Stone Cold Friday: Live & Let Learn

A man comes. He travels quickly. He has purpose. He comes over water. He travels with others. He will oppose. He brings violence and destruction. His name is Darius

Last Sunday’s Blue nosed smash and grab was a coupon buster that will in time, be seen as a necessary evil. Necessary because it provided a reality check against any dose of unhealthy arrogance from the team that will self inflict more heartache in this and other campaigns to follow.

I really feel dirty saying this, but Chelsea’s acrimonious victory over United made it more bearable to lick our wounds and start seeing some light at the end of the tunnel that wasn’t an oncoming train. The positive game that dispatched Orient also went some way to cleansing the soul and spreading a bit of positivity.

My sense is that none of our players will want to ever feel the way they felt this past week. That can only be a good thing, and as they say, what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. We still seem to be counting the cost of our recent endeavours against Stoke and Birmingham.

That Robin Van Persie is out with injury is massively unfortunate. However, we don’t have the time to gnash our teeth on this one. Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh have no choice than to get rid of those cobwebs and get on with the job.

Robin was only doing what he knows best by scoring ridiculous goals and you can’t ask for any more. The fact of the matter is that any team will miss a world class striker of Van Persie’s calibre. No matter what labels people attach about his perceived fragility, you cannot legislate for the types of injuries that he has had, especially from unsavoury tackles.

What we will definitely miss for a few weeks is RVP’s artistry, confidence, sublime skill and most importantly, his sheer impact on the game. He is so different from the often touted ‘world class’ strikers like say Torres and Drogba. RVP is not only as lethal as the others in front of goal, but he is also a play-maker extraordinaire, one of the best in the business.

When he’s not scoring, he is creating. He is linking up play with adroit mastery. He is assisting goals selflessly and taking out entire defences with cultured passes that few can envisage. Yet with the others, chances are that when they’re not scoring, they’re passengers.

Bendtner and Chamakh have these big boots to fill and they have no choice but to stand up and be counted. Both have form and very good returns with Bendtner in particular having the knack of coming up with critical match winning goals when things were tight over the last two seasons.

Chamakh has literally carried the front line in the first half of the season and it’s fair to say that the work he did created the foundation for RVP to build on during the middle part of the season.

As we enter the home straight, expectations are higher and rightly so. The team must garner the courage and rise to the challenge of overcoming the recent setback.

Injuries aside, we often shout the virtues of our squad, sometimes even describing it as the best by a country mile. There is absolutely no point in waxing lyrical about what is a truly exciting squad and when the inevitable injuries and suspensions bite, we get all tangled up in our proverbial knickers about using the squad.

It’s unrealistic to expect to play our strongest team for every game, and the return to form of squad players in recent games has been a welcome sight. Especially in the Premier league, I have a sneaky feeling that Arshavin, Diaby and Bendtner will have the last laugh as they get more game time by providing relief to the regular starters this season.

As supporters, we must continue to stand firm against the negativity abound, and we must continue to have faith. The snide comments, the disdain and contempt, the cynicism and bias that often lace opinion and reflection about Arsenal are not likely to go away until we cross that threshold.

Many this week have questioned whether this team is capable of winning anything and whether they’ve learnt the lessons that need learning, making a misguided assumption that learning is a static state of affairs. This team has the character, tenacity and mental strength to do it. They’ll just have to show it the hard way when prizes are being divvied up at the end of the season.

Unlike previous seasons, this campaign is within our destiny and our own performances will determine the level of our success. We mustn’t get all giddy about Chelsea and Liverpool doing us favours by beating the common enemy. That matters not if we cannot put the points on the board ourselves and that continues with the visit of the Black Cats tomorrow. An ideal opportunity if ever there was one of exorcising the demons of Wembley.

’til Tomorrow

Posted on March 4, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 124 Comments.

  1. Am I first?

  2. ArsenalAndrew

    Good post – especially well made points re RVP. Sunderland and I think ALL the remaining games will be tough but here we are in March with so much of our destiny v much in our own hands.

    Your point about the Birmingham reality check is especially valid in my opinion; I just wonder, however, if Orient might prove a watershed moment for Nik B in particular? Whether he will now go on to open up a career that has always appeared to promise a great deal but only delivered in fits and starts?

    And what of Diaby, Arshavin, Denny, MC? Strange to think the eventual destination if our season rests on their shoulders in no small measure.

    Good luck guys.

  3. Arsenal Andrew – Bendtner really is a conundrum. I just love the guy’s attitude and my take is that the more games he has, the more influence he will have.

    One of the funniest moments I thought was last season at the home game against Burnley when Bendtner could have had a double hat-trick in the game. He must have missed at least 5 sitters – and as he was substituted and approaching the bench, he had this impish smile with a shrug of the shoulders and palms out wide as if to tell the bench “what the fuck could I do, the bastard refused to go in”.

    Considering his age and that he hasn’t been a first choice striker, the most impressive things about him for me are his attitude in that even after missing chances, he doesn’t hide and he shamelessly puts himself about; and secondly, he still gets in very good positions to score very vital goals – the ones that come to mind are Barca away last season, Wolves at home, Hull away, and the essential winners against Kiev, Portsmouth, Bolton and West Brom in previous years.

    Even at Bendy’s age, RVP was not the main striker and Bendy still has time on his side. But the notion that he isn’t one of our influential players and that he’s one for the future is just misguided. Bendy has been delivering for Arsenal for a while now. His goal ratio against his pitch time is nothing but impressive.

  4. I still think abou has a say in how this season gonna play out. If he can stay fit

  5. Two key words in the post….”Injuries aside”
    We CANNOT put them aside. They seem to be the blight of our season,year upon year. More than a normal expectation. Is it our medics, our training or our style of play. Whatever the reason, it has got to be sorted….and soon.

