Braga Preview: Young And Proud – The Fightback Starts Now

Arsenal relieve the domestic pressure with a trip to Braga for this evening’s Champions League encounter. Having lost in Donetsk, a win is vital this evening in the pursuit of top place in the group and, relatively speaking, an easier encounter in the first knockout phase.

History is against the squad; No Arsenal side has won in this part of the Iberian peninsula, draws in Lisbon against Sporting and Benfica, kept company by a point in Oporto in 2006. Curiously enough, Arsenal’s only goalscorers in Portugal have been Kevin and Sol Campbell, both in the 18th minute of their respective games. Braga meanwhile have lost three times against English sides on their own turf – Tottenham twice and West Bromwich Albion in 1978. We know how they feel.

Arsene has made three changes to the squad, Gael Clichy’s back injury is to be rested whilst Robin van Persie is not making the trip to ensure that his fitness is worked on rather than his MarioKart tally whilst sitting on the bench wondering if he will get some match time. Andrey Arshavin is just being rested full stop, recent exertions apparently warranting this. With Cesc facing a fitness test, rumours have surfaced that Marouane Chamakh will be on the bench, the starting line-up will have a Carling Cup feel about it. Given their impressive results, perhaps that is no bad thing.

Arsene has pondered whether or not there will have been a negative psychological impact following on the from the Tottenham debacle. I hope there has for from the hurt must rise a positive response. With the visit to Villa Park at the weekend proving to be a tough test in the past, a good performance and win tonight is essential to restore confidence and battered pride.

Losing in Donetsk was not particularly surprising since Arsenal has never travelled to the far eastern reaches of Europe and played well. It was however the exception with four wins out of five on their travels recently. This time though Braga are not a particularly strong side in the league this season, perhaps some sort of hangover from their Champions League exertions.

With the Champions League record of scoring 20 goals in the group phase firmly in their sights, Arsenal must however be wary that Braga have lost only twice in all competitions in the Estadio Municipal de Braga with Beira-Mar and Shaktar the only teams to take anything from their visits. Indeed, Shaktar’s treble is so far the only time in European competition that they have been breached defensively at home with Celtic, Partizan and Sevilla unable to do so.

The team I would expect Wenger to put out tonight is:

Fabianski; Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Gibbs; Rosicky, Song, Denilson; Walcott, Bendtner, Nasri

Apparently, succession planning is the vogue at the moment, a rather pointless exercise since the manager is not likely to being going anywhere in the next few seasons. It is incredible to believe that in the past few days, he has become a pariah having been praised as recently as well, the victory over Everton. The Now-Generation certainly has embraced Viv Nicholson’s ethos for success. Wenger is not above criticism, neither should he be but the whole “who should replace him” argument is rather pointless as it presumes a vacancy arising.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.

Posted on November 23, 2010, in Arsenal and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 278 Comments.

  1. I was just thinking about this, we lost 5 games in the first 14 last year and were branded failures and had to ‘salvage’ our season to achieve 4th.
    This season we have lost 4 in 14, and we are two points off the table leaders, and have had a couple of chances to go to the top of the table.

    This season is going to be a lot closer than anyone imagined.

  2. Who’s doing the succession planning, YW? I’ve been on media lockdown.

  3. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Song and Squillaci rested too, maybe even Sagna. Played a lot of games recently. And please can we switch Rosicky and Nasri around this time. Nasri in the middle and Rosicky on the left is more productive.

    4:2:3:1 – Fabianski; Eboue, Koscielny, Djourou, Gibbs; Wilshere, Denilson; Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky; Bendtner

  4. Last time we started this shitty we made it to the UCL and FA Cup semis. However, Fabs was injured and we played defensively the whole season.

  5. If we played in a quarry I could not resist the urge to sneak in and carve representations of my favourite managers and players in it…and maybe an enormous cock and balls above the away fans corner.

  6. …or perhaps a very large arse from which foul smelling effluent could be squirted at strategic moments.

  7. Frank is back!

    And on that note, let’s go kick arse.

    I think Nasri may be on the bench this game. He’s played a lot recently & I’d like him relatively fresh for Bobby’s Villa.

    I hope we get Tottenham in the Champions’ League. I’m certain we’d feel sufficiently aggreived to give them a proper hiding.

  8. @Ole it might be a reference to old Pyles who wants Owen Coyle.

  9. wengerball,

    I’d vote for Pyles himself. How about that?

  10. YW,
    I wholly agree with your views on the recent (knee-jerk) succession planning. I’ve also been on media lock-down since the trauma of the weekend. However, the reasoned commentary here and the loyalty that is consistently shown by the most intelligent contributors makes my return a far better experience that it might otherwise have been.

    I am still optimistic but my son tells me that’s due to my age and stubborness. Maybe so, but I really do believe that this will be a successful season. a similar spark of belief and pig-headedness just needs to take hold of the squad and that might mean we dig out some ugly victories until winning becomes the norm and then the beauty of our game can come to the fore.

    I do believe

    Thanks all

  11. Hear, hear, Muppet!

    Well said that man.

  12. Good preview YW

    I am not as pessismistic as most about our chances of winning something this season but not because we are consistent or we have learnt past lessons. Strictltly our competition has been equally poor when compared to our perfromances. Frankly I am at lost to explain why despite numerous lessons sui

  13. Benik’s doing really well up at Huddersfield. He was rested midweek but had got off to a flyer previously…

    Also Vito Mannone seems to be saving Hull’s hide. Can’t fathom why though…

  14. sorry sent too early. despite numerous lessons suffered our young side appears old unable to grasp the simplest of football lessons collectively and individually. There was no leadership , old head so to speak to keep every one on an even keel. Cesc leadership is patently insufficient and the effects shows tahty we lose it when we are down and we do not have the ability to recover from sets backs.
    We a 30 something captain who is a good leader to keep the team together.

    So far Gallas and Cesc has been found wanting.

    No Fear We Are The Arsenal!!

  15. typical for that c*nt gallas to play well against us and shit vs every other fucker. just shows his mentality doesnt it.

  16. Well, that skyer against Rotherham should have been put away.

    Not Arsenal quality Limpar.

  17. Well, when your captaincy style involves lots of running around, and every time you run around your hamstring fills up like an artesian well, you might be forgiven for losing some of your effectiveness, Malaysiangunner.

  18. bob i suggest pro plustblets for wednesday!!!!!!works better then coffee.

  19. sorry thats pro plus tablets.

  20. Yup, should’ve done better with that one, Consols. Cut our losses now I reckon. Use the proceeds to buy some 30 year olds to captain us.

    Oh ffs, someone just outed me to a Tottenham supporting delivery boy. Brilliant… just what I need.

  21. yep limpar he is never gunner keep that secret is he!!!

  22. Am getting tired of this word “keep the faith” till when Mr Wenger?

  23. emeka…

    when when things work out!

    What exactly are u expecting to hear and how long are you expecting to keep the faith yourself? you have a time time for keeping the faith?

  24. Jack Wilshere just posted this on twitter from Portugal: “would just like to say all the players are hurting just as bad as you loyal supporters are, we cannot wait to put it right!”

    I hope they do.

  25. What do you propose, Mr Emeka Igbanda?

  26. I haven’t touched Pro Plus since my A level days Duke. Cider does the job now.

    Tonight’s their chance Verminator. I cannot wait.

  27. emeka, u be naija?
    no dey fall my hand o!

  28. Almunia and Aaron Ramsey start for the reserves!

  29. Great news Ole!

  30. gallas just wrote this on twatter…”thats me done” showd them goons what they missed. that;ll do me”.cant wait for summer holidays.

  31. AW on how to address the problem of throwing away leads: “[To do that] we should mainly focus on the technical side of our play and not on the expected result.
    “The result is a consequence of your focus on what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it.
    “If you look too much at the result, of course, you become tense. You have to release the tension and you do it by focusing as much on the technical side.
    “It’s a bit like a Formula One driver. When he goes into the curve and thinks I want to cross the line at the end he goes into the wall but if he focuses on how he wants to take his curve he has a chance to get out of it.

    “It’s a bit the same in our game.”

    Considering that we’re dealing with already technically gifted players, shouldn’t AW perhaps be focusing more on teaching the players tactics that help achieve “expected results”?

    Soldiers, for instance, are drilled to be able to act in certain ways almost without thinking even when under pressure. Should we perhaps adopt a bit of that approach, so that in tense situations where we are trying to defend a lead for instance, there’s less risk of making pressure induced mistakes?

    Or is there a risk that the “technical side of their play” can be hampered by them focusing on tactics once in a while?

  32. Team Spirit,
    Na lie! You be naija too?

  33. I fancy us more away from home, and I think everyone included our manager does. It is a massive problem like Wenger said, and a combination of complacency and fear of losing is a mental barrier which we must overcome. 3 home defeats is unnacceptable over a whole season, never mind at this stage of the season.

    When we are away from home teams have a go against us. We have less pressure to retain the ball and break teams down, and we just go out and attack whenever we can, usually on the break. It is a completely different mindset, and the Emirates isn’t no where near the fortress which players feel intimidated by coming too.

    I love our style, our players, our manager.. but we need to seriously install some confidence and composure at the Emirates, get the fans abusing the opposition, and not wait for us to be a few goals up before any real atmosphere gets going. If we can’t do that, then we must look at the tactics at home.

  34. Chris,
    The weird thing is that the emirates was a fortress last season. We only lost to the big sides and even then it was mostly because we usually had key players out. So I don’t really agree that our poor form at home this season has much to do with the atmosphere.

