Ban Him, Officially Speaking And Barcelona’s Nearly Here

Arsenal head to certain Champions League defeat (©goodnewsdoesntsellpapers plc) in the Camp Nou bouyed by the return to fitness of Cesc Fàbregas and Jack Wilshere declaring himself fit and ready for action. It now leaves Alex Song to do likewise and Arsenal will be at as full strength as they can possibly be.

Of course the defeat of Manchester United at Anfield has improved everyone’s mood, much like that suffered by the current league leaders at Stamford Bridge last week.

However a cautionary note needs to be applied as Arsenal must take advantage of these slips, the trip to The Emirates and a home clash with Chelsea are the only two difficult games they have left; the remainder are emminently winnable.

Sir Alex Ferguson might not be present for any of them, seemingly intent on increasing his two match ban with a spurious appeal against his FA charge for abusing officials. With a two match suspended sentence set to be activated, Ferguson might be missing for both of those clashes as the FA can increase his ban due to the appeal.

And an example needs to be set.

It is patently obvious that Ferguson believes himself to be above any footballing regulation.  Any other manager would be receiving hospital treatment at this moment due to the weight and force of the FA Rulebook which would have hit them.

Refusing to speak with the media is childish and petulant. Yet he has been ignoring the BBC and not been fined. The EPL board regualrly have this as an item on their agenda and regularly gloss over the issue, preferring mediation as a dispute resolution.

Mediate Ferguson’s pay-packet out of existence for several weeks and as rich as he is, the Scot will kowtow to the footballing rules. Ban him from a stadium on match day and you will find out just how genial he can be. It would be no surprise if he turned up in a snood for the cup tie this weekend.

But it is part of a wider issue.

Officials need to come out and explain decisions to curtail the criticism. At the moment, abuse is ill-informed because of a wall of silence from the men in black, yellow, red, white or puce not justifying their actions. The FA have been left out to dry over Rooney by Fifa, their feebleness exposed. United might well rue Blatter’s intervention as a strong disciplinary typhoon rasps through English football.

Seemingly this season has seen more contentious decisions than before; whether that is true or not matters little, the perception rules in this instance. And it is not good for referees. They are not helped by Fifa’s insistence that technology must be infallible – it will never be so but neither will the human eye; you only have to look at the varied opinions of players for proof of that.

Steps in the right direction are happening. Titus Bramble would have been cast as a villain on Saturday if the fourth official could have rightly called the foul. Would Arshavin’s goal have been disallowed if the same call was made to overrule the linesman? At the moment, such retrospective action is not on the agenda, ball over the line issues only. How long that remains the case will become apparent in due course.

Nou Camp Bound

It would not be a big game for Arsenal if there were not key players out injured. Last season Theo Walcott’ pace was identified as frightening by Guardiola and Alves. But moving Nasri to the right and Arshavin on the left gives Barcelona a different set of problems. Any boost from the news that Puyol and Pique will both be missing for the Catalans is quickly neutered by the hazy recollection that they missed the trouncing last season.

Much attacking weight falls on the shoulders of Nicklas Bendtner. His inclusion in the starting line-up on Saturday means he is likely to be Arsène’s striker of choice tomorrow, although this is by no means certain.

In the Camp Nou last season Bendtner had a mixed evening; one goal whilst one dubious offside and the woodwork denied Arsenal a closer than deserved scoreline. This time around, Fàbregas’ return will provide more prompting.

Yet there will be much defensive work to be done and the fitness gap evident in the first leg might yet prove decisive. Barcelona might retain a lot of possession and have an atmosphere which brings forth a more beneficial and lenient interpretation of the laws from the officials but they were visibly more tired than Arsenal at the end of the first leg.

Arsène has noted that Arsenal will not set out to defend; for periods of time, they will not have any choice. Equally though the first leg gave Barcelona a warning. Theo Walcott may have frightened them with his pace but both of the Arsenal goals came when he had left the field; both showed that Arsenal are quicker than Barcelona over the ground and that will make them wary.

Indeed cod psychology is coming into play, childlike in its simplicity with Javier Mascherano claiming that Messi could score five, a hugely unlikely scenario. A repeat of last season is equally as unlikely and comments like that are designed to get into the heads of the Arsenal players. Except they make the Catalans seem to be scared, or lacking belief in their ability to progress through to the next round.

Arsenal will benefit from this especially if a clean sheet can be kept or failing that a goal not conceded until the second half. Two in the Barcelona net by that stage would be delightful.

We can dream, can’t we?

Live Blog

This evening I will chatting online at Real Social Dad‘s gaff. Feel free to drop by.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on March 7, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 433 Comments.

  1. finally 1st!!

  2. Thanks YW.

    Song is out. It’s up on arsenal.com.

    Some rumours that Eboue may play centre mid on L’Equipe.

  3. Theo and VanP are a big miss – ditto Song now. Our attacking game needs to be on song tomorrow, simply because i dont think we will stop them scoring, so we need to score ourselves. I reckon Chamakh may start along with Diaby. Score draw please oh ye fickle gods of football

  4. Eboue may play centre mid – oh no, you dont wanna do that.

    Chezzer
    Sagna Djourou Kos Clichy
    Diaby Jack
    Nasri Cesc AA23
    Chamakh

  5. Yogi, forgive me, lack of interenet and laziness and all that, but what have FIFA done regarding Rooney?

    GA, you missed the point of my post but I like bait: I don’t believe in the simplisities of “we should be beating teams like team x”. I believe that as long as we play our game to beat the best of our ability we are more likely to win than anything else. On a simplistic level, yeah you could say that I’m saying we should, but that’s essentially like saying pi is just 3.14.

    To say we should beat teams like Sunderland leads to the very complacency I have accused the team of possessing. To say we should beat teams is to ignore all the other factors that can lead to other outcomes. To say we should is to ignore what happens on the day – like a rattling goalpost, a goal called offside, a penalty not given. Any of those things go slight differently, your should becomes reality. As it stands, they didn’t, so you really shouldn’t use should to beat the team with.

  6. Gadget

    Fifa answered a question about whether Rooney could have been banned for elbowing a Wigan player or whether the FA had interpreted the rulebook correctly in saying the official saw it, we can do nothing.

    As usual the FA were caught out by a nifty quickstep by Fifa and were made to look idiots when Fifa said, of course they could ban him…

    YW

  7. Deise

    Bendtner will start. Other than that drop Diaby for Denilson and you have Arsène’s line-up.

    YW

  8. Being from a third world country I can assure you all that the world is a much better place with modern technology. I think all first worlders’ know that anyway. Likewise I believe that football would be a much better sport if we took advantage of modern technology. It would definitely be safer. Players wouldn’t get away with rough play and we’d all be the better for it. As would injustices such as wrongly called off sides and penalty kicks. Goal line technology is simply a tip of the iceberg in what technology could do for us. That Fifa fears a brave new world is sad and bad for the sport. Reminds me of a Kenyan President in the 1980s’ who claimed that computers were taking away jobs? Fifa is denying us a purer form of football much akin to a doctor recommending amputation where chemotherapy would have worked!

  9. Muppet

    You see, that’s just bloody rude. They could have waited another hour or so before announcing that. Makes a mockery of the post. Well that bit anyway.

    YW

  10. Heh, Eboue at CB.

    We are more than capable to getting the result we need tomorrow. If we perform. There is little doubt that Barca will get a goal and dominate possesion, which means we must take our chances when they come (make no mistake, we will create chances).

    I am still of the opinion that an early goal for either side will swing the game in the favor of the scorer. If a side scores in the first 20mins, I would then expect that side to progress.

    It will be interesting to see who replaces Song. Many will want Denilson, but his lack of awareness of players off the balls runs is concerning. If Diaby plays, which Diaby will we see? The guy is out of this world, or a complete liability. I am hoping for Diaby, and a focused one at that. He is the type of player which could make the difference in a game like this.

  11. Gagdet – OK. Given all things considered, a game against Sunderland is a game you would fully expect the Arsenal to take all three points from. Better? 😉

    Arsene has said that he will “freshen the team up”. I would not be at all suprised to see Rosicky play.

  12. We need to score, right? So which player is most likely to be involved in making that happen – i reckon thats Diaby and not Denilson. Therefore i reckon we should go with Diaby, for that reason alone. Diaby on his day can be a match winner. Denilson on his day is just another average midfielder that does a job.

  13. YW,

    Yep. Propaganda.com got it wrong again. This time was news was untimely.

  14. Watching the cricket world cup, the sporting attitude between the officials and players in their use of on field replays, as well as as line calls, is of little help to FUFA’s robust credibility. Not a perfect system, but it’s better then nothing.

    The Lawn Tennis association, or whatever it’s called, that radical, experimental sporting lobby has been using a bleepers on line calls since many of us were children.

  15. Cheers for that YW, and thanks for catering to my laziness! The Eduardo Inquistion was evidence enough of that anyway. The refere need serious help. Either the reffing standards were always poor or it’s dropped severely, but it’s something the FA or FIFA should look into.

  16. YW
    Great post – especially about Fergie considering himself above the law and the Barcelona observations.
    Re Fergie, I wonder if they are particularly aggrieved because of all the leniency they have shown towards him in the past?

    @ goonerandy (from previous post)
    Shouldn’t Manure be winning big games? Shouldn’t they have taken the opportunity offered by Arsenal drawing against Sunderland? And be honest, we did *not* miss our opportunity against the Black Cats – poor officiating robbed us of a 1-0, possibly 2-0 victory. But for that, the story would have been of a ground-out win.

    @ Block4
    So we let slip some leads, had some below-par performances. It’s infuriating. It happens. Results like that, you try to avoid, but you will not eliminate them completely. And it does matter that it happens to Manure and Chelsea because we are not operating in isolation. We don’t win the league by achieving perfection, we win the league by doing better than all other teams. We have to *aim*for perfection, but it’s far too harsh to castigate our team for not achievign it when we are closer than almost every other team.
    And I agree with Gadget’s response to goonerandy on this point as well.

  17. Gadget, I think the point is that we should beat teams like Sunderland more often. No-one is denying that you have games where the ball just won’t go in for any of a myriad of reasons, but it’s happening too often. The team that ends up on top come May finds a way to win those games.

  18. Win more of those gmaes I shoudl have sadi.

  19. @FunGunner, I don’t think I ever said I expect us to be perfect, but as you say that is the aim. We have too many games where below par performances lead to dropped points. As I said in yesterday’s comments section even winning half the games we haven’t when we would expect to win would see us walking the league. It’s the gap between the extremes of Chelsea at home and West Brom at home that need to be closed, more of the former, less of the latter.

    I apologise for the dyslexic typing today, my hands aren’t responding to instructions.

  20. Diaby is a luxury as he neglects defensive duties in my opinion. Deni to start.

  21. @ Block4
    Do you know what our record is for points taken from sides outside the top four? How does it compare with the record of other top four sides?

  22. Fun – I have no doubt that when they drop points to “lesser” teams thair fans say exactly that. But as Block4 alluded to; I don’ really care what they do, I support Arsenal.

    What is interesting though, is that when Manure and the like to drop points to lesser teams we are always a bit suprised, and more importantly see it as a chance to catch them up a bit. They will feel the same when we also drop similar points.

  23. Has thou not been paying attention GA?! In all my postings when have I ever expressed anything close to an expectation (other than declarations of winning everything)? Even when I attempt to do a rousing spech, it merely urging the team to play to their potential and beyond. Hell, I’m happy if we play well but lose.

    You take me for granted GA! You treat me like a trophy wife and ignore everything I say! Bastard!!! Hahahahahahahahaha! (lame, I laugh at my own jokes).

    Anyway, life has taught me to expect nothing. If I’m alive tomorrow it’s a surprise. It would be a very pleasant surprise if I woke up a billionaire or found Rosario Dawson in my bed. It’s this attitude that prepares me for most things. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I’ll be in prime position to take over the planet and have all your women as my concubines.

  24. To say Arsenal should beat teams like Sunderland means that someone needs to look at the league table again. BBB scraped a win a gainst Zaragoza. No distortion of the laws of time and space* from the officials. Just Messi. Again.
    *Bramble was just practising his hop skip and a jump routine for the kids, honest guv!

    Last year the bottom team had far fewer points. There’s little doubt, that the relegation battle is intense, and that teams are far better then they have been. Wolves are playing much better stuff, the, ahem, Bets&BroadcastsRUs.Com odds on Stoke imploding are not promising. Lets home Brum still go down!

  25. According to Jack Wilshire and Arsenal Twitter, Cesc is 90% likely to feature tomorrow. Something to cheer about? Indeed.

  26. YG,
    “It would not be a big game for Arsenal if there were not key players out injured.”
    Of course it would be a big game for Arsenal no matter who is fit and available!

    We know they can always score against us, and it’s their home we’re talking about here. They rested Villa, Iniesta and Busquets for their last game, which means they know the threat from us in the latter stages of the game. So they have to keep Villa till the end of the game, as I see it, it’s his substitution at the Emirates that gave us the chance to comeback.
    Our defense must be fully focused for the whole game, and Kos has to put Messi into his pocket once again.
    I predict a defeat for us, yet Barca get eliminated
    Barca 3-2 Arsenal

  27. No relation to the Sp*d Dawson I hope.

  28. hope>home

  29. I agree with the sentiments re: fergie thinking himself above the law but on this occassion him not talking to the media had been agreed in advance of the game by several days. He is a petulant ogre but due to circumstances I don’t think he was being childish on this occassion.

  30. @FunGunner, that’s a tangent that has no bearing on the discussion at hand, namely Arsenal’s games. I hope the other teams at the top lose every game against everyone until the end of the season (is that even possible??), but I’m concerned about our results. What’s so hard to understand? Why do you keep bringing up other team’s records? It has nothing to do with us! My concern is we have players who aren’t up to it. What does Man Utd or Chelsea losing to anyone have to do with that? They’re rubbish too? Great, does that address our problems beating average teams?

  31. Out of interest, what exactly is a team like Sunderland? I feel a philosophical rant being born! Bad times. I blame the flu. It’s messing with my mind

  32. Finsbury – I have just glanced at the table; I see we are quite a few points ahead of Sunderland, further adding to my argument that we would fully expect to beat them (if we perfomed anywhere near our level).

  33. pH

    You missed the point entirely in your quote.

    Sigh

    YW

  34. @pG
    I think YW was making a wry observation on the frequency of us having to face big games without key players.

    @ goonerandy
    And what I am saying is that “I don’t care what Manure/Chelsea do” is a massive copout. The league judges our performance in relation to that of other teams. If dropping points occasionally to lesser teams is normal, but we do it less often than other top teams, it seems harsh to castigate us for that as if it were a terrible failing. Just as our defensive performance, though not perfect, is overall not a weakness.

  35. Most people would agree that both Manure and Chelsea are not very good this year. If we don’t win the lge this year, what does it say about us? That we are not even as good as a 2nd rate Manure?

    Incidentally I think we will win the lge.

  36. Come to think on it, remember the problem we used to have where teams would just park the bus and do their damndest to get draws? It was kinda accepted that was the only way to play against us. what is my point??

  37. A random result? Chel$ki 0 Sunderland 3

    Sunderland 1 Arsenal 1

    Sunderland 0 Arsenal 0

    One of many teams can be relegated. . The teams relegated will have more points then many teams that have been relegated in the PL’s history. Simply put, many are playing better football, with better players, that has brought them closer to the top teams, some who have dropped this season, some who have improved this season.
    The league table tells us that

  38. Bramble has said he was lucky to stay on the field and thanked AA23 for not going down!!

    He also said that they spent all week working on their defense in preparation for the visit to the Grove. So while we are disappointed with a draw against ‘a team like sunderland’ their ambitions amounted to not get beat, or if they did then put in a good solid defensive shift to limit the damage so they go into the following games with that same mindset, after 4 loses on the bounce.

  39. We would expect to beat them. It doesn’t mean we WILL beat them on any given day. Over the course of the season, we do beat teams like Sunderland in general. Occasionally we do not. Only occasionally.

  40. whoops>

    Chel$ki 0 Sunderland 3

    Sunderland 1 Arsenal 1

    Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0

  41. @ Good point, DeiseGooner

  42. Fun – My point is that I concentrate on our games, our performces, and our results. If we play to our level most weeks, we will beat the majority of teams in this lge on a regular basis. I can’t really believe this debate is going on. I accept we can’t win every week, that would be stupid thinking.

    We seem to drop stupid points too often, and have done for some time. It is just that this season other teams are doing the same. But I don’t care about that. If we did not drop stupid points as often, we would be much better off.

  43. Errrrm full strength, just a small matter of RvP not playing. He’s our most influential player and prolific goalscorer, so not sure we call it Full Strength?!!??

  44. YG, my bad, now you said it… yeahh.
    English is my second language and reading it quickly, I took it totally wrong.

    and I’m from the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, Maldives.

  45. ManIOU dropped a few stupid points this week.

    Against teams that are not top of the form table. Just like Sunderland!
    (Well, they lost! Both games. Who’d have guessed it? Crazy, eh?
    I always thought that the Torres transfer saga was a great signing for Arenal FC…Suarez to Liverpool, Chel$ki with a little lift just in time…)

    No wonder Slurgie is so upset. Poor thing.

  46. Fun – “Occasionally we do not. Only occasionally”

    Hmmm,

    Sunderland x2
    Leeds
    Leyton Orient
    Ipswich
    West Brom
    Brimingham
    Newcastle x 2
    Wigan
    Spuds (after being 2 up)

  47. Arsenal will go through.

    If they believe they can fight in two ways.