  6. Nicky.

    It’s a bit naive to blame our medical staff for injuries. This season we’ve had our regulation share for one, but the notion that our medical staff are responsible for our players having impact injuries on the pitch is just nonsense.

    Also, the players are being managed back to fitness more carefully and nobody including Cesc has been rushed back unlike previous seasons.

    What did you want RVP to do on Sunday? Refuse to take that volley because he might injure himself?

    What needs to change more is the expectation that we can go a season with a fully fit squad. Injuries are an occupational hazard.

  7. ArsenalAndrew

    Darius – yes, perfect word for NB, conundrum! Enigma is another one. I’ve sat with neutrals watching and trying to explain the guy to people who aren’t aware of his abilities – on 3 occasions this season alone during games I’ve said he may look a bit out of sorts but he’s just as likely to score any moment – and 3 times he’s obliged!

    Half of what anyone one needs to know about him is the simple fact Arsene’s stuck with him for a long time now – and you’re dead right to point out he’s still very young; the comparison with RvP is very pertinent. I have also always wondered how much – if at all – his run ins with Adebayor may have affected him? Certainly, having AW’s coaching and backing would account for his unbelievable levels of self-confidence which you allude to.

    Agree – the idea of blaming the medical staff for our perceived fragility is an absolute nonsense, surely? But I think nowadays, without exception, all our players are sleek and slender athletes first and dare I suggest footballers second? One of our biggest players in recent years was Adebayor who (and I know this sounds unlikely but it’s true!) I passed by outside the Emirates late after a game a couple of seasons ago. Apart from being perfectly charming and surprisingly tall (I’m a 5′ 10″ midget), I couldn’t get over how thin and delicate he looked in jeans and t-shirt. In football kit he looks like a monster and many defenders described him as a real handful.

    So I think it’s in the nature of our players’ physiques that is both our greatest strength (pace and fitness) and possibly our greatest weakness – or at least our vulnerability – which is our susceptibility to injury.

    Maybe some would have our Medical staff perform Health & Safety audits before RvP takes a shot in future ….

  8. A good read and I hope you are right from me. Unfortunately while some have sold the merits of the Arsenal having the best squad and this could well be true, the painful reality is no side should be expected to make hay, when they lose 2-3 key players at the run in to a season. The amount of times, I recall myself saying ” and he’s our best defender, and he’s our best midfielder, and he’s our best forward” when reviewing our injury list and assessing a team-sheet in tatters is tragic joke. I like to calm myself by reminding myself, that the holy powers that be must recompense us somehow, for having the joys of Arsene’s sublime take on the beautiful game and being alive to cherish the memories of “the Invincibles”.

  9. MarcoVanAdams

    Good post as usual. The Carling Cup is history and the players will have learned from it. I feel confident that it won’t have dented Chezzer’s self-belief as there wasn’t a lot he could have done. My hope is that Kozzer has put the mistake into perspective and remembered just how brilliant he has otherwise been for us this year – especially against Barca. I have a lot of belief in this squad and just hope that our depth can carry us through this very tricky succession of games. If our squad can get us through March then we will (hopefully) have Theo & RVP back fully refreshed for the run-in, which is VERY exciting. COME ON ARSENAL!!!!

  10. With regard to medical staff, the real concerns were that RvP played on into the second half after the injury, that he had no treatment at all when he came off and that he was wondering about with no ice or strapping after the game. Of course the medics did not know that he had a ligament tear, but the symptoms ought to have indicated the risk. Now it may be that none of this made the injury worse, but from a medical perspective their inaction certainly did not make it better.

  11. Under the notion of supporting the club and exhorting other dans to do so, you are insisting in creating the same mentality that has brought this club nothing since the last several years. This trend is bound to continue, as the club has not strengthened itself. It shows when the season approaches it’s climax.
    Not winning against B’ham on Sunday was not down to ability but because Arsenal had no player with balls. You need a thuggish,no-nonsense mentality to win, this team doesn’t have it. The manager has rewarded mediocrity. No body criticizes him, his job is safe, he has no
    pressure to deliver trophies, the players too have no shame. Hill-Wood said recently that the supporters have seen too much success. I wonder how his team will relish playing in a half empty stadium.
    The season is going nowhere. Barca will win very handsomely, we all know. Then United will win again in the FA cup. From the quadruple Arsene to what?
    As re injuries, that is bad luck but we all knew RVP will get injured.
    Arsene, go and eat your heart out. You are a shame for not buying quality players and attempting to win trophies. The supporters and fans suffer but who cares ?

  12. I don’t suffer. I love watching this squad play. Best I have ever seen.

  13. Baby Khan is probably more apt.

  14. Nice post Darius, good points about RvP and his replacement in the side.

    Bendtner for me is such a frustrating player, and because of this I really cannot warm to him. For me he is lazy, his 1st touch is often terrible, and he thinks he is much better than he is.

    But

    His scoring record is very impressive, and even more importantly he scores important goals for us when the team are struggling. He just seems to cruise through games not really giving a toss what happens (I realise that is probably just my percetion though), and when he has a bad game that is what makes him such a frustrating figure.

  15. Wow. It must be amazing to have that unquestionable insight Kubla. It also must be pretty fucking awful having that amazing ability, only for it be offset by being a miserable cunt. Everyone has their flaws I suppose…

  16. Thanks btw Darius.

    I never used to be a big fan of Nicky until the last couple of years. I think it was the Spurs header that did it for me. The thing I love about him now is that he lulls defences into a false sense of security, then BAM, curled into the bottom corner. He can be as unpredictable as Diaby sometimes. His finishing should not be underestimated either. With him and Cham fighting to be RvP’s replacement, I can see them both stepping up in the next few games.