    I also don’t know that our overall tactics have changed since last season. It has to be a question of luck, confidence and errr… dunno what else really.

  35. poor defending is what your looking for, cut out the schoolboy errors and we wont be losing these games.

  36. LA, you were interested in how the Colorado Rapids play. See 7amkickoff’s post from yesterday on the MLS cup.

    To your lineup, I’d rest Squillaci and play Djourou who has been pretty steady. Midfield looks great–Denilson is made for a possession game away in Europe, Wilshere needs to be there when Cesc is away. One issue is whether to rest Song who has played a lot and move Nasri centrally to make space for Theo. Nasri has been better recently playing on the left though, so perhaps Rosicky to come off the bench?

    Even resting/dropping Arshavin, RvP, Cesc, and Clichy and we have real selection issues to consider–that’s good depth that should still serve us very well in the league in the latter stages. Time for our creative midfielders to show that we can be effective when Cesc is out. We need him to be fit for ManU away.

  37. Henristic

    I reckon its a combination of luck, tactics, and our opponents having more fire power – not just Spurs.

    We have under-estimated teams slightly, like Newcastle, West Brom, and now Spurs. While at the same time we have this incapacity to kill teams off and hold out instead of having half an eye on going forward, and half an eye on conceding.

    It is a problem, but one that can be corrected. There is no excuses of experience no more, and there is no excuses of talent. We have all the ingredients, we just need to add that ruthlessnessnessness…! 2-0 up against our local rivals, we shouldn’t be getting caught on the break after embarassing them in the first half. Why give them any belief they can get anything out of the game?

    We need to stop giving teams any glimmer of hope. I feel we gave it to Everton as well despite a good 2-1 away victory. We should have put that game to bed too.

    The majority of teams in the Premiership are of a higher quality than 5 years ago, there is no easy game no more – this also plays a part, and the inconsistency or inability of the top 3 or 4 to break away shows.

    Syaing that, if we overcome these little problems that are holding us back from leading the pack. We will walk the league. I believe we will overcome them. This team has developed so much over the last season, its that last stride we need to take to glory.

  38. Devil's Advocate

    Ok ok that’s all great, but Aaron Ramsey back in action, Reserves team, against Wolves, and he’s doing good, our boy is!

  39. Did anyone notice RvP seemed to have silvery sideburns? Was that a trick of the light or is he starting to gray? I don’t know why I didn’t notice it the previous game when he came on.

  40. Gunner From Nigeria

    I have been taken aback by the reaction of some certain session of the support since Saturday. Its pains when things went the way they did. I was almost in tears and was depressed until Sunday morning. Most Nigerians were in tears on Saturday but, the strong words used in the last 72hours by some have been alarming.
    On a wider perspective, weeping may endure for a night but, joy comes in the morning. Arsenal’s morning of joy would come.

  41. Why do we never learn? Why do we keep making the same mistakes time and time again? Why do we have to listen to AW keep saying that we lost concentration or focus or that we were complacent? How can players be complacent in a North London Derby? Why is AW unable to change this sorry state of affairs. He assembled this “best ever” squad and it down to him to put it right. This team lacks something psychologically – the winning mentality and the ability to concentrate 100% for 90+ minutes.

    Defensively this is the worst Arsenal team since GG took over in 1986. They make basic mistakes every game and concede soft goals, especially from set-pieces. AW seems incapable of changing this as we have had these problems for years now. Defoe winning knockdowns is a joke, he’s a dwarf.

    Its a miracle that we are only 2 points off the top but we could be well clear now. We are the architects of our own downfall.

  42. Where’s that list… and a pen…

  43. Chris,
    But are the bottom 16 teams really that much better, or have the usual top 4 teams just got weaker? I think its a little bit of both, but with more emphasis on the later. Manu, Chelsea and Pool are definitely all weaker whereas only Spurs and Man City have grown obviously stronger.
    This was supposed to actually be perfect for us, because our squad has grown stronger in that time too, but we’ve been so far unable to take advantage, which is why most will agree that we are underperforming.

    The good thing like you say is that it’s not an insurmountable problem we have. So we’re still best placed to win the league, albeit from a talent and resources point of view.

  44. Yogi:

    I doubt that any realistic fans are making succession plans. Perhaps that was overstated on purpose to make a point. Supporter schizophrenia is not difficult to understand when it matches very well with the way the team has played this year. I know its cliche but they say its always darkest before the dawn. Last weekend was the darkest its been in a long time. Perhaps the sun will start to rise today and at Villa Park and if we can somehow avoid the eclipses this can still be a great year.

  45. Aren’t you the drama queen, AIC. I think it’s time to stop moaning and GET OVER IT, because we have Braga today, and Villa this weekend.

  46. AIC – Maybe you have some credentials in successfully coaching gifted footballers; transforming them from talented individuals to seasoned, consistent hard-core professionals. Or maybe you have some magic potion. If either, go volunteer at London Colney.

  47. Hi AIC,

    This is courtesy of “Winstons Myth” on Goonerholic:

    “Secondly, and this may seem a little off topic but I am afraid that I have heard so many “fans” banging on about how Arsene Wenger has never built a decent defence and, even more incredibly, he only ever won trophies because he inherited George Graham’s defence…


    To put the record straight once and for all…

    Wenger inherited a bunch of lazy offside trap loving drunks and good time boys who, realistically, were all dangerously close to being past their prime. Remember how we were playing under Graham/Houston with that very defence in 1995? Finished 12th that year if I remember rightly and were not exactly in good shape when he left in February either before we all try to blame it on Houston!

    So, after salvaging the careers of a few players, bringing in the likes of Henry, Petit, Ljunberg, Campbell, Lauren, Toure, Vieira, Pires and promoting that ungrateful little cunt Cole to the first team (who he signed from school too, so no claims of inheriting him either!), we went on to achieve the incredible “Invincible” season. Let’s not forget that we also went on a 49 game unbeaten run which would surely have lasted longer but for a decent bit of refereeing against a United side that simply kicked the living fuck out of us for 90 minutes and hardly gave away a free kick!

    Now, the magical defence that he inherited…

    These are the leaving/retirement dates of the “Famous 6″:

    Adams – 2002
    Dixon – 2002
    Winterburn – 2000
    Bould – 1999
    Keown – 2004 (played in only 10 games in the “Invincible” season, many as a substitute)
    Seaman – 2003

    FACT: Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure and Cole made up the Arsenal defence for almost the entire Invincible season.

    FACT: The starting XI for that season included only Bergkamp who was even at the club when Wenger took over.

    FACT: We conceded 26 goals throughout the entire season. (Bobby scored 19 and Thierry scored 39, but if that does not put it into perspective for you, Edu and Freddy got 26 between them alone!)

    FACT: The wonderful defence that Wenger inherited conceded the following number of goals in the 10 years prior to The Invicibles of 2003-4…

    From 2002-3 backwards…

    42, 36, 38, 43, 17, 33, 32, 32, 49 (!) and 28.

    Just in case you were wondering, the year we conceded only 17 goals we finished 2nd, one point behind the United scum and the year we conceded 49 goals was with the Famous 5 intact and playing under George Graham for 7 of 10 months.”

  48. @ Henristic
    naija true and true na
    Notin dey happen!

  49. The league is definitely stronger. There are now more teams that can beat any other team. It used to be Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool & Man Utd. You now have to add Sunderland, Man City, Aston Villa, Everton & Spurs to that list. Then you have the teams that every now and then will beat the top teams like Newcastle, Stoke and Blackpool. I do include Blackpool because they really set out to win every game & can spank better teams on those teams’ off days.

  50. Sunderland v Everton last night was a classic. Two teams desperate to get the three points and fighting it out with positive attacking football. It was physical, it was direct atimes, but there was also technique, pace and determination on show.

    That’s what the Premier League was before lowlier teams bought into the nonsense idea that if you’re not Man Utd or Arsenal or Liverpool you shouldn’t try to win matches. You only have to stifle the opposition and/or kick them.

    The league is back to being flatter. There are now some quality players playing even for lowly teams.

  51. Muppet,


  52. Devil's Advocate


    Thanks for that, enlightening. No, not in the least sarcastic, I mean it.

    Also, does nobody care that Ramsey finally played 45 minutes, though with the reserves, and did well and is fine?

  53. Muppet,

    Great post – I have read it before myself but you misunderstand me. I did not say that AW has never built a defence or that he was just lucky with what he inherited. Maybe this isn’t the very worst team defensively since 1986 but its close.

  54. I think that’s absolutely great news Devil’s Advocate. Ramsey is a class player, one that we need, along with VP and Vermaelen to cement our title charge.

    This is going to be a very exciting season indeed.

  55. @ Muppet, well done for unearthing that write up… i think Ole also did something like that a while back!

    That should actually put some things in perspective for reasonable fans… only that you cannot “accuse” some of these people being reasonable… LOL

  56. AIC,

    Yes. I know that the post wasn’t exactly counter to what you said.

    On the other hand I think your pessimism is maybe swayed by us losing to Spu*ds and the nature of the defeat i.e. after going 2 up. I think we have been solid this season, and I believe in Koscienly, Djourou, Squillachi and Vermaelen we have a very good quartet indeed.

    I listened to Phillip Auclair on Arseblog last week. He said that Koscienly still needed time to develop, but Squillachi was a class player with lots of experience. Djourou looked very good against Wolves and Everton, and Vermaelen as we all know – is fantastic.

