Heads, We Win! Arsenal Close Gap But At What Cost?

Arsenal 1 – 0 Stoke City

1 – 0 Squillaci (8)

Sèbastien Squillaci scored a vital winner to close the gap on Manchester United at the top of the table, one point now the difference. The win came at a price; Theo Walcott definitely misses Sunday’s Carling Cup Final whilst Cesc Fàbregas joined Robin van Persie and Laurent Koscielny as doubtful, the Spainard’s hamstring tightened, the player withdrawn as a precaution.

The outcome was of little surprise. Stoke were always going to be the least adventurous of visitors to The Emirates; they did not disappoint. Fàbregas’ substitution was pivotal, Arsenal lost their most influential player yet Stoke did not capitalise on that, only Carew drew a meaningful save from Szczesny.

Shawcross’ header hit Djourou in the face and Pennant rippled the sidenetting their other chances; one shot on target during ninety minutes sums up Tony Pulis’ attitude to this match. Defensive, dour and unadventurous.

Arsenal were rampant in the opening twenty minutes with Theo Walcott the chief antagonist. In the second minute, Wilshere and Fàbregas combined on the edge of the area, the Arsenal captain found a precise pass into the path of Walcott whose shot thundered into the inside of the post and back to the relative safety of a Stoke defender.

Moments later Walcott was played in for another effort which he dragged wide, Bendtner the provider on this occasion. The duo would once more combine, this time Begovic stopped Walcott in his tracks. For this spell in the game, Stoke were as much helpless as hopeless.

The threatened breakthrough duly arrived. Organisation at set-pieces is the strength of sides which deploy dullard tactics; in the eighth minute, Stoke were shambolic. Wilshere’s corner caused consternation but was flicked clear to Bendtner, close to the by-line. The Dane returned the ball into the six yard box where the unmarked Squillaci headed home.

So much for the aerial superiority of the visitors. If they could not win those battles, there was no hope for them. Or that is how it seemed at this point in the match. Five or so minutes later, the spark of the match would die a little with Fàbregas’ withdrawal. Arsenal enjoyed more possession of the ball than is usual; in excess of 75% for the first half, reducing to a trifling 60% overall.

That dominance did not negate Stoke entirely. A lot of the ball that Arsenal had led to blind alleys, the chances not created to match that superiority. Warnings were few and far between but John Carew enjoyed his encounters with Arsenal whilst at Valencia, Szczesny’s one handed save to his right prevented an equaliser from the Norwegian. It is another promising sign for the Pole; little to do during the evening yet alert to opposition forays.

Stoke’s capitulation in the first half would only lead to a heavy defeat if repeated in the second. A change was wrought, they realised that attack could bring rewards and within ten minutes very nearly did. Pennant crossed from the right, Shawcross met it with a firm header, Djourou’s face diverting the ball to safety.

A more traditional route for Stoke goals emerged minutes later as Delap hurled the ball into the area, Huth’s header cleared the bar and almost landed cleanly in the first row of supporters.

Arsenal responded. Jack Wilshere shot from distance straight at Begovic whilst Theo Walcott could not find the right finish following good work from Arshavin on the right. Just as it seemed Arsenal would be upping their gears once more, Whitehead brought Walcott down; unlike Clichy and Walters, the Stoke player would escape a deserved yellow card for his foul.

With the introduction of Denilson, the width Arsenal had previously enjoyed disappeared. Arsenal were prepared to close the game out, nick a second if possible but to enjoy a clean sheet. Pennant’s late free kick almost put paid to that aspiration, it seems a long time ago that he graced Highbury with his only three Arsenal goals against Southampton on a balmy May evening.

Post match, Arsène was pleased with the points, the ‘professional’ manner in which there were achieved. The injury to Cesc is being assessed today, his participation on Sunday in doubt. As it is both he and the manager will be happy that United have been caught, even if temporarily, but the pressure is on them with wins in their two games vital, before Sunderland visit The Emirates next weekend.

I’ll leave Arsène to sum up his view of Stoke,

I was quite surprised how intelligently they defended

Me? I’ve never forgiven them for Terry Conroy. ’til Tomorrow.

Posted on February 24, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 186 Comments.

  1. 1st?????

  2. Didn’t get to see the match – hopefully the injuries aren’t too serious and the guys are back asap for the run-in. Come on the Gunners!

  3. so i am in college right now. me and my buddy just went to a bar and i saw a guy wearing a barca jersey. so naturally i started sayin shit to him all he had to say was, dude i don’t care about your arsenal hat. so basically fuck that guy. onto other things. I thought our boys controlled the match sufficiently. After we went one up and fabregas went off, it seemed like we lacked a creative force to break through the 11 stoke defenders, but then again, we were winning and i was completely content with watching our team pass the ball around for solid chunks of time. The second half upped my nerves a little bit, but i missed most of this half because i was in class doing some bogus writing assignment. Now we are one behind Manures and we have a cup final this weekend. As you say, oooohh to be a gooner.

  4. Good post YW.
    A good win for Arsenal, just shows how important Djourou is in our defence for such physical teams.
    Just hope both injuries are not much serious.
    Fabregas saying he won’t sleep till sunday 16.30 if it’s helpfull, shows his desire to win with Arsenal.

  5. Nice post Yogi. Those where the days hey? When even Stoke had a player who could dribble the ball with the best of them, Terry Conroy, famous for scoring in the 2-1 win over the Chavs in the cup final. Its been all downhill since he left.

    As for yesterdays game, do Stoke no how to ruin a party or what? They are like the guest who shows up, no one knows who invited them but they seem to know everyone so you let them stay but Jesus do you want to kill them!!! Have you read that idiot John Cross on how AW and TP(hahaha toilet paper) by refusing to do a pre-match interview where insulting the fans? Please read it and then scroll down to StevieB’s comment. Have never heard it put so well.

  6. Was at the match last night. The 2nd half was very tetchy and then in the closing moments, very tense. But overall, you have to say that our ability to restrict Stoke to one or two meagre chances was quite impressive.

    Am hoping that Cesc going off is mainly precautionary. It took people by surprise as they didn’t see him pull up in the first place. The Walcott injury is not good news.

    And for Squllachi (new doomer poster boy) to score and have a faultless game !!

    Onwards and upwards.

    COYG !!

  7. Good post JW.

    I thought it was a good win in a match we controlled very well. Our defending was excellent, especially against a team that have gave us problems in the past. Djourou and Sagna were stand out players for me. Also Szcheszny showed Stoke that he would not be bullied as some of our keepers have been in recent seasons.

    Bendtner had a good game and worked hard up front, and Wilshere again had a good game. A real shame about the injuries, and it would not be Arsenal like if we didn’t approach the cutting end of the season with injuries to important players. Theo we can get by without, as our options in that area are excellent. Cesc is a worry though. If Cesc is missing it is crucial that RvP is fit; as long as one of those 2 players are playing the team has extra cutting edge.

  8. It’s the press conference John Cross is upset about – I do believe I was weeping when I read the article. Just thinking of those poor honest journalists yesterday with without their quotes is more than my heart can bear.

  9. bill – Take a closer look at our midfield after Cesc was taken off, any time we had the ball our players where lined up in a row, flat as you said. When Cesc is on he is constantly moving and making space for himself, never letting our midfield go flat as you said. It got to the stage that no matter how many short passes (I counted 11 at one stage) there was just no movement from them and we remained in the same small area of midfield. It was IMO this that really let Stoke back into the game for a good period in the second half. Was hoping to see Rosicky come on to mix things up but we got the win so no real complaints, just observations.