    A. Attack with cautious defensive approach.
    B. Make sure Ebuye does not cry on the pitch for every faul tackle and make our defence volnerable. Must pick himself and return quick.
    C. At half time we must play long balls leaving chamach and Nasri up front.

    must play 4 -2-4 with a complete support to midfield by atleast two attack wings and play 30 minutes to go to 5-4-1

  48. Impressive editing there.
    No mention of the referee’s performance in the
    Newcastle Wigan and Sp*d games. Oh, and the last Sunderland game.

    And no mention of the fact that Leeds and Ipswich were beaten alongside Orient, and frankly, whoever plays tomorrow needed that Orient game last week.

  49. Yes, whilst Goonerandy self flaggelates, Slur Fergie has ramped up the Purple Alarm to Defcon Five (the infamous Purple Alarm), with what can only be described as a Colonel Gaddafi Media Blitzkrieg (copyright the Tuesday Club).

    He’s not worried.

  50. Never, never EXPECT to win any game.

    That way lies madness. Games are not like that, otherwise they would not be called games.

    If that’s your attitude though, why not just estimate the points that each side might expect to glean at the start of the season and then do away with the actual, stressful business of earning them?

    We could have a panel of old pros. and a few pundits plus representatives from the FA to decide the points spread.

    Of course, we will finish 6th every season.

  51. Finsbury – So all the games we cock up are the ref’s fault?

    There was no editing there either; they are the games which we conrived to balls up.

  52. “Finsbury – So all the games we cock up are the ref’s fault?”
    No but the ref’s ‘cock ups’ are far more important, significant and match altering than apologists for poor officials like you ever admit.
    Stop trying to be even handed – we’re fans we’re supposed to be fucking biased for chrissakes

  53. consolsbob – When I say expect, I don’t mean the team wander out there just thinking this will fall into place (although I think you may have hit the nail on the head, as htat is what sometimes happens). More that if the team assert themselves and remain focused, once would expect them to beat the opposition.

    When we took to the field against Leyton Orient in the 1st game, did you not expect us to win? Was you suprised when we didn’t?

  54. Wait, if Sunderland are an average team, are those advocators of should saying that we should be Sunderland specifically or simply teams like Sunderland (average)?

    If the latter then surely our position on the table and the points we’ve got already suggest this to be the case.

    If the former, well Sunderland give Man U cause for concern quite often, and they routinely take points off our rivals (Thanks Sunderland!). This might then suggest Sunderland are actually quite a decent team indeed. In fact were Sunderland more consistent, chances are they’d be challenging for Europe. Is this a fair assessment of Sunderland?

  55. GA, just so i may further explore your philosophy, what is your take upon games which we dominate but do not win?

  56. ‘Finsbury – So all the games we cock up are the ref’s fault?’

    Impressive editing there Goonerandy.
    But that’s not what I implied in my post above.

  57. Just to point out I’m not picking upon you because I’m a mean SOB but rather you respond quickest. In fact I put the same question to Block 4.

  58. To be clear, Goonerandy listed eleven results.
    I listed four.

  59. Steww – Heh, that last line is fair enough. I when the game is being played I am 100% biased. I also think we will win every game, even when we are a couple down and in injury time. I always think we will win, and every desicion should go our way.

    It is in the cold light of day, I try to see things objectively. It is true that some refereeing descions affect games, of course they do. But 9 times out of ten, the team still has the chance to win the game. It is easy to focus on referee mistakes, but the team’s destiny is in their own hands more often than not.

    We should always look inwards, and where we went wrong and what we could improve. Blaming others will not improve our game at all.

  60. _ END_

  61. Gagdet – If we dominate a game, in theory we should win. However, if a team just sticks everybody behind the ball and lets us have possesion in front of them, but restricts us from creating chances it will be a difficult task. Chamakh and Bendtner give us other options should team do that

    If this is the case, it is still up to us to break them down, or all teams would simply do that and we would never get anywhere. If a team employs this tactic against us however, it is imperative that we do not let them score. In the past that is where we have fallen down.

    I liken us to an F1 car. If everything is working in tandem, we are almost unstoppable. If a few things are out of synch however, we can really struggle to function.

  62. GA, mon frere, there’s a slight flaw in your otherwise commendable stance:
    “We should always look inwards, and where we went wrong and what we could improve. Blaming others will not improve our game at all.”

    My friend, that’s not being objective.

  63. Finsbury – Heh, you seem to be implying I am “editing” to fit an argument. In fact all I have done is names the teams we cocked up against.

  64. Gadget – My point is that (I am talking more about the club than the fans here) is that there is no point wasting time and energy on elements that we cannot control. The team performance should always be the focus of attention, regardless of outside interferences.

    A good example of this is when ( a good few years ago now) we went down to ten men against Liverpool. Freddie scored the winner. We were on the recieveing end of some really bad desicions that day, but the team did no tlet it knock them. We won, and were the dominant team despite everything that was against us.

  65. Gadget (@12:13), what exactly do you mean by that? We can’t do anything about officiating or what the opposition do, what else can we do except try to improve our own game?

  66. Whatever keeps you happy Goonerandy.
    Did you admire the Villa goal. I liked the way the shot was straight at the keeper. Straight through his legs. I guess, it was just a ‘cock up’ by the D-Fence.

    Moving on, it really is a tricksy call for all the championship managers out there:

    Bendtner or Chamack?

    I’ve been daydreaming of a starting line up that goes something like this:
    – The Usual Suspects-
    Wilshere & Denilson/Diaby (Diaby came off, so he gets the start?)
    –Nasriiiiii–
    Bendy-Chamack-Arshavin

    All out attack. All guns blazing.

    BBB rested Iniesta, Villa, Abidal & Peekaboo on the weekend, I think, could be wrong.
    Don’t tell Pep, but Mascherano had a good game for Liverpool at the start of the season. He’ll be on the bench. Heh.

  67. Of course, I don’t expect that to be the starting eleven.

  68. Finsbury – I thought it was a good finish.

  69. And you might want to include Cesc in your starting 11 😉

  70. Cesc? Oh yeah 🙂

    It twas just a daydream…

    Yes, it’s a funny thing that about good finishes Goonerandy. A lot of them seem to be as Trevor Francis would say, ‘straight at the keeper’.
    Theo *sniffs* against Valdes last season…
    which brings us back to BBB. A line up of Nasri & Arshavin is not too slow.

    Hopefully they’ll give me my speed fix tomorrow.

  71. If Cesc plays like he did in a couple of games after returning, earlier on in the season, Arsenal will be better off starting Denilson. 😉

  72. I also don’t get why anyone brings up Manu’s records as an excuse for our performance. Weren’t we all saying how poor their squad has been since the lesser Ronaldo left? If anything the mancs have overachieved this season. They should be dropping way more points that they have.
    We on the other hand are judged to have the best squad in the country. Should we then be rated the same as an ageing chelsea, or under-talented manu?
    It is AFC who is under-performing and there is no reason why that shouldn’t be pointed out. Certain players too often deliver below their normal standards, either due to complacency, fear, or whatever. Refs of course have their part to play but it would be completely counter-productive to focus on that. Its not like we can change the attitudes that bring out such bias overnight.
    Its more helpful to focus on our own shortcomings imo, with a view to addressing them. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support the team.

  73. @ goonerandy
    You’re not distinguishing between individual results and overall results. We won’t beat every lesser team on every occasion. But overall, Arsenal beats lesser teams more often than they beat Arsenal. And once again, can I remind you that we did beat Sunderland?

    “We seem to drop stupid points too often, and have done for some time.”

    “Too often” in relation to what? In relation to what other teams are doing? In which case, compare our record on losing/drawing to lesser teams or losing/drawing from winning positions, with that of other big sides. Does that list of points dropped represent a worse record than Manure or Chelsea? What about comparing our record this season with our record two seasons ago? Is there no improvement? Those are the things you need to show to back up your argument. Too often in relation to what we’d all like? Obviously, but if we’re better, or at least no worse than others in this area, it’s not a weakness.

    Of course the team focuses on improving their performances but it is simply not true that referees cannot prevent a team winning a game, or that whatever they do, we always have a chance to win.
    And no-one said that poor or biased officiating was responsible for us losing ALL the points we’ve dropped.

    “Gagdet – If we dominate a game, in theory we should win. ”
    In theory. If we are better than Sunderland/West Brom, then “in theory”, we should win. But most of us know it doesn’t always work like that.

  74. Finsbury – If a keeper “sets himself” for a shot, it can be difficult to get down close to their body. Hence my so many goals are scored there.

    You are right about Nasri and AA. We will be playing mostly on the counter, so having pace in the wide area’s will be essential. Plus Bendtner will have to make sure the ball stick if we play it to him.

  75. @ Henristic
    Making reference to Manure or Chelsea is not an excuse. It’s putting our performance in context. If everyone is struggling with a particular section of a marathon course, it suggests strongly that your team’s runner’s fitness is not the issue.

  76. Fun – “And once again, can I remind you that we did beat Sunderland?”

    No we didn’t. It was 0-0. Forget about the disallowed goal, it didn’t stand. End of.

  77. Goonerandy.

    Oh, you mean like Jerome Thomas against Almunia.
    Yes, I can see that. An error from Al for the penalty, he was short notice after last season. With two talented ‘keepers waiting patiently, that was enough for him to be dropped. There was never any need in the past for you to emphasise an error that he did not make.

    _end_

    🙂

  78. Was the the Thomas shot from the edge of the area? (completelty different from the Villa 1-on-1). Just checking.

  79. Anyone else getting exhausted bt these tedious arguments? Of course us playing well doesn’t equal us winning or beating teams we should have beat, there are other factors beyond the players which change games.

    People complaining about the Denny/Diaby combo(am talking to you jon jon) that combination was pretty awesome against Orient personally i think the Deni/Wilshire/Diaby doesnt work but only because Wilshire is in it.

  80. A rational, neutral observer would probably have predicted at the beginning of the season based on the relative quality of the squads, that Arsenal should walk the league. Now, the main reason we haven’t done this is down to our own poor performances most of the time. Yes refs did their stuff and cost us points at Sunderland for instance, but refs weren’t at completely at fault at Wigan, Tottenham, Newcastle(home), and West Brom. It would be a different story if we were dominated by these teams , but none of them were particularly awesome when we played them. Sure they fought hard and so on, but which team doesn’t? The gulf in quality is clear but we still ALLOWED those teams to get points of us.

    Thank goodness, the mancs are finally living up to expectation and playing as poorly we all expected them to. But as YW said, we still have to capitalize on their slip-ups and not keep giving excuses for not playing as well as we’re capable of. If at the end of the day, we play our best and still don’t win it because of refs or whatever, then one would understand that at least we tried.

  81. Strange those clamouring for a D**M over the summer want Arsene to replace Alex Song with an attacking midfield player. Hey ho.

  82. first lady Wenger confirmed that wilshere still prefers to play deeper in midfield hence the midfield lacking creation in the 1st half..

  83. What an awful piece of logic?
    “We should always look inwards, and where we went wrong and what we could improve. Blaming others will not improve our game at all.”
    There goes Dowd, Mason and the bloke who did the Everton game, totally scot-free.
    How the f*ck does the guy making this statement look in the mirror with a straight face and call himself a supporter.
    I am one-handed, for now, but I want to grab this apologist for English refereeing by the neck.

  84. How any Arsenal fan can look past the referee as to why we didn’t win the games against Sunderland is fucking beyond me. Most of the neutral watching footballing world can see we were mugged. And yet we’ll still go on to win the league, despite it happening on numerous occasions already this year. Fuck em all, have a little fucking faith. Too many blinkered fucks on here today. Suppose it’s bout that time of the season for people to start shoving results together and calling them shit performances to suit their neat gloating little arguments.
    COYM!

  85. Firstlady – Agreed, it is tedious. My original point was simply that it was a missed opportunity this weekend. That is all.

    Limpar – It shows how much faith is put in his stand in then eh?

    Henristic – Yup. Agreed.

  86. Hello, shotta. I read that you’re unwell. All the best to you, buddy. Hope you get better soon. A result in Barca might be just the tonic.

  87. FG
    If we agree that we have better squads than the Mancs or Chelsea. What would be the point of the context you’re referring to?

    “If everyone is struggling with a particular section of a marathon course, it suggests strongly that your team’s runner’s fitness is not the issue.”

    That’s too simplistic a conclusion. The question to ask is, ‘is everyone struggling for the same reason?’ If one of the runners is too old, and another was not just a very good runner, and yet another was fit, in his prime, and talented. You’d expect the latter to outrun the others, and if he weren’t, you have to ask if he’s been drinking the night before, or if he has the mentality needed for a marathon etc. It would be wrong to just conclude that all the runners have the same abilities and therefore some kind of common problem is going on.

  88. shotta – Can the club change the referee’s performance…..no. Can they change their own performance…….yes. In that case, this is what they should focus on. It is not brain science is it?

    How that sheds any light on me as a supporter only makes sense in your little world. I am not an apologist for ref’s, they make plently of bad calls (for and against us). I am an Arsenal fan, and therefore focus on how we perform.

  89. lol Shotta,

    Do you realize how pathetic physical threats made online sound?

  90. The fact that you are typing one handed makes absolute sense to me.

  91. That wasn’t a physical threat. Just saying what he wants to do. Perfectly healthy, Henristic.

  92. My bad

    Jerome Thomas was a few meters away from the edge of the pelanty box when he took his hot. A few, not many. Doh!

  93. >his hot shot!

    Alas the Arsenalist archive is no longer available.

  94. Fans like goonerandy and Block 4 truly love the Arsenal, but they suffer from being petulant children. Rooting for the squad is supposed to bring nothing but joy, and they are quite miffed when it fails to do so.

    They do not spend much time celebrating the good moments (for they see such moments as their rightful due), but are incensed when there’s failure. They take it quite personally, and so go looking for individuals to blame. They’ve cycled through Almunia, Fabianski, Eboue, Bendtner, Song, Denilson, Diaby, Arshavin, and, of course, Wenger over the past few years.

    They do not listen to other factors which reasonable people admit play into results. They do not believe that sometimes teams need luck when margins are tight, or that officiating really does make a difference in matches, or that other teams also have a bunch of talented professionals trying to win, or that players really do get tired, or that the sometimes they make bad decisions even when trying their best. No.

    To accept that would mean that the world was not organized around their personal pleasure. In their narcissism, they see the team as OWING them this pleasure of winning every time, and if it fails, there must be SOMEONE TO BLAME. So even after a day when good things happen (the title is back in our hands), they only see fit to bitch about why the day wasn’t even better. We all have narcissists like this in our lives…and we do our best to avoid them.

  95. Shotta,
    And to what you call awful logic. Imagine for a second, if you can ,what possible good can come from Arsene telling the boys some along the lines of “you know what lads, you were perfect. Its was the ref’s fault and there was nothing you could do about it. The refs hate us in England and don’t want us to win, and there really isn’t anything we can do about it”

    Don’t get me wrong, when I’m talking to other clubs supporters, naturally I point out the refs as the reason we lost the Sunderland game for instance. Because its often necessary to defend your team against outsiders. But why in Arsene’s name can’t we point out problems with the team among fellow gooners?

  96. @shotta, how does moaning about the referee support the team? I’m sure all of us want the team to play better, to play to their maximum. In my book, part of that is having the right personnel (and some have come up way short) and part of that is instilling the right mentaility in thos that take the field to get through poor games with the right result. Just moaning about refs and trumpeting how we have the best squad in the league when we are second are throwing away chances to hit top spot mark you out as the mug that you are. It seems to be beyond some people that we can give 100% support on a Saturday afternoon, but also be critical of the team when it’s warranted.

    @LA, I still think we should have got another defensive midfielder in January, we miss him every time he can’t play and over and above the inevitable injuries no-one in the squad an cover his position adequately when he needs to be rested.

  97. ‘What possible good….’

    Cesc weeps.

    Why else would the Arsenal Captain spend his time telling some refs, (In games Arsenal win!) that he has never seen such weird things. Like the ref passing the ball to the opponents. That kind of thing.

    Why else would the ‘most successful’ manager of all time have his team hiding at the moment?

  98. @nolagunner, what a load of pseudo-psycho bullshit. There are some people who can see the good (loads of it) and bad in our team. There are some who wear read and white tinted glasses with little cannons on the stems and couldn’t see anything wrong with their team if their life depended on it. You tell me who’s more deluded?

  99. Answers on a postcard to:

    Slur Furgus of Purplenose.
    Bunker No.1
    Carrington.
    The Greater North-West Conurbation.
    Britain.

  100. Not surprised you say that Limpar,
    But isn’t that what a threat is? When what you say you want to do involves physical violence on someone else?

  101. Henristic, GA and Block4, I now place in the camp of “sceptics” – They are the group of supporters who blame individual fear, complacency and of course the usual talentless weak-willed suspects for our failure to routinely annihilate the Sunderlands of this world. There is little place, if any, for the role of either dishonest or incompetent refereeing who in this season and in the past, routinely follow any of the following tactics: (1) flagrantly deny legitimate game-changing goals or penalty-kicks, (2) allow extended time-wasting for the opposing team once they put their noses in front, (3) liberally apply the injury time rule, either to extend or shorted, depending on the circumstances, (4) the most egregious, is to simply allow a climate of of illegal kicking and over-physical tackling combined with uneven whistle-blowing to get Arsenal, the overwhelmingly football-playing team, off their game.
    The sceptics typical reflex after a loss or poor result is to blame the players and by implication the manager since he is responsible team selection and philosophy . Not surprisingly their assessments are mirror image of the routine accusations vs AFC by the plundits in the media and by the doomer-majority.