    That leaves the full backs. Well – Sagna has been outstanding this season, and Clichy has been unfairly singled out for criticism; I thought he played well against s*uds on Saturday and wasn’t to blame for the goals.

    I don’t buy into a lot of the criticism about Saturday. To me, Spurs were dominated, but we conceded 2, maybe 3 very soft goals. Yes – we have to prevent that in the future, but I think it is a matter of being patient with the team and manager this season, as we still have been exposed by a number of injuries and have not had a chance to rest/rotate players when there has been fixture congestion. The media keep beating on about the missing Essien/Lampard/Terry/Alex making a difference to chelsea’s season – well – fuck me – what about the missing VP/Vermaelen/Diaby/Walcott/Bendtner/Ramsey etc etc.. who have been out for large periods of the season ?

  57. AIC

    You got comprehensively TOLD my friend. You are just like any other, quick to jump on the obvious to try prove a point. The myth of Arsene not being able to build a decent back line is indeed a myth. Wenger can spot defensive players as well as attacking.. hence the Vieria’s, Campbells, Vermaelen’s, and Toures …

    Way back 8-10 years ago Arsenal could play their beloved 442 and beat a team man for man, week in week out. Now teams have wisened up, Mourinho taught everyone how to foul and get away with it. The likes of Lampard, Gerrard, and Rooney have learnt from the Drogba’s of this world and have shown the whole of England how to dive and nick little freekicks and penalties. Its no coincidence the absence of Rooney, Gerrard, and Lampard has lead to all 3 great teams not getting the rub of the green right?

    Arsenal on the other hand has never had that protection, rub of the green, or referee and media backing. Is it defensive lapses… or is it giving the opposition an unfair advantage? I would say half and half.


    exhibit A … Obstruct the Keeper: Fabianski is not the first Arsenal keeper (Lehmann getting his toes trod on) to experience foul tactics from the opposition. The lads ability was questionned by his own support, that is the extent it hampered the player.

    exhibit B … The Fletcher foul: because its Arsenal and because they always have the ball, you are allowed 10 times as many fouls.

    exhibit C … Cheat at Setpieces: Use a towel everytime while having a throw in, waste time, elbow the defender Kevin Davies style, or just pull the defender while you head it in. A common set of events which almost always occur when seeing a set piece go in against Arsenal..

    exhibit D .. E … F… involves many racist and hypocritical conclusions to our defensive failures in recent years that I don’t reall wanna get into.

    Anyway, the point is yes we have some things we can improve on defensively, but the opposition is very much helped when it comes to finding a way to beating a team which is technically the best team. Gallas and Vermaelen was a very good partnership, and we have some outstanding defensive players in this squad. Even with the refs on their side we will learn our own little tactics to prevail.

  58. “Defoe winning knockdowns is a joke, he’s a dwarf”

    Slur Fergus must have said something similar to Vidic & Ferdinand after Messi scored the winning goal (with his, wait for it…his head) in the European Cup final.

  59. Muppet | November 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    Excellent piece of factual reporting. Saw that AIC had to beat a hasty retreat, scurrying like a …. a weasel.
    The thing that really pisses me off is that Goonerholic joined his pal Ablogger in suggesting that Wenger is at fault for the team’s defensive mistakes. For lack of pressure on Assou Ekotto so he could easily ping a long diagonal ball, for Denilson being unable to keep up with Bale, for Fabregas handling the ball and for Kaboul getting his head on a 35 yard free kick. The players are the ones who need a kick up the ass for lack of concentration and mental focus. Wenger can take them so far, they are mostly responsible for the next step.
    IMO these new found experts feel we should simply rip up the blueprint we have followed for the past five years and start all over again.

  60. Finsbury,

    Messi scored from a header – he was unmarked and therefore unchallenged. Defoe won a knockdown and he was “challenged” by Clichy.

  61. Fascinating isn’t it?

    We lost three days ago, we were very upset and shocked. Thousands of words were spilt across this blog bemoaning Wenger, the team and Pat Rice followed by many more thousands analyising where we went wrong and what the team needs to do.

    We have had to work our way through it all and now we are now looking forward to watching Arsenal play with optimism and anticipation this very day.

    What happens?

    Well, AIC woke up and went back to Arsenal critique basic.

  62. chris,

    Muppet admitted that his post was not a direct reposte to mine; I never said that AW can’t build a defence; look at 2004. How you can say I am quick to jump on the obvious when I have been critical of our defence since 2008 is beyond me.

    I agree with your post by the way but I would add that we have often been prejudiced agaisnt but were better at winning regardless.

  63. Limpar,

    The Estadio communal de Braga is a cool stadium. Watching a game during sunset must be pretty cool. The ‘jumbotron’ is stuck halfway up the cliff face.
    Almost as picturesque as standing on a part of Highbury Hill with a view over TNHOF, on a clear evening.
    There is some nice footage somewhere, but it also included Celtic fans (Celtic are up their old tricks I see. What’s the price for goal-line technology and a few cabels to hook the camera’s, that are at all big games, up to the 4th offical?).

  64. Shotta-Gunna,

    I too am disappointed when these guys start to point the finger at our esteemed leader. Yes, Wenger is ultimately responsible, but the manner in which lead bloggers start writing accusatory headlines that circulate around the internet is not responsible in my view, and not fair either. Guilt is attributed in absolute fashion and justice is demanded akin to a lynch mob, when what is needed is rational analysis and reflection. Ok, ablogger is up there with Goonerholic as being some of the most rational out of what is a pile of impatient and glory hunting rabble, so I think we can let those guys off, as they just induldge in what a lot of us do, some questions after a bad defeat.


    Defoe does quite well here. Why did he receive such an accurate pass?
    Having only seen the reply from one angle, I have to ask, why is Clichy not fifteen foot high? As that’s the only way he’d have blocked the flick.

  66. consols,

    I posted briefly after the game but was too sick to post much after that. You missed me didn’t you?

  67. shotta,

    “IMO these new found experts feel we should simply rip up the blueprint we have followed for the past five years and start all over again.”

    The blueprint that has won so many trophies is it? I don’t think we should rip it up but things need to change.

  68. You could argue, a foul should have been made. That would make some sense.
    Anyway, Braga await. COYG.

  69. Shotta & Muppet,

    It is a shame for them to jump on Wenger’s back, but at least they give a decent explanation of how they came to those conclusions, unlike many who just spout the usual dooming shite without being able to back it up… I read both of those blogs regularly, neither offer the undying anti-doom that is ACLF, but they (as Muppet says) are some of the most rational and balanced blogs out there…

  70. Our recent record away from home in Europe is poor i would take a draw now.No Cesc is a big ask. i say 1-1

  71. Overjoyed to see Aaron Ramsey back in action. That is a massive fillip for the squad, and for all the rest of us. I think that playing where he does Ramsey will be tested out very quickly – and if there is a slight mental barrier there – he’ll be forced to smash through it. It looked as though he was getting stuck-in right from the off today anyway. Magic player, great day.

  72. What a star you are, Moopay

  73. He was looking up for it then Limpar? Not shying away from challenges? Will have to check it out when i get back from work… Great news for all that is Arsenal! Welcome back Aaron. Can’t wait to see him on the team sheet again.

  74. Muppet

    Yes Spuds were dominated as they were two years ago in the 4-4,as were West Ham and Wigan last season.Its no good dominating a team and not winning i would rather play bad a scrape a one-nil win

  75. Cheers Frank. Good to see you back.

    Frank, Shotta, Ole, AIC….

    Just like the old days.

    Haven’t seen Passenal lately.

  76. Ken, we need a stronger reaction, although we sometimes have a hangover and repeat a bad performance in Europe away after a bad PL defeat (Newcastle-Shakhtar comes to mind, and with a second squad playing). So you might be right, but I think Rosicky, Nasri and Wilshere will provide the creative invention and composed playmaking for a win against a technical side that will try to play football at home.

  77. Yeah, Geo, nor can I. It was just 45 mins played at Reserve pace – but he went toe-to-toe with them, and ‘they’ were Wolves. So I’d say, No Fear.

  78. That’s the spirit, Andy. Reach for the stars.

  79. Frank WELCOME BACK. I have missed you, I can now imagine all the troll going under.

  80. Great news 🙂 Battling it out with those cloggers is just the type of game needed to break him back in (if that’s a suitable phrase)… I’m really looking forward to seeing him and Jack bossing the midfield, that’ll be something special that will continue for years to come…

  81. Andy,

    Of course, we’d all take a win. But I was just trying to say that we generally had a good performance against Spu*ds. It’s not like the team was outplayed.

  82. Limestone, I noticed the same thing about RVP. He looks to be going gray already…shocker! How about those Rapids! Hard working goals, you make your own luck!
    Frank, good to see you back.
    AIC, can you name a team that is never the architect of their own downfall? What a silly comment.
    Massive shout out to Ramsey, the butterflies in his stomach prior to the opening whistle must have been raging. Welcome back!

  83. While there has been some improvement from lower and mid table teams this year, the main difference is the weakening of three of the top teams (ManU, Chelsea, and Liverpool) while ManCity continues to adjust to building a coherent team and Spuds adjust to playing CL and its consequences on league form. I don’t think there has been massive improvement, but a few good results have emboldened teams that used to give up the ghost–they are having a go and getting some successes that have built confidence across the table. Plus, the teams that were promoted are playing some attacking football with no fear–in fact, they are the ones I think that exposed the weaknesses of top teams first.

