Derby Preview: Lets smash ‘em 27 April, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
Now I don’t want to get too over confident, once apon a time I wrote a headline: ‘The Hammers are in for a hammering‘ and we lost 1-0. However tonight I’m just hoping we can put on a good show for the travelling fans; which I will be one of! It will be my last away trip for a long time so I jumped at the chance to go. I actually missed the home tie so I’m looking forward to seeing Derby County live for the very last time.
It’s been a terrible campaign in the top flight for The Rams; they have been the whipping boys of the season conceding an incredible 76 goals! They’re currently on 11 points at the moment and all they have to play for now is that unwanted record of lowest points gained in a Premiership season. Ouch.
We beat them 5-0 when they came to The Grove, Adebayor bagging a hat trick. Not much has changed since then and I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happened again. I think it’s fair to say that if we don’t go and pick up 3 points at Derby then we really have to be embarrassed.
We might not have much left to play for, but we should still be fielding a half decent side. I mentioned the other day that it is still mathematically possible for us to win the league so maybe we should just win these last few games…just in case.
I think we’ll play a few of the non-regulars though. Wenger’s already hinted that Fabianski will play and he mentioned that he might rest some of the players involved in Euro 2008, which is quite frankly ridiculous. It’s hard for he to guess what side Wenger’s going to go with but if it were up to me I’d pick something like this:
Toure – Gallas – Song – Clichy
Eboue – Fabregas (c) – Gilberto – Walcott
Bendtner – van Persie
Apart from the captaincy…I think that line-up is quite possible. I think Song, Gilberto and Bendtner should all get a game, all simply to see how they could play a part in next season’s campaign. I think Walcott definitely needs to start, whether up front or on the wing I see no reason why he shouldn’t be in the 11. It would be nice to see Adebayor play, I bet he’s still hungry for goals.
Both Derby and Arsenal’s positions in the league are pretty much sorted now anyway; they’ll come 20th and we’ll probably finish 3rd. So really, it’s all about pride now, there’s nothing to lose. However, I’m expecting a top performance from whoever plays, and that they give everything for the 90 minutes. It would be nice to see a few goals too but I would compromise that for just a great display of football.
I’m heading up north after lunch, should be just over two hours drive. We’ll find a nice little pub, and get to the game. In a way, it’s nice that we’re not in the title race, the game will be played with a smile and we haven’t got to deal with the pressure of our results. At the end of the day, all I’m looking for is just a good day out.
Someone said earlier that we could’ve won the league tonight if things had gone our way. Oh dear. Match report to come ASAP but I’m going to be quite busy over the next few days so just hang in there. Thanks for reading.
Arsenal 2-0 Reading – 19/04/08 – (Premier League) 20 April, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
We won! Hallelujah! It’s all a bit too little to late though and even though Manchester United were held up 1-1 by Blackburn I don’t think there’s one single Gooner out there that thinks we’ve really made any ground on Man United at this late stage.
It was a strong line-up, as you’d expect with Song keeping his place in defence with Toure out on the right. Gilberto replaced the injured Flamini who I actually saw in his flash Mazeratti before the game, I should’ve stuck a contract under his wipers on second thoughts now. Walcott got a deserved start too.
Alex Hleb created a great chance early on with a fantastic pass through the middle to pick out Fabregas. He managed to take up the ball goal side of the defender and looked like his was charging to a one-on-one opportunity but the defender did well to get back and puts Cesc off.
Walcott was awarded a start today so he had to prove to Wenger that he’s worth playing the full 90 minutes, rather than just an impact sub. His first piece of notable action came after about 10 minutes when he got down the right well. He skipped past the defender taking it to byline but his squared ball was cut out, good play to gain that position though. From the resulting corner van Persie picked out Adebayor who had a free header but didn’t get it anywhere near on target.
Theo was in action again for our next chance, he made a surging run and played a great one-two with Gallas but one again Walcott couldn’t complete the squared ball.
We were looking threatening and were pushing for the opener. Hleb was also having a good game so far and his charging run through the middle earned a free kick when he was tripped outside the box. Van Persie stepped up and whipped it right around the wall sending it low to the far bottom corner but it just sneaked past the post. For some reason the ref gave a corner, which van Persie picked out Song but he couldn’t find the target.
We were getting closer and after half an hour the goal finally came. Theo took the ball up on the wing, and passed it to Toure. Kolo crossed it in early for Adebayor, his great first touch enabled him to wrong-foot the defender and calmly slotted it into the bottom corner. Great goal by Adebayor, showed great skill to finish that.
It only took another 8 minutes for the second goal to come. Gilberto picked the ball up in space outside the area and let out a shot, he slipped over in the follow-through but his shot deflected off the back of a defender which just diverted it into the top left corner. At the time it looked like a wonder goal from the Brazilian but the replay showed that he got lucky with the deflection. All our players ran to him for the celebration, a player loved by all but that is likely to be his last goal in an Arsenal shirt. Shame really.
We had a good chance to make it three just before the break, Ade charged through the box and made it to the byline and cut it back for van Persie who was coming in from distance. Robin made an okay connection with it but it was a decent low save in the end. Should’ve really scored from that chance though, he was in loads of space. We were still 2-0 up at half time though and looking comfortable.
Early into the second half there was a challenge between Alex Hleb and Graeme Murty. The Reading captain went down clutching his face but I didn’t see anything. He got up and was shouting and pointing at Hleb but the ref saw nothing. Seeing the replays back today, Hleb clearly slaps him across the face for no clear reason. The FA will almost certainly award Hleb a three-match ban ending his season. To be honest, I think Hleb is a bit of an idiot for doing that, it seemed quite out of the blue so I guess something must have gone on before that.
Kolo Toure came off after an hour with an injury; Eboue replaced him at right back. I’ve heard nothing yet about Toure’s condition so I suppose I can only take that as good news.
After a first half of good football and total possession, the second 45 promised goals, however we were finding it difficult to make it 3-0. Our best chance since the re-start came with about 20 minutes to go when Walcott was tripped outside area after some good skill weaving through the defence. This looked like the perfect position for a Robin van Persie free kick, he hit it brilliantly and Marcus Hahnemann could only stand and watch it go over his right shoulder. However, the ball came off the crossbar and then onto the post. A minute later, Walcott hit the same part of the bar after Cesc just managed to squeeze the ball to him out on the right hand side of the box. It looked like we just weren’t going to be allowed that third.
The frustration got worse though; Fabreagas’ shot was saved off the line when the ball was squared to him in the box in loads of space. We really should’ve scored in the 2nd half but in the end Reading held on to and it finished up 2-0.
We completely dominated the game but you have to say Reading did not show one bit of interest. They made 6 changes or something like that and played the game very negatively. That was a great time to play Arsenal: just lost out of the title race and haven’t won at home since February. They should’ve gone for it but they came expecting defeat before the whistle had even gone.
It was a good day out watching the Arsenal, which was all I was hoping for. The morning of the game I played a 5-a-sides tournament with the people from Arseblog. My team came third and Gunnerblog’s team won, lucky bastard…they had one player who was miles better than everyone else and was just unplayable. One positive we can take though is that Arseblogger’s team came last. Ha! It was a bit of a reality check personally though, I hadn’t played football for about 3 years and just expected to turn up and play…it didn’t happen. I turned out to be the Pascal Cygan of the blogging world and my legs are still killing me now. A lot of work has to be done before next season’s tournament.
Right I’m off people, thanks for reading. Speak to you tomorrow.