  102. Mr.Gill, the Manc chairman, had the ability to heckle the good Master Riley at HT at Anfield.

    The guy must be deluded to think that, as the chairpersonthingy of Manc Indebted Plc. he could make any difference.
    I’m sure the Mancs pay no attention to the refs. Nope. None whatsoever.

    Grief.

  103. nice post Nolagunner

  104. Back from crappy lunch-time duties. GA, my bad, took your quote out of context, but still maintain there is a slight flaw, but that could just be my stubborness. I’m yet to deteremine if my logic is truely faulty without further internal considerations. Will post when I have reached a conclusion

  105. Henristic | March 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    “lol Shotta, Do you realize how pathetic physical threats made online sound?”
    – You don’t get it, do you? That was my point example. The pathos of a one-handed internet strangler. Think I may even write a book. Thanks H.

  106. @shotta,

    1. The “usual talentless weak-willed suspects” have had their time and should be off-loaded.
    2. No-one is denying that refereeing decisions play a part in losses.
    3. No-one has saidf that violent play shouldn’t result in stiff sanction.
    4. If you’ve never seen Arsenal waste time then open you eyes.

    I do call into question some of the manager’s decisions. Maybe part of the problem is that no-one at the club does.

    I make up my own mind by going to the games every week about our team. Those who get their fill through TV seem to be the ones who moan on and on about the media and conspiracies.

  107. Gadget – heh, fair enough 🙂

  108. “….Maybe part of the problem …..”

    COYM!

  109. “Those who get their fill through TV seem to be the ones who moan on and on about the media and conspiracies.”

    “1-0 to the refereee”
    Boos for the ref at the end of the game on Saturday. Quite obviously, directed towards the referee.
    Some have selective hearing, as well as selective vision.

  110. Block4 | March 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    Thanks for validating my theory about you as a “supporter.” Fortunately, for the 4-5 years I have been posting on this blog, it is usually weak-willed supporters like you who disappear rather than the players you like to slag and slate. The list of players who were formerly no-hopers and now have almost legendary status is well known to most of us. You, I am afraid, will quickly disappear in ignominy.

  111. Not that Block4 isn’t compelling, but what’s all this then?

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/37362/arsenal-train-ahead-of-barcelona-pictures

    RvP?

  112. Shotta/Nola – What Block4 said basically. The fact that some of us can discuss the merits and flaws of the side, is heartening. Those that point blank only see one side and grasp on to anything which might deflect relevant critisism of the side, reminds me of talking to children about who their favorite WWA wrestler is.

  113. Yes, speaking to friends who were at the game, whilst I was grafting away, they most definitely booed the referee. Some, like most, would have gnashed teeth at a misplaced pass, the usual actions of a football fan. But they booed the ref, not in irony. Why lie, in order to support an opinion? That’s just rubbish.

  114. Shotta, you one of them people who have to put people in boxes.

  115. OOU, I was just about to post that. Very curious. Would an injured van Persie be taking part in full training? Is Arsene likely to play RvP tomorrow night?

  116. @ Block4. Oh, there are some positive deluded supporters here. But that’s part of supporting something! They are mature enough to accept the failures of the team without turning on them.

    We all agree that we should beat even solid mid-table teams like Sunderland at home. And yet we didn’t. Why? You seem to think that it’s always a failure of the players or manager. We lost to Totts, WBA, Barcodes(H), Brum, because we did not play well enough. We dropped points to Barcodes(A), Sunderland(H&A), despite doing everything that championship teams do. We got screwed.

    I don’t know what kind of person starts blaming the individual players on the team after something like that, unless it’s someone who LIKES to blame the players on the team.

  117. Shotta – Ledgendary status. In that one sentence you have given a great example of the error of your ways. Some of the players you have mentioned have improved without question. In your mind they now have ledgendary status. Jesus wept.

    Very easily pleased.

  118. OOU – That pic makes me sad. We will really miss him tomorrow night 😦

  119. Couldn’t believe it either, AV15. Even if he’s not ready for Barcelona he can’t be far off if he’s taking part in drills etc.

  120. GA, it occurs to me that despite the gist of your 12.12 post, you really didn’t actually give me your take on us playing well/dominating but losing a game! Or maybe you did… it’s inconceivable! Inconceivable that we could play so domineeringly and yet lose?!

    Inconceivable!!

    I don’t think that word means what I think it means.

    Don’t mind me. I couldn’t resist

  121. @shotta, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein.

    Keep praying at the altar of Arsenal infallibility, you seem happy there.

  122. Another lie.

    ‘Some of us can discuss…’ any reader who would read this blog every day, or choose to trawl through the archives, would know this to be a falshood.

    I didn’t recall any of the usual suspects, pointing out TV5 errors last season. That’s why I had to do it. Dirty work, my apologies YW, as you found it painful at the time, but it had to be done.
    Im glad that one player who did not match the above standard of ‘merit’ applied above, in the build up to the first game against Liverpool (check the archives), has yet AGAIN proven these D**Mers wrong.
    I hope he is OK to play tomorrow. I don’t need to mention any names.

  123. @nolagunner, but not mature enough to see the bad points in the team? Must try harder pal.

  124. Using that Einstein quote in a football discussion is the definition of inanity.

  125. My memory fails me, how much longer should he be out? He seems to be taking part in all the normal exercises, and it looks as if he’s got a load of balls lined up on the 18yd box waiting to be drilled in to the net. Has Arsene pulled the wool over our eyes, and will RvP actually play tomorrow? Maybe I’m just being unreasonably hopeful.

  126. GA, Block4, others: in order of importance, what were the causes of us dropping points to Sunderland?

  127. COYM!

  128. I think 1.5 to 2 weeks from now is the optimistic forecast.

  129. Gadget – Whilst writing that posts I knew what I was trying to say, but you are right, I don’t think I said it very well. I suppose to summerise, at the very least I find it so frustrating for us to pass the ball 30+ times, only to lose possesion, one hoof and 2 touches later we have conceeded a goal.

    I realise I still have not explained.

  130. I had hoped the RVP injury was a hoax.

    ACLF, stop teasing me!

  131. nola – I really could not begin to put them in order, but; we did not play to our level (especially in the first half), we did not take any of the 7 chances we put on goal (their keeper made some good saves mind). We also had 7 off target. The ref disallowed a perfectly good goal, and we should have had a pen. All of the above contributed.

    The main one for me was us not playing to our level. If we had, we would have won no matter how well they played because we are a better football team than then. Frustrated …..yes. Missed oppornuity…..yes. End of the world…….no, it is still in our hands and we are a point closer than we were on Sat monring.

  132. @block: So your idea of supporting is having the “maturity” to endlessly discuss their flaws, even in cases when bad things have happened to them. You must be a real treat to have as a friend.

  133. 1 loose cannon

    Last season we had Sylvestre a 3rd choice right back , playing as a centre half . It was a disaster. I’m optimistic we will deal with them better this time. If we get one goal they will need 3 to win. We are more than capable of getting at least a goal. This is not Sunderland, they do not park the bus and they will attack that is for sure. Chances we’ll come our way we just need to take them.

  134. @OOU, people here keep on saying we’re great, we’re second best in the league so far, but that doesn’t stop the hyperbole. They keep on repeating the mantra of how we have the best squad, but the results don’t stack up.

    @nolagunner:
    1. We started slowly. Was that because it was “only” Sunderland?
    2. Diaby and Denilson were pedestrian in the midfield. Denilson goes off, Chamakh comes on, Wilshere moves back one and Nasri into the middle and bingo, we’re were much more of an attacking threat.
    3. Even with the bad refereeing decisions some of the finishing was poor. Yes the keeper made some good saves, but Arshavin shooting into his midriff from the Chamakh cut-back? Are you telling me that someone as insanely talented as he is shouldn’t be converting that?

    I know you wanted to see bad refereeing first, but as we can do nothing about it why bother 😉

  135. As I was watching MotD2 last night here Lee Dixon spout off something about tactics got me thinking. If one manager get’s his tactics ‘spot on’ (hate that colloquialism) does it necessarily preclude that the other manager’s got his tactics wrong?

    I should say probably not. But the scenario I’m thinking of in particular is where Team A’s strength is attacking with the wing, and defending the flanks, while team B are strong both offensively and defensively in the centre. If team A win comprehensively, does that mean team B’s manager is tactically inept for attempting to play to his team’s strengths?

    Of course such a question is difficult to answer without further information relating to the way the game was played

  136. @ Henristic
    “What would be the point of the context you’re referring to?”

    The “context” is the league – ie the environment in which all the top teams are operating, which is getting more and more competitive. The “struggling with a particular part of a course” = dropping points against lesser teams.

    All I will add now is that:
    Everyone is infuriated when we drop silly points, but some of you seem to think that ONLY Arsenal drop silly points. That is where comparisons with Manure or Chelsea come in. We also bring up those teams because some of you have used their record to beat Arsenal with in the past. (I’m reminded of the similar argument that only Arsenal goalkeepers mess up, apparently.)
    Also, some of the points dropped are not silly. The league is more competitive – there is no equivalent of Derby County in the PL this year.
    To say something along the lines of we *keep* dropping silly points implies that it is a particular problem for us. If that were the case then other top teams would not drop silly points, or they would do it a lot less often than we do.

    ***

    Nice to see Cesc training. I don’t want him to play unless he’s 100% fit, though.

  137. @nolagunner, not true. Do you want to go on about how great we were on Saturday after failing to score against a mid-table side when we’re right in the title race? If we play poorly I say so and the first half on Saturday was certainly that.

  138. OOU,
    Looks like they specifically picked out images of him and Cesc in full training. Very good news indeed. Hopefully back sooner than originally thought.
    Still smell something fishy about his injury though. If they thought he was injured, he’d have come off at half time against Brum, surely? When he did eventually come off, he went and sat back on the bench, no treatment.

  139. 1. BBB Tuesday. And my middle name is not Freud! I’m just a genuis.

    2. Fuck me. One is striker. The other a midfielder.

    3. Arshavin’s dribble round the keeper for his non-goal was perfect. Beautiful.
    A match winning performance from my MOTM. Top effort, hope he isn’t too exhausted for Barca.

  140. “If one manager get’s his tactics ‘spot on’ (hate that colloquialism) does it necessarily preclude that the other manager’s got his tactics wrong? ”

    @ gadget
    Good point. It’s noticeable especially in a game like tennis how sometimes the no 1 player is more likely to get beaten by the no 20 player than by the no 2 player, just becasue of the type of game the no 20 has – if s/he is left-handed, or something.

  141. avaris15

    Stop it!, now I won’t be able to get much work done. It was like this in the build up to the first leg. Epic game, immense game.
    Good thing my boss is in Barcelona! He’ll be up in the heavens tomorrow night. Lucky git.

  142. I’m going to the live screening of Barca at the Emirates. When I tell you that the previous two times I’ve gone to screenings have been against Sp*rs last year and Newcastle last month… Well. Third time lucky, I hope.

  143. The positive thing about Saturdays game was our defense. In the past we would have figured out a way to drop all 3 points. Well done at the back.

    On the flip side it was another frustrating day yesterday. It seems like no team wants to win this year. United is crap. They count on Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs, Scholes, Anderson, and Park in the their midfield. If Nani is out they have absolutely nothing in midfield. Even their defense which has always been great is leaking goals at an unprecedented rate. On paper we have one of the strongest squads in the world and one of the strongest Arsenal squads ever. I do not know what will happen the rest of the year but there is no question that we should have the title race salted away by now. If we do not win hopefully the boss will ask himself some hard question about this group of players.

    Referees have been terrible this year for everyone. I can think of 3 goals recently that were wrongfully disallowed for offsides just in our games. Newcastle and Birmingham both lost good goals or penalties and we lost one yesterday. Close offsides calls are nothing but a coin flip. The penalty should have been given but it seems like dodgy penalty calls happen every game. Its almost never called if the player does not go down. Certainly not defending the refs since they seem to rapidly be getting worse, but we still had 96 minutes to score a goal and that is the only thing we can control.

  144. Sorry Finsbury, I’m teasing myself more than anything. I’m probably just over-optimistic, and it’ll never happen. I often wonder how many players “have injuries” but are just being rested, but that’s just the conspiracy theorist within me.
    I’ll be watching the first leg again tonight. Downloaded a glorious HD version of it, so that I can revisit it again for years to come.

  145. uh-oh

    Here comes the heavy artillary.

    ‘it seems like dodgy penalty calls happen every game.’

    Very well said. Unless your name is Eduardo. For example.

  146. FunGunner… don’t go. Please, don’t go.

    Not that I’m superstitious, or anything 😉

  147. >My bad, again gunners/gooners. First of all I was sure that Thomas was right in front of Al when he took that shot. That must be why the ball hit his outstretched leg, as he had time to try and save the shot. Silly me.

    I mean Artillery.

  148. > if he wasn’t right in front of the ‘keeper, he must have been close to the edge of the pelanty area……ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………

  149. Indeed Fun, indeed. Perhaps tactics are like children, none are born wrong, but become wrong during the course of life… pfft bleed heart liberal stuff that!

    GA:

    “…..yes. Missed oppornuity…..yes. End of the world…….no, it is still in our hands and we are a point closer than we were on Sat monring.”

    Hast thou become a glass half-full fellow after all?

  150. Moderation!!

  151. children

  152. bleed?

  153. wait, I think I’ve got it: a misspelling perhaps:
    oppornuity?

  154. Indeed Fun, indeed. Perhaps tactics are like children, none are born wrong, but become wrong during the course of life… pfft bleed heart liberal stuff that!

    GA:

    “…..yes. Missed opportunity…..yes. End of the world…….no, it is still in our hands and we are a point closer than we were on Sat monring.”

    Hast thou become a glass half-full fellow after all?

    *fixed*

  155. Last year, I watch the Barca (Camp Nou) match in the sports bar in Piccadilly. The roar I let out for Bendy’s goal was such that I felt faint for a short while afterwards. Just a shame that we lost that one.

    Where were you when Bendy scored at Camp Nou?

  156. Just saw Van Persie training lads. He doesn’t look injured to me.

  157. Gagdet – Heh, that is what I have been saying all day, only to get pulled into childish arguments will some of the wierdo’s on here 😉

    It was an opportunity missed, but we are still in a great position. I am glass half full type of guy to be honest, but also will discuss flaws as readily as assets (of the team). This is the only place I have ever been accused of being negative strangely enough. I genuinelly put it down to attempting discuss rational thoughts, with lots of irrational people (you are not included in that of course, your posts are well constructed).

  158. @Gadget, I think in your tactical scenario you are then into the tactical changes that managers can make during the match. How do you change it so that you lose as littel as possible of your positive attributes while stemming the threat from the opposition? A bit of flexibility during the match often goes a long way to deciding it in tight games.

  159. Arse Baggins…
    Actually witnessed him training? No hindrance in his movement? Taking part fully?
    Crikey, Finsbury’s not going to get any work done before tomorrow night at this rate.

  160. so anybody got anything clearer on whats going on with VP.. wenger you bastardo, looks like he pulled a fast one on us (please let it be true) he said he wanted to freshen things up for the barca game [and why would vp train with the cl ball if he wasnt in contention] ..

    WENGER YOU’LL PAY 4 THIS YOU DEVIL YOU..

  161. Hey! Remember me?

    Tomorrow we’ll see a very nice match, I’m pretty sure. As you said in the post, I think the best option would be Nasri at the right and Arshavin at the left. Bui I think you’ll play with only 2 man in front, Bedtner and Arshavin, with Nasri in the midfield. With Puyol and Pique off we’ll be worse in defense, but Abidal and Sergio are reat players too, so I’m not cocerned a lot.

    Don’t know if tomorrow I’ll e able to disturb you here again like the past match, I’ll be in Camp Nou.

    I wish we see a great game.

    And again, sorry for my english

  162. @ Block4
    But the manager is not in control of everything, I think is the important point. I can’t remember who posted it, but someone produced a report from analysis done on football matches which listed over 100 factors which influence the outcome and the manager was in control of…11. Some of those 100 factors will be a lot less important than others, but it makes you think.

    @ Arse Baggins
    Don’t tease us with your RVP sightings, please. 🙂

    @ avaris15
    ha ha – well I’m hoping that the good old double reverse jinx with pike and half-twist will see us right this time.

    @ goonerandy
    It was only the officials who missed an opportunity – to show they are not total numpties. We did the job on Saturday.

  163. Hi Alex.

    Welcome.
    Apparently, things don’t get discussed on ACLF, which is a lie. Your presence here is proof of that! Hope you were not too offended by some partisan comments last time out, this is a forum for Arsenal supporters after all! Good luck for the game tomorrow, enjoy the football.

    Q: Who would prefer to see starts. Busquets or Mascherano?

  164. > Q: Who would you prefer to see start, Busquets or Mascherano?

  165. Hi finsbury. Don’t worry, I wasn’t offended at all. I knew where I was going. I read this blog usually, and maybe the timing wasn’t very right, but as I said then, I’m also an Arsenal supporter, and if you pass tomorrow, I’ll be wearing the Arsenal shirt till the final in Wembley.

    I think we’ll see both. Busquets in defense, with Abidal. And Mascherano in midfield with Xavi and Iniesta. Nobody trusts Milito, and Busquets is been playing in defense since Pique received that yellow card in Emirates.