    The main point for us is, however, that Arsenal has been expecting to improve during this period. And shouldn’t we be improving more than mid-table or lower table teams, with our better quality young players getting more first team action in PL and CL games with the best coaching/development and best facilities? We have been building and developing the team for the last five years and now have a talented and deep squad, better than we have had in the last several years and capable of dealing with injuries. We should be capitalizing on this strength and the happy coincidence of the weaknesses of our main competitors.

    We’ve hit a low but the dramatic and stunning swing upwards leading to a multiple trophy season begins today at Braga!

  84. Gris Gris, I posted a congratulatory note to you in the comments last night, but let me repeat–congrats to your mighty Rapids! Kroenke’s first footy trophy comes in the MLS cup and not with Arsenal! Let’s hope it is a lucky sign.

  85. Where are people watching the Reserves? Is it streaming on ATVO?

  86. Guess so Limestone… I’m at work so can’t check atm.

  87. Four weeks until Stoke at home. Hmmm… I wonder…

  88. You’ve been sick AIC? Sorry to hear that.

    I always miss you. You know that.

  89. There’s a free video on the main site, Limestone. The game finished 2-1 to the Arsenal with goals from Rory Deacon and Giles Sunu.

  90. Limestone,

    There was a live text MBM on Arsenal site, and the first half (at least) is up on the site too.

  91. Correction: Not footage of first half, but highlights of Ramsey.

  92. Gris Gris:

    Congrats to your CO Rapids beating my FC Dallas for the MLS title. Tough physical game and in the end your guys were the stronger and you made your own luck. Hopefully both teams will be back on top next year.

  93. Limestonegunner,

    Absolutely, we are expected to be on an upward trend in terms of improvement, and frankly, I fully expect that we are, and the results will be plain to see by the end of the season.

    If one looks at the age of a lot of our players, combined with the potential for further improvement, the experienced already gained and then combine that with some long and overdue fortune in terms of staying injury free, then we should be in for a bonanza this season.

    I can think of at least 10 players who I believe are a long way of in achieving their full potential – Bendtener, Ramsey, Gibbs, Walcott, Koscienly, Nasri, Denilson, Diaby, Fabianski, Djourou. And there is still more to come from the likes of Fabregas, VP, Clichy, Song etc etc

    I don’t personally care about whether the mancs or chavs have tailed off. What is important is that we improve our current baseline level of performance. I believe that we will do this year on year. Last year we got 75 points. This year I believe we can get 80 or more.

  94. Muppet, I agree with you there. I am mentioning the others decline only from the perspective of the conversation about the league and its strength–and certainly it presents a handy opportunity. My expectations of success with this team, like yours, and built more around the strength and depth of this team. Now is the time for the squad to show its mettle.

  95. LA, thanks for identifying the video–Ramsey looks so happy to be back on the pitch. It will be really joyful to see him in the first team–maybe for Chelsea at home in late December?–We can dream, but if history is any guide for us, it will be a slow, cautious return to match fitness, and rightly so. He may yet have an important role to play in this season down the stretch, but we will have to be patient.

  96. I’m not superstitious so don’t put down anything to never having won in Portugal. So expect an easy win. Braga 0:4 Arsenal!

  97. Limestonegunner,


    Strange but beautiful settng for the Braga stadium. No fans behind the goal for Fabs to worry about, just falling rocks.

  99. consols,

    Yes really sick. The sickness started to come on through the second half on Saturday and really kicked in when Kaboul scored. I am getting over it though.

  100. AIC glad to see you back. Have you kidnapped Vela?hes not injured not in the reserves and not in the squad. Maybe hes become a mexican witch doctor trying to cure Vermalen

  101. I know we should be talking about the Braga game now-but I just watched while on the Arsenal site for the Ramsey video the ATVO post-match interview with Chamakh. If anyone doubts how hard the players are taking it, I suggest watching it. He looked absolutely disconsolate and I thought he might break out into tears at points in the interview. I don’t think Bourdeaux had a major derby tradition, at least according to Philippe Auclair, but he’s felt it pretty deeply and was very forthright that in is unbelievable, a major failure in concentration, and a big professional mistake.

    I hope he gets a good, greedy goal breaking through in the box today, though I bet Bendtner will get a start. Chamakh has taken some stick for dithering about when clear in the box–even Arsene Wenger seemed to mention it as a spurned opportunity, so I’d like to see his despondent look turned to joy. Tbh, I was surprised he celebrated so little after his goal v. Spuds. Perhaps he thought it might have been an own goal, though his touch was clear and precise.

  102. I love it, MD. Very cool.

    I suppose it’s a good thing RvP was left at home to train… hammer left foot of his might’ve caused a landslide.

  103. MD, those photos are great–what a fantastically unique setting! No seating on either end–have to run a bit to celebrate with fans–but the stands are really steep. Away fans will have an interesting experience, but I expect they will be seated high in the upper deck.

    Something for us to consider–I don’t understand why away support at the Emirates is so close to the pitch and behind goal. Should be quarantined on the upper level in one of the corners.

  104. Hi Sol,

    No idea about Vela’s whereabouts. You can often say the same when he is on the pitch.

  105. You can often say the same thing about AIC after a victory.

  106. I guess, that must be because:

    AIC is a parasite.

  107. Still trying to figure how a looping flick counts as a ‘knockdown’.
    One goes down.
    The other goes up.

    It’s a funny old game.

  108. Muppet @ 2:44pm,


    Hopefully the facts will convince others and bring more reason to the debates. I know we all feel the hurt of last weekend but should not forget how it must impact on our manager. How honest and raw his emotions are can be felt in his own words:

    “Obviously three defeats at home is too many. In the first two games against West Brom and Newcastle we didn’t deliver the performance and we can only say that we got what we deserved. On Saturday we delivered the performance but what is worrying for me is that we had an opportunity to go to the top of the league and when we had to deliver we couldn’t.
    That’s worrying because that’s part of our job.
    Thanks for your support.”

    Today’s another day and Braga give the boys a chance to bury the memory and commentary quickly.

    I have no doubt that tonight will be a better one for all concerned


  109. rumor has it Vela has been partying too much with Dos Santos

  110. Fabianski, Eboue, Squillaci, Djourou, Gibbs, Walcott, Denilson, Wilshere, Rosicky, Fabregas, Bendtner

  111. Team:

    Fabianski – Eboue – Squillaci – Djourou – Gibbs – Denilson – Wilshere – Cesc – Rosicky – Walcott – Bendtner

  112. Muppet,

    Take your AKB crap elsewhere. We’ve had enough of you lot. 2 points off the fucking leaders is embarrassing.

  113. I got mine off the BBC, dups. It looks like they don’t pay much attention to formation though.

  114. Stars of the day (so far) – Muppet & Aaron

  115. Wish we could rest Fabregas, but perhaps Song needs to sit out?

  116. The line-up looks fanatstic. Sagna, Clichy, Song, Arsha & Chamakh get much deserved rest. But I am a little wary of Tomas, I am a big fan of his, but he seems to be a little off in away games this season.
    He should be starting at The Grove more often, as he’s shown fabulous form in early season home games.

    2-1 to us!

  117. Alex Ice Cream got pwned.

  118. I really want to pound Braga into little tortilla shaped humans. 4-1 Arsenal!

  119. Lets do it!

  120. Come on the Arsenal!

    Have to say, I really like Bendtner, but if I have a problem with him, and RVP for that matter, up front its almost that they like to be involved in the game too much. Its a strange thing to complain about I know, but it was a problem with Adebayor as well. In Ade and Nic we had/have players with great physical presence, aerial presence and the ability to dominate a defence who’s starting position should be glued to the shoulder of the final defender – running channels, getting into the box and generally making a nuisance of thamselves.

    Already in this game we’re seeing Bendtner coming really deep to receive the ball, playing essentially in the Bergkamp position, but with no one ahead of him. (Ade’s thing used to be drifting wide left like Henry). As a result, already with 20 mins gone we’ve had a few occasions where the obvious cross cannot be played because Nic is nowhere near the box.

    The obvious comparison is with Chamakh who has been brilliant so far at doing the job I’ve described above. He’s always looking to run in behind defenders and always ready at the very top of the pitch to take a longer ball and hold it up for support. Strangely, I feel Nic would be a better player for us if he tried to play less football and did more work without the ball further up the pitch instead.

  121. That ref is annoying me to no end.

  122. Great pass by NB

  123. This is it …. get in there.

  124. The team has just started to play with a little confidence.

  125. The team is still looks shaken from the weekend.

  126. LOL@finsbury

    Spot on!

  127. I’m still shaken from the weekend.
    Note to self lay of the Stella.

  128. Pretty unconvincing first half for me despite plenty of fruitless possession

  129. Fair call tokala, we have done not a lot with the possession.
    But no need to panic, just keep our concentration.

  130. It’s all back on. One goal will break Braga.

  131. Evil me too.he was letting plenty of fouls on us go without calling them.hoping for a better 2nd half.

  132. come on Arsenal!!!

  133. Ouch right in the family jewels

  134. That has got to hurt.
    We can do with a win now

  135. Fab 4 is off.

  136. We NEED a win!!

  137. Cesc injured great

  138. Ref can just go and f himself. Seems like he is getting almost everything wrong he can get wrong in this game.

  139. Is Cesc fit or not?

  140. Chamakh should be warmed up by now and ready to go.

  141. My god – Gibbs is a class player.

  142. Feck this ref and the whining Braga fans.

  143. This referee is a joke.

  144. What a c*nt. I hope someone slashes the tires of this ref. Seriously.

  145. What is the point of these officials behind the goal if the most blatant, stonewall penalty is still missed. Utterly ridiculous!

