it seems our performance related to the pitch – patchy with high points but a churned up end.

    The equaliser was a fluke & I wouldn`t blame Almunia. Maybe he could have done better but he had no time to set himself. I believe that whether he`s the long term answer will have been decided already.

    As for the tackle on Cesc , it was a sending off in my book. Gardner takes the ball with his right foot which is fine , but then follows through (& high) with his left therefore it was a dangerous , & eventually two footed tackle. It was no surprise that Webb did nothing & had yet another poor game. He just looks the part – nothing more.

    Though Arsene had every right to be highly frustrated I`d rather he sat out some press conferences these days. Maybe send Pat Rice out to state the obvious.

  44. 1 loose cannon

    arsenehollis- I did not say you insulted him. Dudek wasn’t good at liverpool but in the Final of C.L he managed to save few penalties. If Almunia puts us through to the final or win the thing on penalties then we’ll all be singing his name, he is a good shot stopper his decision making and delivery of tha ball that lets him down at times. lets hope he gives us something special to remember. Keep the faith we have nobody else in goal he is our No1 and we have to support him, that all we can do.

  45. 1LC- Yeah its true that Wenger see’s him training everyday but I doubt he think’s Almunia is top notch. He see’s him as good enough as Wenger’s hands are tied when it comes to signings especially in the GK area. Ffs this is from a manager that can’t even afford to splash the cash if he wanted to. Wenger is probably thinking we can just make do with him for now and the sad part is that Almunia has been really out of sorts earlier in the season and isn’t repaying the faith put in him. Look at utd for example, how many times have they called upon VDS to save their ass and him duly delivering. That is the difference between champions and also rans. I do understand that Wenger is on a tight budget and has surpassed expectations pulling his magic but it just pisses me off when a player fucks it all up for him, it really pains me.

  46. inshaaaaaaaaaaalah.

    0-0 would be perfect.

  47. wolves at home.

    I have a feeling next week, we could be right back in the title race. right back, riiight backkkk

  48. 1 loose cannon

    Agree geeGunner, he is our no1 We should give him full support.

  49. Almunia is so dumb im still so angry

  50. 1 loose cannon

    Romni You are angry so what? did you throw a tantrum last night? is that all you can say? you can’t even make an effort to say something useful. If you are going to be critical at least make an effort.

  51. We will win the league. How is it a ‘massive dent’ when all manu and chelsea need to do is lose once and draw once, whilst both of them have to play eachother, manu play tottenham, man city and sundeland whilst chavski have liverpool, spurs and stoke. One loss, one draw for each.

    We will win the league.

    Or at least beat Barca

  52. Call me crazy but Abu Diaby is a monster right now.
    Amazing technique and touch and now he has added aggression to his game and he is looking like one of the best midfielders in the prem.

    he looking like a cross of Viera and Zidane

    Dont want to hype him up but he plays like a poor mans Zinadine Zidane – if he countinues he may be half as good as the great man or just as good.

    like i said call me crazy!!!

  53. 1 loose cannon

    Zap- you are the ultimate optismist. I really hope we can do it.

  54. Kevin is a Philips head screw.

  55. Not going to win the title. Shit goal keeper and an inconsistent squad. We really can’t afford to be dropping points at this stage of the season.

  56. I dont think you need to be an eternal optomist, 1 loose cannon. One loss and one draw for each of the fuckers is all thats needed.

  57. Do you think theres a need for your fucking bullshit, gooner1.

  58. 1 loose cannon

    If we win this one it will taste sweeter than ever. Yes we can still do it.

  59. 1 loose cannon

    Zap- those avatars are clever they reflect the bloggers you have a slmiley face and look at Romni and Gooner1.

  60. Forget about the Brums game. We have at least 8 important games ahead, we’re still in the running for the title, although we’re no longer 2nd favourite. It is out of our hands, and we just have take each game as they come.

    Chelsea definitely are benefitting from being knocked out of the Champions League. For sure, Wenger’s team selection yesterday had one eye on the Barca game midweek.