Liverpool Preview II: Expect squad rotations 4 April, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
Right, after the Scoucers sneaked a draw on Wednesday we need to beat them this time. This game is more important for us than it is for them; they’ve got 4th pretty much secured whereas we’re still trying to put the pressure on Man United. That said, it doesn’t mean Liverpool and going to bend over and let us spank them.
Out of the three games, this would probably be the one that either team would’ve picked to lose, if they have to in one of the three games; and with the Champions League tie still in the balance, you might expect someone to take the foot off the pedal.
I was quite certain from the beginning that Liverpool would rest players for this middle game. The Champions League means everything to them and I’m sure the Scoucers would forgive Benitez if he lost this one. Wenger’s also hinted at resting, he says he’ll make a decision on his team selection based on fitness and how the players came out of Wednesday’s game.
He did say that Adebayor is fit though, van Persie is out…obviously. I don’t know what this means though, what Arsene is saying. It’s hard for me to guess a team because I don’t have access to the training ground and I don’t know what condition our players are in. Toure could be tired? Clichy could be tired? Fabregas could be tired? Hleb could be tired, I don’t know. So here’s my basically random guess at tomorrow’s team:
Hoyte – Senderos – Gallas (c) – Clichy
Walcott – Flamini – Fabregas – Diaby
Adebayor – Bendtner
I’m guessing Wenger will use this opportunity to try Hoyte out at right back and maybe give Hleb a little rest. I’m almost certain that Bendtner will start though. It’d be nice to see Theo start but I don’t want that to make him fatigued for Tuesday night’s game.
It’s rare that we talk about resting players for a Liverpool game, but I don’t want you to take that thinking I’m underestimating Liverpool. I have confidence in our back up players that they wont spoil our performance. We’ll still need to be at the top of our game. You can’t really tell what sort of Liverpool side might play tomorrow lunch time but whoever it is we have to play the same.
Liverpool have a big squad and if Benitez does decide to rest one or two then it’s still going to be a good side. In his press conference today he gave pretty much the same answer as Wenger: it depends on fitness.
I think we’re going to win, I’m confident. We played much better than them the other night and had the more chances but we’re also angry that they held us to a draw; we deserved AT LEAST a goal more on Wednesday. Also, we need the three points more than they do, if we don’t win then it’ll be a massive blow to our title challenge.
Right I’m off now, enjoy the game people. Don’t forget to wake up; it’s an early 12:45pm kick off (UK time!). I’ll write the match report as soon as possible; I’m quite busy this weekend, until then.
Bolton 2-3 Arsenal – 29/03/08 – (Premier League) 30 March, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
Jesus Christ, that was emotional. 2-0 with ten men at half time, it was looking like a disaster but 3 goals in the last half an hour gave us all three points in an incredible come back. It was a horrible feeling at half time, I sort of couldn’t believe it, it was so bad to be true.
It was an amazing game, I didn’t get to watch it but I was listening on the radio, which made it even worse because I didn’t have a fucking clue what was going on.
We started with a quite mix-and-match team. Kolo was right-back, we had Diaby and Hleb on the wings and it was Bendtner up front partnering van Persie.
We started the game well; we were knocking it around with confidence and creating chances. We were by far the better team in the opening stages; I was thinking it’d be nice if we could get an early goal. However it was Bolton it took the fucking lead after 14 minutes. They got down the right and sent a really great cross into the box where there was just Taylor to aim for. He continued his run and beat Toure to the header sending it low down my Almunia’s side making it hard for him to react to.
We tried not to let it get us down though, we carried on playing. van Persie was out through just to the left of the box, he sent a cross in which was put out. From the resulting corner the ball found it’s way to Toure outside the box, he let fire and the ball took two or three deflections and ended up just agonisingly bouncing past the post; it could’ve gone anywhere.
Things went from bad, to worse 12 minutes from the break. The ball was passed to Steinsson who passed quickly but Abou Diaby has already committed his lunge in and we went studs first right into his standing foot. It was a stupid challenge from Diaby and he was sent off. Fuck. We had to play with 10 men for the last hour of the game, not the end of the world, but we were a goal down.
It looked like we were going to break one man, and one goal down…but then things got really bad. We had a throw-in, right in the corner of the pitch. We were passing it around to start an attack when Flamini was unaware of the pressure behind him and lost the ball in a dangerous position. Bolton picked it up quickly on the edge of the box. Diouf squared it and Taylor came running in and smashed it, Senderos dived in but it actually came off Gallas who was standing right in the way but turned his back deflecting it right into the corner out of Almunia’s reach.
Half time was a long 15 minutes. It must’ve been the worst half time of the season, 2-0 down to Bolton, with 10 men and it looks like we were stuck on this terrible bad run. As I said earlier, I found it hard to believe. For me, it was a mixture of depression, confusion and couldn’tgiveafuckness. I was just like, fuck this, I hate football, season’s over. Gunnerblog wrote his match report after just 45 minutes, he’d seen enough also.
We still had a whole second half to go though.
We nearly went three down early in the second half. Almunia gave away a free-kick out wide after charging out to clear the ball. A dangerous ball was headed out by Bendtner but from the resulting corner Almunia was forced to make a reaction save with his leg on the line. Jesus fucking Christ Arsenal.
An hour gone, and it was still 0-0. Something needed to be done. Wenger decided it was time for the change. A bit late in my opinion but oh well. Theo Walcott came on for Senderos and the rested Adebayor came on for Bendtner, who didn’t have a bad game, he just didn’t look as likely to score. It was a very attacking formation considering we had 10 men; we needed to go for it.
Their impact was immediate. Robin van Persie won a corner, which Fabregas took, he sent it deep and Gallas came running in to the back post completely unmarked to slot it in. It was comical defending, shocking from Bolton. 2-1 now, come on Arsenal, we can get another goal cant we? We ran straight back to our half for Bolton’s kick-off. Game on.
We needed another goal, and we didn’t have long to find it. However 6 minutes later, in the 69th minute, we won a penalty. It was a great attacking move from Arsenal with some great one touch passes which resulted in Hleb getting fouled. I was thinking, Adebayor’s going to take this and miss it, however van Persie placed it on the spot, the man who hasn’t scored since October had the hopes and prayers of the Arsenal fans on his shoulders. He stepped up and send the ‘keeper the wrong way smashing it to the right.
We’d done it! What a come back! No. No we hadn’t done it, a draw with Bolton wasn’t good enough. We didn’t have long but we still had to try and win this. It was going to be risky because Bolton can break but we still had to go for it.
It didn’t look like it was going to be though; we had a few chances in the final 10 minutes. The best coming to van Persie when Walcott did some great work down the right to send in a low cross to the near post but Robin smashed it high and wide. He had a similar chance from the other side a few minutes later, this time Flamini provided the chance but van Persie smashed it way off target again.
This looked like it was going to be 2-2, oh well, at least we didn’t lose. We had just a few minutes of injury time to get that winner. Come on Arsenal!
Clichy picked it up on the left, send a great through ball to Hleb who took it to the by-line. Fabregas was in a bit of space just behind him, and Alex cut it back. Fabregas shot, it took two deflections but somehow found it’s way in! We’d done it! FABREGAS! YESSSS! What a come back, what a fight! Come on Arsenal!!!
Everyone went mental! It was brilliant. Oh my god, we left it late but we’d done it. It went down as a Samuel OG but who cares?
3-2 final score, what a game. What an emotional game, why can’t we just win easily? I’m knackered just re-writing it all this morning. Jesus. Thanks for reading.
Bolton Preview: Ade rested & Sagna out 28 March, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
Right, after a rather shit weekend we have to get our heads down and get on with it. It’s a trip up north to The Reebok which was been a hard place to go in recent times. However they’re a different side now, Allardyce’s side used to kick us off the park and nick points off us but they’re not as good anymore.