  166. Fun – Only we didn’t did we? If we had done “the job” we would have taken all three points despite a couple of bad desecions.

  167. Can’t afford not to start Denilson, we need the cover in midfield. Diaby, Chamakh and Rosicky will be on the bench, but will probably feature.

    Denilson, Wilshere and Cesc midfield, Arshavin and Nasri left and right and Bendtner up top. Only reason I see this changing is if the boss decides Wilshere is carrying a knock and Diaby takes his place.

    We can do it.

  168. Alex – Hope you enjoy the game. But not the result.

  169. @block: interesting that none of your 3 points were the refs in that game. Arsenal can only control what they do, but that doesn’t mean external events don’t influence events.

    Re: first half. Sunderland is in fact quite good you know, as evidenced by their performance against other top sides that you don’t want to hear about. They can defend quite energetically, and close up shop for a half. We got the tactics perfect, bringing on our creative players at the moment they start to tire. We create four gold-plated chances. Arshavin actually assumed the keeper would do the right thing and try to cover his net rather than just standing to one side. He meant to wrong foot him, but the keeper was caught flat footed. Lucky keeper. Chamakh hits the bottom of the bar. Arshavin is pushed from behind, no call. Arshavin scores, only to have it wrongly called back.

    A little bad luck…on other days the first two go in. More bad luck…the official bottle a stone-cold red-card penalty. Unforgiveble. Then the offside that wasn’t (but that happens all the time, to everyone). And the fouls in the 80-90 minute range…unbelievable.

    At the end of the day, we played better against Sunderland than we did in more than half a dozen of our victories. I will allow that if our players were perfect footballing robots, we would have won anyway. But I suggest that only unreasonable jerks expect such perfection.

  170. goonerandy. hahaha, I wish you the same.

  171. It is so funny how the people that moan at every end when one of our players misplaces a pass and cry for spending money and changing the way the team play to be more Mourinho-esque are accusing our team of being weak-willed. So pathetic. If you are not up for the rollercoaster ride that is being a fan of Arsenal, just plainly f*ckk off cause maybe you are simply too weak willed for this. Go support Barca, I heard it’s easy to support them because they finish either 1st or 2nd in their domestic league for all eternity.

  172. Not going to read all of the posts, but from what I gather from Goonerandy’s logic regarding bad calls that have cost us wins, is that if for arguements sake the ref chalks off 5 good goals for us, due to bad calls, awards the opposing team 5 false penalties we ought to still win the match.

    I see!

  173. nola – Quite some insight. Especially how you knew exactly what AA tried to do, I am impressed. It seems you also know more than the manager as after he game he said we lacked creativity. nola knows….I might make a banner.

  174. @ goonerandy
    Yeah, you’re right – cos goals are really easy to come by, especially against a side which is defending for its life. We should just have scored another one, and kept on until the officials were too embarrassed not to award them.
    We scored a good goal. The fact that the linesman did not give it is not our fault. We should have had a penalty. The fact that the referee chose not to apply the rules of the game is not our fault.
    This is not the same as when people say, we played so well that we should have won, or we got close but didn’t quite do it. We did it. We were robbed.

  175. Paul – I likely sceranrio you have painted there. If there were to happen, I would join the rest of you in blaming the ref. Not a realistic picture though eh?

  176. But we did have it, didn’t we? Two penalties going against us, as well as a incorrect free kick that lead to a goal and we had a goal chalked off that would have won the game. But yeah, Newcastle was obviously only our fault and the ref didn’t have anything to do with the way the match played out.

  177. Fun – “We should just have scored another one, and kept on until the officials were too embarrassed not to award them.”

    No need to go overboard, just the one would have done I reckon. (before you get all excited and start driblling on your keyboard, I know we had one disallowed. I mean one more 😉 )

  178. Alex,

    Thanks for that reply, very informative.
    ‘Nobody trusts Milito.’
    Tragic news indeed.
    Abidal’s improved too, according to reports, so you won’t miss the two CB’s as much as I’d hoped, it seems. Maybe Maxwell has been training all season to improve his game against ‘runners’ like Walcott, and now the deceptively quick and fit(er then last season) Nasri will destroy him!

    Avaris,

    I’ve given up for the moment, after all, the boss is in Barca, and am now drinking a cup of chai whilst soaking up some crisp winter sunshine.

  179. “With Puyol and Pique off we’ll be worse in defense, but Abidal and Sergio are great players too, so I’m not cocerned a lot.”

    I’d be concerned not having Sergio in midfield and Abidal at left back. I’ll take Maxwell and Mascherano there any day.

    Even if Cesc and Jack play, we’re still way worse off in injuries, missing 4 first team players (RvP, Theo, Song, Verm) to your 1 (Puyol). It hurts, because I think we need to score 2 to go through.

  180. Evil – I will grant you that the ref played a signicant part of that match. But to lose a 4 goal lead in 20mins? Should not happen at our level, even considering the idiot ref.

    Anyway, had that argument weeks ago so not starting that again.

  181. My question is yes the refs are not perfect but that is what they must ascribe to be as much as is within them. When you have two decisions go against you at the end of a match that ends 0-0 how the backside can you lay blame at the feet of the players only? Unless we expect Arsenal to win by atleast 4 clear goals in order to take the officiating aspect out of the game? that will never happen and its so unrealistic.

    What team is there in the world that play their best in every single match? I thought and have read on here that the sign of a championship team is to win when playing poorly, well that was the case for the most part on Saturday if not for the silly calls.

    You cannot want to have it both ways, by saying we should win when we poorly and then cry and whine when we play poorly and do enough to win.

    Oh, to blame the refs for bad calls is not being biased.

  182. @nolagunner, has anyone said there weren’t bad refereeing decisions? There was more bad luck with Bedntner’s overhead kick which could easily have gone in the corner and some good goalkeeping, again to deny Bedntner particularly. But you have also highlighted some poor finishing. As for getting the tactics perfect, do me a favour. Do you really think we left our most effective unit on the bench so that we could bring them on when we were at 0-0 in the second half. That really is delusional.

  183. I would like to see a midfield start for Arsenal that was similar to the one that ended the first leg. Insane? Maybe, but it would be exciting.

    finsbury’s unlikely X1 No.2:
    –D-Fencers–
    Nasri-Wilshere
    – Cesc-
    Bendy-Chamack-Arshavin

    Is it really ‘weird’ to want discuss tomorrows game, and not the game from two days ago? Thanks for turning up today Alex!

  184. ANd I obviously forgot the red card that was not given when one of their players hauled Tech9 to the ground and Barton running ragged the whole match.
    I am not denying that we played a part but the team, faced with 15 players playing against 10, just lost belief. And when they managed one last push to score the winner through VP it was chalked off.

  185. @FunGunner, “We should just have scored another one, and kept on until the officials were too embarrassed not to award them.”

    That’s actually a good idea! Don’t you remember the ref pulling back Henry taking a quick free kick a few years ago (I’m fairly sure it was at Wigan) and he then stuck the re-take in the corner? And then proceeded to ask the ref if that one was OK? That’s how you do it!!!

  186. finsbury,
    I’m not sure if Maxwell will be in the starting 11. Maybe Adriano has his chances in left side. And nobody trusts Milito for some reasons. We understand he has been more than 2 years injured the last 4 seasons. But the things he said last december, looking for a new club… Didn’t felt well in Camp Nou.

    nolagunner,
    I consider Piqué a first team player. Puyol won’t be the only missing defender.

  187. I enjoyed Slur Fergies perfect tactics and team selection yesterday.
    Oh yes I did.

  188. Goonerandy, a little more unrealistic than your expectations. You seem to believe that the team should be able to overcome any amount of poor decisions in every match and that my friend again is unrealistic.

    You expect the players to be in fine form in every match but not the refs and thats ok with you.

  189. @ andy: “nola – Quite some insight. Especially how you knew exactly what AA tried to do, I am impressed.”

    Thanks. I’d love to see that banner. 😉

    I know you’re being sarcastic, but if you’ve a) watched the replays, b) ever scored a goal, and c) every played keeper, you’d know that is what he’s trying to do.

    And Arsene was too “disgusted” to comment honestly. He knows damn well what happened on Saturday.

  190. Fungunner:

    No doubt we would have won that game with decent officiating but its clear that we can not count on them to make the right calls. The inconsistency is becoming a joke. We had 95 minutes to score 1 goal and make that non-penalty call completely irrelevant.

    We are tied with United if we win our game in hand and we get to play them at the Emirates. United has been total garbage away from OT. Despite everything that has happened, on paper we should still be favored to win. If we take of business we will win, plain and simple, no help needed from anyone else. There will always be questions about us until we can get over the hump and prove that we have the “winning mentality”. We may never have a better chance then this year.

  191. @alex: I said missing due to injury. Pique is serving his suspension. It’s not bad luck that Pique is out any more than it was for us with Sagna in the first leg.

  192. Sorry Alex, I meant it was tragic for Arsenal!

    Two years out is serious buisness for any athlete in any intensive, modern sport, although some Arsenal fans have a appear to have a chronic inability to remember that their players are athletes, not robots. Expecially those players who’ve bled for their club. Strange behaviour, but I digress.

    Milito probably needs to play frequently if he’s going to have a chance of returning to his former level, so I can understand his situation. A bit like Eduardo I guess. You could also add Rosicky, although, not being rational, I have an instinct that seems to have been proven right: Rosicky might/probably is already involved in coaching at the club.
    The increase in players making trivela passes of late was a little giveaway IM(humble)O.

  193. nolagunner

    between us. Since Piqué plays another games with Shakira, I prefer him in the bench. The starting defense should be Alves, Puyol, Abidal, Maxwell. Without Puyol, Busquets will be there. But the last 2 months of Piqué had been his worse matches playing for Barça.

  194. Bill, what do you mean by we had 95 minutes to make the non penalty completelty irrelavent? WE DID and it was called offside.

    So we shouldve scored another good goal to make these two perfect opportunities irrelevant? what about if the ref chalked of 3 chances, 4, 5, 6 etc?

    As FunGun has said, scoring in the PL is not easy, the last thing you need is the ref blowing it for you.

    I feel like I am in the twighlighty zone!

  195. nola – Yeah, I am was. I apologise, tis the lowest form of wit. You probably right as well, the ball came at him pretty fast.

    Paul – No, I don’t expect them to oversome any amount of bad decisions. You make it sound like the ref really did rule out 5 goals! Like Bill quite rightly said, we had 95mins to score another goal which would have made this debate null and void. Against a mid table side. But we didn’t….big deal, chance missed. Next game please.

  196. > returning to his former level. This can also mean adapting their game to cope with the legacy of various injuries. Like, um, Kevin Davies!

  197. arsenalandrew

    Looks like RvP in squad for Spain …

  198. finsbury.

    I always thought Rosicky has all the skills to be the new Pires. And every time he came back from serious injuries, I hoped that was going to be his great chance. But I have the same hope in Rosicky playing frecuently that Bojan being a great player.

  199. @alex: really? That is news to me. I had no idea Pique was so off form. But even so, don’t you think an Alves Puyol Pique Abidal back line is better than Alves Puyol Abidal Maxwell? The dropoff from Abidal to Maxwell is huge.

  200. @ Block4
    Great memories. That was brilliantly done by Henry. But we can’t reasonably expect our players to keep doing that sort of thing in every game, nor does a response like that excuse the linesman’s mistake. Why should we have to routinely rely on extraordinary brilliance to overcome terrible refereeing?

    @ goonerandy
    Winning despite a couple of bad decisions – a throw in or free kick wrongly awarded – is what we do much of the time. It was in fact what we did on Saturday.

  201. Furious Styles

    RVP added to tomorrows squad, by what seem to be an EARLY return from injury! *monocle flies off*

  202. Limestonegunner

    I’ve been trying to think about the team selection for tomorrow and the variables are so many that the scenarios and combinations are quite complicated to think through plus assessments of fitness for Cesc in particular. Now we hear about RvP training with the CL ball at London Colney! The question is: did he board the flight to Barcelona?

    If not, hopefully he won’t get called up by the Dutch and end up playing for them while missing our games and risking further injury. Maybe those photos should be pulled of the site before the KNVB sees them, since he looks quite happy kicking around and training!

  203. RvP will be in the starting 11. I have no doubt about it.

  204. Finsbury… I told you 😉

    You can smugly sit there in the sun sipping tea knowing that he’ll be playing for us tomorrow. I knew something wasn’t quite right there…

  205. Limestonegunner

    Wow, it is official on Arsenal.com! Happy days, hope he is fully fit!

  206. Bloody hell!

  207. Me too – I hope we’re not taking any chances!

  208. Less than 1 month ago, Man Utd were 5 points ahead of us. Now we’re essentially tied on points.

    If it’d been us to let a lead slip that much the media would have been out with their big bad bullshit cliche machine.

  209. nola.

    Yes is very huge. But Abidal is in such a form, that he is better than Piqué and half a left-back.
    And after saying this, Abidal will score tomorrow an own goal.

  210. Fun – You need to go to spec savers mate. It was 0-0 yesterday, despite your delusions that we won. We had a goal disallowed, and a pen claim turned down. My point is that if we had played to our level (against a mid table side), we would have won regardless. Should we have to? no. But there it is, the reality of the situation.

  211. Limestonegunner

    New lineups, commence!

    Here’s mine:
    Back 5
    Wilshere, Denilson
    Nasri, Cesc, Arshavin
    RvP

  212. The theme of today is quite similar to Hamlet: is one ever in control of one’s own destiny?

    Of course, because I am the unstoppable warrior emperor preparing for the inevitable ascension, I, Emperor God-King Gadget, am fully in control of everything I do, but I know lesser beings are more susceptible to the external machinations of fate and other people.

    When I cleave an enemy in two, that said enemy can do naught but embrace my mighty blade as it carves his flesh and sinew from bone on his way to becoming carcass, but the strong men and women of my legions are not afforded such a luxury. They must block, and parry and dodge and thrust until the victory is theirs. And even then there are other factors to consider such as the direction of sunlight, the softness of the ground, the chill of the air. All these things make a difference to the common man and his fighting ability.

    So the truth is you are all to feel the firm hand of destiny at some point or another because destiny controls you, not the other way round.

  213. Great news about RvP though.

    Now hopefully we will have a front 3 of Nasri, RvP, AA.

  214. But Goonerandy, I am sorry, from what I read in your comments you expect us to win no matter the odds.

    Bill is wrong is his statement because we did score another goal but since you believe we should overcome everything it is no surprise you take that faulty side.

    Isnt it funny, Arsenal must defende well and keep clean sheets but teams that put 10 men behind the ball are not trying to keep clean sheets. Regardless of how teams defende being that we are the Arsenal and all that we should easily turn them over by atleast 3 goals. And here we have the percieved greatest team in the world (Barcelona) scoring no more than one goal lately.

    Unbelievable!

  215. Limestonegunner

    But really, if Cesc and RvP aren’t 100% and looking match fit, we might better start a different first eleven with these two on the bench?

    Cautious lineup:
    Back 5
    Wilshere Denilson
    Bendtner Nasri Arshavin
    Chamakh

  216. GA, you know what FunGun is saying when she says “we won”.

  217. I bet my sit tomorrow in Camp Nou that RvP will be in the starting 11. I had no doubt about it since I saw the injurie.

  218. lol @alex@3:24

    Rosicky has been prematurely written off. I’ve only heard of Hargreaves suffering a similar injury. My allegedly ‘irrational’, and undeniably amateur measure states that ‘two years out equals two years back’ more or less. At the levels they have to compete at in the modern game. Which means if we will see the ‘old Rosicky’, it will only be in fits and spurts, until next season. This will cause some of our ‘fans’ to state that Rosicky should pay his wages to the club (whilst he’s been coaching?), but it is realistic and rational to expect this, and no more. He won’t be the younger Rosicky, but the most players have to adapt to age and injury.

    This is your last chance to beat Arsenal!
    The squad is getting stronger and stronger.

    This cup of chai has had a refill, and tastes very nice indeed. Might even potter off to the organic, fresh, inner city bakery wedged under the gr*tty railway arches (not too far away from the Chop Shop) for a rare treat.

  219. Limestonegunner

    This supposed doomer vs. AKB clash over the Sunderland result is getting pretty stale. We have Barca ahead of us and some exciting news. The future is ahead of us and dissecting the past with barely over 24 hours to go before one of the great clashes this season in world football, Barcelona-Arsenal the second leg of what is already a fantastic tie, seems to be draining us.

    I am sure the team is focused and buoyed by RvP’s return to fitness. We are going to go in there guns blazing, the Arsenal way, and not only rip through their threadbare and error-prone back 5, our full strength defensive unit will hold down Messi and co. this time with support and control of possession (Arsenal to keep it nearly 50%) in the midfield. Needless to say we will have to keep pressing and holding a high line to compress play in the midfield.

  220. Finsbury,
    You’re really making the most of not having the boss around, aren’t you?
    Wouldn’t it be gutting if you found out he’s a frequent ACLF poster himself?

  221. Ole @ 3:27:

    This United team is certainly not very good. If we do win and United blow this lead I guarantee there will be a lot of questions asked about them. Even though they do not deserve it, until someone does beat them their bulging trophy case gives them the benefit of the doubt.

  222. Limestone, its not really about the Sunderland game though. Its about people expecting the team to unrealistically overcome everything that goes against the.

  223. Paul – No, because we didn’t. You can’t simply count goals which are disallowed (rightly or wrongly). Once it is chalked off, the team and fans need to move on and get on with the game.