  17. @ khan , go do U̶̲̥̅̊r whinning some where else. This is an Arsenal site where d team & club are analyzed objectively; with constructive criticism made. Not baby shite talk. F**k off
    I really do have faith in NB52 & dis very talented team,& I strongly believe dat come May, they’ll make us proud. We r in 3 competitions,& still v a lot 2 play for. I feel d likes of Diaby(if he stays fit), Rambo ,NB52 & MC29 will have a lot 2 say/do on how we end our season
    COYG!!!!

  18. Good post Darius, and how amazing it would be if it was undeniable that Diaby, Denilson and Bendtner have a massive hand in winning us the league. For me Diaby has potential if he gets a good run to be our best player. I’m including in that Cesc, RvP, Nasri I honestly think he has everything. We have seem glimpses of it. The guy is determined. Did he not spend the last 2 summers bulking up? Diaby ticks all 4 boxes arsenal players are required to fill.

    Bendtner is awesome his unwavering über confidence will be realised soon. He’s a long way from stepping into RvP’s boots but so would anybody. Orient was a massive blessing in disguise I feel. Gained much needed confidence for the team but more so for Cham and NickyB.

  19. Els – “Diaby ticks all 4 boxes arsenal players are required to fill.”

    Talented – Tick
    French – Tick
    Young – Tick
    Injury Prone – Tick

    😉

  20. Darius
    You must learn to read the comments carefully before replying. I POSED the question as to the reason (s) why we appear to be more affected than other Clubs, by injuries. I was hoping someone could come up with possible answers, NOT a series of whining remarks.

  21. I can see old red nose has decided to take his ball home and refuse to play with others. What a shame that when he gets upset he can’t handle the heat.

    For someone who only last week said it’s not for the Manure to debate refereeing decisions after Rooney was given the licence to assault anyone on the pitch., it’s just the height of hypocrisy.

    I suppose Rooney has to electrocute another player to get a yellow card.

  22. We’ve had these discussions a fair few times on here Nicky. It could be to do with
    a) the fact that Arsenal players have the ball at their feet more of the time than any other team in the league
    b) teams know that their best chance of winning is to nullify our footballing skills (i.e. kicking the shit out of us)
    c) we play football that frustrates neandertols into charging in for unnecessarily hard tackles
    etc etc

    some will have you believe that it’s the medical team’s problem – absolute rubbish. Gary Lewin was the best and gained ‘promotion’ to the England set up. We have the most state of the art facilities available to us too. Some will say that they are soft foreigners who dont like it up em. Rubbish. I think it’s because of a, b and c – with a bit of bad luck thrown in.

  23. “why we appear to be more affected than other Clubs, by injuries. I was hoping someone could come up with possible answers”

    How in the name of Chippy Brady would we know? How about the club get these answers? Dont they have fitness teams, medical teams, access to the best equipment and treatments? They have had long enough now and seem to flop from one misdiagnosis to another. AND they are aided and abetted by players that are just injury prone. Bad luck with injuries might hit a player for 1 season but when its nigh on 7 seasons as in the case of RVP, or 4 as with Diaby then somethings gotta give, no?

  24. RvP and Diaby have been blighted by niggling injuries, but they were sparked off by terrible tackles damaging them severely. I honestly think we have been unlucky more than anything else.

    The fact that we play the quickest football, the ball on the ground, in the hardest and most physical league in the world, against thugs, means that our players are going to get kicked and jolted and muscles tweaked more frequently than any other team, especially the likes of Stoke for example. They have massive players who are more adept at headbutting bits of leather than playing the beautiful football we’re used to. Whenyou play our style in this league, you’re going to get injuries. In Spain these players wouldn’t have to suffer the dangerous tackles that are punished less harshly here.

  25. Nicky – I’ve read your comment again and for the second time, understood it the same way.

    I appreciate that you posed those questions, but I still believe that it’s a red herring to take that view. This season for example, we have played 46 games so far, more than any other team in the top flight. That in part is a measure of our success in this campaign and a necessary consequence of that is that we will use more players than other teams and by default be susceptible to injuries caused by fatigue, legitimate impact like tackling, and outright thuggery sanctioned by referees who give a licence to bandits playing against us.

    The bottom line is that it’s an occupational hazard and the team has to be managed well in terms of player rotation and rehabilitation. This is something that has been done much better this season than in recent times, a key factor as to why we have suffered less from absences through injury.

  26. Well if you think we have problems then just look at Sunderland’s injury record..

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/-sunderland-are-depleted-in-certain-areas-

  27. Speaking of which there is much talk of Puyol returning on Tuesday. I hope so becuase he is a high energy player and his game relies upon peak fitness. After a long period out with no first team action he will not be match fit. If he plays we have the players to really stretch him.

  28. Speaking of thuggery on the pitch – Everton’s Victor Anichebe has settled out of court after suing Newcastle United for a reckless tackle by the thug Kevin Nolan that kept the Nigerian out for 11 months.

    Arsenal should seriously consider taking legal action for some of its players.

    I can just see the advert:

    “Have you had an accident at work or on the road in the last 3 years? Has it stopped you from working? Injury Lawyers for you can get you compensation on a no win no fee basis. Call us now for a free consultation – our trained legal team are ready to take your call!.”

  29. Well – that could make us a fortune eh Darius?! Diaby twice, RvP, Edu, Rambo… any others?

  30. There you go again with a series of whining remarks.

  31. Darius is a very interesting guy. Always sees a silver lining wherever the Gunners are concerned. I honestly believed two things. One, that Arsenal would not win the league without a world-class keeper. And two, that the mancs had to lose at least two (2) games for us to win the league. On account one Szcesny has come through and I believe that though young he IS a world class keeper.And two, the mancs have lost two games, most surprisingly to Wolves. I honestly believe that the league is ours to lose!

  32. Can I point out that there seem to have been more than a few hamstring injuries. These can not be blamed on the opposition but are very much a symptom of “bad maintenance”.