Anelka’s left for a level of greater cuntishness, Jaaskelainen is injured and Allardyce is long gone. Their ‘keeper often has the game of his life against us so I’m pretty glad he’s out.
What I’m trying to say is, they shouldn’t trouble us. I used to fear Bolton away but we really shouldn’t be having trouble playing up there anymore. After last weekend’s nightmare we really, really need to end this bad streak with a win tomorrow.
Anything other than three points, and we really are in disaster mode. We could really do with a comfortable win here, for confidence’s sake. 3-0 would do the job nicely. It seems perfectly possible, the players wont be happy about slipping up in the title race and I’m sure they’ll want to put in a good performance more than the fans might want them to.
You have to think about the possibility of the unthinkable. If Bolton we to hold us to a draw, of even win, then I think I might commit suicide. I can see Bolton scrapping out a draw too. We need to show that we are The Arsenal and we are better than fucking Bolton Wanderers. If we don’t take all three points then we truly are out of the title race; mathematically it’ll still look possible but the resulting misery from dropping points to Bolton will surely rule it all out.
I can’t actually remember the last time we won. It was against Blackburn, but it seems so long ago. A win tomorrow is vital. I know I’ve basically said this in different ways in every paragraph of this post, but that’s how important a win here is.
Team news. Sagna is out for at least three weeks from that injury he picked up at Chelsea. Fuck. He’s been brilliant for us this season, one player you can always count on. So that leaves us with three options, Hoyte, Eboue or Toure. I’m hoping Arsene goes for Kolo, he’s not a natural right back but he has a lot of power going forward and always does everything he can. That’s mean brining Senderos back into the middle and some people have been saying this week that he never should’ve left. He found a bit of form while Kolo was out but lost his place to the Ivorian, it’s be nice to see him back.
There are no other injuries or recovered players but Arsene has hinted he might rest Adebayor. Wenger said, “He would need a little breather, maybe.” and then said that he has Bendtner and van Persie. I’m going to take that hint and guess that he rests Ade. I was thinking earlier this week that it could be an option. With Liverpool coming up we need him to be as sharp as possible.
With those two changes in mind, here’s how I see the team:
Toure – Senderos – Gallas (c) – Clichy
Eboue – Fabregas – Flamini – Hleb
Bendtner – van Persie
I’m still waiting to see Walcott play but I don’t think this’ll be his week, I bet Eboue starts again. Theo might have trouble being pushed around tomorrow afternoon so there might be a tactical decision made there. Still, he’s good coming off he bench blah blah blah…
It’s a 3pm kick-off tomorrow so it’s not on UK television. I’m going to a local pub that has all the dodgy channels, so they might be able to pick it up there. If I do manage to catch the game, there’ll be a match report on Sunday. Thanks for reading, Happy Friday people!
Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal – 23/03/08 – (Premier League) 24 March, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
Oh dear. I’m never going to fucking Walkabout again to watch football. Not only did we lose, again, but the TVs cut out in the middle of the match, and when they got turned back on we were 2-1 down. I thought I might be able to break the unlucky Walkabout streak with a great result at Chelsea but no.
Our terrible league form goes on. We were 5 points clear of United and 9 points clear of Chelsea not so long ago. Now after 4 draws and a loss we’ve slumped down to 3rd now 6 points behind the impressive Manchester United. I have to hand it to them; they are a fucking good team, with so much quality in reserve too. They deserve to win the league. We played well and the beginning of the season but we’ve sort of been hanging on since them, getting the results. A goal scoring run from Adebayor helped us to gain a 5 point lead but those goals dried up and here we are.
We’re just not as good as them, I really wish Wenger would buy so we had great players on the bench too. I just don’t see it happening. Yesterday I was saying, ‘That’s it; we’re out of the title race. We’ve just lost the league.’ However, that’s not strictly true. We are still very much in it but with the way we’re playing, and with United winning every game it looks unlikely.
We still have to go to Old Trafford, if we can win there that’s 3 points reduced off the gap. Them one weekend where Man Utd lose and we win and we’re level on points again. It can all change quickly but it’s not looking good.
Right, the game. We started as I thought but not long into the game van Persie was pushed out wide to play Hleb behind Adebayor. It didn’t work in my opinion.
The first half was quite an even game. The game opened well and there were some chances for both sides but nothing really came of them. However in the 25th minute Drogba found himself clean through on goal after John Terry’s long kick forward. He beat Gallas to it but just as he got into the area the ball came off his knee and Almunia collected. Phew.
A couple of minutes later, we had a really good chance at the other end. Clichy’s cross got taken down in the area but neither Eboue or Adebayor could get enough on it to shoot goalwards.
Just before the whistle we had a fantastic chance from the first corner of the game. Fabregas took it and Toure headed it on to Gallas as the far post. He slid in but could only manage to hit the post. It was agonisingly close but he was flagged for offside anyway in the end. Very marginal though.
Chelsea had a few decent chances in the final few minutes but in the end it finished 0-0 at half time. It was a good first half with opportunities for both sides. It was bound to be a good second half and I think both fans were probably thinking they could win it.
The second 45 started well and you had to think a goal would come sometime. In the end we opened the scoring just before the hour through Sagna. It was another Cesc Fabregas corner; this time it was delivered into the near post and Sagna timed his run and header perfectly to slot it just inside the post. A great header, m=you might say it was a bit lucky though.
1-0 up and it was all looking good. I was confident. I thought we should still put Walcott on though; I thought he could make the difference on the break and get us another goal. Sagna went down injured and I was thinking this was the time for Theo. However Wenger chose the more defensive option and went for Diaby. However almost straight away Chelsea equalised. Drogba chested down a long ball forward and managed to get a powerful shot on it before a defender could dive in the way. Quick instincts from Drogba and it was 1-1. I bet Wenger wishes he brought Theo on now?
So he brought Walcott on a few minutes later for van Persie. 1-1. Come on Arsenal.
Then the TVs cut out. Everyone cheered sarcastically ‘Whayyyyy!’ I didn’t though, I went outside to try and get my mates back in, they went to the cashpoint but weren’t allowed re-entry for some stupid reason. I was talking to the bouncer when I got a text…
GOAL!: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal. Anelka knocks a long ball to Drogba and the big man hooks it past Almunia (82)
I showed my mates the text and said, ‘Fuck this we’re leaving.’ I went inside to get my coat, TVs still off but I knew what had happened. I just wanted to get out of there before the TVs went back on and the Chelsea fans started celebrating. Just as I got to our table the Sky signal reconnected and they all went mental. I stormed out.
In the end the bar next door was showing the rest of the game so I decided to go in there for a bit just to see if we could equalise. We brought on Bendtner but nothing happened. It finished 2-1 and it felt pretty shit to be honest. I saw the replay of the goal, it was a quick free kick from near the half way line that Anelka nodded down and Drogba finished. Thought Almunia could’ve done better with the save but he made up for himself a few minutes later when he made a good save to deny Drogba his hat trick.
So that was it. Title race over? No, as I explained, we’re still in it but it’s going to take a lot of effort. We need to just carry on doing our stuff and just make sure that we are up there incase United slip up. There’s not point in giving up, lets just keep putting the pressure on them.
We need to end this bad run at Bolton next week though. If we don’t pick up three points there, for the sixth game in a row, Then it really is over, it’s up to Chelsea to challenge United.
Lets pick ourselves up and get on with out games. As I said, it’s Bolton next, build up to come this week. Thanks for reading.