  10. Cesc really looked on fire for the time he was on as well. He created a number of chances.

  11. OOU – The part that really had me cracking up was when he himself said not to worry about the press as they would come up with something to fill it in anyways. Isn’t that what they usually do? Even when they do a press conference.

    Yogi – Muppet must be a morning person, look how positive he is 🙂 Who knew?

  12. Hopefully Nasri can get back to his best as well. This was just his second game since returning from a few couple weeks out injured. I’ll be interested to see as well whether Wilshere can take another leap forward this season and make more chances in the attacking role. He has the ability to make very deadly passes and through balls. But it would be a big responsibility. Mostly I hope Cesc can make it back soon, but I would prefer he not rush it and reinjure it ahead of the Barca game and title run-in.

  13. Hopefully Wilshere will starting shooting soon. He gets himself into smoe great positions.

  14. Arseblog is reporting that as of last night he was told Cesc could be out for as long as 3 weeks, Christ he deserves a Wembley final more than anyone!!!!

  15. melcfromfinsburypark

    Yogi, sensible as usual in your appraisal of the game but surely you were kacking it like everyone else in the ground as those last ten mins and 5 of added time dragged on interminably to seem like 30? All of the defence did well under the sustained arial barrage, to a man up for the physical demands of the endless stream of hoofs and 40 yard horizontal throws. I lost count of the number of times I thought “bloody hell, how did Sagna win that header against a man a foot taller tham him?” I was pleased to hear Arsene refuse to be further drawn into petty squabbles with pulis. One nil to the football team and one nil to Arsene.

  16. Excellent as always. Obviously the injuries are a worry, but overall there were lots of positives to take out of a performance which Arsene admitted in years gone by would have seen us drop points. I thought we were very strong defensively and didn’t panic or get frustrated – all good signs.

    One thought. I wonder if Cesc’s recurring hamstring problems might make us more amenable to selling him in the summer? Not that I want him to leave, of course, but when you have this kind of a niggling injury it rarely goes away and generally gets worse. Case in point: Michael Owen.


  17. Why oh why cant t just be good news? Why does it always have to be with a BUT?

    Good win tonight BUT it gets soured by injuries
    Cup final BUT our captain may miss it
    Chance to progress in Champions League BUT 2 of our most dangerous players might miss out

    Always the hard way Arsenal, you make it hard on the nerves BUT man oh man I love The Arsenal 🙂

    Spare a thought for the brummie fan who wont be able to see his beloved team at the cup final. Why you ask? Well because the fat fuk is 40 stone and cant fit into the seats at Wembley! So what does he do? Buy 2 tickets? Make a life changing decision to lose some weight? NOPE – he cries about it on sky sports news. Man up!!

  18. If he can’t fit into the seat, how on earth would he even get through the turnstyle? You know it is time to lose weight if yuo can’t even enter a sporting arena.

  19. OOU

    Cross is hilarous. Wenger spends -a lot- of time with the media and he always gives them great quotes.. and still this guy throws a hissy fit for one single cancelled press conference, making it out like the clubs are losing contact with the people and so on. Fucking moron

  20. Irish – Arseblog knows no more than any of us about the injury to Cesc. Even Cesc himself does not know until the scan today.

  21. Yogi,
    Your recent description of the Wembley cow pasture makes me wonder whether risking Cesc’s fragile hamstring would be worthwhile, bearing in mind the forthcoming Barca game.

  22. Great result. But at the price of those injuries. I have to mention Jack Wilshere again. He was a lot more calm in the dying minutes of the games than some of his senior team mates, some players just have “it”
    @Konkani gooner – Where are you from? Goa or further south?

  23. melc

    Nope – Stoke played with less intelligence than the most direct of sides when it comes to attack and to be honest, I though Squillaci and Djourou dealt with them comfortably last night.


  24. I’m trying to compile a list of previous “Young Footballer of the Year” Award winners from different leagues. Anyone care to provide a suitable link?

    Leagues I’m interested in are the technical ones, and those not subject to overt media hype.

    1. Bundesliga
    2. Portugal
    3. Ukraine
    4. Eredevisie
    5. J-league
    6. Argentina
    7. Brazil
    8. Mexico
    9. France
    10. Russia

    I’m trying to figure out what percentage of winner’s were defense-oriented, cos from my experiences, attacking players seem to get recognition much earlier.

  25. congs to the goal scorer

    keep it up mate

  26. Looks like someone else was paying attention to the debate we all had on here yesterday.


  27. I once sat next to a bloke at Coventry away who was so huge he took up part of my seat as well. He stank too. We were also wondering afterwards how he got through the turnstile and came to the conclusion that they must have opened the big exit gate for him to get in. Needless to say my mates still laugh about it to this day.

  28. Arsenal fans need to stop being so condescending and realise there is more than one way of playing football
    The time has come for Arsenal and Stoke fans to draw a line under the Shawcross episode

    Debate certainly, but condescension??
    As for the second quote, I’m lost for words..

  29. Irish @ 8.32, I agree completely.

    This flatness disappeared with the introduction of a certain player, but I don’t want to say his name lest I get accused of being a blood relation to him though!

  30. The dickhead say Arsenal fans were giving poor Stoke a hard time, then as an afterthought mentions that the Stoke fans were singing Ryan Shawcross from the very start of the match.

    I’m a fan of BBC sport, they generally don’t print shite, but that is shite.

  31. It’s OK, we’re free to praise Denilson here.

  32. Feeling really bad for Theo. Hope Cesc, Rvp and kozzer are ready by Sunday.

  33. This made me LOL. Stop making us feel like we don’t belong! Solution? Give us seperate seats away from everyone else.

    “A group of gay Polish football fans have called on the organisers of Euro 2012, being held in Poland and the Ukraine, to set aside seating for gay men and lesbians to protect them from possible aggression at the tournament.”

  34. Gadget | February 24, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    How could you dare mention the “unnamed” sub who got our flat midfield sorted after Walcott’s injury? He is useless and should be have been sold last summer, much less last transfer window. All those useless five and ten yard passes. Retention my ass.

  35. Delia---Block 112

    Not a game to remember. We started on the right foot but as soon as Cesc left the park we ran out of ideas. Samir looks a little short of his best and Theo, after a really great start ,found himself running down blind alleys but on another day could have scored a hat-trick .Sadly, he now faces missing the two most important games of his career so far.
    Fortunately the defence had a very good night , particularly in the second half, when under a bombardment of Delap long throws and useful crosses into the box. Tech 9 was again in charge apart from one clearance which went straight to an opponent just outside the box. Another poor Ref in Mr Walton , why he and others don’t book Delap for time wasting is a mystery.
    We can only hope that the Cesc injury is short term . No one around me saw him pull up but the look on his face as he trudged off spoke volumes.
    With Diaby available again and Ramsey back with us from Saturday things could look worse but not having our Cesc available for Wembley and the Nou Camp is a bitter pill for him and us to swallow.
    As always COYRs

  36. The Stoke fans danced, sang and cheered when they saw the stretcher bearers emerge for Theo. Deranged, posssessed, like Aztecs to Tlaloc. I have never hated them more. Fucking scum. The absolute fucking pits.