  33. Or maybe they could be compensating for pain from other kicks and not running as naturally as they normally would..? What do you think the medical team at Arsenal do that constitutes ‘bad maintenance’??? I’d love to know.

  34. @Kenyan – you’ve just mentioned the magic word several times in your comment – Belief.

    The belief is not based on a house of cards. It’s based on a soundly built foundation that has been growing and developing right in front of our eyes. I suppose many may choose to pick on and overly criticise the challenges this team has had, but if you’ve had anything to do with this journey, it will be impossible to miss the success that this team has already had, hence the continued positivity.

    Trophies my friend, are just the inevitable icing on the cake. If Arsenal were that bad at what they were doing, ask yourself this – why are so many clubs desperate to emulate the Arsenal model as a template for success. Even Chelsea tried it but couldn’t handle the fact that it takes patience and courage to actually build something beautiful, as opposed to going down the local supermarket and buying it off the shelf.

    Manure are trying it, but as someone said the other day, when Manure put on their second string, its more in hope rather than expectation.

    I do understand though that many fans are desperate for a trophy. I want us to win something too and having got to the CC final, I was of the view that we should have finished the job – but alas – it wasn’t to be.

    It does not however negate the heights this team has already reached and suggesting that the baby should be thrown out with the bath water as many of those who have been chanting “Bring me the head of Arséne Wenger” all week is just plain wrong.

    The fact of the matter is that some of our supporters have been so consumed with the trophy at all costs mantra, they don’t even know what success looks like any more. Yes we want trophies, but we want to do it the Arsenal way. Now tell me when we’ve ever done anything the straight forward way.

  35. Billboy…

    Are you suggesting that we can actually get away with going a whole season without a dodgy hammy?

  36. Borges Spinelli

    Has anyone noticed this peculiar occurrence to our guys this season: Koscielny, Sagna, Djourou and Rosicky have all been severely concussed?

    To my knowledge, our players have suffered more concussions than all the other EPL teams’ players put together in 2010/11.

  37. Reminds me of an incident a few years ago. Luton goalkeeper Les Sealey suffered concussion following a blow to the head during a match. Upon being informed of this, his manager replied, “He’s such a dopey bastard how did anyone notice?”.

  38. I hated Les Sealey. Evil looking son of a bitch.

  39. YW – the initial reaction of commentators when players are concused is also just hilarious sometimes.

    On Wednesday night when the Rangers defender was knocked out cold by Wilson’s thunderbolt, Alvin Martin was contemptously demanding that the defender “man up” and get on with the game. As was mentioned yesterday journey man Matt Jackson was insisting that Rosicky should “get on with it” and maybe he wanted to pretend that he’s injured.

    In both cases, the players were stretchered off making those commentators look like right bastards.

  40. Borges Spinelli

    Did Les Sealey not also play for Machester United?

  41. I believe we’re going to win this league. The injuries we’ve had recently won’t make a bit of difference. There’s too much quality in the squad, with the players that are still fit, and players like Ramsey and Diaby returning. We’re also bouncing back better from the occasional setbacks – the ManU defeat was disappointing, but we thrashed Chelsea a couple of weeks later and so began an unbeaten run in the league; the Newcastle result looked bad, but we were back to form straight away against Wolves and Barcelon. And we followed Brum up with a convincing 5-0 against the kind of side that has caused our Cup teams problems.

    And if we do miss our first choice players, the injuries they’ve suffered aren’t going to keep them out for long enough to dent the team’s chances. Cesc is back for Barcelona, Song is short term and even RvP’s injury is pretty routine – three weeks at most is the word, and that’s with an international break offering some breathing space.

    I’d still have liked to see ManU getting docked points. This is like the 5th time Slur Alex has been done for slagging off referees in the last 7 years. I mean, what’s a fine to him? And the ban doesn’t make a difference either; his team probably plays better without an old drunk staggering around on the touchline.

  42. Kenyan – if you think any team in the land has three keepers as good as ours then you are not just a pessimistic misery but you are completely deluded as well.
    Change the fucking record and get behind the team.
    Remember the team you are supposed to support?

  43. Good post, Darius,
    As you said belief is the key.
    The team must have learned their lesson from that painful defeat in the Carling Cup, and now they won’t be complacent, I believe. The tasks ahead are not easy and they have to give their all, especially the fringe players, as injuries have started to mount again.

    No striker in this league has the unique qualities of our Van the man. He is a different player altogether. And Bendy n Chamak cannot fill his boots, however they can try their best to fill the void. They must rise to the occasion. Chamak did a pretty good job of leading the line on his own earlier in the season. Now it’s Bendtners chance, as I think he will be chosen ahead of Chamak for the Sunderland and Barca game.

  44. Steww fuck off. Did you read the post? I’m rating Szcesny at the level of a fit Cech, a younger Van Der Sar, a fit Buffon and Cassilas. Why the fuck do some people think that they have the only ideas around here?

  45. For anyonw who thinks they really believe, you’ve got nothing on Bendtner:

    “”One of the categories is called ‘self-perceived competence’, ie how good the player himself thinks he is,” Crevoisier said. “On a scale of up to nine, Bendtner got 10. We have never seen that before. Pat Rice [the assistant manager] was sitting next to me and he couldn’t stop laughing.

    “When Bendtner misses a chance, he is always genuinely convinced that it wasn’t his fault. You might say that’s a problem and, to a certain degree, it can be. But you can also view it as this guy has a remarkable ability to come back after setbacks.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/mar/03/arsenal-trophies-nicklas-bendtner

  46. Limpar,
    you said yesterday that there was a roar in the stadium when Koscielny’s name was read out… but Kos was not in the squad for that game as he was injured, no !?