Chelsea Preview: ‘Make or Break’ time 22 March, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
That’s the general opinion from the English media at the moment and we’ve got the chance to rub it in tomorrow. Ashley Cole has gone from the heights of being a fans favourite at Arsenal, a young English defender, an Arsenal fan who made his way through the youth system. Now he’s right down in the dumps, a money-grabbing cunt who cheats on his wife, second choice at Chelsea to Wayne Bridge and now the most hated player in the league, not just by Arsenal fans.
He’s really fucked himself up and he deserves every bit of it. As a Gooner, I’ve loved watching him plummet to the scum he is. He could be playing tomorrow and I just think it would be perfect if we could just put the final nail in his coffin; He joined Chelsea at a time when they were a growing force and every player that moved there believed they would be joining the best club in the world and dominating Europe. That hasn’t been the case though and I think if we can beat Cole’s Chelsea tomorrow it’ll just show him what a stupid, stupid boy he’s been.
Tomorrow’s not just about Cole though. It’s about the Premier League title. Wenger reminded us yesterday that ‘Grand Slam Sunday’ won’t decide the championship, however it could definitely have an effect on the title race. If we were to beat Chelsea tomorrow and Torres sticks a couple past United then we’ll be joint top and the team in confidence. However if United carry on winning and Chelsea take the three points then we can almost count ourselves out of it.
We’ve drawn four in a row in the league and it’s not pretty. I think the main reason for this has been inspiration. When you face the likes of Wigan, it’s hard to focus on delivering a top performance. Whereas if you were playing AC Milan, the concentration would be on maximum and you know every player would put more than 100% of their efforts in.
Going to Stamford Bridge should hopefully inspire us to put on a good show. The players have fucked up in the last four games so they owe the fans a win. They need to show us that they’re still in there for the fight.
The team news is the same from the last game, no new injuries. It’s just Eduardo, Rosicky, Diaby and Denilson who are out so the team pretty much picks itself. You’d have to think we’ll go 4-4-2 with van Persie up front but he was pretty anonymous in the last game. Arsene will have been looking at his sharpness in training this week and hopefully he’s made an improvement.
We could go with just the one up top. Or maybe even play Hleb behind Adebayor depends how Arsene’s going to approach it. I don’t now what he’s thinking, I can’t read his mind. However I can guess that he’ll start Eboue ahead of Walcott…
Sagna – Toure – Gallas (c) – Clich
Eboue – Fabregas – Flamini – Hleb
Adebayor – van Persie
I’d quite like Theo to start tomorrow. He’s great coming on from the bench, that impact is a massive part of his game. However we could do with his talent for the whole 90 minutes, not jus tthe final 15 or whatever. I’d like it if Theo starts the game but I wont be too fussed if we bring him on from the bench.
Flamini is going to be key tomorrow. He still hasn’t signed that new contract but Wenger says he’s completely committed every day despite the ongoing negotiations. Arsene says in that piece he hopes to get the deal signed next month. Once Matty puts pen to paper I’m going to be so relieved, until then though it’s a bit worrying. I’ve heard that he wants 80,000 a week! Completely breaking our wage structure, and of course if we was to get that then everyone else is going to want a pay rise. It’s a tough call for Wenger and the financial department.
It’s going to be two good games tomorrow. Liverpool vs. Man Utd is the early kick off, that starts at half one. We’ve got to hope our Champions League opponents can do something to stop United. Torres is in goal scoring form and I’m backing him to get
us them a goal. I’m definitely going to be watching both games. I was thinking about going down to the 12 Pins to watch ‘Grand Slam Sunday’ but I’m just going to go to Walkabout in Watford. I’m hoping to break a run of bad results there, every time I’ve been we’ve lost so yeah…if we lose it’s my fault, sorry.
It’s gonna be massive, so make sure you’re watching. I’ll write up the match report on Monday, speak to you then.
‘Boro Preview: Theo, Robin & Kolo match fit 14 March, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
We need to forget about the Champions League draw for the moment, we play in the Premier League tomorrow, which will be a massive game. We’ve drawn our last three games in the League and we need to get back to winning ways if we want to win this trophy.
We lost to Middlesbrough when we went to the Riverside earlier in the season. So we know that the wont be easy. Anything other than a win tomorrow and I’ll be hanging my head for the 4th successive game. Although a draw against ‘Boro wouldn’t really be the end of the world, the way we’re playing in the Premiership at the moment it would really lower our confidence.
The team news ahead of the game is quite good. Walcott & Eboue are back in the squad. Also, we saw van Persie and Toure return last week but Wenger says that this time they are fully match fit whereas last week they were a little behind. The leaves just Diaby, Rosicky and Eduardo out injured then, things are looking on the up.
For once Wenger’s got a few different options for the starting 11. Apart from Rosicky, we’re back to full strength! So it’s just really a decision of Eboue or Walcott on the right wing. I feel Arsene will go for Eboue, I know I’ve said this thousands of times but Walcott has such a great impact coming on as a sub it’s worth not starting him. With Toure back, Wenger has now got to choose whether to stick with the in-form Senderos, or put Toure straight back into the team. I’d go for Toure but I wouldn’t be worried if Big Phil made the 11.
So he’s how I see us lining up tomorrow:
Sagna – Toure – Gallas (c) – Clichy
Eboue – Fabregas – Flamini – Hleb
Adebayor – van Persie
No real surprises there I don’t think. Hopefully Eboue can behave and just do his job on the wing and Toure will slot straight back in like he never left.
I’m sitting in a box for tomorrow’s game, I’ve never been into club level or a box before so it’ll be good to see what it’s like up there but I know I’ll still always prefer it in the stands! The tickets are from o2 from that competition my Dad entered, part of getting down to the finalist. It’s in the ‘o2 Blue Room’ whatever that means.
Going to have to leave early again I think, I have work to get back for. Maybe I’ll be able to sort out going to work a bit late…
The game kicks off at 5.15 and it’s live on Setanta Sports 1. However you’re following the game, do everything possible to cheer the boys on to victory. We really need three points tomorrow.
Thanks for reading.
Wigan 0-0 Arsenal – 09/03/08 – (Premier League) 10 March, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
Jesus Christ. That’s 3 draws in a row now; we haven’t won in a month! We were 5 points clear not so long ago and everything looked great but now look where we are. Man United can go a point ahead of us now if they win their game in hand.
We started with the team I thought it’d be, there was really no other option. Toure, Song and van Persie all returned from their injuries to make the bench, but you have to wonder if they were they to just make up the numbers or whether they were actually fit.
We got off to a flying start and caught Wigan out early. Adebayor was sent clean through on goal but Kirkland came rushing out to narrow Adebayor down and he made a great save on the edge of the box.
It would turn out to be our best chance of the game, however with such a promising start I thought it wouldn’t be long until a goal came. How wrong I was.
The pitch was terrible up in Wigan, the rugby lines were still clearly visible on the pitch but it was still not a surface fit for that sport. A few minutes after Adebayor’s chance, Bendtner got free down the left hand side of the box and was getting ready to square the ball in when he completely missed the ball with a massive air-shot. The replay showed that the ball was bobbling around all over the place thanks to the pitch making it impossible for Nick to strike the ball.
The opening 10 minutes or so weren’t bad, we hadn’t got an early goal but we looked on course to break Kirkland’s clean sheet.
However half time came and it was still 0-0. We’d had most of the possession but we couldn’t really work an opening. Wigan had a couple of chances of their own but you had to say we were on top. We still had another half to score thought so I wasn’t too worried at this point.
We nearly scored early in the second half; a couple of goalmouth scrambles were cleared and Wigan were safe again. The game was becoming increasingly frustrating to watch. As time ticked on I was just hanging on to that slip belief that we could get that late goal.