  61. Arsenallllllllllllllllllll

  62. Luke,

    Rosicky, Walcott, Sagna, Diaby, Denilson, Cesc, Bendtner, Clichy, Song, Sol – Wengers team selection was great.

    Unless we are saying the Rosicky and Walcott are not good enough, when they are wonderful players

  63. 1LC, thats is something about the avatars, isnt it?

    I am at home smiling as I type and look at mine.

  64. Paul N

    I’m guessing that the team that will start on Wed is closer to the team that finish the Brums game than the one that started.

    I’m also guessing that Eboue may replace Sagna at right back.

    Walcott will not start against Barca because (1) he played 70 mins on Saturday, (2) he was not impressive relative to his replacement, Nasri.

    The exact line up in midfield for Wed will depend on the effect of Fabregas’ injury, physical condition of Campbell and whether Song is required at CB.

  65. Paul N, dont you agree with me that this thinking we’re out is complete nonsense. Man U and Chelsea need to DRAW ONCE LOSE ONCE AND THEY PLAY EACHOTHER NEXT WEEK FFS.


  66. Objective views of Almunia’s ‘error’ are few and far between. It’s heartening to see that some can see through the natural disappointment of the result and the consequent need to find fault with someone for it. The fluke nature of the ‘shot’ was rather like that of a slow ball in cricket. If Philips had made proper contact then the extra force generated in the attempt would have taken it over the bar. Almunia’s detractors will find it hard to accept, and they won’t of course, but many keepers would have been caught out in the same way by its freakish manner.

  67. Almunia is a dog

  68. Dunno amos it looked like he flapped at it to be honest but whatever it’s still a point, were still in it but as usual we make it really difficult for ourselves.

    GeeGunner- Your not mad my friend, Abou is a straight up ‘cut your face with a razor in an alleyway’ type gangster at the moment. He’s really pulling his weight at the right time!!! Him and Song are just monsters!!!

  69. Seriously Gooner1, get over yourself, 6 wins and a draw on the trot is hardly inconsistent. Get some fucking perspective will ya.

  70. Zap you know I am with you 100%

    Luke, I agree there will be changes agaisnt Barca, I dont think Eboue will start ahead of Sagna as Sagna offers more defensively.

    The team yesterday was good enough though.
    The team on a whole tool a while to get into the match. It would be almost impossible not to have an eye on Barca.

  71. flying dutchman

    The league title is still very possible.

    Next week a draw at OT will mean we’re back to the situation pre-Birmingham. The late equalizer conceded may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I seriously believe that Arsenal can only nick the title at the last opportunity, which will be 2 or 3 games from the end. Any time sooner and the danger of crumbling under pressure is just too great for our squad that has no experience of winning things yet.

    Many posters have already pointed out games where our rivals may drop points. I am convinced that the ManC-ManU and Pool-Chav games will decide the race in our favour.

    Keep believing. This is the year.

  72. thanks flying dutchmen and Paul N

    speaking of flying dutchmen, are we gonna have one back for the end of the season against man city blackburn and fulham? i think so.,

  73. The league is still very much on, but next week needs to go for us – no manure victory.

    At present, our goal difference is a weak spot also, but that can change quickly.

  74. I think someone who deserves a critical look in the squad is doomer and gloomer untouchable andrei arshavin.

    Over the past 5/6 matches He has consistently missed simple finishes, been overly casual with the ball making poor passes and losing possession, and been generally sloppy. His “finishing” yesterday case in point. He’s just too casual in a lot of circumstances and I often find myself most frustrated with him out of the whole squad. Has anyone else noticed this?? Would love some other insight on this.. I believe he is exceptionally talented, but perplexed by his consistent lack of professionalism.

  75. Shotta – Maybe I should cut you some slack, I thought you knew what was going on, but the more you write the clearer it is that you are just a fool who can’t follow the thread. Like your mates on here, you just make up your own to argue against.

    I am not baiting you for living outside England, I do so and I think it was good decision. (It makes that attempt to get under my skin with mojito jibes extremely weak.)