  47. OneOfUs,
    isnt it “AT LEAST three weeks”, and not at most, in the case of RVP ?

  48. It’s been a week already, pH – I think AW said in the interview yesterday that he was being cautious and still expected him back around the international break.

  49. We will win the league despite certain frailties because, at the end of the day, ManU is just not very good. Red Nose is attacking the refs so people don’t look too closely at his team. But the relevant numbers are:
    14: away games played
    4: away games in which they took all three points.(Stoke, Bpool, WBA,Wigan)
    22: points dropped in away games
    2.1: average points dropped per away game
    5: away games remaining
    10: Projected points ManU will drop between now and the end of the season.

    Projection for us: two frustrating away draws, a vintage Arsenal inexplicable home loss (inspiring the doomer brigade to new heights), and we win the title anyway.

  50. pH, Koscielny’s name was read out by the announcer because the board thought it best to name and shame the plonkers of the cup final. Schezneys name was also read out but the roar he recieved was significantly quieter.

  51. barca should be lacking some mental strength with their boss in hospital, no ‘pep’ talks at half to pick them up from a 2 goal deficit…

    http://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/barcelona-boss-guardiola-suffers-serious-back-injury-1487561

  52. longblackcloud

    As I have been out of the country for a while I assume I have missed the media`s mass call for Man Utd to sign a comanding centre-back and younger goalkeeper, I mean after Chelsea scored an equaliser from a badly cleared high ball into the box and their keeper then beaten at his near-post, they must need to replace those players responsible –

  53. longblackcloud

    anybody else think David Liuz looks uncannily like Sideshow Bob?

  54. oh, thanks Azza.

  55. Borges Spinelli

    According to @Arsenal on Twitter

    Wenger: ‘Fabregas has a better chance than Song of facing Barcelona’ http://www.arsenal.com/pressconferencedigest

    This is the 1st I’m learning of injuries to Song. Alas! The squad gets depleted by the day.

    To be an unwavering Arsenal fan is a test not for the weak in heart.

  56. It is so frustrating; every time we have a big game half the squad are missing.

  57. Borges.

    A midfield of Cesc, Diaby and Jack will do for Barca – or Cesc Jack and Denilson, or Jack Denilson and Diaby or Nasri, Jack and Diaby, or Nasri Denilson and Jack or Rosicky, Jack and Diaby – wait a minute, I’m getting confused.

    What I’m trying to say is that it would be nice to have Song, but we’ll have to do without him. He’s due a rest anyway.

  58. goonerandy,

    So so true. Just for once couldnt it be Bentdner and Rocisky missing instead of RVP and Theo?

  59. Wishing our own players injuries, hm? Classy, guys.

  60. If Song is not fit I hope we go with Cesc/Diaby/Wilshere.

  61. I could’ve sworn it was Kos’s name read out at the time… but perhaps it was for Szcesney and Wilshere… or Djourou.

    Fine words, OOU. That’s woken me up. Sun’s shining, it’s Friday, and we’re gonna win the league.

  62. Geo – sorry to hear about Argyle – I actually like them.

    I cringed when I read the name Peter Ridsdale of the Leeds legend. Ridsdale and ‘Appy ‘Arry should get together – seeing as they like leaving debris wherever they go.

  63. Kubla Khan who posted at 9.06am –

    Go and support another team you w@nker!

  64. I know, I actually quite like them too – but can’t admit it around these parts… Ridsdale has buggered up what could have been a great rise to the top division. I would have loved to see Plymouth in the Prem!!

  65. LOL Geo – admitting you like them is sacrilage in Exeter, no?

    I have a soft spot for Torquay United as I lived in that neck of the woods for a few years for my sins (Consols doesn’t like me going back to ‘confuse’ the unsuspecting Deb’m girls though).

  66. Borges Spinelli

    You’re right, Darius. We’ll get by somehow. We have to.

    I do hope we score an early goal (or two) to soften the load and force the home team to break their strides/shape. Should that happen, ooh la la. Arsenal will be the victor, against all odds.

    My sleep pattern will suffer majorly between Sunday and Tuesday, but to heck with it; that’s a small price to pay for winning/drawing at Barça.

  67. Borges, we have to score a goal out there. That will crank the pressure up on them 10 fold. For every goal we score, they have to score 2 to win.

  68. Yarp, so shhhhh! lol..

    I have a soft spot for all the southwest teams to be honest, but not enough to feel the shame when spurring on local ‘rivals’. They could all do with as much support as possible!

    Liking the use of ‘Deb’m’ too – That’s proper that is bey. Stop confusing the local maids and get off moi laaaand!

  69. I feel that if we can score 2 goals at the Nou Camp we will win it. We managed one goal last time and the squad was in a much worse fashion(without Cesc, with Silvestre). I just do not see us conceding 4 against Barca under normal circumstances and if our back four stays fit until then.

  70. In the game against Barca an early goal to either side will decide the tie IMO. If Barca score early I think we will panic, and cock it up. If we score early Barca will really have to over commit, and we will pick them off. Any early goal would give us a huge shot of confidence as well.

  71. Geo – there’s nothing local about downtown Torquay on a summers night down the se front. The local talent would frown on you suggesting that they haven’t got game.

    Considering back in the day Torquay, though now Paignton is a college town, go figure what it’s like every night partying. It’s the Deb’m maids doing the confusing lest they get run out of town by the visiting talent.

  72. Nothing wrong with Les Sealy, I fondly remember him refusing to be taken off after cruching his leg in a lesser european final. Whilst trying to hide his obvious pain from the physio, who had decided he was unfit to carry on, Sealey jumped up and down on the spot, then hopped up and down on his bad leg, when this still did not work he started stamping his damaged leg into the ground. Eventually dragged off the pitch only to miss the next month recovering from injuries to his ankle. Rare breed, RIP.