After 66 minutes Wenger decided we needed a change. Robin van Persie got his first League appearance since God knows how long ago, he came on for an uninspiring Bendtner. Nick has a habit of scoring late, important goals though but Arsene decided to put van Persie on anyway. Kolo Toure also returned from injury replacing Gilberto Silva who has completely had it. It’s really sad to see a player play so badly, a player that most of the Arsenal fans loved. He looks past it, a great contrast from the performances he saw last year. Toure came on at right midfield, which shows the extent of our problems.
The substitutions didn’t really change anything, I thought the introduction of van Persie might inspire some decent football but nothing happened. Robin had a decent chance with a free kick, but it was smashed over the bar.
In the last few minutes Fabregas found himself free in the box, 6 yards out but Kirkland reacted quickly stopping Cesc from slotting the ball underneath him.
At the whistle it ended up a very disappointing 0-0. I asked before the game for a ‘San Siro performance’ but it was nowhere near that quality yesterday; you have to blame it on the Champions League hangover I guess. Yesterday was the day we came crashing down to earth and we’re really going to have to work at our league form. It looks like that match at Old Trafford next month will be a decisive one.
Arsene’s got a week to sort the players out before we face Middlesbrough this weekend. If we don’t win that then we’re really on a bad run. ‘Boro got outclassed by Cardiff this weekend so we should really win, shouldn’t we? Build up to come this week.
Wigan Preview: Another San Siro Performance Please 8 March, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
After a massive night in the San Siro earlier in the week, we now have to travel up to cold and wet Wigan in the Premier League. It’s one hell of a scenery change, but that shouldn’t mean we change our game. We want another great performance to continue our title chase and put the pressure on Manchester United and Chelsea who both got knocked out the FA Cup today. Ha! Yes, Chelsea were playing Barnsley.
So we’ve got an opportunity to go 4 points clear tomorrow, Man United and Chelsea will have a game in hand but it will still put pressure on the to perform.
The squad’s a little thin for tomorrow’s game. Diaby, Denilson and Walcott are the latest casualties meaning Fabregas will probably have to play right wing. He’s not bad there, but we’ll miss him in the middle. He proved on Tuesday night that he is an important cog in our midfield machine so hopefully it wont be so bad if we shift him out to the right.
There are a few options for tomorrow’s first 11 but here’s my best guess:
Sagna – Senderos – Gallas (c) – Clichy
Fabregas – Gilberto – Flamini – Hleb
Adebayor – Bendtner
We could maybe start Hoyte on the right wing; I don’t think that’s a bad shout. The Gilberto and Flamini pairing in the middle might be a little defensive. We’ll just have to wait and see what Wenger does, I’m sure he’ll sort it out.
It’s not going to be easy going up to the JJB tomorrow, the pitch is going to be shit so I think it’s going to be more of a battle than a skilful display. With Bendtner and Ade upfront we’ve got two targets to hoof long balls at so maybe we might get away without doing all the intricate passes we’re used to.
In recent times, it’s taken a late goal from us to take the points; I think we might need another one tomorrow. I see it being a one or two nil win with us dominating the game but Wigan keeping it 0-0 for most of the match. Hopefully though, we just completely outclass them and it’s a walk in the park.
Kick off tomorrow is at 4 and it’s on Sky Sports. I’m not going, wish I was though, might ask some people if there are any spares about. I’ll speak to you with the match report soon, until then.
Arsenal 1-1 Aston Villa – 01/03/08 – (Premier League) 2 March, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
Well thank fuck for that. Bendtner’s last minute goal allowed us to grab a point from a game where we probably didn’t deserve it. I’ve only just seen the goal, I had to leave early to go to work. Felt like a right Judas walking out with 82 minutes gone but I left it as long as I could, in the end I got to work just two minutes late.
The team was on the one I predicted, Diaby getting a start after returning from injury and Walcott partnering Adebayor. However we soon switched it around putting Theo on the wing and Hleb was the second striker.
We started reasonably well, we looked sharp and promising. Walcott had the best chance after 7 minutes when he stole some space and fired a shot towards goal but Carson was equal to it. The Aston Villa ‘keeper had a fantastic day, he made four or five good saves to keep them in it. It’s so frustrating watching all these goalies come to Ashburton Grove, get inspired by the surroundings and have the game of their lives. Bloody annoying.
Villa were doing alright at the other end too, it was a fairly even game in the opening minutes, both sides had some decent chances. Agbonlahor went clean through with just Almunia to beat, I was saying, “This is a goal, 1-0.” However William Gallas didn’t give up and he managed to get back and make the tackle.
They did take the lead after 27 minutes though. Agbonlahor had the ball out on the left and fizzed a ball low into the box. Senderos tried to clear it at the near post but he put the ball just inside the post with Almunia left stranded. You can’t really blame Big Phil for the goal but I’m sure he didn’t enjoy it.
I was expecting Villa to score so it wasn’t a massive shock, but at least we had an hour of football to do something about it. We didn’t do a lot in the remainder of the first half, that goal shocked the team a bit I think and Villa were on a high. The visitors had the better of the first half and a couple more chances before the break. We needed to come out with a different attitude.
Arsene sorted them out at half time and we came out with ambition and we attacked straight from the kick off, Walcott had a decent shot saved. We were passing and moving like anything and I was reminded of the game last weekend when we came out well in the second half and scored twice. That wasn’t the case yesterday, we soon lost that spark and it was more urgency and panic football than lovely and skilful.
There was 40 minutes left on the clock when I started to get worried. I was begging Wenger to make a bold change and bring Bendtner on early. 10 minutes later he did, Diaby came off. He didn’t have the best game yesterday; it was obvious who needed to be taken off.
We were having a lot of the ball towards the end of the game, however Villa were defending with 10 men, literally, and we couldn’t break them down. I was thinking ‘We have to score we have to score we have to score’ over and over. All this pressure had to be made to count. My anxiety was intensified by watching the clock tick away, I must have looked at the clock every 10 seconds.
Not only did it mean that our chance to get any points was slowly disappearing, I also knew that I really had to leave, as much as I didn’t want to. In the end it took Walcott to go clean through in the box and miss for me to go ‘Oh fuck it!’ and I got up and left.
I felt so embarrassed walking up those steps with the game going on around me. Whenever I see people leaving early like I was yesterday I don’t like it. I think why have they so urgently got to go? Well I’ve realised maybe they have got places to be, places to go or whatever. I had the choice of either not going yesterday, or just leaving 10 minutes early. I think I know what you would’ve all done.
As I walked to the station I kept my ears fully alert for a sign of anything that might be happening inside the stadium, but nothing. Along my walk I looked through the pub’s windows to check the score. Still 1-0, fuck. However when I just got to the station, a London Underground guy goes, “It’s 1-1, they just equalised in the last minute.” I replied, “Are you joking?” I was convinced he was winding me up but he spoke the truth and it was good! I got the goal confirmed soon after by text message and my journey home was slightly less shit.
9 days ago we were 5 points clear at the top of the league, now the gap is only one point. Last weekend we lost the chance to win in the last minute, this weekend we grabbed a point in the last minute.
Next up it’s AC Milan in the Champions League. I’m flying out to Italy early tomorrow morning so the match preview will have to be done tonight, I might time it so it publishes tomorrow though. Right, got to go, thanks for reading.
Villa Preview: Bentdner, Walcott or Ade on his own? 29 February, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
With Eduardo’s season over and van Persie still stuck in that constant state of ‘a couple of weeks away’ we need to find a partner for Adebayor. Bendtner has hardly proved himself this season, he’s scored a couple in his few appearances but nothing extra special and Walcott only scored his first ever Premiership goal last weekend.