  146. This is the worst and most crowd-influenced referee i’ve ever seen. For fucks sake.

  147. Fvck me – clear penalty

  148. and these extra officials have been right there for 3 or more blatant incidents now and have got them all wrong.

  149. Good job, ref. Game going out of hand cause you are too stupid to make the right decisions. You need to be relegated to a lower league.

  150. eboue off on a stretcher…

  151. i dont fucking believe it. absolute cunts.

  152. That was a good counter, but the ref is a cock

  153. no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

  154. The team refuses to learn, why the heck dont they get back when the team has the ball!

  155. Referee is a total fucking cunt the referee should be going off on a fucking stretcher!!

  156. Another fvcking farce – two injuries, clear penalty and stupid goal and useless ref. How many times this season?

  157. That wasnt even a counter, the defense was ball watching AGAIN!

  158. another pen claim?

  159. I think Vela must have fucked the refs wife last night.

  160. Unbelievable refereeing. Worse than any I’ve seen in the PL and that’s truely saying something

  161. I dont know what to say, you just had that feeling, that the Spurs game would be something VERY difficult to get over.

  162. wow…. the team are playing like they hardly know each other. very tricky to bring in so many different players and expect them all to pull off this loose 433 effectively.

  163. Though the ref has been crap there is no excuse to get beat on a goal like that. There is no reason for it.

  164. Why do we always lose games back to back?

  165. Another fvcking farce – two injuries, clear penalty and stupid goal and useless ref. How many times this season?

    How many times will we sing the same tune?

  166. Nah its not the 433, we just lack focus. We were playing great earlier this season.

  167. arsene was happy finishing 2nd in the group last year and left us facing the small challenge of beating barca, inter and then bayern on the trot…. this was must win ffs.

  168. fvck

  169. What an absolute travesty.

  170. That was disgraceful. But so are the commentators on FSC. Why can’t we score goals like that?

  171. Now I’d say that was a worse goal to concede, but Eboue would have been there were he not injured. Still when we chase so late we general get hit on a counter like that.

  172. Oh shut up Richard Keys you tosser.

  173. i thought we had sussed the 433 earlier in the season too but it requires a lot of concentration and positional understanding… i dont know, its a complex problem to solve with the array of different players we have. wouldn’t want wengers job right now.

  174. Well I am very worried.

    Have never seen a clearer penalty claim. And what a dirty little team.

    IF we qualify we face a big team in the knock out phase.

  175. we got fucked on the penalty.

  176. I hate football in November.

  177. A game that should have been at least a draw against an infuriating referee and team full of cheating divers. Arsenal once again dominated the game but got hit by a ridiculous sucker punch.

    Thankfully the result will make no difference to our qualification.

  178. I know nobody’s going to be feeling too charitable, but we were denied two blatant penalties, and had rotten luck with the injuries taking us down to ten men. It’s hard enough defeating our own demons, and the other team, without having to deal with one of the worst refs I’ve ever seen (no exaggeration). Hope people bear that in mind at least.

    Catch you on the weekend.

  179. Saturday’s loss was 100% on the team. This loss was less than 25% on the team. Easily the worst reffed match I’ve seen. They kicked the living shit out of us with impunity, and then would fall over to get fouls and even cards. Corners not given. Throw-ins not given. And then, of course there is the most obvious penalty you could ever want to see. If that wasn’t a penalty, there are no penalties.

    I’m putting it on the team 25% because a very mentally strong team can power through even that, and then the class will show through. But their heads dropped.

    It’s games like this that make me hate the sport sometimes. The last 2 hours was the opposite of enjoyment.

  180. This has to be the worst performance of a referee this season. I would love to be angry about us losing, but in the end, this time the ref is fully to blame. That was an excuse that could not be made after the Tottenham game but, honestly, if we had gotten that pen, we would have seen a completely different ending to the game.

  181. I don’t think its 433. We were a defender down and we just switched off. But that referee was unbelievable shocking. Not just the penalty, but the number of cards we got compared to them, despite the kind of challenges they were putting in was crazy.

    The bottom line is that in a tough game, we made the key breakthrough and the ref cheated us of it. Simple as that.

  182. Word, you are overcomplicating things.

    If the other team gets the ball, the defense should drop the hell back instead of steering at the ball.

  183. But we lost concentration on their first game.
    Why was Denilson left one on one?


  185. first goal, sorry.

  186. Its a question of getting the right players to make wengerball work. Harsh penalty aside, you can’t get a team working as a unit if that’s not your philosphy. Of course we’ll concede goals but it must be based on us scoring more! Not a problem as far as I’m concerned but it does need players to be ‘in’ or ‘out’ of that style of football. Seems to me that we are a tad confused.

  187. Sorry Yogi’s Warrior….The fightback starts next weekend.

  188. I just dont feel like blaming the ref for at worst it shouldve been 0-0.

    Its time for the team to stand up and take responsibility. Where are the players who take charge on the field?

    These clowns are talking about Phyiscal players, these last two loses have nothing to do with physical strength.

  189. we dnt hve the fight in us anymore we just turn up. we can talk all we want about dominating, how many saves did their keeper make? Apart from the penalty appeal we ddnt do anything. Why cant we change our formation to suit the players we have? Shit game we played!

  190. Oh well, we’ll still qualify.

    On to Villa.

  191. This wasnt a dominant performance in the least, we just had a lot of the ball.

  192. well if it was simply a matter of concentrating then we would (fucking should) have solved it by now.

  193. Did we actually manage a shot on target?

  194. I’m a pretty optimistic Arsenal supporter, but I can’t find much to be upbeat about at the moment. There’s no backbone, little passion and we havn’t got a clean sheet in us. Disappointing.

  195. Word, no we wouldnt have solved it because the players continue to lose focus. Its not about just knowing what you need to do, is it?

  196. “and these extra officials have been right there for 3 or more blatant incidents now and have got them all wrong.”

    I guess Sepp Platter was right, no amount of referees will stop them from fucking up a game or directing it towards a specific result anyways. The same goes for the Premier League.

  197. Well Ron, we have had a few clean sheets so it obviously is in us.

  198. “There’s no backbone, little passion and we havn’t got a clean sheet in us. Disappointing.”

    Just a passing remark:

    And we had 3 English players on the field, what the heck? Or does this theory only works for the Premier League?

  199. To be honest I didnt think we would get over Saturday so easy, that was crushing.

    I just feel we need some leaders on the pitch. No one is vocal when we are not playing properly and it is bothering me very much. I believe TV and RVP are those kinds of players.

  200. How do you have 71% of possession and yet have the same total number of shots, 2 fewer shots on goal and get outscored 2 – 0?

    Cesc probably out for 3 weeks with a hamstring. Bad day at the office.

  201. the ref was an absolute shit . stone wall penalty not given. gives eboue a yellow for prfectlly good tackle . where te ref is from? the standard is crap. still we shoud have beaten this bunch of fishermen. I think its time we stopped playing this highline in te second half specially when our defenders are tired. when Vermaelen was around it was ok to do it , Squilaci and djorou are good defenders but lack pace we simply can’t keep gifting goals like these. . oh dear it has been a tough week.We will qualify anyway

  202. Awful ref plus injuries reducing us to 10 men, I’d say more often than not those matches are the ones more likely to be lost, so I fully agree with Boyd. Yeah the goals were defendable, but I feel the players have a bit of an excuse, although to angry unforgiving minds it would sound shallow.

    Anyway, I’m quite strangely understanding of this loss, so I’m not angry, sad, or even disappointed; just just.

    Anyhoo, Braga defended well, put bodies behind the ball. Struggled to break them down, and such.

  203. Thats bull that the team has no backbone, passion and all that, no one was saying that until Saturday. The teams confidence is broken and they need to dig VERY deep to get over it quikly.

    A win at weekend is a must but so was tonight!

  204. No Gadget, no excuses. No because there are none but because we were still at fault.

    I agree with 1lc, the high line is a detriment to us at present.

  205. Nothing to do with being English just look at vieira etc.
    Paul N says:
    November 23, 2010 at 9:52 pm
    Well Ron, we have had a few clean sheets so it obviously is in us.

    Not when it matters we don’t

  206. Come Saturday… we need a win.

    It looks like we will be facing a ‘big’ team WHEN we go through which is exactly what we need. These boys need to see that they can pass a big test in which they are the underdogs.

  207. the match tonight was just one of those things, away, injuries, crap ref bla bla, we’ll still qualify…
    ..having said that i still think theres some kind of mental problem with this squad, i just don’t think they have the ‘belief’… whether that be maturity, uncertainty, complacency…. all of the above?

  208. Ron are you saying that the PL matches dont matter? thats doesnt make sense.

  209. Oh lord, that was truly horrific………
    We should go all the way and sign Gillian McKeith, shes a f*cking bottler and would feel right at home in our side……

  210. Paul, other than grinding out qcleqn sheet against the team second bottom of the league, no we haven’t got a clEan sheet in us

  211. I’ve never been someone clamouring for a so called ‘big signing’, to be honest i think its all media bull shit… but perhaps throwing money about is all that can demonstrate aspiration to those less academically blessed, maybe thats all that will help what otherwise seems an insanely talented group of players?

  212. No worries guys, we still have a game in hand.

    All teams are losing games CL or PL, the days of total domination are over. Get used to it.