    They were brutally drowned out with a chorus of Arsenal abuse. Get fucked, Stoke, you inbred fucking throwbacks.

  37. Ryan Shawcr*ss is very much one of them. An unrepentant, mindless c*nt. He tried very hard to break Arshavin on two seperate occasions. It was only for Arshavin’s sublime fleet of foot that he failed to do so. He doesn’t learn, they’re all the same.

  38. I was hoping that Shawcross’s head would fall off. Very disapointed that it didn’t to be honest.

  39. So, onto the next game. A final no less.





    Subs: Almunia, Eboue, Squillachi, Gibbs, Denilson, Rosicky, Chamakh

    Assuming Cesc does not make it. Rosicky could always play insetad of Bendtner, with Nasri moving to the right I suppose, but I reckon that team is what Arsene will go with.

  40. A tale of one player with Cesc on the pitch we were totally dominant when he came off we were clueless.Was very disappointed with Bendtner and Arshavin in the second half just couldnt hold the ball up.And Theo before his injury kept losing the ball or giving it away.But this is the type of win Utd produce year in year out.My men of the match were Szczesny again another faultless performance and Djourou who never put a foot wrong

  41. Theo had his typical game before being injured. At times he looked electric, and he and Cesc really are on the same wavelength. Other times he looked clueless when running with the ball. If he had Nasri’s close control the guy would be unstoppable. Unfortunately he appears to have mine.

  42. If there’s a chance Diaby could be fit I’d definitely consider partnering him with Song, and then pushing Wilshere and Nasri a little further forward.

  43. Sorry.. bit bleak that.

    1 point off the top!!

    All hail Squilly The Magnificent! Played an absolute blinder. Arshavin looked very good again. With Theo out, he’s found his form at just the right time.

    Samir took a while to fill Cesc’s boots – reading when to drop deep to start moves off, and when to bomb beyond the striker. He hasn’t played there in so long, it’s only natural it took him some time to warm into it. If he starts there Sunday I expect him to hit the ground running and steal the show.

  44. goonerandy

    Agree with your team except i believe Cesc will be fit.So i would leave Bendtner out and play Nasri on the right

  45. andy, spot on team selection for me.

  46. OOU – If Diaby is fit I agree with that.

    Kelvin – Hope you are right. It is not worth a risk IMO, but I wonder if Arsene will consider having on the bench. If we can win without him then great, if we are behind with 20mins left or so then maybe?

  47. Agree with OOU, If Diaby’s fit, there’s a good chance he’ll play, he might even take up the Cesc spot. In any even, might Wenger not mix it up with those who predominantly featured in the CC?

    It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw:

    Sagna – Squilly – JDJ – Gibbs
    Denilson – Jack
    Nasri – Bendy – AA

    Back to last night: surely MotM was Squilly? He scored the goal and was as solid defensively as JDJ.

  48. Gadget – He could do I suppose. I would prefer him to play our strongest available team though. Final’s are no time to be roatating the side. We have Orient on Wednesday, any players needing a rest can get one there.

  49. And yeah, I know Al hasn’t really featured in the CC, but I figure as Szcz is the future, Arsene’s bound to give Al one last big moment of glory so should he leave us at the end of the season on a high, the way all those who pass through our hallowed doors should.

  50. That’s not really the point though Andy. The last time we were in a CC final was against Chelsea and he still played the young’uns (and a good performance they gave) because AW rewards his players for their labours.

    As Theo even scored his first goal for us in a CC final, it’s a travesty he won’t be able to play this one. We’ll just need to make sure he gets to the FA and CL final to make up for it.

  51. If Arsene thinks chesny is a better keeper and fit enough to play sunday I reckon he should play, period. The club doesnt “owe” Almunia or any other player a place in the squad.

  52. Gadget – Yeah I know. I remember it well (I was there). But this season his team selection has shifted, and more first teamers are getting games. We need to win this game, so now is not the time for sentiment. The strongest team should start. The club is more important than the players.

  53. Furious – Exactly.

  54. I dunno Gadget, it’s kind of different now, isn’t it? I mean I’m not sure there’s much of an age difference between the backups and first-teamers, so we don’t need to think so much about development and should just go with the strongest team available to demonstrate that good form is rewarded with this kind of occasion. These days we’ve got about 22 competitive players, about a third of whom look a little out of sorts – it’s probably got more to do with playing in an unfamiliar side than most moaners would admit, but we really need three or four of the bench players to start staking a claim in a similar way to Djourou earlier in the season.

    Sorry, that’s a tad unfocussed!

  55. I think Fabs will make himself make it and we’ll have the old first-choice front three of: Arshavin RVP Nasri. Which will be as entertaining and as devastating a front line as any available in world football right now.

  56. It’s also why I think Ramsey coming back is good news – apart from what he can do on the pitch, the added competition should inspire a few players.

  57. In short, the only answer is we shall see come Sunday, however, my philosophical ego fueled self cannot just give such an answer!

    It’ll take me a while to compose my retort (you know, whilst avoid the bosses’ suspicious glares and stuff), but rest assured, retorts in abundance I have

  58. OOU – “These days we’ve got about 22 competitive players, about a third of whom look a little out of sorts – it’s probably got more to do with playing in an unfamiliar side than most moaners would admit, but we really need three or four of the bench players to start staking a claim in a similar way to Djourou earlier in the season.”

    I agree with that. Especially the bit about playing in an unfamiliar team, and even more so where there are wholesale changes to the side.

    Your points on squad players challenging are also valid. Competition is a good thing within a squad, and I do think we have it in quite a few positions. Wilshere/Diaby/Ramsey battling to parnter Cesc and Song. When TV is back who is the preferred parntership at the back? Theo and AA to play alongside RvP and Nasri in the front three?

    I know everybody will get their fair share of games, but there is decent compeition for who is actually “1st choice”. Gibbs should also start to push Clichy if he can stay injury free. Even our keepers were sort of in that situation; but fair play to Szcheszny, he has grabbed his chance with both hands (much like Wilshere did).

    Tis all good.

  59. I do hope Nic B gets a decent appearance at some stage though… he deserves to start as much as anyone with the performances he’s produced so far in this competition (over the years!) and the important goals he’s scored to get us to the Final this year. Thought he did excellently again last night, shame more of the gaps he created in the Stoke BOF weren’t exploited. He worked as tirelessly as anyone on the pitch and won us a couple of corners he had no right at all to win… complete lost causes. His desire typifies the team right now.

  60. Limpar – I agree with that. It really is a footballing front 3.

  61. I have critisised Bendtner in the past for his lack of work rate, but I thought he was 1st class last night. Great set up as well.

  62. “but we really need three or four of the bench players to start staking a claim in a similar way to Djourou earlier in the season.”

    OOU, you’ll notice that it’s much easier to stake a claim when you “come in” to the first team like Djourou than when you’re playing on a B squad like in the FA Cup. Our team is almost perfectly balanced we have in-decent-from subs everywhere: we have an extra striker (NB52), an extra winger (AA), an extra midfielder (choice btw Ramsay/Diaby/Ros), an extra fullback (Eboue), and and extra defender (Djourou).

    Each player is fine coming into the first team. When you bring them all in together, that’s when they look bad.