Both players have good points and bad points. Bendtner is incredible in the air; boot a ball up field and you can bet he’ll be there to take it under control or head it on. However you could argue this is part of Adebayor’s game. Manu has an incredible leap, as does Bendtner and I think it’s a case of anything Nicklas can do, Ade can do better.
Theo is a different species to Bendtner. He’s incredibly quick and skilful who can cause a lot of problems running at defences. The Adebayor/Walcott partnership has a lot of potential (as does a Bendtner/Walcott partnership but Adebayor will play), it’s the typical tall and strong plus quick and short strike force.
There’s a difference between the two youngsters though that will decide who will play tomorrow. It’s mainly an issue of confidence and match experience. Bendtner has proved on many occasions both here and at Birmingham that if you give him the ball somewhere near the box, he might have a chance at scoring. However with Theo I still don’t feel confident that he has a good chance of scoring. He’s known to lose the ball and before that weekend he looked scared to have a shot for himself.
Walcott seems to lack match confidence whereas Bendtner is overflowing with it to the extent that he’s maybe a bit too cocky. Theo has said this week that those couple of goals last weekend have given him that confidence but there will only be one way to find out if they actually have.
With Diaby now fit we can afford to play Theo up front; we can have Abou on the left and Hleb on the right. With Eboue suspended and Rosicky injured we’ve had to play Walcott on the wing but now Arsene’s got a decision to make.
The other option would be to have Adebayor play on him own. I suspect Wenger will be very tempted with this one but I’d prefer it if he went for a 4-4-2. I think Ade needs someone to support him and deflect defenders attention onto another striker. I personally would go for just him up front but I won’t be very surprised if I see it happen tomorrow.
We can also play Hleb behind Adebayor with Walcott and Diaby on the wings. Wow we have so many options for once! I think it’ll be Theo or Bendtner partnering Adebayor though. I have a feeling it might be the Englishman. Not really sure why, I can just see him being a real nuisance for tomorrow’s visitors.
Just to confirm my team…
Sagna – Senderos – Gallas (c) – Clichy
Hleb – Fabregas – Flamini – Diaby
Walcott – Adebayor
Tomorrow is a massive game. Last week we lost our heads due to that horrible injury, I have no doubt that we would’ve won comfortably if it weren’t for that. So we need to clear our heads of Eduardo now, get on with our game and give everything we have.
Aston Villa are a great side and are more than capable of coming to Ashburton Grove and drawing, or even winning. So we’re going to need to play to the top of our ability. I think that they’re going to score, so that striker decision is quite an important one.
It’s bound to be a good game, it’s not on TV in England though so you lot who aren’t going are going to have to find an internet stream or find a pub with the dodgy channels. I’ll do the match report early on Sunday then a Milan preview later that day as in the morning I’m off to Milan! Speak to you then.
Birmingham 2-2 Arsenal – 23/02/08 – (Premier League) 24 February, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
In the second minute of the game, that happened. The horrific, idiotic, reckless challenge by Martin Taylor on Eduardo da Silva. For the few seconds in which the incident took place, I wasn’t actually looking at the TV, so I missed it, however it was clear that something really quite bad had taken place. The players around him urgently called Gary Lewin on, the sheer panic on everyone’s faces really hit me.
Everyone had a look on their face saying, ‘Woah, this is bad.’ Eduardo was on the pitch for 10 minutes receive urgent treatment. A lot of people were watching this thinking, when are they going to show the replay? Sky said they wouldn’t show the images as they were too sickening for general viewing. When I got home I found these images and this video (Warning: These are not for the faint hearted). Horrible.
Look at that second picture at the top of this article, Eduardo’s face. He didn’t deserve that. Taylor has gone in, clearly not for the ball but to “let him know he was there”. I don’t for one minute suggest that he’s intentionally broken his leg but I’m 100% positive that he meant to miss the ball. That’s why he’s a fucking imbecile who shouldn’t be playing football. After the game Arsene said he should be banned from playing for the rest of his career, comments which he later retracted saying it was all in the heat of the moment. I agreed with him at the time but it shows our class he so quickly, publicly apologised for what he said.
However, it raises the issue that such a terrible ‘tackle’ if you want to call it that, will only result in a three-match ban. Arseblogger (in a great post this morning) talks about this saying that it’s a shame that we had to wait until somebody got really hurt until maybe the FA do something about it. This season there has been some horrendous fouls, a lot of them seemed to come around the same time, towards the end of 2007, and I remember everyone saying that very soon somebody is going to be on the wrong end of something disgusting. Yet I never thought it might happen to us.
Obviously Taylor was red-carded immediately. However there are some stupid pricks out there. Birmingham players surrounded the ref debating his decision, pundits dismissed it as ‘harsh’ and TalkSport radio spoke about ‘typical diving Arsenal’ and how we just can’t take an ‘English Tackle’. Fuck off you stupid cunts, I’d love to see you be on the other end of that tackle you deluded-United-loving-wankers.
You might think that I’m spending a bit long talking about just one challenge in the game, however it completely overshadowed anything else that happened yesterday. When Da Silva was receiving treatment the camera panned around our players who were all abject, some with their heads in their hands. It was horrible to watch and all the fans at home and in the ground felt the same too.
When play finally continued you could blatantly see that it this had affected our play, and it was no surprise when we went one-nil down. They won a dubious penalty outside the area and James McFadden took a good free kick curling into the top corner that Almunia couldn’t quite get enough on.
At half time Arsene Wenger said what needed to be said, and it got through to the players. Within 10 minutes of the second half we were 2-1 up from two Theo Walcott goals. The first was a cross which Adebayor tried to get a head to but the ball fell in the area which Walcott reacted quickest to make it 1-1. The second was a more individual goal, with the confidence of his first Premiership goal five minutes earlier Theo cut in from the right and shot from just outside the area back across goal. A great finish and we were all smiling again.
The first half was a bit depressing with everything that happened but it least it looked like we were going to win. We were on top for the rest of the game, Adebayor had loads of chances, many of which were headers but there was one that is haunting me today. Ade broke clean through and charged towards goal with just the ‘keeper to beat.
He was sort of coming in from the left but Bendtner had followed the play and was making a free, unmarked run down the middle. All it needed was a nice ball squared and it was 3-1. Open goal, simple. However Adebayor was incredibly selfish which had me fuming, he wanted to continue his goal scoring run, not help the team. He missed at that was the end of a fantastic chance. At the time we were wining 2-1 so it didn’t bother me greatly but after game I was livid with him. I do hope Wenger had a go at him because I wish I could.
So it looked like we were going to win this one, until extra time. It was in the 94th minute that Gael Clichy costs us the game. A stray ball went over the box and out to the left, now for some reason Clichy paid no attention to it. He must have either thought it was comfortably going out or maybe he didn’t see Parnaby lurking. Once Gael noticed the danger we were in he tried to get the ball off him but wrapped his foot around him from behind and a penalty was given.
I’ve been told today it wasn’t a penalty but at the time it looked like it was. Usually I record Match of the Day and watch it the following morning for the match report but I didn’t feel like it yesterday. I was furious. And so was Gallas, he was so pissed off he had to remove himself from the situation and walk up the other end of the field. McFadden stepped up and put it away and it finished 2-2. Gallas sat on the pitch whilst everyone went back to the dressing rooms until Wenger came and got him.
A lot of people were angry with our captain’s actions but I would have done exactly the same thing and I do not blame him one single bit. That is my opinion. I know what he’s done wrong here so don’t try and tell me.