  224. finsbury, don’t lol at all.
    As gunners use to accuse us of diving; we use to accuse Wenger of faking injuries. We knew that Nasri was going to play the first match. And I told last monday,in the radio program wich I talk about football, that RvP was going to play tomorrow.

  225. I am wondering whether we should be playing with Chamakh and Bendy as without their two CB’s would it not be an idea to really pressure them from set pieces?

    Actually whilst I was writing that I began to doubt myself!

  226. I see you used the word CHAI, Finsbury..?
    —–
    The inclusion of RVP will surely be causing havoc in Abidal’s & Peek-a-boo’s mind right now!!

    NOW, we will do it!

  227. Finsbury, you are a generous soul. I have no problem with alex enjoying his football but to wish him luck for tomorrow?

    Too much.

  228. Good news about van Persie, hopefully he’s fit enough to start along with Fabregas.

  229. avaris15,
    No, he reads another blog! But I am in the process of converting him. Shouldn’t be too hard. There are other Arsenal fans, and readers of ACLF who have recently arrived in the studio.
    tbh I grafted quite hard on Friday so he could make his flight stress free!

  230. clickclickclick!

  231. Manc trolls are particularly transparent the day after a crushing defeat aren’t they? Poor darlings.
    Fuck off.

  232. consolsbob.

    Did he wish me luck? When? I’m sure it’s been a mistake. I wish you all luck for all games but tomoroww

  233. Its only Song’s absence which concerned me, but, NOW, ladies & gentlemen, I am convinced that we’ll score..

  234. Well, when I say good luck, I mean I hope to see a nice clean game, and none of that peeking from young Sergio.

    In Arsene’s defence, I can’t recall him telling such fibs for a while. Could be mistaken. There was some hyper-extension of that knee as the Brumscum followed through. They tried a similar foul on a goalscorer this weekend, must be their new tactic. RVP could just be 50/50.

  235. As Limestone quite righly said though, this is all getting very boring now. I am bowing out of this debate, and focusing on tomorrows match.

  236. troll.

  237. I haven’t seen such piece of bluff from Arsene for a long time…5 days ago he was saying one Arse.com he hoped 4 weeks would be enough for RVP… and i thought that is too big to be pure bluff….well well

  238. I don’t think Wenger was faking Van Persie’s injury Alex. He was crocked but the prognosis was rather cynical. He is still not 100% and is inclusion is not guaranteed yet. It very much depends on how he is tomorrow. The signs are that he will play but whether he starts on the bench or on the pitch is any one’s guess. Not sure that Wenger knows either right now. Hence why the squad will not be announced until the last possible moment.

    Has any one else noticed that Fabregas, Van Persie, Walcott and Song have suddenly disappeared from the injury page on the Arsenal website?

  239. Limestonegunner

    Paul N, I understand, but that is as much a trap of backward thinking to get embroiled in such a debate to the exclusion of looking forward both to this intense game on the horizon and the remainder of the league season.

    Ole, we are down three with a game in hand. That isn’t “essentially” level on points, since as has been pointed out many times today, expectation of victory is a flawed perspective. Let’s just say we are in a great position with the league in our own hands if we can be more consistent in playing to the level of our quality. ManU has a poor away record and if they lose the league it will in fact look like a collapse by a weak ManU team but because they have won recently they are being given the benefit of the doubt and because we haven’t, we aren’t being credited.

    But from this point forward, I would suggest that their schedule is a bit easier than ours. They can easily drop points away to lower and mid-table opposition if this run of bad results now affects their confidence, since it has exposed their vulnerabilities not only at the level of play (observed the whole season) but in their ability to get results beyond their performances. But our challenge is in capitalizing on this and we have a fairly tough road ahead now. Happily the injuries don’t appear to be as significant with only Theo and Vermaelen still out over the longer term. Tottenham away, Liverpool at home, Stoke away and ManU at home, four very difficult games. Plus the other fixtures are all potentially difficult as well too.

    We can do it. It’s time for all the fear of failure that supporters and the team perhaps suffers from as well to end. We’ve had a bad week, but I feel a big lift with today’s news and am eagerly anticipating our exciting clash with Barca. I hope the players are really up for it–I am sure they are. Even a good performance that doesn’t see us through will give us energy and confidence for this sprint to the finish line in the league.

  240. I can’t believe it, the anxiety is already killing me 28 hours earlier, then they go and tease us with ‘RVP fit’ news. I might literally explode tomorrow.

  241. Not that I am suggesting that Walcott and Song have miraculously recovered as well!

  242. Paul:

    Birmingham should have had a penalty and we should have been down to 10 men in the 2nd minute of the CC final. They overcame. We are certainly better then Brum, and Sunderland was no where near as good as the team Birmingham beat. I am not expecting miracles from us but we should have been able to nick a goal in a game as important as that one. We have everything to play for and they are stuck in mid table with little fear of relegation and little hope of moving up. Frustrating!! This season has proven we can not count on referees decisions to save us. No guarantee Arshavin would have scored if their GK had played out that sequence and no guarantee we could have hit the pen even if it was given.

  243. Mentalist.

    That is exactly how I feel.
    Right. Bakery…

  244. Arse Baggins

    I’ve seen the squad for Barcelona to be sure Song isn’t there. If he was, he’ll be in the starting 11 too.
    And I’m not saying if it’s right or wrong to be a little unclear with injuries, you’ll have to play with eleven men. If RvP doesnt play, another good player will come in. But in Barcelona we don’t trust a lot the injury talking before the match.

  245. Finsbury,
    Pick us something up, I’m starving 😉

  246. But we won against sunderland. We beat them with 1 goal. It was for everybody to see. We grinder out a victory on a bad day at the office. The ref took that victory away. Simple as. No team has to outscore the opponent with more than 1 goal within the rules of football. arsenals goal was within the rules. The team did its job. That is all they can do. They cannot influence the rules of the game, they gotto work within a set framework. When peoe take it upon themselves to change the rules, then it is nothing the team can do about it. They had already outscored the opponent. What more do you as a fan require? A victory according to the PL rules should be enough. And we did win according to today’s rules, however somebody de decided to tweak them slightly on Sunday. And those decisions is beyond your influence as a player. All you can do is to outscore the opponent within the framework of the PL rulebooks.

  247. Limestonegunner

    I think we don’t lose anything and perhaps gain something with Denilson in the lineup over injured Song. Generally in the PL he is the better player in most games and the starter, but in this technical game in Europe where physicality is less important and possession has been a challenge–I like Denilson to start. Diaby can be an impact substitution if we are chasing for a goal.

    Apart from Theo being out and Cesc/RvP perhaps not 100% fit, this is possibly our best lineup to match Barcelona. Those are big caveats about two of our best three players, but I still believe this is a good sign for us. Even if Cesc/RvP don’t start, having them on the bench has to be a lift for the team as a whole.

  248. Muppet’s idea – PL table with nett transfer spending per season since ’92 (£ = £1 million):

    1 Manchester United 29 60 – £££££££
    2 Arsenal 28 57 – £
    3 Manchester City 29 53 – ££££££££££££££££££££££
    4 Chelsea 27 48 – ££££££££££££££££££££££££
    5 Tottenham Hotspur 28 48 – ££££££££££

    Sorry about the formatting, and I know it’s a silly endeavour, but I do wonder if Chelsea’s recent league titles will have asterisks next to them in future records.

  249. @ Paul N
    cheers!

    ***
    RvP click click…. But now I’m worried that he’s not really fit. I don’t want to lose him for the rest of the season. Assumign he is really OK, do you think this could be down to effect of the GPS tracker thingies and the bigger squad of experienced players? That because our players’ fatigue is being managed better, when they do get an injury, they recover more quickly? Remember how in previous seasons, other teams’ players seemed to recover more quickly than ours? It must be such a tonic for the other boys just to have them in the squad.

  250. @ OOU
    When you lay it out lije that, the contrast is stark!

  251. Bill, then so be it, lets be down a man and lose the damn thing.

    We did nick a goal, dont you get that? how many goals to you want us to nick?

    Anyway, you and goonerandy are bound to give me a headache. When simple logic fails what else can you do?

    Limestone, I am done with this!

    Lets beat Barca!

  252. Limestonegunner

    Sad, Arshavin’s goal was wrongfully disallowed for offside. It was a close play though. The penalty was clearer–credit to Arshavin for staying on his feet, but the ref blew it. We would have had to convert the penalty, though. That’s not guaranteed either. So we were wronged and the result might indeed have been different.

    Perhaps at the end of the season, we could make a comparison of all the poor decisions that affected the outcome of games among the top four. Right now, I can’t see looking backwards to Saturday helping anything. We had Sunday to process our outrage, pain, frustration and so on.

    Do you want to dwell on it because you don’t think there is much to be excited about in our game tomorrow or you don’t think we have too much of a chance? Don’t worry! We are going to give them a game. We’re not favored and we play our best when we are free of expectations. Expect a result. Any result and we go through!

  253. Actually FG, we should have two £, rounded up I think.

  254. Limestonegunner

    Paul N, welcome–who do you start?!

  255. I commented last week that RVP’s injury report might have had a tinge of gamesmanship to it….let’s hope he’s really ok.

  256. Big game tomorrow.And I’m not as cocky about a win for us as I was 2 weeks ago.Victory at the Nou camp is certainly not beyond us but the boys will need to be at their best.RvP,Theo and Song being out will certainly be felt by any team with those 3 in their line up.This is a big week for us.It could define our season,what with the fa cup game at Old Trafford on Saturday.Wining both or even one will be a boost for the team.Losing both may be too much to take.
    We need our big players to lead from the front this week starting with Cesc and Nasri.

  257. Fair enough alex, fair enough.

    You are on a warning finsbury.

    It’s amazing but since the news about RVP I have been walking with a bounce in my stride and a secret smile on my face.

  258. Limestonegunner

    FG, interesting issue about the GPS tracker. I don’t know if it helps recovery rates, but I do believe it is meant to reduce injuries that seem to increase in incidence and severity when players are tired. Maybe, apart from impact injuries, our pulls and strains are less severe this season? RvP’s was some kind of strain/extension of ligaments on the back of the knee, so perhaps it is less serious because he has been fitter since he returned from his last injury.

    Hard to say, but like you I am a bit worried about some of these players pushing themselves to return for such a big, glamorous game but not necessarily being as ready and risking re-injury. Tough call for Le Boss.

    But wouldn’t it be glorious to to go against Barca with almost our very best available team!

  259. How often does Arshavin actually “win” penalties? I remember people complaining of Chamakh going to ground too easily earlier in the season, but there’s a fine line between making it obvious to the referee that you’ve been clipped, and unceremoniously diving.
    I don’t recall many times where Arshavin has actually been fouled in the area. Is it that he finds space for himself? Does he get a pass or shot away sooner to avoid being tackled/fouled? Or is it his fleet-footedness (if there is such a term, but you get what I mean) that gets him out of those situations?

  260. @ OOU
    *Two* million net! Woohooo, aren’t we the big spenders! 🙂

  261. Nasir Jones-Nasri

    Well well well. I like the mind games from Le Boss. Nice way to start off a Monday.

  262. Arsene Wenger, what a fucking star you are…clickclickclick

  263. @ Limestone

    If RVP isnt up to it I would go with Chamakh – he is proven in the CL, just need to get some decent crosses in and he will make Barca pay.

    The only other position in question is who playes for Song. I believe that this is the type of match that Denilson would be great in. He was in the first leg and the second until he got the yellow. His ability to intercept passes is second to none, passing being Barca’s strong point as we all know.

    I guess we would have Nasri on the right and Arshavin on the left.

    I have a funny feeling!

  264. Limestonegunner

    Gunman, we only need to play them evenly. We’ll go for victory as a matter of course–that’s the Arsenal way– but if it is 1-1, guess what? Arsenal are in the quarter-finals with the big scalp on our belt!

    We don’t have to win the game. The only scorelines for us to worry about are 1-0, with the away goal advantage going to them. 2-1 means extra time at their ground, but then we are a fitter group so why fear that? Otherwise they must win by two.

    We scored last year and we’ll do so again. It is tight for them until they score three goals. And is it really unfathomable that we could score 2 against them again? The pressure is all on them really.

  265. @ consolsbob
    “secret smile”? Mine is lighting up most of the south of England at this point!
    This has totally eclipsed my worries about jinxing

    @ Limestone Gunner
    Regarding GPS, I meant they help us manage the athletes’ fitness, so that there are indeed fewer stress injuries, as you say, but also, because we have not let them become too tired, the players’ underlying state is more resilient and he can recover more quickly from any injuries which he picks up. Like feeding people properly in hospital helps their recuperation.

  266. I also love Chamakh’s hold up play and nifty passing. Only thing I want him to do is turn on the ball at times when he has his backs towards the goal and attack, he often looks to pass it when he may have a chance to score.

  267. Limestonegunner

    Paul N, my thoughts as well. My cautious line-up goes with Chamakh as he combines very well and presses well. He is available in the box a bit more reliably for headers. Bendtner provides more threat to create a goal out of a break or scrambled play but he seems to have been better, oddly, on the right and could be a good impact sub for Arshavin with Nasri switching to the left.

    I stated my support for Denilson above–it is his time to shine.

  268. Limestonegunner

    Paul N, exactly–if he looked to shoot when he is in the box, even when playing back to goal, he would be more of a threat. He seldom turns and shoots–usually he shoots when he is running onto the ball or it is crossed in/pulled back for him and he is facing goal. Maybe he has a bit more confidence after his goal and since he didn’t play on Saturday he is probably ready to put in a really energetic shift.

  269. I know Wilshere usually plays in midfield WITH Song, but how about Wilshere playing Song’s role? The more defensive player of the three. Wenger mentioned only the other day about Wilshere preferring to have the game ahead of him. We know he’s a worker, and his tackling is very good. He’s also good and picking the ball up in a tight spot and bringing it forward, often bringing one or two players out of the game. Not to mention his range of passing.

  270. Paulie Walnuts

    Had a feeling someone deemed unfit may recover – actually thought it would be Walcott but RVP is a nice surprise.

    I can see him having Biscuits on toast tomorrow evening.

  271. Yes Limstone, I could see that re:NB. What I have noticed about his goals though is that he like cutting in from the left, getting the ball on his right foot.

  272. Not dismissing Denilson’s abilities or achievements there, by the way. I agree that he was instrumental for us against Barça.

  273. Dont understand the chatter about RvP.Is he likely to play tomorrow?
    Help realise my dreams!

  274. Limestonegunner

    Avaris, who else would you have in midfield then with Wilshere if not Denilson–Diaby? Rosicky? Ramsey?! Song and Wilshere both play similar positions one on the left and the other on the right, taking turns coming back for balls or pressing forward to join or link up with the attack and patrolling the midfield to break up play, intercept and tackle. Song is more physical and Wilshere more creative perhaps, but they have really formed a back two ahead of the back line, I think. The real question is who besides Cesc and Wilshere you would play or Wilshere and what two if Cesc doesn’t start?

    FG, I see what you mean and perhaps that helps. In RvP’s case, I don’t know if he is fresher because he hasn’t played much this year or if his overall fitness is being managed more effectively. In any case, if this GPS tool is helping I am really glad we finally purchased it as injuries have robbed us. Like tomorrow, all I ask/pray for is a chance to go into these big games with our best players.

  275. Whoaaaaaa!
    Just checked on Arsenal.com.
    I shouted like a mad man in my office!
    Was Arsene playing some kind of tactical game all along??!!

  276. Limestonegunner

    Gunman, check Arsenal.com; he is in the squad and makes the trip! Whether he plays? Who knows, let’s hope, and certainly Barca are thinking about this unsettling late news!

  277. Limestonegunner

    Oops, a couple seconds too late, Gunman, with my advice. But now you know why we should be a bit more optimistic. And again, unlike your concern about getting a victory at Camp Nou, we only need a draw and can afford to lose the game in many scenarios if we score. So why not be optimistic?!

  278. A sweet thing about RVP is that he is usually brilliant in his first match returning from injury.

    The best striker in the world for me!

  279. @ avaris15
    I could definitely see Wilshere deputising for Song – effectively that’s what he did for england against Denmark recently. But I think whether he does or not depends on who else is fit and playing.

  280. @ avaris15
    In fact I think Wilshere is more ready to be Song’s deputy than Fabregas’.

  281. Wenger

    “I believe the side is remarkably consistent and you have to give us some credit,” he said.

    “We have shown that we wanted to fight on four fronts, so we have played game after game for two and a half months. We have shown the same resilient attitude every time.

    “Of course, as soon as we have a disappointment, everybody gets on your back. Sometimes you are the victim of your hunger as well because we want to do well in every competition.

    Let’s be realistic as well, we only lost the Carling Cup in the last minutes on a mistake that happens once every 50 years. Overall, the team is doing extremely well.”

  282. Paulie Walnuts

    Most of Barca`s attacking threats stem from their right side with Alves supplementing whoever they have in front of him.

    The key position tomorrow is who plays in front of Clichy because their have to work their balls off & be disciplined.

  283. Limestonegunner

    FG, I think that’s right, since he and Song have played the same basic position and he isn’t yet ready to take on creative control over the attack, but he and Song have some different if complementary attributes. That’s why I wouldn’t state it as a question of him being Song’s deputy, though. Especially since they are both first choice starters this season. The question is still who plays with Wilshere in midfield?

  284. Limestonegunner

    Paulie, do you think Nasri should start on the left with Bendtner or Arshavin on the right? Usually Arshavin would play there but his defensive work is less sure and he played very energetically on Saturday.