  63. Football snobbery. Yawn.

    Stoke don’t play football. They really do play a different sport. All they do is lump it long and hope ” ‘it’ falls for them”, maybe off one of their players’ body parts. They try to create duels whenever the ball comes within 10 yards of any Stoke Player. The number of times they just dive in, or crash into players is ridiculous. It’s not a valid alternative style. It’s a different sport

  64. Urgent question for Bill:

    Now that Arsenal are keeping clean sheets like they’re going out of fashion, what has changed?

    Has Wenger, hitherto incorrigible, now seen the light? Does he now deign to coach defending whereas he previously stubbornly refused to Bill’s entreaties and keep clean sheets?

  65. Great win last night.

    In the past week we`ve out footballed the team of the moment & now out scrapped the team of the towel. Shame we can only play one way though.

    I`d quite like to see the Stoke team (& management) take part in a real life Saw movie.

    Personally I hope Arsene takes a gamble on Cesc for Sunday unless the odds are ridiculously against it. It`s a cup final after all.

    It`s a shame for Theo but time for Andrey to make the difference.

  66. Pulis furiously rubbing the ball up and down the front of his faded, stained old training coat for Rory Delap was a funny moment. Well done all you towel hiders. He looked like a mad little rabbit trying to bring himself off with a radish.

    What a fucking abberration of a football team. “Prepare the trebuchet!” squawks their commander. “YAAAAY – The trebuchet!” comes the reply from their atavistic fans. Someone should form a rugby league team in Stoke… the crowds would be huge.

  67. Ole – Good point about the clean sheets. I wonder (and I am not saying it is) if it has anything to do with the keeper? Szchezny seems very vocal, and maybe communication is better at the back. The clean sheets seem to have co-incided with him cementing his place in the side.

  68. https://aculturedleftfoot.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/win-carling-cup-final-tickets/

    Seen the new post boys & girls? Some people on here may be strong opposition for the Brummie fans… I’d get nailed, but plenty on here who have massive knowledge of our club.

  69. Missed the game, and havent seen the highlights yet. Sounds like a job well done by the lads. Glad to hear NB52 putting in a good shift, Arsh looking lively and Skilly looking solid. Looking forward to checking it out this eve…

  70. I’d agree with that, NG. I just don’t think the difference in performance should be so marked, even when the team is completely replaced, as against Orient. Players should still be shining in that environment.

    It’s just an impression, but it might also have something to do with their morale – Chamakh and Arshavin (looking far better now) might be downcast because their rivals have performed so well. Same could be true for Gibbs and Denilson.

    I always like the idea of keeping a few younger players as backup – players with lots of self-belief, who are constantly improving, but won’t have a problem waiting for their turn.

  71. Incidentally Arsene has said that Theo’s injury last night was an accident.

  72. OOU – I prefer to have players on the bench who are chomping at the bit to take a place in the side. Wheoever is currently in the side knows they have to perform to keep their place. Sure, it puts pressure on them. But at the highest level in sport that is what it is all about. A good example of this is Djourou and Kos; both are playing great at the moment. It is not a given that TV5 will walk back into the starting 11, and nor should it be.

  73. OOU,

    I agree. Those playing at Orient had missed out on selection for the biggest game of the season. In Chamakh`s case he hadn`t done much wrong before RVP got going this season, so his head dropping slightly is only to be expected.

  74. melcfromfinsburypark

    Limpar and Andy,

    I was amazed when Nic’s number came up last night as I also thought he was very good and given Chamakh’s recent form I couldn’t see him holding the ball up better. But perhaps it had more to do with the number of appearances Nic has made recently and the fact that RVP may not be fit so he will be up top at Wembley

  75. No goonerandy, it’s not down to the keeper. We’re conceding 1 shot on target per game or something like that. The keeper isn’t getting exposed. Yesterday we played Stoke.

    How many times was Szczesny called into action. Very few. Almunia wasn’t getting that kind of protection, and it started before Szczesny came into the side.

    If we have to pick a player to credit for our improved defending, all stats and facts would seem to point to Johan Djourou who has not lost a game for Arsenal in something like 30 games. When he plays we’re solid. SIMPLE AS:

    No other player, Vermaelen included, has such an impact.

  76. That could be it, mel. I hadn’t thought about it like that. I have rather been assuming RVP will start on Sunday when really we don’t know. I just have a hunch it was a rest rather than a real niggle.

  77. I think Ole’s spot on. Djourou has been the massive difference. I haven’t seen a defender like him. He’s so composed, deceptively quick and has an amazing range of passing. With him and any of the other 3 CBs, the back line looks like a force. I do think that Chezzer has had an impact though, with his more vocal style and obvious talent.

  78. I thought that Limpar, same with Kos.

  79. goonerandy

    Do you not think he was simply avoiding another row with Pulis & Co by being polite?


  80. It s a beautiful day in North London. Now even some of the Talk Sport pundits are beginning to realise what we all spotted ages ago; the fixture list favours us! Months ago we noted that we just needed to be in contention by the end of February to have a fantastic chance of winning the title. Now its just a case of waiting to see how long it takes Rudolph to complain about the fixture list being in Arsenal’s favour ? It won’t matter though, will it?

  81. Hey Ole, there is also a stat going around about goals conceded with and without Jack Wilshere in the team. Something like 1.98 without him, 0.89 with. I imagine the trend is similar with shots conceded. I’m not great with stats, and obviously those numbers can be attributable to any number of factors (other players, opponents, referees, surrounding fixtures – you name it) – but it sounds good to me! He was a little terrier again last night… doesn’t seem to tire. And he also pitched in more creatively in Cesc’s absence. Great to see him take the initiative in that respect… couple of little dinks into the box were just long of perfect for Nik and Shava.

  82. Last night’s game reminded me very much of the last 10 or so games in 1997/8 season, when we dug out win after win to go on to win the league. Each game was a battle and, mostly, the winning goals came late in the 2nd half. Perhaps it is an omen for this season. I suspect Sunday will be the same, but , with a larger pitch and more room to run in, that may be an advantage to our ball players.

  83. Yogi – that’s how I’ve taken the interview. Seemed like Wenger would rather avoid all the controversy of criticising their tactics – for the hundredth time… Saying they have a ‘special way of playing’! Special indeed…

  84. Me too, LA! This will be a huge game for the guys who have been here since 2005. Maybe RvP and AW didn’t want to take any chances.

    GA, yeah, not talking about filling it completely with young’uns; Ramsey’s enough in midfield, and Gibbs is pretty young. A touch of youth in the equation up front wouldn’t hurt though:

    We all agree that Vela had to go and get games, but in an ideal world a teenage forward in the hierarchy would be great, if only to push the others.

  85. jjgsol – I watched that season on DVD the other day, and this season is shaping up very similarly… If they stay focussed and determined, it’s ours for the taking – winning ugly or not.

  86. Funny how United were professional in Marseilles and Arsenal were uninspired beating Stoke. Fucking sheep these journalists.

  87. YW – No, I think he was just calling it as he saw it.

    Ole – Yeah, he has without doubt made a massive impact. I was think more about communication from the back with regards to the keeper as opposed to his shot stopping mind. But, yeah Djourou has been immense.

    For me the team has started to look more compact when we lose the ball, and that has always been a weakness of this side. They seem to have remidied it and are reaping the rewards. That could come from the defensive pairing not “dropping off” as early.