Yesterday was a very bad day for Arsenal. It’s the worst I’ve felt since possibly the 2006 Champions League Final. I said to myself, “Oi, we’ve only fucking drawn with Birmingham. It isn’t the end of the world. We’re still three points clear.” It was just the manner of dropping those two points, plus Adebayor’s selfishness and mainly due to the sickening injury to Eduardo.
At the time I thought this could be a career threatening injury, at least two years out, if he came back at all. He spent the night in a Birmingham hospital last night and has moved down to London today. I’ve heard from Croatian sources that the injury could not bad as bad as first thought and he could be back in 6 months. Think back to Alan Smith’s injury whilst playing for Man Utd, his bone was ticking out of his leg too and he was back in 7 months. I’m sure we’ll here all about it this week.
We have to believe now. We have to win the league for Eduardo. He was becoming a bit of a fans favourite, a fantastic finisher and a great guy. He was going to be one of the most exciting players of Euro 2008 and it’s his fucking birthday tomorrow!
All I want to see now is Eduardo Da Silva, on crutches, lifting the title at Ashburton Grove with everyone cheering his name. Make it happen Arsenal. Thanks for reading.
Birmingham vs. Arsenal Preview 22 February, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
There has been alot of excitement this week over the AC Milan fixture but you could argue that tomorrow’s match at St. Andrews against Birmingham City is of much more importance. We play in the early kick off which means we can open a 8 point gap on Manchester United with an away win. United travel to St. James’ park later in the day, hopefully Kevin Keegan can start his winning run this weekend.
The team news ahead of the game is as follows, Kolo Toure is out for two weeks, not the initial month first thought. That’s good news. Whilst Senderos is playing like his is at the moment the injury doesn’t really bother me too much to be honest, I never thought I’d say that! Almunia’s back in the squad after recovering from illness however Arsene has a decision to make on who will start. Lehmann hasn’t done a lot wrong since he’s come back into the side and if Almunia does start tomorrow Jens will feel a bit hard done by. I’d go for Almunia but it is quite lucky we have two decent ‘keepers to choose from.
Hleb and Adebayor picked up knocks against Milan but are alright to travel to Birmingham. Also Eboue can’t play because of that red card so I guess we’ll see Theo Walcott at right midfield. So I’d be pretty surprised if the team was a lot different from this:
Sagna – Senderos – Gallas (c) – Clichy
Walcott – Fabregas – Flamini – Hleb
Adebayor – Eduardo
Birmingham came to the Grove not so long ago and got away with a draw. We didn’t play too badly but the visitors got their tactics right and made it difficult. They know how to stop us now so we need to play well. Every Premier League game between now and May are massively important so somehow we need to transform that hype the players got to play the European Champions and transfer it to tomorrow’s game in the cold and wet English midlands. A tough task but Wenger’s on the case.
I’m not going tomorrow, decided not to bother as I need to save money for Milan and it’s on TV anyway. I’m working again but I’ll still be able to watch it Hopefully it’s a much better performance than last Saturday’s.
Anything other than a win will be a massive disappointment. If we drop points United can close the gap and I’m sure they wont waste that opportunity if we slip up. Chelsea are of course evolved in that cuntfest at Wembley on Sunday, I hope no Gooners are having to attend that one. Not just because it’ll be horrible, no, because I’ve ordered an air strike on the ground for about half four.
Right see you later people, happy Friday.
Arsenal 2-0 Blackburn – 11/02/08 – (Premier League) 12 February, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
What a great result; 5 points clear at the top now and it’s our to throw away. I was told yesterday that ‘our season starts tonight’ and he was right. We could take a commanding position in the league with a win, which we did. Then it’s Man Utd in the FA Cup on Saturday and AC Milan after that. Exciting times to be an Arsenal fan but it’s in the Premier League where we look to be in the strongest position.
I was talking a lot about our team for last night and in the end Senderos and Flamini were declared fit and started the game. Mathieu partnered Gilberto in the middle and Fabregas played out on the right, Arsene revealed after the game that Cesc was a doubt for the game too as he’d been in bed ill for the past three days. I’m glad he didn’t fill us in though as I think I would’ve had a heart attack.
We started really well and you could tell we were really up for this one. We got a corner after about one minute, Fabregas took it but nothing came of it. However 2 minutes later Da Silva stepped up to take another corner from the right, I’ve never seen Eduardo take a corner before and it was a good one delivered perfectly into the six-yard box. Phillippe Senderos lost his marker and met the ball perfectly making it 1-0 to The Arsenal. The perfect start.
I thought after the early goal we could get at least a few more from the game. We dominated most of the first half, Blackburn couldn’t get anywhere near our goal. However the visitors did start to find their feet after about half an hour. Still, they didn’t cause us massive problems. Their best chance came when a ball was whipped in from the right to McCarthy and Santa Cruz in the middle. I think both of them got a touch but not enough to put it on target, it was a great chance missed though.
So we went in at half time 1-0 up. We were in a strong position but there was always that chance that Blackburn could nick an equaliser, so we had to be careful.
Early into the second half we had a great chance through Hleb just outside the area, the crowd screamed shoot and he did. The ball slammed against the foot of the post. I don’t think Alex would’ve shot if the crowd had kept silent but it was nearly a very good goal.
In the second half Blackburn did get a bit of the ball but we were still dominating them. We had some great chances but Friedel was equal to all of them and it looked like even after that early goal this game would end up one nil.
Towards the end of the game I was a bit nervous when Blackburn pushed forward but in the end it was us that had the last say.
In injury time Hleb forced his way into the area with some great skill and played a little ball to Adebayor. He took a great touch to send the defender the other way and with the second touch he tucked the ball right in the bottom corner out of Friedel’s reach. It was a great goal and it meant that Adebayor stayed on his fantastic goal scoring run.
So it ended up 2-0 to us and everybody’s happy. Well, Arsenal-wise they are…I doubt the Blackburn fans were too happy, but the majority of people were happy. Which is good.
As I said earlier, our next game is Man Utd away. I collected my tickets today but they weren’t for me; I decided I needed to save money for Milan. It was hard posting them off to my mate today This was made even worse when I have to work throughout the whole game. I will still be following the game though, not a lot stops me from watching Arsenal vs. Manchester United, build up to that one to come this week. Thanks for reading.
Blackburn Preview: Win and go 5 points clear 11 February, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
Tonight has turned into a massive game for us. With Manchester United losing yesterday we must take advantage of this and make some ground in the title race. Last time Blackburn came to visit The Grove we put 6 past them, but I’m not expecting that again tonight.
We’re severely injury-hit at the moment and can barely put out a full squad. Luckily a lot of our best players have steered clear of any problems and we can still put out a decent side. I put this match report on hold until today hoping that there’d be some team news about but there isn’t. Therefore I don’t know about Flamini and Senderos, their inclusion makes a bit difference to how the team will look. Team news will probably come out just after I’ve written this, it’s typical
I’m just going to have to say at this point that everyone who is a doubt will be out. If you hear this afternoon that someone’s going to be fit then they’ll go straight in the team so it’s pretty easy to guess the side. For now though, this is how I see the team if everyone is out:
Sagna – Hoyte – Gallas (c) – Clichy
Walcott – Fabregas – Gilberto – Hleb
Adebayor – Eduardo
I don’t really see many other options than that; Gilberto could play defence but that’d leave a space to fill in midfield, maybe Hleb would play centrally in that case. If Toure comes back, he’ll slot in for Hoyte, the same goes for Senderos. If Flamini comes back he’ll replace Gilberto and if Almunia recovers he’ll be in goal. So if any of those 50-50 players return it’s just a simple swap for one of those players above; but basically that’s how I see the structure of tonight’s team.