  285. woy
    bacary
    laurent
    johan
    gael
    jacko
    neves
    cesc
    emmanuel
    samir
    robin

  286. Limestonegunner

    Is Arsene talking pragmatism to give Barca more to think about? Or does he just acknowledge that we have to play well without the ball like we did in the first leg, by pressing hard, compressing the midfield, defending well and looking for quick outlets for goals on the break?

    True he does say we aren’t going for 0-0 but he is saying we might have to play a different way, meaning differently than we usually do in our domestic competitions? Is this a clue that he won’t start Denilson since we are ceding possession?

    Interesting! As Frank says, you are a star, Arsene Wenger. You are really heating this one up. Thoughts of last week’s disappointments are fading away and excitement and confidence are building for us while questions, doubts and options start to weigh more on our opponents’ minds…

  287. Exactly Paulie, Arshavin looked very tired at the end of last match. Gibbs was great against Orient, his crossing magnificent. Still very unlikely for him to start. I’d guess Nasri on the left and Arsh/Nick on the right wing.

    @karim, Neves is Denilson’s last name 😉

  288. emmanuel?? you mean Eboue ahead of Andrei??
    :-O

  289. In fact, I wouldn’t mind starting Clichy & Gibbsy on the left to counter Alves…they have enough attacking ammo as well!

  290. Limestonegunner

    It’s a real idea, Gibbs on the wing. He crosses in well, but this might work best if Bendtner and/or Chamakh are playing up front. RvP does have the skills in the air but is even better linking up with Arshavin, Nasri, Cesc, I think.

    But it would reflect Wenger concerning himself more with pinning Alves back and countering a Barca strength. Perhaps he might consider it. Usually, it appears he goes for choosing what he thinks are the best players available to play our normal attacking style. But, as I noted, he is talking a bit more pragmatically ahead of the fixture. We may be very surprised by the team that takes the field.

  291. Limestonegunner

    Eboue is fast and defends, so like Gibbs on the other side, there is real merit to the notion. But since Barca’s left back, Maxwell, isn’t of the same danger as Alves on our left, I don’t think this is as advantageous or sensible a suggestion.

  292. Copy that, Limestone.

  293. Hey Limestone, good to see you back!

    Very very, good news about RvP. Not just for the lift it gives us, but also for the trepidation it will no doubt send down the spine of Barca.

    Like you and FG, I worry just a little bit that we might be rushing him back to soon. Who can blame a player from being anxious to play in such a game? Besides Arsene has previous in rushing players back to soon, but to be fair, he’s admitted as much himself and seems to have hardly done that this season.

    I’m also enjoying Arsene’s mind games. its about time we toyed a bit with the opposition, keep them guessing just a bit.

  294. Thanks for taking a more rigorous and scientific approach to that financial table oneOfUs !

  295. A table that nicely encapsulates the genius of Arsene Wenger.

  296. Limestonegunner

    Funny, Mascherano is talking about the Barca way as if he was a youth player there and not a midfield bruiser who joined them this season from the PL mostly to sit on the bench. Mes que un migcampista defensiu? Un filosof del futbol de Barcelona?! He is warning that Arsenal will play to protect our lead and can play defensively. Sounds like they are worried to me and don’t really know what to expect.

  297. Say it at Asburton Grove! Declare it at Avinguda Aristide Maillol! Robin ‘ONE TOUCH’ Van Persie travels to Barcelona!!
    Barca here we come!

  298. Bill | March 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm |

    Paul:

    Birmingham should have had a penalty and we should have been down to 10 men in the 2nd minute of the CC final. They overcame. We are certainly better then Brum, and Sunderland was no where near as good as the team Birmingham beat.

    You should be happy Bill. We kept a clean sheet so that’s one of your wet fantasies made good.

    But even by your standards this was a very silly point. Birmingham ‘overcame’….translation, they got lucky.

    But seriously, do you simply not get logic. Do you not realise that the fact that you didn’t manage to turn around the game when you score a perfectly good game in the 86th minute, all just goes to underline how much it cost you?

  299. Interesting idea having Gibbs play in front of Clichy. This way we can make up for losing Theo on the right. Gibbs crosses the ball well. Chamakh will be ready to meet the crosses…Arshavin to come on later as substitute.
    But this would depend on how comfortable Clichy and Gibbs are, playing together.

  300. I really wonder what’s up with the RVP inclusion. Either way, it blew my mind. There are quite a few possibilities.
    RVP might not have been as injured as suspected, after all he played on for 20 minutes or so against Birmingham City and did not look like a man who needs a spell on the sidelines for a month. So maybe Wenger intentionally planted the seed of disinformation to confuse Barcelona.
    Or it’s just a big bluff on his part and RVP will be cut from the squad tomorrow as one player still has to go. Though it might still change the way Barca set themselves up, as they are very well aware that they won’t be able to stop us scoring and having a player like RVP in the squad might be the difference between them having to score just one, or possibly 2, 3 or 4 goals to proceed.
    Or RVP really did make a miraculous return from injury and Wenger is just going to have him have another final test tomorrow to see if he is fit or not.
    Either way, this play by Wenger might have a big effect on the game tomorrow.

  301. Ole Gunner,

    Stop picking on Bill.
    Why, he can count CB’s now. You won’t have to spend months helping him count his way through the squad page on Arsenal.com. And he also admits that Djourou is a member of the Arsenal squad.
    I’d call that progress.
    It’d be nice to hear him comment on his the Fulham ‘keepers latest offerings, after publishing a healthy ream of whinges over the summer and autumn. (not that we all knew that to be the case anyway). That’d be too much to hope for I suppose.

    Consolbob

    I am warned.

    MJ

    I like a bit of masala in my chai.

  302. While the Gibbs-Clichy combination sounds like a great idea in theory, one has to wonder whether Gibbs is ready to be thrust in such a relatively untried position in such a big game. I won’t mind him coming in as a sub, but I would be a bit worried that the occasion might get to him if he starts. He just doesn’t exude the same confidence as Wilshere for instance. Barca are the sort of team that will overawe most players with their quick feet and speed passing.

    Denilson on the other hand is really someone I’d like to see start tommorrow, ahead of Diaby.

  303. This could mean that RVP is not far away from a complete recovery. He should be available at least for upcoming EPL games.

  304. Limestonegunner

    Henristic, nice to be back–was busy the last couple weeks. Still am but can’t think about work with Barca so close. The anticipation is killing me! As it happens, my three year old will be home from school/daycare for some odd vacation day and I have to stay home from work to take care of him.

    In honor of RvP, I’ll have him wear his #11 shirt from last year–he is after all the ambassador to the junior gunners my son’s age! Surely this will bring us luck?

    Speaking of junior gunners, I just have to note how classy Arsenal is as a club. My son had a birthday just last month and as a registered junior gunner he got sent to him in the mail a 5 pound gift certificate to the Armoury/online store and a great card designed with inspiration from some art work about Gunnersaurus by two young supporters. Wishing him a happy birthday were all the first team squad players’ with signed pictures, plus Arsene Wenger’s, which he was quite excited by. He thinks they did it just for him–he’ll be a gunner for life!

  305. My team would be

    RvP
    Arsh Cesc Nasri
    Wilshere Denilson
    and the usual back 5.

    Assuming no injuries during the game, we sub Denilson for Diaby for later in the game, and Bendtner/Chamack for Arsh. If we are reaally chasing a goal or 2, we can throw both strikers in and take out a midfielder. If we are defending a lead, bring on Gibbs for Arsh instead.

  306. Hello all

    Great post today YW. Thank you for putting your 2 cents in on the SAF situation. And great discussions today guys, I’ve enjoyed them.

    Been having a running discussion with my brother about Denilson. My brother, while far from being a doomer, is not the biggest Denilson fan and we go back and forth on his ups and downs. My ace in the hole in the argument has been his performance against Barcelona in the second half at the Emirates last year. I wanted to analyze his performances in 2011, sadly only in the league as this is all the guardians chalkboards has to offer, in 3 key areas — tackles, interceptions, and passes. Whats even more unfortunate is he has only featured once in the league in 2011 as a starter… but either way I thought I’d share what I found with you guys because so often we are left to our subjective opinons when analyzing player performances. Here is some onjective info to fuel our discussions.

    Denilson

    Sunderland (H) – substituted in 62nd minute
    • Interceptions – 1
    • Tackles – Won 5 Lost 6
    • Passes – 44/54

    Stoke City (H) – Came on in 70th minute
    • Interceptions – 0
    • Tackles – Won 1 Lost 3
    • Passes – 20/23

    Wolves (H) – Came on in 77th minute
    • Interceptions – 0
    • Tackles – 0
    • Passes – 11/12

    Wigan Athletic (H) – Came on in 87th minute
    • Interceptions – 0
    • Tackles – Won 1 Lost 0
    • Passes – 13/13

    West Ham (A) – Came on in 79th minute
    • Interceptions – 0
    • Tackles – Won 1 Lost 0
    • Passes – 23/23

    Birmingham (A) – Came on in 78th minute
    • Interceptions – 0
    • Tackles – Won 1 Lost 0
    • Passes – 6/7

  307. Gibbs might not have the coordination that Samir, RVP & AA/Theo have..though sounds like a good idea, but I don’t think he will start.
    ___

    Finsbury, Darjeeling, eh?

  308. So what the stats tell us is that when he comes on in the second half he is usually a very secure and tidy player who does the job he is supposed to do.
    But obviously those stats are far from complete. I would really be interested in seeing how often Denilson gets an opposition player yellow carded or how often he draws a foul in general.

  309. Fantastic news about Van Persie. Despite all the doom and gloom above I really think we will win the EPL this year if we can keep RVP and Cesc healthy for the run in. Especially RVP. With them in the line up we have been a confident almost unbeatable team in the league and cups and without we seem to lose our mojo. I think that swagger is the missing ingredient when we do not play well. I know this is a huge match with Barca but I hope we do not rush either of them back.

    I suspect Denilson deputizes for Song tomorrow. As Wenger said the key will be how well we defend since they will have 60 – 65% of the possession. Denilson has played the Song role far more then anyone else in the team. I love an in form Diaby and Wilshere is great but I do not think either would be as steady at DM as Denilson. The idea of Gibbs on the left ahead of Clichy sounds great but I do not think this is the game to try a new experiment. Same with Eboue as DM. Hopefully we can play the same aggressive but effective defense we played after their goal in the first leg and hit them once or twice on the counter. The Kos was brilliant and we will need another game like that from him and JD, Sagna and Clichy. Straight lines at the back please.

  310. T-Minus 25 hours and approximately 30 minutes till kick off.

    On reflection, a not fully fit RVP played well enough in the WC, when you factor in an average of two passes per game from his forward team ‘mates’ and the Total Gr*tball tactics of the Dutch manager.

    MJ,

    Lipton Yellow label was my parents drug of choice. I did absolutely no work and brewed up some Kahmiri today instead, pink stuff with Cardamons. No opium! First time effort, not bad. It takes a long time to brew.

  311. Good one Limestone, I can imagine just how thrilled your boy is.

    I also just ordered for a #8 jerseys for my son (18months old) and myself and really can’t wait to receive them. Although my son still a bit too young to know what the fuss it about, I’m gonna feel well proud to see him wearing it.

    I like the junior gunners idea though. I’ll have to check if non-UK residents can register?

  312. Aaargh > Kashmiri.

  313. Limestonegunner

    Henristic,
    I hope exactly for the team you drew up and agree with the tactical substitutions for scenarios you outline. But the big caveat is how fit Cesc and RvP are.

  314. Paulie Walnuts

    Mentalist,

    Yeah, I`d go with Nasri in front of Clichy too. It`s just not Arshavins game, bless him.

    We also need to avoid early bookings. Barca will be doing the `Nani` constantly , so we`ll need a decent ref who isn`t suckered & calm heads.

  315. Those stats are also against many teams that dont play the ball on the ground for the most part. Hard to have many interceptions and tackles, espcially when you come on so late.

  316. Limestonegunner

    Henristic, yes you can join the junior gunners from anywhere; we did from Canada. They send you a gift package at the start with age appropriate gear etc… We got a Gunnersaurus doll, an Arsenal insulated lunch bag, a sippy cup with the crest on it, and one or two other little things. It is a great program.

  317. No surprises with the Denilson stats. He has played so few games that no one can expect much more than that. This season hasn’t been his best by any stretch. You should see check out his stats from a couple of seasons ago. It was phenomenal.
    Which makes it just a bit surprising that he’s featured so little this season. Part of it is down to Wilshere’s form, but there were games were I thought Denilson could have been rotated for Song. His case is beginning to look similar to what happened to Senderos. He also regressed from a sure starter to being completely frozen out of the team. I hope Denilson gets a chance tomorrow and grabs it with both hands.

  318. …”A rational, neutral observer would probably have predicted at the beginning of the season based on the relative quality of the squads, that Arsenal should walk the league. Now, the main reason we haven’t done this is down to our own poor performances most of the time.”…

    This quote of Henristic’s cracked me up. A neutral and rational observer you say? Most of the pundits wrote us off. FACT. The consensus was that we stood no chance! Go back and google the predictions that were made at beginning of the season by all manner of pundits… everyone fancied Chelsea followed by ManU and then City… and even after them a lot of folks thought that Spurs would kick our Arse. Very few people thought we would challenge and I include a probable majority of our OWN fans in that… Very few people believed except for Wenger and some of his players…

    There must very few rational and neutral individuals around these days 🙂

  319. i cant beleive robins nearly fit already..
    what a season..the momentum pendulum is swaying this way then that its amazing…
    the highs are well worth the lows i reckon this season..
    this is more nerve racking than the 89, 98 and 03 seasons combined…
    i think the most crucial thing we have to take from this brilliant news, is that even if robin isnt fit for barca..he looks like he’ll be back for the weekend most defo..and then, fingers crossed for the rest of the pl campaign..
    all this while fergies manutd are in meltdown.. brilliant

  320. I see, Finsbury…very tempting

  321. It should be noted that the tackles stats @ the Guardian also count aerial battles, i.e. headers.

  322. But yeah, I think it is sad that Denilson has changed a bit this year. Just look at his stats when we played ManU in the 2008/2009 season and beat them 2:1

    Passes 60/65
    Interceptions 5
    Tackles: Won 5/Lost 0

    But even back then some of our fans just could not appreciate him and kept slagging him off. Anyway, I want the more offensive big game Denilson back, not the more defensive and short of confidence Denilson. But I am afraid that if our fans keep going on like this we might never see him back to his best.

  323. Cheers Limestone!
    I sign him up right away.

  324. Thanks NJGooner. We get to blow smoke while you do the hard work and come out with some real analysis.

    Denilson is much maligned. I seem to remember him being outstanding against Everton. We have 6 central midfielders. The 1st choice three are clearly Cesc, Song and Wilshere now. Diaby, Ramsey and Denilson are the 2nd choice. It seems to me we have an embarrassment of riches rather than cause for concern.

  325. and now for the post..
    good stuff yogi, once again..
    rational and logical..i admire the way you highlight the faults in the game, without being anti english..hope a few more can take your lead…
    fergie surely has gone too far this time..disprespecting the hands that feed him surely must work against him..for too long they have helped him, give him all the chances in the world and yet he still spits his dummy out, blasts the people who have given him so many points over the years and ignores the people who give him so many props
    it doesnt help his case now king kennys back either..he is quickly regaining the media darling status he once held and fergies crown could swifty be taken from him..once that happens its not as easy to get what u want…the media are bandwagon jumpers once theyve had their ride on you they spit on you….
    and we might as well class the liverpool as an easy three points..
    they wont put to much of a fight when they play us..they dont want utd to win the league ,we will finally have a team who ‘rolls over and lets us tickle their bellies’..
    anything to stop utd,,even if it means losing to us..

  326. Don’t class Liverpool as 3 easy points JonJon. Bad karma.

  327. Limestonegunner

    Joshua, and you think the pundits are the rational and objective observers Henristic was referring to? Now you are cracking me up!

  328. Josh,
    I obviously wasn’t referring to pundits was I? Unless you think most pundits are neutral and rational….

    I’m often amused by some of you guys and your fascination with these so called pundits. I know many gunners of both optimistic and pessimistic persuasions who are hardly literate, talk less of listening to pundits. Most football fans I know change channels or find sometime else to do during half time or after games when the pundits are giving their opinions.

  329. Limestonegunner

    Muppet, I agree. Liverpool has improved since the the fall. As I mentioned in response to Ole, from this point forward I regard our schedule as tougher than ManU’s. We have Liverpool (h), Tottenham (a), ManU (a), and Stoke (a). ManU has Chelsea (h) and a number of away games to mid-table or lower table teams who can damage them given Manure’s poor away form this season.

  330. Nice post YW, just amazed at RVP’s inclusion in the squad. Great mind games by AW!!

    Gadget- Love the Princss Bride quote, week played sir!!!

    Needless to say I lost my bet(4-1) to Arsenal on the weekend, unfazed I have doubled up with a 3-2 victory over BBB tomorrow 🙂 Stubborn, yes but I have faith!!!

  331. I see Limestone has made my point already. Thanks.

  332. Yup the Plundits have no impact on the sport. None at all.
    Fucking amusing when you watch yet ANOTHER Arsenal player leave the pitch with his leg attached to the rest of his body by a flap of skin.
    Anybody else see the tackle from Shawcross on Parker.

    Grief.

  333. * well played

  334. Forget to add:

    ‘He’s not that kind of player.’