  88. Actually, having said that, we did try to sign that Southampton kid, and Welington + Ryo were denied work permits. That’s kind of a shame. I’m not saying they’d have seen much or any football, but their presence in the setup might have helped.

  89. OOU – That is fair enough.

  90. LA

    If it was John Cross who called them uninspired, he’s just got the arse over the pre-match cancellations. His piece in the Mirror about pre-match press conferences was the funniest, most self-serving pile of crap I’ve read.


  91. Some players to start in the CC final, drafted a few weeks ago:

    …………A ‘keeper……….
    Diaby (Song), Denilson,
    ?…….. Chamack…..Arshavin

  92. Pah, who cares if he thinks we were “uninspired”. Manure have been just that all season and the press are all busy giving them reach-a-rounds. We won, were in control for 95% of the game, and Carew’s volley aside they never really threatened us.

  93. Correction>Djourou to start in the CC, and rest against Orient.

  94. Finsbury – I would play most of the team you posted against Orient.

  95. Cross is still bitter that his little Cesc scoop, over the Summer was not so ‘nasty’.
    Just funny.

    When you consider that it was obvious that BBB were, um, broke.
    And are taking their previous president to court.

    It must be very hard to figure this stuff out. If you’re a full time journalist.

  96. Just having Diaby on the bench on Sunday will be a huge fillip for me personally. He can be a real match winner for us in the run-in. Some of our most truly unstoppable attacking moves in recent years have had Diaby charging or silking through the centre of them.

  97. Referees will need to be on the look out for those ‘testing’ his temperament. Trying to break someone’s leg is not a test, Barton, you c*nt.

  98. 6 clean sheets in 8 in the league isn’t it?

    Djorou has been immense this season, and brilliant again last night.

    Denilson was good when he came on too – kept the ball ticking along in midfield, and was great to see us keep the ball for a good 3-4 of the 5 mins of injury time.

    A solid, professional performance, shame about the injuries – let’s hope they are not too bad.

    Onwards to Wembley! Couldn’t really look forward to it until last night was out of the way – but getting excited now.

    Certainly going to be closer than we had hoped, what with the injuries – but come on boys – get us that cup!!

  99. Limpar – I agree about Diaby. He gives us that drive from midfield that none of our other midfielders can. I really rate him.

  100. Those who’ve been chasing a ‘winning mentality’ (what’s happened to the Chav$?) will not agree but you could propose to play more of the second team in the CC and Fa Cup, keeping the Big Guns in reserve for the PL and CL.

    Hopefully Cesc & Theo will be back after a good rest!

    I’d expect a half and half mix on Sunday.

  101. Diaby’s problem has always been the niggling injuries. As soon as he plays a good couple of games he gets some muscle strain or something and has to start rebuilding his form again.

  102. Winning on Sunday is too important; plus our next game should be an easy one. Strongest team on Sunday, and players needing a rest can get one on Wednesday. It is a no brainer; we are playing in a final with a great chance to win the first thing in years. Why on earth would we consider playing a weakended side?

  103. I’m waiting for good news on Theo. He’s made four premier league assists in this calendar year alone… more than any other player in the country. Obviously RVP’s ten prem goals in as little time is the real scene-stealer… but Theo’s been right behind him.

  104. I know, Diaby has never really enjoyed a run of games. If he did get one I really think the guy would blossem. Him and Wlshere would have a real ding dong fighting for that midfield spot.

  105. Weak ended? What, like Pele?

  106. We need to play our strongest team Sunday and then go forward from there – From now i think we need to adopt a “The next game is the most important” stance and not get too far ahead of ourselves.
    Diaby does offer something different to all our other midfielders with that loping style and close control, which we may need. Think we also miss Walcotts out and out pace when not in the team, AA & Nasri seem a bit too similar, much like Ray Parlour used to balance Pires or Feddie on the left by offering a different threat

  107. Limpar – Heh, maybe so.

  108. We have to put out our strongest team I think, as others have said. We have the FA replay to rest some players if needed. But this is the chance for our players to get the massive confidence boost that lifting the cup will bring. Lifting that trophy could give us that extra confidence and belief needed to win the league, and the FA cup, and the Champions League..!

  109. Cause I’m far too self-indulgent and, frankly loving being up my own rectum, ladies and gentleman i give you… something… rather… pointlessly… lame.

    Take this you bastards:
    Now, it should be clear that my arguments are garnered from the position of a spectator and tainted with my own personal bias of being an anarchic (traditional meaning not contemporary one) humanist, and hence any point I make may be inherently flawed due to said bias. However, it is a firm belief of mine that Wenger is one of the, if not just the, most humanistic managers around. I believe Wenger doesn’t just see his players as human resources (a vile term as any as I have seen) but as, well, as family I guess.

    I don’t think I’m saying anything revolutionary here as much of this is already throw about in some context of another, but perhaps the implications of such aren’t really given the merit they deserve. Granted these words of brotherly and fatherly bonds could be hollow and meaningless, but from that which I believe I have perceived, they aren’t. This bond actually exists.

    So our team, for all intents and purposes, is some sort of pseudo-family unit. Like any family, the unit is not bigger than the sum, and as long as the unit’s motivations aren’t (for want of a better word) warped, then the unit will also act in a way which benefits the sum more so than the actual unit.

    With all that said, there are two conflicting issues: the perceived value of this trophy vs family (pseudo or otherwise) dependant concepts (ie: trust, reward, fairness, etc, blah blah blah).

    The perceived value of the CC: What is it exactly? Beyond the actual stuff like money, temporary kudos, and names in a history book, is there any other value to winning a trophy? Well, it’s been long argued by those with dubious psychological authority that winning a trophy will endow this team with a self-belief they currently don’t have, but surely, any psychological boost will be relative to who the team defeated and the difficultly encountered in winning.

    We have won the Emirates Cup on numerous occasions, but this doesn’t really count as a trophy. Why? Because there is little difficulty in winning it and zero prestige. However, if we just needed to win a trophy to boost our self-belief, then surely the Emirates Cup should have done the trick. But it’s apparently not, because the trophies have a relative worth.

    According to the media AW’s disrespected it plenty by playing the kids. This season he used it for as a freshener for the remaining squad members, so might the CC not have a greater value to them as opposed to the first teamers? And if the value is great to the remaining squad, might that not be of even greater In truth this question has much irrelevance to the actual points of this little brain fart, but I figure it’s a nice question to ask.

    So the true question are:, is the relative value of the CC enough? Will winning the CC take us over the edge to win everything else? Maybe, maybe not. We win the CC, does it improve our chances of winning the league, FA cup, or CL? Maybe, maybe not

    If these questions don’t yield a definitive yes, then what is the value of the CC beyond trophy, and kudos and stuff? Why is Sunday so important? Because it is, that’s why. Or maybe it isn’t.

    On the other hand we have family stuff, like deservingness. (This right here will be pure conjecture based upon my aforementioned bias of which I perceive, and hence prone to sounding very pretentious, romantic, and all things synonymous with the epitome of moist feline). So… yeah, ummm, I’m not gonna say those things (I’m a coward, bite me – plus this is really long already) but you already get my drift. Besides, short of a transfer request or straight dishonour (and perhaps age) once they’ve broken into the first team Wenger will stick by his players and he will treat them right.