    I give you stick because you write things like you did yesterday about proper support and anti-support, yet you have never been to a game to offer ‘proper’ support. You think that happens on a blog, but that is just guff to make you feel involved. I am sure that if you typed “10 inches” there would be a few of the usual goons who would swear blind they had seen your cock, but it just isn’t the case. (Nasir might offer to swallow it to, but that’s between you.)

    So there is no hypocrisy in what I am saying. If anything, being on the wrong end of that assessment, I am better placed to make it as I have no experienced both sides. Supporters sing for their team, they follow them, you are a just an observer, or a well-wisher, no matter how hard you argue on here. At least I am honest enough to say it, even though doesn’t reflect well on me it is the truth.

  76. geeGunner:

    “Call me crazy but Abu Diaby is a monster right now.
    Amazing technique and touch and now he has added aggression to his game and he is looking like one of the best midfielders in the prem.

    he looking like a cross of Viera and Zidane

    Dont want to hype him up but he plays like a poor mans Zinadine Zidane – if he countinues he may be half as good as the great man or just as good.

    like i said call me crazy!!!”

    If you’ve seen any film of Ruud Gullit playing in Holland for Haarlem, PSV or Feyenoord you’d see something more akin to what we have in our young Abou Diaby.

  77. NJGooner – he hasn’t played well, Porto aside, but maybe that goes for the team performance as a whole?

    It is probably not a deliberate thing, just poor form.

    If you look back at Hull, Burnley, Stoke, West Ham we ground out results, but never sparkled. We missed chances that nearly cost us in the first 3 as well, so this was hardly a bolt from the blue.

  78. NJG, i completely agree with what you said. A.A has been pissing me off how hes loved so dearly by all fans, probably more than his own wife, and none of them notice how many mistakes he’s been making. Instead, Denilson and Almunia get blame and all the hate, whilst he should have fucking put the game to bed with the fucking easy chance he got yesterday.

  79. Personally, I think that Eboue would’ve been the key to open up Birmingham. But having Song and Sol at the back it’s totally understandable why Arsene would prefer Sagna.

  80. I think its fairly obvious that Arshavin thinks he’s too good for this squad. His comments however misconstrued by the media gives us a hint of his mentality. He is special no doubt but he needs to start leading by example.

  81. A very well balanced analysis Yogi. Almunia may yet surprise us. The guy made an instinctive save from point blank range after Sagnas last ditch interception ricotched of Phillip but could not get enough elevation on the ball to palm it over the bar. If Almunia is crap why was the ball allowed to travel that far before any Arsenal players intervention?where were the ref and the linesman all game, why were we not able to put all our chances to bury the game away. The answer is simple. Shit happens. Bring on Barca.

  82. Zap that is more or less why I decided to say something.

    Hollis I’m not surprised by your stance. But I’m not talkin about team performance, an whether or not we got our champagne football flowing on the day.. I’m talking about sticking in the ball in the back of the net when the sitters drop to your feet. I’ve been waiting to bring this up too make sure there were enough examples of what I’m talking about. And I’m not talking about like barely missing, just off target efforts. I’m talking about the ones where he muffs, skies over, fails to execute simple passes. I theorize that’s it’s his Russian attitude that makes him complacent, unprofessional, and so damn casual!!!! That’s what it is.. He’s just too casual

  83. I agree it was fucking shit play from the whole team. Like G4E says, Shit happens.

    Now lets win the league.


    Thats fairly interesting, proving that spain is actually a shit league

  85. Financials aside for a second –

    I’d rather watch a random La Liga match than risk having to put up with any of Stoke, Blackburn, Birmingham, Hull, Chelsea, Villa, Liverpool…

    However gross the league’s imbalance, at least you can usually expect a decent game, with a high skill level and played in the right spirit.

    Intensity is something these sides are missing. And that’s partly where we can capitalise on Wednesday. Barcelona won’t be accustomed to our tempo, and we need to make that count.

    On that note – Madrid Derby tonight. Reyes has been in cracking form lately.