  73. hahahaha! I can just imagine it Darius! I’ve only been to Torquay a couple of times and was amazed at the amount of young mums there. But never been out on the town – the nights out there and Newquay don’t appeal to me at all… Not many funk or reggae nights there i can guarantee! Mainly hen nights I guess?

  74. Azza | March 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    Your comment cheered me to no end, I’m laughing myself silly here, if anyone was to walk in he would think I’m a mental case.

    I would really like a midfield of Diaby, Denilson, Cesc against Barca. So happy for Ramsey, i hope he makes an appearance tomorrow. There is no way Bendtner can be termed as lazy especially of late as he has been working his ass everywhere on the field.

    That injury list is becoming a turd too long for my liking, hope the players available will carry us through the hard times as we await the others to get well. Here is to a win tomorrow and closing that gap to the top.

  75. Firstlady – You wouldn’t play Wilshere against Barca? He has been our best midfielder so far this year IMO.

  76. With Ramsey back in the squad for Saturday, I hope that something is prepared to welcome him home!

  77. I think you’d struggle for mainstream funk or Reggae, though back in the day there were a few clubs like Park Lane and Ritzys that had theme nights for R&B, 70s and 80s soul and disco and a sprinkling of ragga. I suppose they have to cater to what is predominantly a student population through the year with the summer packed with mainly European tourists some of who came for English learning summer schools.

    Alas – there was rarely a dull night.

  78. *** that was for Geo and I meant to say R&B ***

  79. Borges Spinelli

    Azza at 12:59 pm:

    “So so true. Just for once couldnt it be Bentdner and Rocisky missing instead of RVP and Theo?”

    Haha! It’s so funny, but true. If most of us were honest, we’d admit we have been thinking along those same lines. No disrespect to NB52 and TR7’s proven pedigree. 😉

  80. ‘No disrespect to NB52 and TR7′s proven pedigree.’

    No, no disrespect at all.

  81. arsenalandrew

    Although it sounds a bit perverse, one way of looking at the injuries is to bear in mind that none of the injured could have played in every game in any case. Okay, in an ideal world we want the pick of the squad to face Barcelona – but really, that’s true also of every Premier Lge game. So long as the injuries are short term, as poss Darius said earlier, at least the Fabs and RvPs will come back to storm the final third of the season.

    Agree with remarks about Bendy’s improved workrate – not sure why or how that’s come about (possibly the threats to permanently position him on exile on the wing maybe?!) but I wonder if Barc will underestimate him to their eventual cost; every goal we score out there will represent a mountain for them to climb and I’m not at all certain they have the same kind of unwavering support our boys enjoy at the Emirates …

    Weirdly I feel more anxious about the Sunderland game as I write; I’ve seen us draw (and lose) against them more times than a I care to remember although deep down I think the Orient result couldn’t have come at a better time.

    Deeply interesting days …

  82. Delia---Block 112

    Have been confined to barracks this week having picked up some awful virus from the overcrowded train returning home from the Stoke game . Had to call off my birthday lunch with the girls this week but will be back in action in Block 112 tomorrow. Whether I can manage any singing is another matter!
    I am the eternal optimistic, you need to be if you have followed the Arsenal as long as I have and I fully expect them to come up with the goods tomorrow. I’ve always liked Bendtner , he may not have the subtle touches of RVP but he can be equally as effective in his own way. Last season he came good after the Burnley misses and I fully expect him to put in a really strong goal scoring effort for the team. Diaby could also be a key player in our run- in if we can only keep him fit .His dribble and near miss on Weds reminded us of what he has to offer and don’t write off Deni yet!
    Hoping to see Ramsey at some stage tomorrow , would love to see him with LJW in the midfield along side Diaby. I like Samir further forward with B52 and our little Russian. Looking forward to some live Wengerball.
    As always COYRs.

  83. Too true Darius… To be honest I only go out now when there’s a proper gig going on – which, even in Exeter you have to really look out for something exciting these days…

    Anyway, have a good weekend all – Up the Arse!

  84. Almost fully agree with your assessment @ 1.43 GA, however, panic is not something we’ve really done this season. Even if they score first, I done think we’ll panic.

    I think a mid of Denny – Jack – and Cesc if fully fit would perform fantastically against Barca. If Cesc isn’t fit I’d play Nasri in that role and probably using Arshavin and Bendy on the wings- I’d start Chammy as his work rate would be beneficial irrespective of his sharpness.

    I’ve no nerves again. I really think we’ll do them, but first to Sunderland.

  85. Darius 11:14. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that but we do seem to have suffered a disproportionate amount of hamstring injuries this season. It might be just a coincidence but something like five or six players have missed games due to it so far. I don’t doubt for a minute the medical and training staff are looking at it but it just seems unusual.

  86. Supercod – the hammies hav been spread out through the season, and haven’t kept the players out long term.

    I’m just saying we should expect that we will get a few hamstrings in a season that we play 60+ games. I would even argue that we would be getting more if Wenger hadn’t rotated to the extent that he has.

    The issue is then that we have a deep enough and a capable enough squad to provide cover when such injuries occur.

  87. Well, that’s disappointing. Thought it was half 3 and could leave work. Apparently not…

    Supercod – maybe they should all start wearing those go faster strips that Monkey boy wore..? I assume they were to protect hamstrings in cold weather or something??

  88. Denilson would be good in there to break up the play, but I also think Diaby will cause barca’s small midfield real problems. Not sure who I’d go for.

  89. Anyone know when Theo is due back the only think that’s keeping me going is the knowledge is that none of these injuries are long-term.

  90. The injuries issue is a bit of a red hering with our squad I think. The thing that gets most people’s goats is best evidenced with the TV5 injury.

    “A knock, he will be back in 10 days”.

    TV5 never seen again.