    It’s a football team. I get that, but as a manager how do you look at the players who’ve got you so far into a tournament and say “sorry, I’m playing these guys”? For the CC final against Chelsea, I’m pretty certain AW didn’t stick with the kids for just developmental reasons, but because they deserved it. (I did go hunting but the only thing I could easily find was this: http://arsenalist.com/2007/02/25/carling-cup-final-arsenal-vs-chelsea-highlights-young-gunners-lose/).

    (On a personally note, I found it difficult to offload Jaric and Hamsun on Pro Evo 2009 – I form bonds a little too easily).

    AW always does right by his players, and he generally acts like he does owe them something, such is the depth of his loyalty.

    The CC isn’t a competition he’d generally put out a first team for. Granted he mixed it up this time round, but the teams which played were predominantly the remaining members of the squad. If it was so important he’d have played the first team in the earlier stages, and I’m sure he’ll put out a team he believes strong enough to beat Birmingham. And ultimately, that is the point isn’t it? AW will put out a team he believes was strong enough to get us here, and will be strong enough to defeat Birmingham; and that team will not only be deserving of the honour, it will be one made up of the squad as a whole. (And yeah, that was a very fence sitting sentence)!

    To Sunday!

    Let’s win that cup and then lament no-one taking it seriously!

    tl;dr: you suck and I’m awesome!!!

  110. Man, Nasri’s a real threat with those free kicks. That one in the first half last night was only on the edge of the box, but he clipped it over their behemoths and got it down to shoulder height.

  111. Block4 – Diaby doesn’t just ‘get’ niggling injuries, he’s given them by opponents with wee-man syndrome.

  112. Gadget – Long, but good post.

    I will counter what you are saying by a shorter one, for fear of too many spelling errors for it to be readable though 🙂

    You are right in that Arsne treats his players in the family type enviroment. But while he has a responsibility to them, he also has a responisbility to the club as a whole, and of course the fans. We enter every competition to win it; and once you are in the final you maximise your chances of winning by fielding your best side.

    I do think that winning on Sunday can be a springboard for the squad. All will have played their part in the trophey (should we win), even if not starting the game on Sunday.

  113. I lack the lexical toolkit to get into an ideological discussion, but I believe this cup final will be a watershed, and, despite being a minor competition, has added importance because of the potential to lift a great deal of pressure from the shoulders of the players, managers and our more vicarious-living fans. Let’s play the in-form players, if they’re fit, and leave nothing to chance.

  114. OOU @3:03

    The only reason that one went wide was because SN had to aim to the side of that lamp post filled sack of sh&t, Shawcross.

    I`m in agreement with those wanting the strongest side possible on Sunday. I`d even argue to take a gamble on Cesc if necessary.

  115. Good post Gadget! I do think it would be slightly harsh on some of the players if they got ‘dropped’ for the final, but only slightly. They have contributed massively along the way to the final, and that wont go unnoticed by all. Wenger seems to have shifted to a more ruthless trophy hunt this year, and I don’t think he’ll be upsetting the apple cart too much if he played our strongest team. The players all know how important this can be and I’m sure they’re mature enough to realise being replaced by a regular first teamer to improve the chance of winning, is only doing good for the team in the long run. These younger players all know they will have plenty of playing time in the future.

    I do think it will be a massive morale boost, regardless of it being Birmingham in the final rather than Utd or Chavs. The Emirates Cup is a friendly cup, this is a competitive cup with hard fought battles all the way to the end of the 90 minutes at Wembley. 2 entirely different kettles of fish.

  116. Carling Cup win would be nice and all, but I think the victory over Barca is more of a defining moment for this squad.

    I mean it’s not like we really tried to win the Carling Cup before and failed.

  117. Beating them over 2 legs will be Markus, and would show that we didn’t just win because of their poor finishing or whatever the pundits will have people believe. And we didn’t have the opportunity to lift a trophy in front of 90,000 fans in that match…

  118. Yeah, no question, PW. You have to acknowledge the external forces. Win the cup, and then tell the c*nts to go f*ck themselves.

    Like on TV, with the smart-arse camera directors panning across the trophy boards above club level at the Emirates, before lingering on the blank space after 2005. It’s so f*cking clever!

  119. We fully deserved our win against Barca despite what the media may make it look like (we were lucky).

    They had more posession than us (not much though), yet we had more efforts on goal than they did.

  120. I am not sure a family is the best analogy for Arsenal under Wenger. I can’t think of a better one offhand though, so…. But what I do think right now the team is very invested in competing on all fronts; it is important in the team dynamic and in what they say about themselves and their objectives. We don’t know the consequences of winning the CC and there are no guarantees that the alleged boost/lift/winning mentality/sense of confidence etc… will actually translate into victories in the other competitions. But given the team’s genuine seeming enthusiasm and pride in being the only team in Europe in four competitions (thanks to the extra cup in England) at this stage of the season, to lose the CC could really have some unfortunate consequences (like going out to Ipswich might have done). So I don’t think it is worth playing a weakened side or making selection decisions on any other basis than giving us the best opportunity to win (and hopefully in stylish and convincing fashion to boot). At the same time, I don’t want us to sacrifice Cesc or any other player’s recovery and readiness for the three other competitions by rushing him back earlier than needed.

    I will say that I really despise Stoke–maybe Cesc would have suffered this no matter who we played and Theo’s injury wasn’t as obviously a consequence of dangerous/reckless play as Ramsey’s last year–but I really blame them for darkening somehow our prospects through these injuries and for our captain and Theo missing a great Wembley final. Bad juju with those guys and I do hope they fall out of the PL soon under Pulis and with Shawcross.

  121. I was just playing devil’s advocate goonerandy… 😉

    We know we deserved it, but let’s face it, we’re only half way there and both teams know that. When we knock them out, that’ll be the defining moment. The cup may well give us the extra belief, who knows…

  122. Geo – Very true.

  123. Mission accomplished last night. Not our best game but I have always been a big proponent of being able to win with defense when we are not at our best. So job well done.

    I agree with Andy’s team selection. IMO it is really important for this team to break its trophy duck. Cesc’s clearly thinks its important based on what he said in twitter. I assume all the players feel that way. Unfortunately I doubt Cesc will play given his past history with hamstrings. The only question would be starting Diaby and moving Wilshere forward as someone else mentioned. We need to play our strongest team no matter who they are.

    Ole @ 1:00PM

    I do not know what has changed this year. Arsene said after last year that our defending was the reason we did not win any trophies and he indicated he would fix it. I guess he has. I can only assume that we are doing something differently then before. We have always had good players but I could never understand why we conceded so many goals in the past.

    I think our organization has been better all year since we have not been vulnerable to counterattacks the way we were last year. I can only assume that we did make some changes over the off season. Early in the year we made some mistakes that cost goals and for a while its seems that a large percentage of the goals we conceded were set pieces. Djourou has been huge since we have rarely conceded set piece goals or any sort of goal with him in the line up. Djourou/Kos/Chezzer have been brilliant together. Djourou and Kos seem to compliment each other. Kos being more aggressive and JD being our stay at home type. Hopefully Djourouand Chezzer will be our answer to what Vidic and EVDS did for United when they started their run of dominant defending and run of trophies.

    Whatever has caused our improvement I am very happy to see it. Having that solid foundation in the back makes everything we do easier and makes us a much better team.