  213. Piss poor. Schoolboy defending for first goal and no penetration whatsoever. We should have had a penalty, but even our A team should have enough to beat them. We may now only qualify in second place which means we could run into a very good team very quickly. 6 defeats already?!

  214. G4E this was a poor performance … compounded by an obviously corrupt ref. Total domination is something we should seriously forget for now – at least until our play justifies using these terms again. Looks like we got our November cold a little late this year
    I hope Cesc will be fit again when we play MU (i mean really fit not just returning from injury and scared)

  215. i said before we have a good defence ad i stand by that, when we actually play deep our defenders do much better, its only when we throw everybody up we get caught.. We miss vermalaen’s quick trackig backs above all his crucial goals. I don’t buy into this`no backbone` `no passion` nonsense. we just need to tweak a little to accomodate Squilaci, kolcieny and Djourou strengths. at moment we get the result away from home in te league because we don’t go all out attack. second half tonight we payed like the home and took risks.

  216. The game against WBA was a one off as was Newcastle as was Spurs as was tonight.Stop saying it was a one off.The two goals tonight were a replica of the first goal on saturday.What the fuck do they do in training?The lack of concentration in this team is frightening.We need a defensive coach brought in now Keown or Bould as Wenger cannot teach defence

  217. My Gadget philosophical cap is sprouting despite me not saying go go, and I feel the need to splurge, and you must indulge me!

    If I may, another thing of the many things I hate is that phrase: “it’s a must win”. When applied in certain (in fact almost any) situations it is actually viable and perfectly acceptable, but for some unknown reason to myself (although I shall dig within and suss it out), it just feels like it’s thrown about far too much and thus the context gets a little warped.

    Granted, at the end of the day (grrr another phrase I dislike, when does the day end and when does it begin? Time doesn’t even flow constantly with space-time being all warpy and shizz – tangent) all games are ultimately must win ones, it’s generally accepted that a team won’t win all their games. With this said, a game against, say, Man U becomes a must win depending upon league position and date of fixture relative to the season’s end. I doubt anyone will say a match against United is a must win in August unless it’s the Charity Shield and we want that trophy, but too many would say it were the opposition a newly promoted team, like WBA. I believe the definative must win status of a games is made clearer the closer you are to the passing wherever stage you are to achieve ultimate aim.

    If you seriously want to win every game then every game is indeed a must win but, in our league at least, such a feat is regarded as herculean if not outright unattainably unrealistic.

    To summarise: I guess it depends on your aims, but I would argue that many games are prematurely labelled must win out of disrespect to our opponents. Apologies to all those who feel otherwise (especially those who have used such a phrase today and in the comments section), but this game surely wasn’t. Assuming our aim is to qualify, and whack up whomever we get from this point onwards (after all if we have to whack Barcelona or Tottenham, someone’s got to take the whacking), this game was merely a must draw; but our team never plays for draws (although they seem to play like they’ve already got the thing won at times).

    Thank you for your time, patience, and understanding.

    Now with all that said, Villa is a must win! 🙂 Go play well and kick arse

  218. Skywatchingmug – Denilson was left one on one because we had a free kick and Djourou had gone up for it.

    I have to say, a number of our attacking players did not have a great game today, and playing against a team who were defending deep and in numbers we needed them to. Bendtner has a bad habit of coming into midfield (where he really doesn’t bring much to the game, because his touch/control/passing aren’t the very best) rather than offering us an attacking option far up the pitch. Our best weapon against tight defences is Fabregas picking a pass through the defence. But if there’s no one there to receive it or run onto it then a huge facet of his game is useless. And without either Nasri or Arshavin on the wings we lacked our other attacking options. Walcott did his best, but he is most useful in a stretched game rather than against a deep defence. As a result we ran into brick wall after brick wall.

    That said, a massive Braga tactic was that of niggling (and sometimes not so niggling) fouls to break up the play. I have no problem with this as a tactic, but it MUST be seen to carry risks. And if a ref is completely unwilling to show yellow cards for it then it has no risks. How we managed to end the game with so many yellow cards and they didn’t is a complete mystery to me. Eboue’s yellow looked to me a fair tackle. But, even if it wasn’t, it was the tamest of touches and yet he was carded. Then look at the tackle that put Eboue on a stretcher and somehow he is not carded? It was preposterous, and when added to the penalty makes me genuinely wonder about the ref’s integrity. (In fact, the issue of officials behind the goal in this instance is a red herring, because if you watch the replay the ref is in an unbelievably good position)

  219. Blaming the ref for a 2-0 loss to the 10th place team in the Portuguese league.

    Accepting losses at home to newly promoted teams and blowing a 2-0 lead to the Spurs because we are happy to let other teams keep us in contention in the league instead of going out and winning it on our own merits.

    We really have reached new levels of delusion.

  220. Ron, its simple, you are wrong. You made a comment and it was innacurate.

  221. The team has definitely got heart and backbone thats just ridiculous …just no concentration when it matters at the moment. This is a team that needs to be purring like a well oiled machine and playing well to win. This defeat is disappointing again for not maintaining concentration till the end when we could have ground out a draw. Being philosophical none of our key players have been quite at their devastating best or 100% Fab, Bedntner and Walcott also no Clichy, Song, Sagna, Diaby, Vermaelen, RVP toda..Nasri nackered . Also its better to be missfiring now and at full pelt when it counts. Real Madrid sending offs for Ramos and Alonso ….very suspicious.

  222. loose cannon – We have some good defensive players, but the team does not seem to have enough defensive organisation and does not defend well. The amount of goals we let in is testament to this. Sometimes they lose focus and the marking and positioning is not as it should be. It’s frustrating

  223. So here’s the group situation:

    If Shakhtar beat Braga, it doesn’t matter what happens in our game, because we’ll at least be level on points with Braga and advance due to GD

    If Braga beat Shakhtar, we must win and we’ll end up 1st on GD, anything else and we are eliminated (assuming they don’t win 14-0)

    If Shakhtar and Braga draw, then we at least need a draw or we are eliminated.

  224. Wenger is being punished for putting out a weak team in Shakhtar.That was the toughest group game against our toughest opponents.Its nothing short of a disgrace that we had 9 pts out of 9 after 3 games yet we are now struggling to win the group.The group should have been won first then play weakened teams

  225. Ah Paul N, but fault can always be mitigated. Kids and politicians (MPs and office) know this as fact, no matter how much we try to say otherwise.

    Yeah, we could have done better, and chances are, 11 on the pitch we would have done, but such is life. The 10 must learn to do what the 11 can.

    Wowsers, I’m feeling very philosophical tonight (too much supermalt): Mistakes happen in every game, sometimes we pounce upon the opposing teams, other times we get hurt. We can always try and try to iron these imperfections out but they will always be there. The key thing to do is never stop trying.

  226. Paul, can you honestly say you ever feel comfortable sitting on a 1 goal lead?

  227. You tried Supermalt plus Gadget?

    Less frothy burping. Same great taste.

    Bad luck again today. We didn’t look dangerous enough and were subjected to a chronic refereeing performance and a charmless little team that kicked us as badly as i can remember. A bad night.

    Villa now we will bounce back.

  228. Ron,

    quit with the hyperbole. It’s making you seem as silly as your namesake.

    Everton a few weekends ago.

  229. Yes Deano! Admittedly I drunk three different flavours in short succession! I promise not to do it again unless I’ll stick to coconut water in there too

  230. a couple of weeks ago i read an article in the Daily mail about how United were imploding and arsenal was on their way up. It seems like the situation has turned horridly the last week.

    If this is not imploding then i dont know what is. ofc it must also be said that United has managed to turn their luck, so there is no reason why we should not. but still. you sit with the feeling that alot of teams would fight harder and get results when they really want to. Like tottenham and even sunderland ,manages to fight to the end and look dangerous. We however, i never sit with the feeling we can turn a 0-1 to a win. its just not Arsenals style. sad to say.

  231. To say that I dont feel comfy defending a one goal lead is no exaggeration

  232. I think the other problem today is that the players may have been purposefully playing within themselves to keep strength and avoid injury for the big PL games coming up – especially knowing that a draw would do. And while that tactic went wrong on a host of levels, had we won 1-0 with a Nasri penalty and then appeared fresh and ready for the Villa game on Saturday it might not have seemed such a terrible performance!

  233. “We however, i never sit with the feeling we can turn a 0-1 to a win. its just not Arsenals style. sad to say.”
    – Poodle

    Have to say, it could be the pessimist in me, but at 0-1 by around the 80th minute, I am the same. Most teams get 11 behind the ball and for some strange reason we revert to long balls and wild shots. We seem to lose our cool.

    However, between 0 and 79 minutes, if we’re a goal down, I have little doubt we will get a couple of goals

  234. i find it very strangepeople are saying our defenders. disoganized and lack centration and yet we are sitting 2 pints behind the leaders inthe league and second in the group. the defeders we have are no mugs. I think squillaci ad kolcieny have never played in a team like ours. at times we push forward so high up te pitch its unusual for them very few teams can do that, we saw how they get done for pace, and that is not their fault, you either have pace or you don’t,that is why i said we just need a little tweaking to accomodate their strengths at least until we get Vermaelen fully fit then we can charge upfront for nw we need to stick to basics, stay back and do the bread and butter defending.

  235. I agree but games start goaless and more often than not., we take a lead

  236. Even when we’re bossing the game in an imperious fashion Ron? Although it finished terribly, in the 1st half Tottenham never looked like scoring. Our defence was dealing with everything they threw at us.