  335. Or my favourite:

    ‘He got the ball!’

  336. Muppet,
    Good point about the embarrassment of riches we have in midfield. You have to be worried for Denilson’s sake though. He can’t be happy going from playing in nearly every game a season to getting just a few starts. If he is, then you have to question his drive and ambition.

  337. OMG!Just saw the van persie news.i am so happy now onto tomorrow let’s win this.mmh finsbury chai from kenya maybe?

  338. D**Ming about the DM’s.
    Infinite variations of the same old Gr*t.

    And they ask why they are referrred to as D**Mers.

  339. if three points v liverpool means we put daylight between us and the mancs they wont even make a tackle..
    thats like asking us to go out and play our sox off against the only team that can take the title from spurs…
    it wont happen…
    i dont care what their form is like they wont try beat us cos they know it stops us from stopping fergie
    lesser of two evils..
    i dont know one liverpool fan who isnt cheering for us this season..they all want us to win it…

  340. Henristic,

    He’s been written off by the doomers. The same doomers that wrote off VP, Djourou and Song.

    It seems to me that Denilson should be now approaching his best years. He’s only just turned 23. A lot of footballers didn’t appear on the map until well into their 20s. Sure, Denilson is never going to be in the Wilshere, Xavi, Gerrard class, but as a squad player – why not ? The main criticism of him is that he is dispossessed too easily. I see this as something that can be remedied – he can get physically stronger – in the gym. I’m sure they must be working on this.

  341. The Carragher ‘tackle’ does make you/one wonder
    It would be nice if Liverpool came with Rafa’s pessimistic, injury driven tactics from last season. But, they’ll be playing for a win. Probably.

  342. @ JonJon
    Liverpool is a club with a proud and venerable history. There is no way on this earth that they would ease our path purely to stop United gaining their 19th title. The fans might be up for it, but the manager and players? They will be fighting to finish as high up the league as possible, and they are a totally different proposition to the team we played at Anfield.
    We didn’t lose to them to help them out two seasons ago, did we?

  343. Limestonegunner

    JJ, Liverpool will be fighting to insure European football and, depending on results above them on the table, dreaming of 4th spot (right now just 6 points away). Plenty for them to play for and I think they are a dangerous team. Suarez is a good player and Carroll has already done damage against us in our home defeat.

  344. and to offer my tupence on the denilson thing
    if he plays tomorrow with diaby then its squeeky bum time..theres no way those two will do anything v barca the game will be too much for them
    but if he plays with jack and cesc then he’ll be fine
    barca are not like english teams they offer nothing physical..it will be pass pass pass..he’ll be ok
    its amazing that in the PL denilson is renderred pretty much useless but in the spanish league he would be a tactical god…like yogi said yesterday hes an enigma..
    im not his biggest fan and i dont like it when hes in the team with certain players against certain oppo but
    against teams like barca who have everyone in your half ,all you need to do is to give and go if you want to hit them on the counter and thats his only strength so if hes used tomorrow it wont be a massive hinderance..as long as he has the key players around him to help him…
    not unless he has one of his moments of madness and passes the ball straight into messis path…in which case he better just bang in a transfer request and walk out the door himself before hes pushed out..

  345. Jon Jon.

    Liverpool still have an outside chance at a top 4 spot. They will be playing for all they are worth.

    Nice to see Wolves and Birmingham in relegation spots although I doubt Birmingham will go down. Unfortunately Stoke is probably out of danger. Bottom 3 of Stoke, Wolves and Brum would be great.

  346. Gaurdiola-

    “I would like Song to play; maybe there could be a private flight for Walcott to come in at the last minute – you never know,” said Guardiola on Monday evening.

    “I want all the great players to play, everyone against everyone and see a great show tomorrow.

    Great level
    “I hope they are all in the team – Van Persie, [Samir] Nasri, Cesc, because I would like to play the best possible Arsenal.”

    “If Van Persie plays, then no problem. It is good for the team and good for everyone. If he cannot, then Arsenal have a squad with players at a great level.

    “Arsenal have many alternatives, are very dynamic and can play in different positions, their counter-attack is great. We will try to prevent that.

    “This is always a special game in the Champions League and it is a magnificent challenge.”

    “I keep hearing about the fragility in the minds of the Arsenal players, but I do not agree,” he said.
    “They are competing with Manchester United for the Premier League, reached the final of the Carling Cup and a few seasons ago were in the final of the Champions League.

    “Arsenal are always in the top, when you compete every season at the top, it is because they are quality.”

    “Wilshere is a top player. He has been a big surprise. I did not know him at the beginning of the season,” said the Barcelona manager.

    “He is an excellent player, not just Arsenal, but also for the national team.

    “We have many players like him in our second team. It is very good news for football to have players like him.”

  347. Limestonegunner

    Muppet, I think Denilson has bulked up a bit this season and has the strength to hold the ball better, though he is quite adept at finding a quick pass and needs to do this less than most. In fact I remember him doing quite a good job in the air against Tottenham as well, showing improved physical strength in those battles. I think the main problem he has shown is defensive tracking back (as he isn’t always as alert, quick in a sprint, or as dogged about getting back as he could be) and he has unfortunately made a couple of costly defensive errors–handballs, giving away bad freekicks–and the chorus against him never lets anyone forget it.

    In my impressions, I think he and Song or he and Diaby aren’t great combinations but he really plays well with Wilshere, Cesc, Rosicky. I am glad he is on our team as a valuable squad member and hopefully he will do the business tomorrow against Barcelona. But he is clearly behind several players now and hopefully he will stick with the club and fight for playing time and position against. The player I am worried about is Diaby. If he doesn’t recover his spot when he is healthier, he might be concerned for his France international status. We’ll see, but I believe Ramsey will be back to his best, and he could be some fantastic player if he recovers.

  348. What a class act Guardiola is.

  349. fungunner
    Liverpool is a club with a proud and venerable history
    exactley…its all about that 18th title..they proud of that they dont want utd to get to 19

    limestone
    liverpool are loaded they dont need the money now that the cl league ensures and they bought carrol for next season seeing as though they new he wouldnt be ready til march.
    i was speaking to a pool fan last night and he said they would sacrifice the cl if it meant manutd didnt beat their title record..they didnt even think they would be in the top ten this season, beating utd was their cup final…
    kenny has money they’ll go after it hard next season…

    trust me. watch what happens if its still tight at the top by the time pool play us we will win 3 or 4 nil…

  350. Limestonegunner

    Is this DM (Doomer Muppet, the dark alter ego) speaking in praise of Guardiola?!

    No, I know, he is a class fellow, though I didn’t like it when he joined the fray, albeit late, last summer in commenting on Cesc. Probably part of the job description or he was forced to by Rosell. I would be pleased with him as successor to Arsene Wenger in the distant future.

  351. Jon Jon:

    Although IMO what you are saying about Liverpool is a load of crap, I hope you are right.

  352. you guys all talk about consipiracy theorys right…??
    you watch..the mancs will be shitting themselves when pool come to play us..
    they’ll tell u what will happen cos theyve had bruce, mcgliesh and all the other ex fergie players who are now managers roll over and let em beat em 5-0. time and time again…

    the rivalrys in football are still fierce..especially in the north…theres nothing bigger than the pool utd rivalry…not only do the clubs hate eachother but the cities dispise eachother…
    liverpool wont stand in our way at all and il bet yogis house on it 😉

  353. Limestonegunner,

    I agree with your comments. The trouble is that Denilson is not a sprinter. He cannot run 60 metres in 7 to 8 seconds and retrieve situations. And the other problem as you say, is balance. When we have a 2 player combo who are both not out and out creative players like Song/Denilson (I don’t agree with with Diaby/Denilson not working – that can work – but Diaby needs to be sharper), then we suffer. If you recall, a couple of seasons ago we had spells where we had no creative players, as Walcott, Cesc, VP, Eduardo even Bendtner was out. We had Song, Eboue, Diaby and Denilson in the midfield – and it just didn’t work – we had a succession of score draws.

    As you say, yes, we have to worry about Diaby. He is the type of player who needs a lot of games to get back to his best. Once he is at his best, he is a fantastic player. Pace, power, athleticism. But when he is not at his best, he goes off with the ball aimlessly and ends up blundering into dead ends.

  354. Limestonegunner

    JJ, I hope we win 3-0 against Pool, but I expect it will be a deserved victory. Being a proud club means having confidence that you will be winners so that you don’t try to prevent others eclipsing you but rather fight to achieve honors yourself. Liverpool supporters might wish for us to win and keep ManU from achieving this league title but Dalglish has already said the European cups distinguish Liverpool as greater still. They may still have a chance at the CL and desire next year to add to those cups and the league. That is what a proud and big club would do. I think Liverpool despite all these years without league success wouldn’t betray that heritage. Certainly the players and managers as professionals wouldn’t. But we’ll see. I’ll be happy with an Arsenal victory, but I expect it to be a tough game.

  355. Limestonegunner

    Good points Muppet and you have reminded me that the Diaby/Denilson combo can work as long as there is another creative player like Cesc, Nasri, Rosicky balancing the midfield and linking with the attack.

  356. Well – I think that’s the case Limestonegunner. I was reading comments today all over the blogosphere bemoaning the Diaby/Denilson combo. But Diaby has only just come back from (yes unfortunately another) injury. If Diaby has a run of games then a Diaby/Denilson + another creative player would be a lot more potent.

  357. WOAH WOAH WOAH! I just got in from the pub to see ROBIN running around training freely! This is brilliant, any nerves I had just evaporated. Arshavin has a serious point to prove after going off so early when we played them last year. Song not playing would be a shame but like I said yesterday, Denilson is utterly perfect for this game, moreso than most prem games he plays.

  358. limestone
    nasri played with the diaby denilson combo on sat..
    didnt work..
    AA was in the side as well..
    and jack
    only one of them can fill the void using both just fucks up the tempo of the squad and it always has..
    if i had the choice for tomorrow..it would be deni
    if i had the choice for the pl it would be diaby..
    but using them both together is just asking for trouble..unless they both have an excellent game..which is rare…

  359. Limestonegunner

    JJ, but Nasri wasn’t playing the central role; Jack was playing more forward a lot of the time and he isn’t used to it. But I agree that I still prefer other combinations–I am just not going to write off Diaby/Denilson. Diaby isn’t playing well yet. He needs games but we don’t have any fixtures that aren’t completely vital now.

  360. This is a great vid – Arsenal supporters around the world.

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/free-video-fans-from-afar-watch-barcelona

  361. Hang on JJ, how can you use Saturday as an example for anything? Jack was playing somewhere he hasn’t ALL SEASON and Diaby’s coming back from injury. Fair enough it didn’t work ON SATURDAY but that’s hardly a case study to prove that those three players can never work as a midfield triumverate.

  362. denilson diaby has never worked mate..
    in 08-o9 they had a massive run in the team..both played with song and nasri cos rosicky and cesc was out for months..
    we went 21 games unbeaten il grant them that but we drew about 12 of them and scored about 10 goals..we were lying in 6th…until we signed aa…
    they aint that type of player to take the game to the oppo by themselves..
    by having to play with other players to produce their best form is proof enough in itself..
    when cesc is missing it dont stop nasri jack or song playing well??
    so why does it stop the other two??
    we can go round and round in circles on this issue but the truth is they are not first team material, they never have been, they are backups and when they play together the team loses the tempo that makes our game so fluid and we lose momentum…

  363. Bloody hell van persie could face a late fitness test. The only thing better than cesc possibly being fit is rvp being fit even for the last 30minutes. Arsene says possibility.Mmmmm. More of the gospel according to doomer of the day…we can complain about diaby and denilson as much as we like but the reality is that one or both are going to play. And I for one believe the doubters will be surprised tommorrow. Onwards and upwards

  364. if song makes it neither will play
    if he dont
    then i think everyone will want to see deni
    diaby never wants to pass..den does so den is in for me

  365. JJ,
    I think Diaby is first team material, in terms of talent at least. He is however not a creative force per se. I also agree he doesn’t seem to be able to carry along the team in the way Cesc, Nasri or Wilsere could. Doesn’t mean he’s not first team quality though.

  366. I think we have forgotten what took place in the 08-09 season. The season started off in us defending poorly so the team took a more defensive stance in order to get some defensive stability. Diaby and Denilson would not attack, even on free kicks and corners you could see them backing up once the kicks were taken. They are not to blame for the draws but rather commended, as they were obviously told to drop back and keep things tight.

    Its started our most consistent patch of the season.

  367. Henristic…

    my point isn’t that the pundits didn’t give us a chance… my point is that literally NO ONE gave us a chance and I repeat that I include a majority of our own fans amongst those I’m talking about… a lot of our fans were happy to mount a challenge and wait for next season…may be win a cup or two but to suggest that a rational and neutral individual would have said before a ball was kicked that we’d walk away with league ahead of Chelsea and ManCity is really not a very tenable position to take IMHO. I thought we’d challenge and challenge seriously but even I have been surprised at how things have turned out…

    I expected Djourou and Vermaelen to form a strong partnership at CB at some point in the season as I’ve always rated Djourou sionce his performance against Jason Roberts in the Carling Cup semi defeat to Wigan all those moons ago. I didn’t expect Kosceilny to come to the fore so quickly. I thought that Squillaci would be excellent cover and that he’d start the season with Djourou staking his claim later and that we’d be much improved defensively as a result… but I also thought that the goalkeeping position was weak and would cost us some vital points.

    I expected Diaby to come to the fore but nothing prepared me for the impact of little Jack. I remember him fluffing his lines badly in last season’s Carling cup for us… even at the beginning of this season I was far from convinced by his display at Liverpool where he was at fault for the goal we conceded… I thought he was very good but not yet ready. What do I know? In fact the only two things that I can say have happened as I expected has been the emergence of Nasri and Walcott everything else has been quite a pleasant surprise… from Fabianski to Kosceilny to Szczensy to Chamakh to Wilshere all have been big surprises to me.

    To be honest I cannot recall a single individual who thought that we’d WALK away with the title… the best anyone said was that we’d challenge. A few believers thought we had a very good chance but no one but no one said that we’d walk the title… and in my opinion no one said it for a very good reason because looking at the strength of Chelsea at the beginning of the season and looking at what City had spent and considering ManU ‘s undoubted pedigree and ability to get crucial decisions from referees it would have been a frankly delusional conclusion to reach. By any rational and sober calculation we have done remarkably well… considering that we have the youngest squad and field the youngest first 11 by some margin it entirely understandable that we’d mess up once in a while. That’s the truth.

  368. The quality isn’t the best, but 10/10 for effort. 20/10 for comedy value.
    This version has hidden little gems like the DJ Hype sample. Brilliant. However, I don’t think that the chap in the cap is into his reggae.

    Get well soon ShottaGunna.

  369. he has the capability henristic his skills are fantastic but the injuries have hampered him massively and hes not developed the way we expected at all…
    even with all the injuries though hes still managed lots and lots of games and he hasnt shown anything that cesc and jack have shown in half the games they got.. we knew cesc and jack were quality after 10-20 games, even songs overtaken diaby in the pecking order and with all the lads like rambo and lansbury knocking the door down now how many more games do we give him before we finally say enoughs enough…let someone else have a go..
    hes a good squad player when hes fit and firing but its got to be admitted
    that as far as the first team is concerned hes not in it..hes just a backup
    we cope perfectly well without him, we dont struggle when we dont have diaby we get by just fine and if we have a fully fit squad does he play ahead of jack cesc and song??
    id say no..no matter who the oppo were they would be the starters everytime
    and even if there were injuries and he had the chance to play he wouldnt cos the chances are he’d be the one that was injured…

  370. I agree with Joshua, I dont remember many people claiming that Arsenal are favorites to win anything. Unless we have forgotten, we needed a “world class goal keeper”, a bull like DM and all new “World class central defenders” and I think a goal poaching striker too. Along with that Cesc wouldnt be pouting and not play at his best.

  371. When has Wilshere ever carried the team?

    I do agree that Diaby seldom imposes himself on a game all on his own steam. He plays well when the team plays well.

    To say he’s not a creative force isn’t accurate however. His ability to burst forward, and launch attacks running from midfield positions is invaluable

  372. Kalou dive!

  373. ole
    when has wilshere needed 150 games to prove he can hack it in the arsenal first team???

  374. Forgot to mention the best LB in the world there, Cashley Airgunner Cole.
    Well, that is what says here in the self-declared rationalists bible.

  375. his ability to burst forward is valuable
    but not when he doesnt pass it or shoot at the end of it all, it isnt…

  376. The funny thing about the people who want to pretend that the refereeing decisions that regularly go against Arsenal in tandem with those that do go for ManU is somehow normal and nothing out of the ordinary is the way they never offer any expalnations for the utterly bizarre nature of these decisions. You point to Newcastle and Phil Dowd and they say that it’s down to a lack of bottle on the part of our players.

    The funny thing is that these people are now so used to Arsenal getting bad calls that they are willing to blame the players even when the players are not at fault. The Penalty Phil Dowd awarded against Fabregas for the ball hitting his hand in the wall still remains the only of it’s type I’ve seen awarded this season, I’m willing to be corrected on that but what I know is that I have seen worse examples that Fabregas’s offence not given! In fact a Wigan player handled the ball on the line against us from a nasri freekick and his hand was actually above his head and nothing was given… but these guys will tell you that we bottled the Tottenham match!

    Here’s a curious fact about Mr. Phil Dowd and Arsenal gleaned from the 7am Kickoff web site….