  124. LA

    When I saw ‘weak ended’, I thought it was a misspelt anagram…


  125. Nope. Just me being a spelling biff. Again.

  126. While we’re taling stats, well you were while ago, does anyone know the difference beteeen goals scored with Cesc in the side as opposed to him not being in the side?

    Heaven knows I don’t want to be miserable now but I have a sneaky feeling I may not like the answer.

  127. If not a family, maybe a harem? with Sultan Wenger loaning out inexperienced members to learn some tricks and moving on those who have aged badly, perhaps been worn out by too much use too young, or those who having caught the eye of neighbouring harem owner but can be replaced by newer & better options who are better able to cope with the pace and intesity of their profession – just a thought

  128. 207 games with Cesc – 425 goals scored
    48 games without Cesc – 75 goals scored

    Can’t be arsed to do the maths, sorry not one of my strong points.

  129. lol longblackcloud!

  130. We’ll miss Cesc in our matches, no doubt.
    But,the emergence of Wilshere and Nasri won’t make us miss him that badly.

    @Zama :
    I’m from Maharashtra.

  131. Thanks Geo, the maths, as you might expect, tell us that we do better with him in the side. No surprise there.

    More than 2 goals a game with him, substantially less than 2 goals a game without.

    Fairly significant.

  132. No worries. I expect that this season alone would be a bit different with the emergence of Nasri and others stepping it up…

  133. Geo

    Do you also have the figures for goals against in matches with and without Cesc?

  134. I got them from the article linked above Merlot. Those stats surprised me more than the ‘goals for’ to be honest.

  135. Very interesting article Geo.

    More or less confirmed my own thoughts -or fears!

  136. Thanks, Geo.

    It feels as though we’re becoming less dependent on Cesc with the emergence of Samir, Jack and (we hope) Aaron, but the figures are very compelling.

  137. Still pissed off by Theo’s injury. One day his kid will ask; “Dad where were you when the golden generation won it’s first cup?” And he’ll reply; “Some cunt called Whitehead put paid to that!”

  138. Birmingham is propping up the table in terms of goals scored. Good omen then

  139. Talkspite do have a sense of humour sponsoring a competition on the most anti-talkspite Arsenal blog.

    Fuck off Talkspite I’m not visiting your website.

    And if I sound like a 13 year old, (Dumb Durham’s mental age), pardon me. i just really find them objectionable

  140. Remarkable insight by the commentaor on the Liverpool game.

    Apparently, when it’s 0-0 and the away team score, then the home team have to score twice to win.

    It’s a bloody good job we’ve got these people to lift the dark from our eyes.

    You really couldn’t make it up.

  141. Nice one, longblackcloud! Could work…

  142. Whats up folks?

    Its been a long time coming, looking forward to Sunday. Hoping the boys will get it done.

    I wonder what the stats are goals wise with RVP in/out of the team.

  143. I just cant picture us not winning. We simply have to win. I think the team feels the same. There is no other option but to win that match. Simple as.
    We will win. At worst we will grind it out in a boring match, at best we will play some wickid football and show people what it is really about. We have done it before, we can do it again if the guys stay sharp and rest up well before the final.

  144. Cesc out for CC Final, pity.

  145. awh Cesc out for Sunday 😦

  146. I’m so disappointed to hear that Cesc is out for Sunday, but I really hope he can recover quickly. Great news about RVP, Kos and Diaby though.

  147. Come on lads it’s a Cup Final, we all know stats and league form go out the window on Cup Final day. You are all simply winding yourselves up for no reason whatsoever. We are going to win 4-2 , even my Grandma thinks so and she is never wrong, she’s also been dead these last 11 years so that might be how she knows these things! (that may be how she knows such things)

    RVP to open the scoring, soon to be followed by AA with a driving run down the left, a quick 1-2 with NB52 and then a rocket in to the top corner of row Z, nah just kidding!!! Total net-buster of a goal by AA. Then right before half time the ball comes to Wilshire in the center and with a deft pass Ala Cesc he flicks a pass to NB52 who turns, makes some space and curls one into the bottom right corner!!! 3-0 to The Arsenal!!!!

    Second half, Alex Macccccleissssssh invites Motivational Speaker Tony “The Pube” Pulis to come and give a half-time speech to his dispirited team. Needless to say the first 15 minutes of the second half are a vile display of harsh reckless tackling, which some might even call dangerous play yet as usual the referee refuses to do his job and nothing is given. Alexxxxx Mccccccleeessssshh is furious!!! This was his plan, how dare Arsenal tackle like lunatics!!! This is made even worse as Arsene cannot stop grinning as his “soft” team lay the smack-down on these bitches from Birmingham!!

    Soon the game begins to settle again. Until the inevitable happens. Birmingham hit a long ball(surprise!!) and though their player is yards offside, the referee waves play on and Birmingham score a goal. The Aresnal are furious but what can they do? Referees as we know courtesy of Untold Arsenal are “bent”, and by bent I don’t mean gay although it is possible, so the decision stands. Arsenal unsettled by this obvious attempt by the ref to bring Birmingham back into the match Arsenal lose concentration briefly, this is all the ref needs. From a corner kick, Zigic wraps his giant freak arms around Szeszny, and holds him as some hitherto unknown player scores a goal. Once again no foul, 3-2 Arsenal.

    Substitution by Arsene. Arshavin says he is bored and wants to come off, plus
    his marker has a foul odor and is upsetting his stomach. AW sympathizes
    totally as he has been sat downwind of Birmingham’s bench since kickoff.
    Enter Rosicky. Jesus is he pissed!! Even Arsene does not know why and he knows EVERYTHING!!! From the tipoff Birmingham charge down the Arsenal, sensing this is their moment, their one chance, they are wrong. Rosickye gets the ball. Immediately 3 Birmingham players go to close him down and maybe take him out if they can but as they near Rosicky he looks up….his steely eyed stare freezes all 3 of them in their tracks!!! With a snarl he leaps forward, weaving his way between all 3 leaving them frozen and shaken in his wake!!! Into the enemies half now and his eyes are blazing, defying all, daring any to challenge him. One braver than most does but he is cast down without breaking stride. Snarling like a man possessed he eyes the goal, released from his fierce gaze defenders too late realize their danger and start toward Him.

    With an almost casual flick he rolls the ball forward.

    Panicking the defenders desperately throw themselves forward, too late….

    With a savage roar not heard on a field of battle for millennia He unleashes a monster of a shot from 30 yards out on goal, with such ferocity that the goal keeper is frozen and can only look on in horror as his dreams and those of his brothers are crushed without mercy. With a huge roar the Rad Army of Arsenal greet the match winning strike of Rosicky.

    Then and only then did He smile that day, and all who where there swore it was as if the sun itself where shining!!!

    For some reason he is pissed off. Even Arsene does not know why and he knows EVERYTHING!!! Birmingham players start toward him to put in a good “English” tackle but when he looks at them

  148. Sorry got bored 🙂 Off to the pub then, catch you all later, let’s all keep Cesc in our thoughts.

  149. Are you looking forward to the game on Sunday Irishgray ?

  150. RvP, kos and Diaby back though! thats good news!

  151. All my non supporting Arsenal friends tell me its 2-0 Arsenal on Sunday, so why do I have a nagging feeling about it! 😦 -grrrrrr


    Ed: Ok boys, some themes for today ?

    Flunky: Well…we could concentrate on Arsenal’s lack of a trophy for five years.