    Even today, I didn’t think Braga would score until they did. You can use this as a negative to reinforce your point if you wish, but to me that’s just the nature of football: A split second is all it takes to concede, be it from a stunner or a mistake.

    We’ve got the clean sheets to prove we can hold a lead

  237. 1 loose cannon | November 23, 2010 at 11:04 pm |

    You cannot hide from the fact that concentration is a mental block to this team. Even Djourou acknowledged it in his post match interview on Sky. BTW the Ref was just so awful today. I have always wondered if we are the only team that doesn’t have to play badly to lose. No time to wallowing in self pity, the players have to dust themselves up for the Villa game as another loss will cause serious concerns.

  238. Gadget- last season we scored a lots of goals in the last 10 minutes. why not now? the answer is simple last seaon we had Gallas and vermaelen they are quick, most of the time they would break any counter attacks and the ball would be back in the opposition’s half. this year they turn into goals. I hate it when peope keep saying lack of passion ad all that malarky . things need to be adjusted a little for the new players..and I think they will get it sorted

  239. A game of football lasts 90 minutes and must be played for the duration at ahigh level, we can’t just switch off and hope the opposition doesn’t get lucky. I love our style but I fear we haven’t got the substance required when there is minimal room for error.

  240. watch from 1:22 this guy lightning quick and we miss him

  241. 1LC,

    While don’t disagree with your assessment, I don’t agree with it within context. At 0-0 this team is capable of scoring after the 80th minute, in fact the team is capable of scoring at any time regardless of the score, it’s just that at the mo, at 0-1 we change our style in ways that don’t play to our strengths – long balls would work fine if Chamakh, Bendy, & RVP were playing at the same time. Also, I struggle to think of times where last season we came back to salvage points after 80minutes. I know we took all 3 points late in games quite a few times last season, but senility is kicking in.


    On one level I agree, but on another, I can’t. Every team makes defensive mistakes hoping they don’t get punished every game. The chances of finding a team play perfect football for the full 90+ must be as remote as finding a green-dicked girl.

  242. Oh goodness.

    Media LockDown, starts meow!

  243. Right… where’s that list?

    Steve f*cking Claridge – your number’s up.

    I was laying laminate wood flooring tonight, and painting a cupboard. So I turn to 5Live radio to help me follow my team in Europe. Big mistake. Claridge, having spent what was by all accounts a wonderful, sunny afternoon in Braga, complained bitterly for a full 90 minutes about what a sorry lot in life he’d got by being present at this game. Mocking, miserable, talentless little prick. I’m sorry, Claridge – you prize cunt – but your job is to describe the onfield action for fans at home, not to poke fun at everyone and everything that’s involved with the fixture. Granted you know nothing of football in Europe, let alone the Champions League – but if you don’t know what you’re talking about just shut the fuck up. It’s not hard. Don’t whine like a slapped child in a sweet shop when you don’t get a blockbuster game of football. Serious misjudgement of an audience there, BBC. You are slowly losing a listener. I already turn off Savage. I might write in. “You’re just pissed cos Arsenal lost” they’d say. “Fuck off bollocks you’re all cunts” I’d reply.

    Then some ancient deranged gooner from Ireland calls in… says he was Herbert Chapman’s chimney sweep in the 20s or some such rubbish… dusts off the same ‘Wenger’s never coached a decent defence’ line that Muppet so thoroughly pissed all over earlier. “I couldn’t agree more” says Claridge.

    I want him gone.

    (Interestingly, when you google him, ‘Steve Claridge idiot’ is one of the suggested search terms… and there seems to be a number of facebook hate groups in place for him… naturally ‘Limpar likes this’)

    The real travesty of the evening of course though is that EVEN clueless Claridge could see it was a STONEWALL FUCKING PENALTY. Cuntbags.

    Right, off to listen to some very early Cure records.

  244. 1 loose cannon – Gallas and Vermaelen’s attacking instincts were also the reasons we were caught out on the break in some of the big games though.

    Personally, I think we all try to hard to find a ‘narrative’ that explains a season, or a string of results – egged on by moronic pundits who’s jobs depend on spinning such narratives.

    First it is that ‘we can’t win at home’, for example – despite that fact that, the very same players have made the Emirates a fortress for the last few years. Then it’s ‘we switch off in the final 15 minutes of games’ despite the fact that the same players last season scored more goals in the last 10 minutes than any other team. And also the substitutes scored more goals than any other team.

    Narratives help us make sense of a situation, but they’re often utterly worthless. Is there really a tactical or psychological explanation for Fabregas raising his arm to give Spurs the penalty last week? Of course not, it was just a bizarre incident. Can you really say it was anything other than unbelievably bad luck that a penalty wasn’t awarded in this match? Of course not. 99 times out of 100 that would have been a penalty and we would have won the match.

    Spare me the cliché that we had 90 minutes to win, and one decision doesn’t explain the defeat. That’s rubbish. Away games in Europe are tight and difficult games, that will often rest on 1 key moment. The bottom line is that the exact same players could have put in the exact same performance and qualified us for the Champions League, as well as put us in pole position to top our group, and it rested on something that had absolutely nothing to do with tactics, the player’s drive, or the manager’s decisions or any of the other countless things that the papers tomorrow will blame.

    The ridiculousness of punditry and narrative is that the exact same players could have put in the exact same performance and, had the ref not been shocking, the write up would have been one of winning ugly, and fighting to the end until finally the break through came.

  245. limpart-i thought i was the only one who did ot like Claridge not because he has a dislike to Arsenal, but I thought no one knows who he is except me and few others. its either he is actually famous or you are one of the other few I thought might have heard of him. i’m sure he is so proud to be a pundit. in life you come across some people that make wonder how did they get the job and he is one of them.

  246. @aldo
    I fully agree. In the end that one moment basically decided the game. If we had gotten that pen (and Nasri would’ve scored it!) we would have seen a completely different game for the last 15 minutes. Braga would have been forced to attack and stop playing 10 men behind the ball which would have given us the opportunity to exploit that using Vela and Walcott.
    Not going to excuse the defensive mistakes that were made, but I really want to see the reasoning that would see us lose the game if we had gotten the penalty we deserve. Really hope that the ref is going to buy himself some nice bottles of Dom Perignon for the money he made on betting against us — and then choke on the champagne. That man is a disgrace for European referees.

  247. LA, there’s your first mistake–nothing substitutes for real wood flooring. Re: Claridge, he is utterly pompous and grating. For someone who had a fairly mediocre career, he projects an egoism and false authority that is astonishing. Really despise his commentary and punditry. Start a campaign–we’ll back it. Savage can be funny is a strangely endearing, laddish way even though he represents a real diminishing of standards at the BBC–sensationalism rather than journalism. Plus Savage, to my mind, is compromised by conflicts of interests as a current player in the championship. He often can’t watch the games since he is playing and can’t comment too directly about players and teams he is about to face. I don’t understand how he can currently be employed on several levels.

  248. Albo- this team is not the same team as last year. 2 new centre backs add Djourou who s still adapting to life after been out for one year. Chamkh adapted really quickly and surprised everyone and we seem to forget that our centre backs are new in the team. their previous teams dont play like ARSENAL. I’m sure they are surprised how attck minded ARSENAL are and they have to be on their toes for 90+ minutes. I think few things will change not the players but the way we approach every game, second half in particular. i doubt Wenger will let the same errors happen in every game something will be done to eradicate the problem,

  249. I Loose Canon:

    Well, firstly, let’s not forget that the crucial goal was not down to either of our central defenders. We had a free kick and so Denilson was covering for them as they went forward (and you can bet Gallas and Vermaelen would have done the same).

    Secondly, something that almost no one seems to have put much weight on is that we were down to 10 men for both of the goals tonight. Wenger had used his 3 substitutes, so when Eboue was stretchered off was we were without a right back. Strange that none of the pundits seemed to think it worth drawing any attention to!

  250. Now we know why “i’m too good to sit on the bench” Bender doesnt start the league games.He was like a giraffe on ice.If only he was as good as he thinks he is.Crap is the word Nic

    As for Denilson a pile of pony.Carried on from the 2nd half v the Spuds.I would love to known his fitness levels.He has two paces slow and stop
    Wenger has to bite the bullet and bring Keown in as a defensive coach NOW

  251. Well according to the arsenal players themselves. Denilson is the fittest Of them all. He may not be the fastest, and he may have various other problems, but fitness is not one Of them if one Are to belive the players themselves.
    One should think they know eachother better than a disillusioned supporter anyway.

  252. I go with the evidence before my eyes not what other people say.The amount of times he has been left standing as an opponent runs away from him tells a different story

  253. err Kelly, i do think the Arsenal players know whos more fit better than you. you think you “know” who is fit and not fit from the telly pic yesterday?? You think fast equals fit? And if you are not Theo Walcott that means you cannot be fit? Or that just because you are not as fast as say Rooney you can not be fitter than Rooney? Jezez kelly, no evidence yesterday said that Denilson was not fit. He was outpaced, but outpaced just means he is not the fastes.
    Are you sure you know what “fit” means?

  254. Leaving out the ridiculous reffing, I don’t think we should ever start a game without either Arshavin or Vela playing wide left. Nothing against Rosicky or Nasri, I just feel that their talents are better utilised elsewhere. I’m gobsmacked by how little we’ve used Vela because A) there’s been lots of talk about how Arsh needs a rest after internationals and B) the kid’s got a cracking cross on him and we actually have players who can head the ball now.