    If there was some issue that was worse here than at other clubs, I am sure that hte medical staff would want to get to the bottom of it. Remember last year Manure litraly had no defedners for a short period, so that type of thing is largely down to luck.

    Also a few our our players are pretty injury prone unfortunately. That is down to plain pyhsiological makeup. RvP, Diaby, Rosicky, Theo are all injured fairly regular. Also (as Eduardo proved), once you have had a long time out of the game through injury it is fairly standard to pick up lots of pulls and strains as your body re-adjusts back into top flight althletic action.

  91. Yup.
    I’ve never heard of an athlete having a tricksy/serious achilles injury.
    Kevin Pieterson? Who is he?

  92. Darius, you may be right. To be honest I don’t really pay attention to other team’s injury counts so the number we’ve suffered may not be anything out of the ordinary.

    Geo – yeah I’ve wondered what all that duct tape stuck to his legs were for…!

  93. I guess they’re called achiiles tendons for some arbitary, random reason.

  94. LOL Geo – you damn skiver. You’ve been catched (as my dodgy chemistry teacher would say). YOu’ve got at least 40 more minutes.

  95. I do agree with concerns about RVP not being treated immediately.

  96. Gadgat, Geo

    I would play Denilson in the middle and put Diaby in one of the front three positions. Denilson ability to retain the ball will be needed in midfield. While Diaby can use his dribbling, power and pace better in the final third.

    Puyol just back from injury taking on Nasri-Chamack/Bendtner-Diaby would be interesting. Along with Abidal or Biscuits, could be quite a show.

  97. Nice post Darius as always. Thanks.

    Agree with everything you said about RVP. Truly a great player. I really respect how patient he was while he moved up thru the pecking order. Many of our young players could learn from his example because as they come thru the ranks they will also have to show patience since there is so much talent above.

    I suspect the red Mancs are going to draw at Anfield this Sunday and we could be on top of the table. It would make a huge difference if we are above them on the table when they come to the Emirates. They will not be as anxious to “park the bus” and play for a draw if they need 3 points rather then a 1. If we do not worry about what the rest of the world does or thinks and we take care of things we can control then the PL title is ours for the taking. Covering for RVP and Cesc needs to be a team effort. NB, MC, Arshavin and Samir need to step up and score goals. May be even Jack and Diaby getting occasional goals. Just as important our defense really needs to be strong. Lets get 3 points this Saturday and then worry about Barca starting on Sunday.

    Funny to see old Fergie the rednosed reindeer complaining about the refs. Sounds like a lot of whinging when someone else does it.

  98. Loved the post by the way Darius.

    “RVP is not only as lethal as the others in front of goal, but he is also a play-maker extraordinaire, one of the best in the business.” True.

    “As supporters, we must continue to stand firm against the negativity abound, and we must continue to have faith. ” Too true.

  99. Bill,

    Is your bromance with Koscienly over after last Sunday?

  100. kubla khan sir
    your comments are your own
    don,t speak for me or anybody else
    i don,t know that barcelona will knock us out
    i belive we can go there and go through
    besides we have a very important title chasing clash with sunderland tomorow in front of a sell out crowd.
    lord knows where this half empty stadium nonsense comes from?
    25 years ago when we were playing luton in the 5th round of the fa cup maybe and even that was 26 and half thousand.
    winning is everything but don,t label the arsenal as some fickle gloryhunting brand.
    this club has and has always had a huge loyal fanbase and not just on the back of winning 27 trophys but because gooners know they follow the best club in the world

  101. Maria – glad you enjoyed the post my dear. We were a bit worried about you after Sunday, but alas – you were only in the bunker. Did you notice Carlos saved the day yet again for the Baggies? Don’t know why Woy won’t let him get on with it.

  102. Cod – I thought it was weird when I first saw them, and thought everyone would start wearing them – like the snoods… I wonder how effective they actually are…

    Darius – Skiving is one of my strong points..! My chemistry teacher would have said something equally as ‘funny’! Oh well, off in ten minutes – time flies when you’re having fun eh?!

    Maria – Not sure about Diaby up there, he’s great at all the things you’ve mentioned, but I love his storming runs from what seems like a nothing situation far back in midfield… He would be effective in both positions though I think. But you’re right, Denny’s ball retention is something that may be essential for us to defeat them. Wenger will choose wisely I’m sure…

    Anyway – am acutally off now, see ya’ll on monday when we’re celebrating a fine victory! Peace.

  103. Mmm, not sure he’ll start with Denilson on Tuesday. At the risk of being pigeonholed a doomer I think tracking runners from midfield will be the order of the day for the first hour. I suspect if we’re in a position to see the tie out with half an hour to go we’ll see him come on.

  104. Geo, Darius, thank you for your sympathy over poor old Argyle, another club fallen victim to vainglorious Directors of dubious provenance.

    It’s probably for the best. I think there are buyers sniffing around who were waiting for the club to go into administration before putting up any money. Many clubs emerge stronger from this kind of experience. (He says hopefully).

    Ridsdale’s role has been interesting. I was alarmed and very cynical when he showed up but so far he has only done good work and said all the right things. He has been quizzed several times on his intentions and is resolute that, while he might like a future role, he is not being paid for his work nor is he expecting to be guarenteed a role.

    Maybe it’s cathartic for him, maybe he’s trying to put something back. (He says Hopefully).

  105. Maria:

    No still have bromantic thoughts for the Kos but I must admit Johan has moved ahead of him in my heart. I am happy with the improvement in our team defense this year although there have been a few hiccups. How we defend the rest of the season will tell the true story. Kos has made a few errors this season and the timing of the one on Sunday was terrible but he certainly has shown that he has the ability to be an excellent defender. His game against Barca was outstanding. He was really aggressive but showed incredible smarts and was always in the right place in the box when needed. I think he will always be best when paired with someone who is a bigger stronger defend first type like a Sol Campbell or hopefully JD which will allow him to be more aggressive.