    Ed: Great, great, great. Prepare a brief and send around to the presenters.

    Flunky: What about the collapse of Spurs in the premiership ? And their rubbish performance against Blackpool ?

    Ed: Nah. We love Harry.

    Flunky: What about the collapse of Chelsea in the premiership, FA Cup and being bombed out of the Carling Cup ?

    Ed: Nah. Abramovich is one of my mates. I might lose an invitation to his yatch.

    Flunky: What about the collapse of Liverpool ?

    Ed: Nah – King Kenny is back.

    Flunky: What about the fact that City look out of it even though they’ve spent £400 million. Surely they deserve better ?

    Ed: Nah – they are still in the Europa cup.

    Flunky: What about Villa and Sunderland who have spent over £100 million and are nowhere

    Ed: Nah – they will come good.

    Flunky: What about Everton, who are hovering around the relegation zone.

    Ed: Nah. Moyes is a good bloke.

    Flunky: Ok – so criticism of Arsenal is justified then. I’ll send the memo.

  153. Flippin’ ‘eck.

    Muppet works for Talkspittle.

  154. I did wonder why the comments (in the latest post) were closed.

  155. Yogi –
    Have you ‘sold out’ to Corporate Sponsorship ?? If so, well done! You deserve a bit of payback ~

  156. Sad to hear both Cesc and Theo won’t be able to play in the final, but thankfully their injuries are not serious. I have no doubt in my mind they will both make the trip to Barcelona.
    If Diaby is fully fit, i’d pair him with Song as the second holding midfielder and move Wilshere into Cesc’s position.
    3-0 put your house on it.

  157. I’ll just have to ignore the echoes from the spittoon, and enjoy the Kreeekit till Sunday.

    On fast bowling & Laptops:

    I confess, I am not against the laptop brigade. I enjoyed the sight of Goochy, stuck there behind his dell in the first two ashes tests. Cook is seriously good. He’s had a good coach/mentor. Stoke & the Notlobian variety of Gr*tball favoured by Biggus Sammus for me is the future of a game that would reflect the tragedy to have befallen modern Creatine driven Rugby.
    Watched a game of Sevens when I ventured in the countryside a little while back, that still looks like fun.

    A Yorkshireman, not famous for his yorkers, likes to moan about the lack of helmets & sticky wickets (behave!) in the modern game.
    I’d like to add a whinge about the one bouncer per over rule.
    This more then anything, has crippled fast bowling in recent times.
    A coach once tried to justify this dumb law alteration with the following:
    ‘Who wants to see batsmen duckin’ and divin’ all over the place’.
    To which I answered: ‘Me. And the rest of us who are here today…’.

    In my opinion, this tweak of a ‘law’ has been much more damaging then then the new ‘offside’ laws.

    Covered wickets + better bats + crap laws = harder work for the quicks.

    I do believe players can teach themselves this technique, though it helps to have at least one mentor at the highest level as there is such a jump from first class to test cricket. Waqar Younis is the perfect example.

  158. In case that made no sense:

    With the one bouncer per over rule , it’s a lot harder to ‘york’ a good batter, or to set them up to be yorked.

  159. Team on Sunday ?

    Sagna…Djourou… Koscienly…Clichy

    Subs: Almunia,Gibbs, Squillachi,Denilson,Roscicky,Bendtner,Chamakh

  160. If we win will Cesc and Theo get medals or only the squad at the stadium that day will get medals?

  161. Göteborgs Gunner

    Yogi. Talkshite. Really?

  162. I’m still LMAO since two days ago, Wenger snatched another Barca player….hahahaha, you wanted to take Cesc in that classless way last year, well, here you go…..We kept Cesc, and raised you Toral.

    And then Rossel cries about morals?Are you kidding me?

  163. bad news about cesc being out…
    still, we cant dwell on it too long, the club is bigger than any one player and we are not a one man team..
    i think a team of….

    …will have the minerals to do brum…

  164. nolagunner:

    “OOU, you’ll notice that it’s much easier to stake a claim when you “come in” to the first team like Djourou than when you’re playing on a B squad like in the FA Cup. Our team is almost perfectly balanced we have in-decent-from subs everywhere: we have an extra striker (NB52), an extra winger (AA), an extra midfielder (choice btw Ramsay/Diaby/Ros), an extra fullback (Eboue), and and extra defender (Djourou).

    Each player is fine coming into the first team. When you bring them all in together, that’s when they look bad.”

    His emminence, Emmanuel Eboue, did very well against Barcelona. He’s a like for like sub that doesn’t drop the level of the team like O’Shea or Brown do when they come in for United.

  165. Gazidis has stirred up all kinds of shit in Barcelona. People are saying that Toral was the pearl of their academy. The next Cesc or Iniesta.

    This is some plundits going off about the transfer. One of them says that Spanish players are the best an I even heard the “He’s got Barfa DNA” comment.


  166. its interesting also to note that toral is half english and his agent is guardiolas brother….

    its all sour grapes..bottom line is if a player wants to leave..he will..

  167. Toral wanted to play in England. His family wanted him to stay in Spain but he will move to England alone. Just like Cesc. UP YOURS BARCA

  168. exactley dups
    the pl is where he saw himself…looks like the barca ‘dna’ isnt strong with this one..
    they can scweam and cwy all they want about morals but theyve been taking advantage of the laws in spain for years..
    live by the sword die by the sword…
    hopefully the lad turns out like cesc and not merida and with anyluck he’ll choose to play with jack in the england setup..

  169. Barca seem to think it is OK to rob poor clubs (in south America & Spain) of their young talent, but not to rob rich (well they think they are) clubs like Barca of theirs. F*ckin morons.

  170. i really hope we do em..i think we will, but i hope we do cos the way the rest of the teams are playing in the comp i dont see any reason why we wont win it…

  171. Pulis furiously rubbing the ball up and down the front of his faded, stained old training coat for Rory Delap was a funny moment. Well done all you towel hiders. He looked like a mad little rabbit trying to bring himself off with a radish.

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha!

    Sunday’s team:

    Sagna Djourou Koscielny Clichy
    Song Wilshere
    Bendtner RvP Nasri

  172. FG – We can definitely win with that team.


  173. Fuck Barcelona and fuck Rosell for calling us immoral. Immoral is to act like such a loser when your club gets what it has been giving out for a few seasons now. Besides, they’re just mad that Wenger has an eye for talent and they don’t.

    Big ups to Arsene ‘Gandolf’ Wenger. He must have done something really evil the way these Barcacunts are besides themselves. This was his ‘fuck with us and see what happens’ moment. He could very possibly have picked off their next Messi.

    Last but not least, welcome to Jon Miquel Toral. I’m looking forward to seeing him play. They say he’s like Iniesta but has height and power. Sort of like Cesc being like Xavi except more dynamic and more athletic.

  174. P.S.

    Thank you for helping us finance our stadium, Barca.

  175. FA trying their very best to screw us again, our april fixture list is outrageous. 5 premier league fixtures, 1 FA cup fixture and possibly 2 CL ties. 5 premier league ties in a month?

  176. colneyblog – the only thing surprising in that is the fact that you are surprised. Of course it is badly organized, its the FA!!! What did you expect that the FA would cancel meaningless Intl. friendlies so we could play make-up EPL games? Way too obvious and simple mate, was never going to happen.

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