  255. Next post: The Fightback will be re-started this Saturday?

  256. You reckon he may have a bad attitude or something? I know JET is seen to have that and i think that has made him get less 1st team oportunities.
    i cannot see any other reason not to start him, as i think with a run of games he would do rather wel(vela that is)l. Maybe he will be more involved now that Cesc is out. Since Nasri probably will be put in cesc role. Atlest he should have chance to come on as a sub in the next games. I know AW wants to use Rosicky but hes not really done anything more than vela to justify his starting place i think.

  257. That was one of the most infuriating matches i’ve seen. The 12 officials managed to collectively fuck up almost every decision, the crowd and players massively influenced the ref, their persistent fouling apparently only warranted a couple of yellows, yet we were booked more times by far, the blatant penalty claims, the ridiculous punditry and commentary, the fact we needed to bounce back after cuntgate etc etc etc. I was a very angry man at 10pm, last night.

    Hey ho, onwards and upwards eh?

  258. It is always an uncomfortable game of football to watch when the home team camps in their own half, dives at every opportunity and takes out midfield players whenever they cross the half way line.

    This particular game was lost to two appalling refereeing decisions. The foul on Carlos in the box was as clear a penalty as you will ever see. To book the forward for diving is perverse and possibly corrupt. Similarly the foul on Eboue was as clear a red card as you will ever see it was reckless and dangerous and nowhere near the ball. No card at all for that one, made all the more mystifying for the booking the fellow gave to Eboue earlier in the game.That reduced Arsenal to ten men and changed the balance of the game.

    The referee was either a homer or incompetent or both and Braga knew it.

    That said I saw no reason why Arsenal should not have dealt with the two Braga goals. In my day if the centre halfs go up then two of the fastest players in the team remain on the penalty spot. Of course EE would have been one of those players. Braga knew that too.

    All that said the way to stop a break is to see it early and get to the ball first. We often lack the concentration towards the end of games to do that.

    Some minor adjustments and we will be back on track for sure.


  259. Oh yeah, cheers Frank, forgot to mention the eboue incident. And Cesc getting injured.

    You’re right though, a couple of tweaks (and a bit of the rub of the green for once) and we’ll be fine…

    I must say i was disappointed with BN52 last night. He got better as the game went on but was very poor for the first half particularly. It showed the difference Chamakh brings when he came on, we instantly looked more dangerous. Not wanting to slate Bendtner, but it was far from the performances we’ve seen since his return. Hope he looks at his performance and is determined to win back his place in the team – because that didn’t look like a player who was scared for his starting berth…

  260. Worst refereeing ever – or at least since that fat Norwegian knocked Chelsea out – but we enjoyed that one………..

  261. Grand Oral Disseminator

    Long time watcher, first time caller. An old friend was known to moan about ‘OfficeWoman.’ Everyone has one, or more, depending on their size of office, but she usually works in admin, has been at the company for years, is everyone’s friend, and is as close to useless as one can get, ignoring the 180 words per minute typing speed. Conversations start with a brief statement about the weather, or a comment on last night’s putrid filth on the television (X-Factor, I’m a Celebrity, Eastenders), and rarely move on from that. ‘Isn’t it horrible outside?’ Yes, it is horrible. It’s wet, and it’s raining. I know. Well spotted though. The lowest form of conversational topic, that. Thanks for nothing. Go back to Word, some of us have real work to do, and can’t be bothered with the latest goings on in ‘the Square.’

    I trust I have struck a chord, for as I say, everyone seems to have at least one ‘OfficeWoman’ at their place of work, if not more. However, I believe I recently have come to see the rise of ‘OfficeFootballMan’ as well. On a walk to the printer, or to get a coffee, you see him milling around by the sink, waiting for someone to talk to. The classic Partridge line of ‘Did you see the game last night’ comes up, although in this case, OfficeFootballMan did see the game. Of course he did. He waits for your affirmative, and then proceeds to launch into a we wuz robbed / you were sh*t / all we need is / you need to get rid of speech. If for some unknown reason, you didn’t see the game, he carries on regardless, regurgitating the same spiel he’s been regurgitating since he joined. If he’s a fan of a Division 2, Division 3 or Division 4 side, God help you if you’re the same. It’s something else you have in common! Brilliant! No, not brilliant. I don’t give two shits about the 36-year-old Brazilian you’ve just signed who’s been plying his trade in Germany (2. Bundesliga) for the past 8 years. He’s got 3 in 21, has he? In line for a call up to the national side, is he? F*ck it, I don’t care.

    Today, on this morning of mornings, I overheard ‘OfficeArsenalFootballMan’ in his finest voice. My God, you should’ve heard him. Direct quotes include, and this is the truth;

    ‘Get rid of Van Persie… Get rid of Fabregas… Wenger needs a rocket up his arse… he’s spent £8 million on a French League 2 defender… Braga were there for the taking… Sell Fabregas, get £50 million for him, get Eden Hazard, two world, world class defenders, and sell Almunia…’

    From the squad setup, he then moved on to our style of play.

    ‘We used to be quick on the counter… We don’t play that football any more… We are too slow… We play too sideways… Other teams are now doing that against us.’

    That’s right, I thought he could’ve supported anyone until he called us ‘us.’ Unbelievable. Arsene Wenger has a degree in electrical engineering, a masters degree in economics, speaks six languages to a good standard, and has brought delicious football and untold glory to the club in the last 14 years. What the f*ck do you know, OfficeArsenalFootballMan? You work in the same Godforesaken office I do, so what makes you more qualified to run AFC than Wenger? Or me?

    The icing on the cake was calling for the greater inclusion of Jerome Emmanuel-Thomas. JET is and will be a quality player for us, but he’s gonna get pretty confused if people keep calling him Jerome.

    Regarding the Braga game, f*ck it, and f*ck them. Move on to the next one. Bring on the Villans. They played with 8 men behind the ball at all times, and we were on the receiving end of 5 (five!) yellow cards to Braga’s two. It’s not as though we were strecthed to breaking point at all times, or were intent on hacking the living shit out of Braga in order to break up their style of play, was it ref? You d*ck. Points made recently about leaving ourselves open to a sucker punch and a sucker punch only couldn’t’ve rung more true last night.

    Oh, and might need updating to reflect the even stranger phenomenon that took place last night.

    Sorry for the ramble.

  262. Grand Oral Disseminator:

    Great post! I’m so glad i work in an office full of middle aged women who dont have a clue about footie. I dont think i could handle OfficeArsenalFootballMan today… No way.

  263. Oh my, GOD. So basically, “ordinary” people aren’t allowed to discuss football any more because they don’t have coaching badges and don’t run football clubs. Maybe anyone who’s not a politician shouldn’t be allowed to vote ’cause they’ve no experience of running a country.

  264. Don’t want to be an apologist. But has everyone forgotten we were down to 10 men?

    When we get counterattacked from our own setpiece, you have to ask why it could happen. The answer in this case is that the holding player who, up till that point had been first to every ball, was covering in defence and the midfielders ahead of him didn’t cover.

    it’s annoying because it’s the same problem we saw a few times last season and which cost us against the tinies.

    But this time around there’s a mitigating factor in that we were down to 10 men.

    The second goal was irrelevant. The players were trying to lead the player into a blind alley, win the ball cleanly, and start an attack. It was the last minute of extra time, they didn’t want to concede a foul and let Braga close the game out.

    Squillaci didn’t cover himself in glory on the second goal. He should have read the situation better and quicker.

    I haven’t seen the video again but wasn’t there a foul on Denilson?

  265. grandoraldisseminator


    £7 billion in aid for the Republic of Ireland? £7 billion? That’s ridiculous. The country can’t rub two fivers together and it’s giving Ireland $7 billion! F*cking ridiculous. What’s Ireland ever done for us? I mean sure, it’s a ‘friend’ and all, but where’s the consistency? What we need is to get rid of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, take the money we raise from not looking after those three hangers on, take the £7 billion, and put it back into the economy. £7 billion. Unbelievable. I mean where can we get £7 billion from in the first place? Print it I suppose.

  266. Grand Oral Disseminator

    Oh, and Ole. Yes, there was a foul on Denilson. The referee was all over the place, and the officials behind the goal were there for the views of the city and quarry rather than spotting corners rather than goal kicks or free kicks.

  267. Now I know the meaning of the saying: “everything for a purpose!”

    The Spud anomaly has served the purpose of making last night’s result both foreseeable and less dramatic. Yes we’ve outplayed both teams for the majority of the match and still lost. However, I feel it was only the lack of clinicalness in front of goal that done for us in both matches. As I’ve thoguht out loud before, our successes depend on all three of the following elements being present:

    1. Energy levels to play our give-and-go style
    2. Concentration and commitment levels to avoid conceeding sloppy goals 3. Clinicalness in front of goal.

    Las t night we were fine on the first aspect; not so great on the second, and profligate concerning the third. The squad is large enough to address all of these problems consistently. I think the fans and manager just need to show more faith in all our potential 22 starters.

    IMO, Cesc needs to be interchanged with Nasri and Rosicky more regularly (and I do realise that this will be enforced now during his recovery anyway). Bendtner needs more game time before us seeing if he can be the striker he promises to be – same goes for Vela. The ingredients still seem fine to me but just need fine tuning to cook up one hell of a season.

    Arsene must be going through a very low point at present and I can only hope enough of us show our colours and metal in the days ahead.


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