  106. Have put some cash on us to beat Sunderland 4-1. Not fully convinced of it but I have noticed over the years that after we suffer a defeat like we did at Wembley, I seem to snap out of it quicker when there is the added interest of financial gain 🙂 Enjoyed the Orient game although it was a bit pedestrian at times but that suited me fine.

    And wasn’t Kevin O’Brien fucking awesome Consolsbob? Have to say that really cheered me up no end!!! In fact I am still grinning from ear to ear 🙂 Seriously England sort out your fielding, way too many dropped balls for a team that many thought would win it.

    Darius – Conor Henderson is an Irish youth international, he played for the U -16, U-17 and the U-19’s I believe. Not sure if he will declare for the senior team though, especially seeing how successful Jack has been in breaking into the English team. What are your thoughts?

  107. Darius,

    Have no fear I am always behind the couch during games and in front of the doomers faces after the match!!

    On my Carlos old turkey neck is never going to play him, think we should recall him. Good ol’ boy Roy has no idea what to do with exceptional talents like Vela, better for him to come back instead of sitting on the bench for a shitty team that then gets relegated. I would love him to get a PL medal…dreamsssssss

    Geo,

    All I can say is watching Diaby in full flow behind the striker against Fenrachbe was a think of wonder a couple of seasons ago. However, Arsene hasn’t put him forward much with so many other choices. Against Barca I think he would do well there. Maxell ain’t no Sgana.

    Bill,

    Why sir, I am glad you have FINALLY come to grips with the fact that our defence is improved. On the bromane sharing is caring you can bring JD and Sagna in too and make a little harem of the defense!!

  108. Irishgray, 4:1? Nice! Though in my case I wouldn’t even give them one.

  109. Kenyan gunner – I only gave them one because of how well they have played against us in the last few meetings. Would love for Ramsey to score though, now that would well and truly wash away any bitterness that may still be lingering after Wembley! NB52, Chamakh and AA all to get on the score sheet too 🙂 To be honest so long as we win I will be happy, and then its bring on Barca. After beating those arrogant bastards, it will be time to head to Manure and beat another bunch of arrogant bastards. At that point we should be in the Quarter-finals of the CL and the FA Cup and only 1 point behind Manure with a game in hand as Liverpool are going to win 3-1 🙂

    Never wanted that Mickey Mouse Cup anyways 🙂

  110. Well, I think Denilson has provne that teams like Barcelona are exactly the right teams for his style of play. Though whoever plays for Song on Tuesday, I just hope that player won’t get an early booking. This can theoretically derail the whole match, especially with someone like Buiscuits who likes to feign injury at every opportunity. That one is one of the worst Barca players and I feel he will do anything to get the player that plays DM for us sent off.

  111. Maria:

    Sagna has been absolutely awesome.

    Clichy has been better also and will bring him into the harem as soon as he learns to keep a straight line and not play Villa or Bowyer on-side.

  112. 3:1 to ‘pool, very nice!

  113. Hey Gadget, when you’re writing your pre-match rousing speech tomorrow remember to end it with “for you, for Arsene, for Arsenal” (or something along those lines). You didn’t on Sunday and frankly I believe that’s why we lost!:D

  114. I didn’t see the Ireland game Irish. Quite glad after the sunday ‘incident’.

    There’s only so much a man can take.

  115. is Ramsey eligible for the Barca tie?

  116. Friday!

  117. Yes – Ramsey is eligible to play in the Champions league for Arsenal.
    @Maria – glad to know that you’ve been fighting the good fight. ICarlos must be patient above all things – his time will come. Wenger’s very confident in him and has always said that Vela is probably one of the best and most clinical finishers (alongside Eduardo – sigh!) at Arsenal.

    Also, after Theo, Vela is the quickest player at Arsenal followed by Traore. In a flat race, the 3 can give any Olympic medalist a run for their money.

    For certain types of games, I would love to see Vela and Walcott running the flanks with RVP conducting the orchestra up front. Especially games where the oppo’s full backs like running into our half.

    @Consols – about the potential Argyle buyers waiting and lurking in the shadows – it actually makes perfect sense. Why pay a premium for a club on top of the circa £1 million debts (though I gather about £700K have been cleared), while you can buy the club debt free for a token £1 after administration.

    Like Leyton Orient, it would have been good to get Argyle in the last round and draw with them for a replay. They’re good peoples and deserve a good payday.

  118. My team v Sunderland
    Chesney; Sagna, Squill, Djourou, Clichy; Eboué, Nasri, Diaby; AA, Bendtner, Chamakh
    Subs; Almunia, Gibbs, Rambo, Rosicky, Henderson, Miguel, Denilson

  119. thought o read somewhere that Ramsey was not in the revised champ league squad?

  120. Why Squillaci? Is Kos out or something, Remi?

  121. Borges Spinelli

    @Remi

    Decent line-up; however, a not so prudent one before a massive game. Taking into account our depleting squad, by the day.

    Starting the Sunderland game with our 2 remaining fit strikers and 2 recognized right backs, could backfire disastrously, if we were to lose a striker and a right back to injury. That would mean going to Camp Nou with 2 untested Under 18/19 yr old players on the bench. Methinks that’s a death-wish.

  122. Evil,
    I heard Kos was doubtful, dont know where I heard that but Im sure I did…..

    Borges,
    Just have a feeling that AW will risk it as hes putting this game as top priority and will only ring the changes if were hopefully winning by a couple with 20 minutes to go!

  123. “the referee was a (the?) major reason for defeat”

    do me a favour!! Arsenal could not even string 3 passes together and had zero attempts on goal. They were made to look at times like schoolchildren against men. It was a complete and utter destruction.

    Please, please, please, please, please do not attempt to blame this defeat on the referee!!

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