  86. Whoops, paragraph order went a bit awry.


    i dont think it can be a coincidence when fuckerson writes of our chances the same day howard dweeb puts in a performance like that…

  88. I think we need real madrid to win tonight, anything that gives barcelona more confidence is not a good thing

  89. I hate the Anti Arsenal crap that is spewed from so many tv idiots. Here in the US the clowns on fox say we are not mentally strong enough after a draw at Birminghan a place where the have lost once!!!!
    After being counted out all season, losing to United and Chelsea and keep claimg back these folk say we are not mentally strong!!!

    6 games won and one draw!!!!

    My blood is boiling, we just have to win the PL and CL!!!

    Come on Arsenal!!!



    Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenall, Arsenal Arsenal, Arsenaaaa-aaaal Arsenal, Arsenal, ArseNAL….Arsenal……ARSENAL

  91. The Guardian says Iniesta is out for Weds.

    Hopefully the referee against Barca will be know the rules of Association Football, like the ref against Porto in the 2nd leg. Although, he could turn out like the Comedian/1st leg referee. That’d be a shame for people who like to watch football.

    Barca haven’t got the most virtuous history in the game, some comedy capers in Uzbekistan lately…of all places.
    But if anything can remove the aftertaste of an eight legged referee, (I think the ball bobbled for AA on that last oppertunity, for me it’s not a case of ‘not taking chances’) then it’s an Arsenal vs. Barcelona tie.

  92. “clawing” back

  93. That link to the article about La Liga was really interesting zap.

  94. Paulie Walnuts

    I agree with One Of Us about the watchability of La Liga. Teams don`t appear to be as functional & generally have at least a couple of flair players who would be considered a luxery by the Fat Sam`s of this world.

    Any game not involving the top half dozen or so in the EPL is pretty painful to watch despite the `what a great game this is / was` from Sky & the way they mike up the crowd is ridiculous.


  96. Paul N – I just watched the jokers from FSC as well. There punditry, especially that of Warren Barton, is among the worse on both sides of the pond.
    Earlier they claimed Aston Villa haven’t spent a lot of money as part of their excuses for Martin O’Neil. If they did a random Google search it would reveal that up to 2008 owner, Randy Lerner, has put almost £140m into the club since his 2006 takeover. The most recent published figures, for the previous year, to 31 May 2008, reveal that the investment up to then, £49.5m, was in the form of loan notes, from Lerner’s holding company in the United States which the club is repaying at 2% above the London inter-bank rate. Long-ball O’Neil, despite this investment, will once again fail to claim 4th place.

    Barton’s immaculate wisdom led him to reaffirm his long-held opinion that Arsenal had neither the physical or mental strength to win the title. This was despite his co-hosts attempt to tone down his bellicose ignorance. What a tool!

  97. “Teams don`t appear to be as functional & generally have at least a couple of flair players who would be considered a luxery by the Fat Sam`s of this world.”

    That’s it. A good example is Pires still getting game time at Villareal. It’s fun watching the way he ambles around the pitch these days, but he still makes things happen.

    Sp what would the equivalent of Villareal – Sevilla be? Blackburn – Liverpool?

    No contest which match I’d rather watch.

    Speak of the devil – Bobby just scored!

  98. Even if we don’t win the title the midfield trident of Diaby, Song and Cesc will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming seasons. Warren Barton is an absolute cock who is only there because he has an English accent.

  99. Correction: “Their punditry” according to my English teacher.

    PS: If enough Gooners in North America and the Caribbean protest Warren Barton’s ignorance, he may soon get the sack. It is noticeable that Murdoch’s North American operations have been gradually promoting US presenters of their football shows. Regrettably, their insights are no better than Warren Barton’s.

  100. its one nil to athletico

  101. flying dutchman

    Guess who scored… one J.A.Reyes

  102. I’m glad for him. I know he did not have the most glorious career with Arsenal, but I think he was just a simple soul at heart and could not handle life in the big leagues. I actually felt sorry for him when the crowd at the Emirates cup booed him. It seemed a bit churlish to me.