    ” Phil Dowd
    In the four Arsenal matches he has refereed this season, the Gunners have conceded four penalties and had two players dismissed. In the other 17 top-flight games Dowd has taken charge of this term, three penalties have been awarded and five players dismissed.”

    Make of that what you will. Goodnight everyone and good luck to the lads tomorrow. COYR!! PTBAG!!

  377. A.R.S.E.N.A.L

  378. Cesc’s passing ability is invaluable to the team.

    JJ’s response – “not when the passes go astray, they aint.”

    Backside, lets focus on the negative for all the players.

    RVP shots are not valuable to the team when he doesnt score either.

    Get off of the guy’s back for crying out load! the guy is just getting back from injury but when he has a run of games his decision making is great, it was at the start of the season.

  379. loud that is

  380. Pep might be class according to some but there was no need to make this comment.

    Guardiola was asked about the quality of Wilshere and the Barcelona coach said: “Wilshere is a top player. He is an excellent player, not just Arsenal, but also for the national team. [But] he is lucky because we have many players in the second team like him but he plays because there is no pressure at his club to win titles.”

    I hope we smash and grab tomorrow, fc sprinkler 1-1 arsenal

  381. when has wilshere needed 150 games to prove he can hack it in the arsenal first team???

    What silly point are you trying to advance JonJon?

  382. fucking hell the newcastle dowd thing was weeks ago who gives a shit anymore
    he had a stinker in the leedsv swansea game where he didnt give a pen to leeds for clear handball at 1-0 and then he gave a pen to swansea for a dive..
    game finished 3-0
    he had a stinker yesterday cos he didnt send carragher off nor did he send rapheal off
    halsey had a shit game too wolves v spurs and that wally had a stinker for our game v sunderland
    all the refs are shit in general..get over it…stop moaning….

  383. And what does he mean by they have many Wilshere’s in reserves? Very patronizing comment, that.

  384. Speaking of Gibbs and Clichy on the left, why not have Gael infront ? He’s on form, assisting and bombing forward, and KG can mop up if he gets caught too high up the pitch.
    What a fantastic thing to be an AFC fan at the moment !

  385. paul n
    ?? when did i say that..

  386. JonJon… this isn’t your blog and it’s not Highbury House either. If you have an opinion worth the name let’s hear it. There’s no rule or statute on what Arsenal topics are germane and in any event I doubt that you’re the person to make that judgement…

    By the way on your quite asinine opinion on Diaby… let’s rememberrthat Diaby arrived in this country as a 19 year old… went straight into the Arsenal first team and looked every bit an absolute gem … till he had his ankle shattered. I know that reasoning is not your strongest point but you’d do well to bear it in mind when pushing your Jack Wilshere thingymajig.

  387. ole
    you mentioned jack not carrying the team..
    im talking about diaby and denilson not being first teamers
    jacks played a third of the games they have..and his place is cemented..unlike theirs
    unless you are saying that diaby and denilson are better than jack???

  388. Yeah, G4E!
    A.R.S.E.N.A.L

    Come on you Gunners!
    Gang, stop the bickering and focus on what’s important!

  389. You didnt, I was saying that in response to what you said about Diaby’s runs.

    When player makes a wrong decision it is not valuable to the team but does it always have to be pointed out if someone commends the player.

  390. Yes, I was pointing out to whoever it was that Jack has never carried the team. He’s not there yet, despite being a fantastic talent.

    What baffles me and shows how poor your thinking is, is that you respond to that by mentioning an unnamed player who needed 150 games to prove he can cut it. WTF?!

    I have to say that Jack will almost certainly be at the club for the next 15 years unless he pulls a Cashley. That’s very exciting to look forward to.

    But you’re having a laugh talking about players whose places are not cemented. 150 games and their places are not cemented……?

    Explain this one. Let’s make out I’m the clueless one and you’re bringing me to the light.

    150 games by most rational readings of the situation would suggest that these two players despite your petty badly-thought out diatribes, show they’re in the manager’s plans.

    Denilson has had at least 1 season in which he was the first midfield name on the teamsheet. You love to pretend it didn’t happen, but it happened in the age of television and youtube.

    Diaby is always back in the side whenever he gets a long enough respite from injuries.

    But that’s the ——- mindset for you. It’s always about denying reality.

  391. Your are right Gris Gris, we should be focusing on the game tomorrow!

  392. Limestonegunner

    Joshua, I like you am very happily surprised at how good Kos/Djourou have been, Theo’s early season goal scoring dominance, the emergence of JW, the high standard of goalkeeping Fabianski and Szczesny have brought to our team’s performances, and Samir’s bursting onto the scene as a top player in the PL. There are always surprises which is why anyone’s predictions are likely to be rubbished by reality. Other things were quite evident–namely that Chelsea’s squad was thin, that their young players were not yet battle tested to support the squad, and that the core players had aged. Likewise, ManU’s loss of Ronaldo, Rooney’s injuries and poor form, and the lack of a creative player in midfield suggested that they too were not the team that won three straight titles. ManCity has not been convincing and I for one never thought that they were genuine title challengers for this season with all the mercenaries having to learn to play together and form a team. Entering this season, I may not have known all the aspects of our improvement, but I thought very soon in August and September that our defense was better than before and with a fit RvP and a decent backup in Chamakh we had a great chance this year, especially because of the weakness of the other contenders. That weakness has been evident for anyone rational and objective to see–and I don’t include the pundits in this category! Anyone assessing our squad would have said the younger players would be somewhat better and that we had real depth. The only thing people were unsure about in terms of our squad was the goal keeping and the CB’s. The reason why pundits have discounted us is because we haven’t proven that we can win trophies and titles with this squad and pundits are remarkably unimaginative and take few risks. Generally apart from those two alleged weak points in the squad, which have proven not to be vulnerabilities over the course of the season, the pundits have suggested that we have talent but not enough leadership or a winning mentality or enough English grit or whatever it is. It hasn’t been principally about our squad strength that has looked even early on as quite deep in comparison to our competitors. We’ve been discounted for other reasons, which will evaporate once we have won the triple at the end of the season.

  393. joshua
    i see you still dont like being told your wrong…
    and whats your gripe with highbury house..youve mentioned it a few times now but you used to blog on there before u got told you were a plum and came running over here….and your still a plum..at least your using only one blog name on here though..
    your nothing but a blog stalker..stop stalking me…

  394. paul n
    so are you comparing cesc to diaby then??

  395. Borges Spinelli

    The next 22 hours will be one of the longest of my life. Concentrating on simple tasks, such as work, has proved to be dog-gone impossible. I can safely now confirm, that until Wednesday morning, I intend on being pretty useless to every and anyone demanding my undivided attention (girlfriend, colleagues and clients included). Pfsshh!!! Multi-taking was never one of of my strongest points, anyhow.

    However, being the ever resourceful guy that i am (LOL), I did manage to muster sufficient enthusiasm, earlier at the office to draft a list of highly probable scores that should see us through to the Q/Finals. 🙂

    Barça v Arsenal
    0 – 0
    0 – 1
    1 – 1
    1 – 2
    2 – 2
    2 – 3
    3 – 1
    0 – 3
    3 – 1
    3 – 2
    3 – 3
    4 – 3
    3 – 4

  396. ‘Denilson has had at least 1 season in which he was the first midfield name on the teamsheet. You love to pretend it didn’t happen, but it happened in the age of television and youtube.’

    ive already mentioned that season…and we almost finished outside top four

  397. Limestonegunner

    Ole, it is obvious though that Denilson is not first choice now with Song having established his priority in the league particularly and JW’s emergence. Diaby is in and out and has been harmed by lots of injuries. So we’ll see how he does over the rest of the season and what role he has at the start of next season when, hopefully, we have a healthy midfield array of Song, Cesc, Wilshere, Ramsey, Denilson, Rosicky, Frimpong, and Diaby. The competition for places in the midfield three will be quite fierce if everyone stays and is healthy.

  398. Limestonegunner

    Colney, Did Guardiola really say that? Or are you winding us up?!

    Ok, I take back what I said earlier about him being a potential successor. Surely he didn’t say that?! Very stupid. Money down on Jack to score.

  399. Borges Spinelli

    **Slight error
    The 3-1 score should have been 1-3 to us.

  400. JJ, if Diaby could stay injury free he would be the most dynamic player in the team for me.

  401. exactely limestone youve probably had the best comment to describe the situation all night
    part of the squad they are…but they are not top of the pecking order by any means..

  402. Limestonegunner

    Paul N, he might be that dynamic player but there is a difference between a player like Diaby and RvP, for example. Both have missed a lot of games for Arsenal over their career, but RvP is consistently a world class player when he isn’t injured. Diaby seems even more affected by the interruptions and has problems with consistency even when he does get a short run of games.

    No doubt he has talent; I am concerned for him now that with lots of good options in midfield, he might not get the games to establish himself and develop the consistent level of that dynamism he has thrilled us with.

  403. paul n
    hes already the most skillfull in the squad i reckon..
    its using it to its fullest thats the biggest hurdle he faces…injury free and on top top form hes lethal..
    but its very rare hes injury free and its very rare hes in top top form..
    put it this way..if he breaks into the first team hes doing something right and as long as hes doing something right the chances are anyone he faces will get punished…

  404. Yes, it was his fault that Gallas almost ruined our season in November and Cesc was missing from Nov-Feb.

    No, when we turned it round starting in November, we went on a run of something like 20 games unbeaten. He played virtually each of those games, and helped get us into the CL semi finals (2nd time in our history) as well as the FA Cup semis.

    You’re deluded.

    He was one of the good things about that season. One of the better performers. By all standards except your blindness that’s the case.

    He won the ball BY FAR more than any midfielder in the league, was on top of the passing stats, got more assists than the likes of Stevie G and the Fake Ronaldo.

    He did the business.

  405. Limestonegunner

    But, I expect him to get some time tomorrow. I still back Denilson to start but I think Diaby will come off the bench–I hope he tears through Barca’s midfield with one of those surging runs and blasts a stunning goal from the edge of the box into a high corner.

  406. This is getting tiresome now. They are all Arsenal players and that is all that matters.

  407. ah
    robins a totally different story
    robin can come in and out like hes never been injured,
    the world class bit hits the nail on the head
    if robin could stay injury free for a whole season im talking about ballon dor..

  408. Limestone,

    Absolutely. You have the situation described perfectly. One’s not first choice but regularly called upon. The other was very often in the team when fit.

    But what’s clearest is what you say. With everybody fit at the start of next season, with Lansbury coming back, the competition for the midfield 3 will be very fierce.

    I’m certainly very chuffed to see Jack come through, and it’s so funny to note he won’t have been in the side if Aaron hadn’t been Shawcrossed.

  409. ok ole im deluded whatever you say mate,,
    bottom line is..those players play regular we fight for 4th.
    they dont we fight for 1st
    now whos wrong..the league table or me???
    now pipe down your going to burst a blood vessel..

    i agree with dups its getting boring now..

  410. will robin play tomorrow then..
    or is wenger doing the old jedi mind trick..

    oh and another ref fluffed his lines tonight..blackpool v chelsea was a tight one until the ref decided chelsea needed help..

  411. Limestonegunner

    Amen Ole and JJ, I have brokered a peace. As dups says, they are all Arsenal players and we are going to need everyone to play a role in carrying us over the line, starting with this fantastic game tomorrow. I expect both Denilson and Diaby to play and pray they play well!

    It’s true about JW getting his chance because of Ramsey’s injury (as well as Diaby’s problems with fitness this fall). Aaron must look at Jack’s rise and feel eager to prove that he can do as well or better next season. Frankly, he showed more goals early on than Jack has–what is interesting is that Jack has demonstrated great discipline and intelligence to adapt to the role of left side of the midfield triangle.

  412. Hi…best regards from Italy, i’m Richard, a soccer reporter in rome. First of all i would say that you have a nice site….really..then why don’t we make an exchange of links? visit mine and let me know if you like it…you find me on Twitter and facebook…have a good day and thanks again STADIO GOAL (http://stadiogoal.com) p.s. I follow you on twitter, i hope you’ll do the same for me…thanks mate

  413. Evening all, tomorrow’s post is done and dusted, up from one minute past midnight GMT.

  414. I’m betting on us getting through tomorrow and eliminating the mancs on Saturday.

  415. can’t wait for the match tomorro. diaby, denilson, shmielson. they all have fly emirates on the front of the jersey and they play with 10 other teammates at the same time. each has their own talent and arsene surely must see something special in the players, otherwise they would not be on the team sheet. in arsene we trust.

  416. Limestone, I have said earlier that RVP doesnt take long to get into gear but as you say Diaby is more in and out often, very hard to find a grove. If we go back to the beginning of the season though, I remember Diaby playing very well.

    Another player that doesnt hit the ground running on return from injury is Walcott mind you. I would say that RVP’s ability to fire as soon as he comes back is special, not even Cesc does it.

  417. Josh,
    Maybe its you who have been influenced by pundits then.
    I and many others on here put us down as overwhelming favourites, and for good reason too.
    Manu was struggling and didn’t strengthen. Age was expected to catch up with Chelsea, plus they lost players.
    We had the best attack and midfield in the league. We had reinforced our defence. We were a young team and could only improve on last season were we were only a few points below the champions. The only real question mark was the GK situation, and the uncertainty about how quickly the defence would gel.

  418. JonJon | March 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm |

    I can get with that!

  419. no matter what happens tomorrow ole with the players returning we’ll do the mancs..
    i know ppl will say they are a wounded animal and such and dangerous on the back of two defeats, but theyve been poor all season, and now their lucks run out..
    and they have no wingers
    and a shite defence
    we fluffed our lines earlier in the season there but we wont this time..

  420. Again, I see Limestone has addressed the issue already, and more eloquently than I could hope for. Its uncanny how close our arguments are.

  421. LG
    yes he did say that about wilshere and wenger. he said some nice things but no need to make those comments. story is in the guardian.

  422. Ole

    This is what I said: “I also agree he doesn’t seem to be able to carry along the team in the way Cesc, Nasri or Wilsere could”

    I was originally going to write “…in the way Cesc, Nasri or Wilsere does” but changed the ‘does’ to ‘could’ precisely because Wilshere hasn’t quite shown he can yet.
    But you just KNOW that he can, and he will. As long he continues playing for us. He is 100% that sort of player, from a talent and character point of view.

  423. Bout the comment of Guardiola about Wilshere.

    The journalist asks about signing him. And he answers that we have similar players, (good midfielders) on Barça-B. I don’t see any problem on it.

  424. Paul N
    Cant agree with you there, when Theo returned from that long lay off, he was on fire straight away.
    Talking of conspiracies;
    Has anyone got to the bottom of why exactly the manU chief exec Gill was sharing a director’s box with the head of refs Mike “OT season ticket holder” Riley yet?

  425. Limestone…

    I didn’t just think we had a chance… I was absolutely certain we would challenge seriously this season, so my position isn’t all that different from yours. What I didn’t think and, quite frankly, I don’t believe that any rational and neutral individual would have thought was that we would WALK the league. I’m sorry but what Henristic said has no rational basis. For each of our strengths Chelsea had theirs… they have more experience and more battle hardened players and there’s no reason to presume that the loss of the likes of Joe Cole and Ballack would impact them all that adversely as those players weren’t contributing even when they were in the team. As for the quality of their young players I’d argue that both Sturridge and Gael Kakuta are very, very good players… in fact as good as a lot of ours but the culture at Chelsea would not give them the opportunity to play and grow. And I didn’t see too many bloggers or commenters saying that Chelsea were going to crash when they started like a house on fire even without Lampard and i didn’t see too many Arsenal fans sure that we’d win the match at the Grove either!

    The same case can be made for at least City and in some ways United. To suggest that rational and intelligent people were expecting Arsenal to WALK the league is really not true nor would anyone who said such a thing had been considered all that sane at the start of the season. Arsenal always had a chance and so it has proved but at no point did anyone assume we would win the league at a canter… How many people thought that our goalkeeping situation wasn’t a concern? How many teams WALK the league without, at the very least, a competent keeper?…

    I just think that Henristic over egged his argument in order to make a point. I don’t believe that anyone would have looked at our goalkeeping situation as it appeared after the collapse of the Schwartzer thingy and said that we’d WALK the league. That would not have been in the least rational … and when you factor in that we had one CB returning from a year out with injury and another two entirely new to the league it becomes not only irrational but downright bizarre.

  426. Fairness in the Premier League is left solely to the referees. With the simple undoubted fact that they’re human, one can certainly conclude that they will never be fair. In fact, it’s impossible to be fair.

    Instead of the FA letting referees decide what’s fair and what’s not, and therefore decide the outcome of a competition based on the delusion of referees fairness, the FA should make life easier and apply the law regardless of who is playing or wither it’s a tiny club and we should be lenient with them, etc., etc.

    If we apply the law on every one, every time, that’s fairness.

    For God sake, how Carragher’s tackle on Nani was not a sending off with great shame, I don’t get it? Was the referee trying to give Kenny some luck? Was he trying to make up for their abysmal start to the season so he didn’t want to send Carragher off? Was he trying to even out Rooney not being penalized for his elbow incident?

    Whatever the referee’s rational about it, it makes other players think, I can do it and get away with it like Carragher did.

    I’m not defending Nani or United, they’re the most benefited team from these kind of decisions, but the principle of fairness in the Premier League does not exist, because it’s left to individuals to apply the law as they see fit, not as it was written.

  427. Alex
    Thanks for clarifying cheers 🙂

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