  103. yeah it upset me aswell, passenal. But he did get a nice reception from most people there.

  104. I wont forget the two scond half goals he scored against Chelsea in the cup .
    on his home debut.

    Jose Antonio, Jose Antonio…..

  105. If Manu and chelsea draw it will be absolutely perfect for us, as we could then end up 2 off manu and 1 off chelsea, with manu still to play the likes of blackburn, tottenham, man city and sunderland, whilst chabski have tough visits to liverpool and tottenham

  106. Sometimes things just don’t work out, but he did leave some good memories for me. I’m not one for booing, but I can think of many more deserving than him.

  107. zap, I wouldn’t be holding out too much hope on others dropping points, if it happens great, but if we get too hung up on it we’ll only be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. Liverpool with the help of the referee already let us down and SAF will be calling in all the favours he can muster as well as Abramovich’s billions feathering a few nests, we’ll have our work cut out. Whatever happens as long as our players do their utmost and try to win all the games, we can only support them and hope for the best.

  108. Most reasonable post i’ve read in a while Passenal. Thank you.

  109. Paulie Walnuts

    One Of Us @ 6.48

    Yes, just seen RP7 amble through to slot in for Villareal. What class. That bloke even fell over with style

  110. that was a good madrid derby…

  111. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Interesting read over at Untold Arsenal. My girl’s uncle has told me many a story about the treatment Arsenal have received from the refs over the years. The frequency of such treatment in close situations surely can’t be a coincidence. It’s sickening watching ManUre get break after break while we get dodgy calls against us seemingly every game.

  112. It’s heart breaking Nasir, we have to be twice as good and so far ahead that close calls don’t really matter otherwise we are open to being undermined by dodgy decisions. I just watched an edited version of AW’s press conference on ATVO. He was so angry, I really felt for him, but unlike that coward SAF, he never hides. he will go out there and face them despite knowing exactly what their agenda is.

  113. Ok guys, let’s stop blaming referees. It’s not good for our health.

    We still have a decent chance of winning it. Fret not.

  114. i feel for nasri, but we can still win everything, be positive!!!

    transfer season all i wish for is a new keeper
    Mourane chamack- free
    Subotic- returns after loan(free)
    Goal keeper needed and we can win the premier league twice in a row given that we win this season

  115. Well must apologize for slamming Big Al for that mistake, after all he did save that PK last week. Besides it was offside to begin with. Fact is we have to be more ruthless in front of goal. Look at the Chavs!! 7-1 at Villa for Chrissakes!! As mad as I was at Almunia, I can guarantee you he would have agreed with my anger(rightly so) but it passes. But what the fuck can be Arshavin’s excuse? Tired? Lazy? Moody? He really is an exceptional talent but so what? If you are not willing to try for 90 minutes then go back to Zenit!! Did anyone else catch the cross-goal ball in the WHU game that, when he realized he had not made the run and instead had stopped short, he then threw himself on the ground as if he had even been close!! And then he lay there with his hands on his head, all very dramatic and the crowd oohed and groaned appreciatively. Thank God for instant replay as the ball was past him when he threw himself down, but it must have looked good from the bench as they thought it was much closer than it was.

  116. We have been desperately short of luck, which is one essential ingredient – often overlooked. I look at B’ham simply as the latests point of departure, not ‘the end of’. Big Al did have a nervous game before the goal, but it was a freak goal.

    We didn’t, as we normally do, dominate midfield. The pitch, yes, but even then it was not a game where we had necessary composure.

    It’s a sign of how far we have come that a draw in the toughest of away fixtures, with a freak goal, and terrible refereeing is seen as a poor result.

    It is a disappointment and doesn’t change a thing. Our disadvantage is slightly bigger. We are still right in the race and the CL. We are not out. We have not lost. We are playing at a very high level. We are the Arsenal. Every time we have had a setback we have come back from adversity, and so we shall again. The tipping point is coming.

  117. Thank you consolsbob@ 12:54 and thank you Untold Arsenal for the story in general.

    All I will add to this is that karma is a b*tch.

  118. The title passed through Almunia’s hands on Saturday. He was nervous all night. Is it not time to look for a new number 1 GK as this one is too weak in the crucial games?

    I vote for Szczesny as the number 1 next season. Nobody should use his age to discount the potential of this young GK. Buffon, Cassillas and Cech were all playing regularly at a very young age. Cassilas was keeping the posts for Real at 19.

    Almunia, Fabianski, Mannone are all accidents waiting to happen. Almunia’s great one happened last Saturday.

    Arsene is too good and often allows average players too many opportunities that eventually harm us. Senderos and now Almunia.

    If only Arsene had taken Jen’s advice.

  119. Zimpaul, despite their best efforts unfortunately I think the Barca game was inhibiting them when really they should have been playing for their places in that team.

  120. agreed Passenal. Big game like that is very hard to ignore, esp since Fab being linked to them every other week.

  121. Harry's got a twitch

    Not one of our three keepers are any good and that is why we will fail to win the the title.A quality keeper is worth 10-12 pts a season.Almunia has lost us that many

    Oh for the for the days of a Seaman or Lehmann

  122. Almunia's Coach

    A Centre forward who doesnt have a shot at goal all game

    a winger(Walcott) who cant beat his man

    A keeper who has chocolate hands

    If only we had spent some money we would have pissed the league.Both Man Utd and Chelski have been well below par this season and the title was there for the winning.

  123. Let’s not forget one thing. Half the people bitching that we’ve lost our chance to finish first are the same ones saying the squad wasn’t strong enough to get into Europe.

    Let’s get some perspective please. We’ve reached the last 8 in Europe (again) and have come back to battle for the title with the two teams who have dominated in recent seasons.

    Even if we go out to Barcelona and finish 3rd, this has still been a season of great improvement, a season of success.

  124. Exactly LAG. I’ve been nervous to make that point while we’ve still got so much to fight for, but what you say is definitely true.

  125. Yes, Passenal it would have been the Barca game as the psychological pressure-cooker. The team looked nervous and fluffed their lines a few times.

    I do think the team will re-assert their authority, they’re too good not to. They will be more critical of themselves than anybody outside.

    The usual mickey-mouse posters seem to be slithering about again.

  126. Almunia's Coach

    Almunia went back to the dressing room on saturday he sat down and put his head in his hands……………………………………..and it slipped through!!!!!!!!

  127. “If only we had spent some money we would have pissed the league.Both Man Utd and Chelski have been well below par this season and the title was there for the winning.”

    Yawn. It doesn’t take you people long does it. I’ve avoided reading the comments so far…I knew what would be crawling out of the woodwork. Doing a very quick crawl of the blogs and press I’ve even some some commenters (morons) calling for Arsene’s head again. For f***s sake. Spending money does not mean we would have “pissed” the league (I presume you mean win it).
    Man.. I can’t even be bothered to argue with you. It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.

    We still have a good chance. Even if we don’t reach the summit this year…I’m proud of what Arsenal has achieved in the face of adversity. The continued improvement in the squad is massive and there for anyone with eyes to see.


  128. The people of Birmingham don’t like change. Time moves at a snail’s pace there and civilization is yet to fully take hold.

    Look out for Liam Ridgewell’s Great Granny in this interesting profile of ‘Typical Brummies’.

    The fellow at page top-left is the chief groundsman at St Andrews – to this day.

  129. So the Daily Mail has run out of modern day chavs for its readers to gawk at.

    Oh, and what ever happened to the good old days?

  130. It was linked somewhere else, OOU. Honestly!

    And you must remember that ‘modern day’ folk from Birmingham are not as far removed from their ancestors as you might imagine. I hesitate to use the word ‘inbreeding’, but… well, that’s what goes on there.

  131. concerning the EPL,spuds kicked chevski out of the race last season rather too early,so i still think thats the away match to win @ which eva cost if we a to caress the trophy!!still a gooooooooner…

  132. …there is a new slogan in town that arsenal are the “flat track bullies”f@# off all haters

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