Lehmann will get a chance to redeem himself after that error against Blackburn earlier in the season. Jens’ mistake cost us two points that day and that was the last straw for Wenger, but with Almunia temporarily out at the moment Mad Jens has a chance to show us he’s still got it.
Blackburn are a good side, but we can’t think about the draw; we have to win this one. 3 points tonight are vital and could be decisive in the title race. The weekend’s games have set this up for an exciting game tonight, everyone I’ve spoken to is really excited about tonight and a little bit nervous. Hopefully the players will be more professional about it.
I’m going to have to leave it there, I’ve got work to do. There’ll be a match report tomorrow, until then Gooners.
Man City 1-3 Arsenal – 02/02/08 – (Premier League) 3 February, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
We are top of the league, I said we are top of the league.
What a brilliant day yesterday was, apart from the scum not being able to do a simple favour and just beat Man Utd; they conceded in the last minute with the last touch at the near post from a corner. Absolute useless bastards. Still, it was 1-1, so was Chelsea v Portsmouth, so we’re two points clear at the top now.
We travelled to Manchester knowing that no other team has managed to win there in the league so it wasn’t going to be easy. We got an early goal though after 9 minutes, and yes, it was Adebayor with the goal. Sagna made the run down the right, cut inside the defender along the goal line and squared it to Adebayor. Micah Richards threw himself to the floor to block Ade’s shot but it took a lucky deflection off him to go into the net.
A good start by us then. The goal didn’t fully deflate the home side though; obviously it affected them a little but they did their best to get back in it. They won a dangerous free kick on the right, which was whipped in well, and Diaby did a great job to get a head to it, as there was a City player right behind him with an otherwise free header on goal.
It was end-to-end at times and was turning into a really good game. We went two-nil up after 26 minutes. Clichy made a run down the left and crossed it in, at first it seemed like the cross had been over hit but Adebayor didn’t give up and managed to get a head to it and play in back into the danger area. Eduardo got to it, took a touch on the chest then on the turn he acrobatically put the ball in the far corner. A great goal and nice to see Eduardo back scoring, seems like a while since his last.
We lost our two goal advantage almost straight away though. Clichy uncharacteristically made a silly mistake allowing Corluka through. Gael was trying to block the ball and watch it go out for a goal kick but he was out muscled and caught out and Clichy let him through along the byline. He passed to Fernandes who made it 2-1.
It’s always a shame to concede just after you’ve scored and City were right back in it. We had to concentrate now and not concede another. That goal gave them a lot of confidence and a second goal could easily go in. In the remainder of the first half both sides had decent chances but it went in at the break 2-1.
I had a feeling that after 3 early goals the scoring might dry up and I was pretty much right. We were still on top but we couldn’t manage a third. A had a few corners in the second half and Fabregas hit a shot over the bar. City were still in it but the game really turned in our favour towards the end of he game: Sven had to gamble and he made some attacking changes allowing us space to go forward. We had two or three excellent chances on the counter attack but we couldn’t manage to score; the wrong pass, sloppy moves or taking too much time and City could clear.
We did manage that third goal with three minutes to go. Adebayor picked up the ball in our half and started to break but he was blatantly tripped from behind on the halfway line. Hleb was running behind him and the ref waved play on so we continued to break, Ade got back on his feet and carried on attacking. Hleb made it up to the area and by this time Adebayor had made his way back to the box. Alex squared it and Manu tucked it in the corner to get his 8th goal in 6 games. Game over.
It was a reasonably good performance yesterday, Flamini and Adebayor once again brilliant. Clichy made a few errors, which was unlike him, but I couldn’t say he had a bad game. Jens was back in goal and of course he had one or two crazy moments but you have to expect that. Senderos had another good game and that nervous Phil we saw earlier in the season looks far away.
Next up we have Blackburn on a Monday night. However before that I believe there are some international friendlies this midweek. Please please please no more injuries…we’ve got it bad enough as it is. Talk to you soon.
Man City Preview: Almunia’s injured 1 February, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
The breaking news this afternoon is that Manuel Almunia has picked up a thumb injury and will miss tomorrow’s game. I don’t really know much about it but there are stories popping up on NewsNow. Nothing’s come out on Arsenal.com yet so I cant 100% confirm it. I said last month that it would be quite good for us if Jens stayed because then we’d have two top quality ‘keepers to pick from. The transfer deadline passed last night and Lehmann is still with us, and my point has been proven and it looks like he’ll play tomorrow.
Apart from that the team is pretty much the same, largely due to injuries. It’s crazy the amount of players we have out at the moment: Toure, Eboue & Song are away in Africa, Rosicky’s got a hamstring problem, Djourou a groin injury, van Persie…well you know, and of course there’s Almunia now too. We’ll manage alright tomorrow though, Senderos is doing well as cover for Toure and Diaby had a good game in the week so will fill in for Rosicky. The team will be this:
Sagna – Senderos – Gallas(c) – Clichy
Hleb – Fabregas – Flamini – Diaby
Adebayor – Eduardo
The only change from that would be if Almunia plays depending on the truth behind that story; keep your eyes on Arsenal.com for confirmation.
Man City have been a surprise package this season with Sven. They broke into the top 4 at the beginning and they’re not far off the pace now. However they’ve had a slight dip at the moment and they were knocked out of the FA Cup the other weekend. When Liverpool went up to The City of Manchester Stadium they parked the bus and I’m expecting them to do it again tomorrow. It’s incredibly frustrating but we have should have enough skill to craft a goal. I wouldn’t bet against a Clichy cross and an Adebayor header.
We need to win tomorrow, the title race is going into the most important stage, but as I said, it won’t be easy. United travel to Shite Hart Lane so hopefully the scum can do us a favour there. Remember our game kicks off at 12:45pm so make sure you’re up! Match report to come on Sunday, until then Gooners.
Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle – 29/01/08 – (Premier League) 30 January, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
I don’t know why they even bothered showing up. In fact, Newcastle were worse in the second game than they were in the first! What does that say about Keegan then? We all joked that 3-0 would do nicely again, and we got our wish: top of the league again, happy days.
We played the team I thought except Wenger went for Diaby instead of Walcott on the wing. It might be a little amateur of me to say the two games were really similar, by they were. I’m considering just copying and pasting the previous match report. Just like on Saturday, our left-winger picked up an early injury. Diaby was taken out and was on the floor for some time, he was carried off on a stretcher but he came back on a few minutes later. Memories of when his leg was broken at Sunderland a few seasons ago came into mind but he was ok this time.
Both sides were getting a bit of possession and having a few attacks, but Arsenal were getting by far the more of the ball and threatening Given’s goal. I don’t know what Newcastle’s game plan was this time round but it was certainly not causing us any problems.
Unlike Saturday, we opened the scoring inside the first half. Flamini crossed from the right in the 40th minute and Adebayor added another header to his collection to make it 1-0. Manu headed it downwards making it nearly impossible to save and you had to feel that Newcastle were really going to struggle now.
The visitors hadn’t given up though, at the re-start they did have a few attacking opportunities but nothing came of them. It still reminded me that the 1-0 lead wasn’t enough to be safe, even though the Geordies might not deserve a goal they could still nick one and draw level.
We weren’t playing amazing ourselves by the way. Not that we were playing badly, but we still weren’t at our best. Still, we were too good for them anyway. Some of the boys were having brilliant games though: Adebayor is in great form at the moment, he was using his strength and pace to make a nuisance of himself and he looked like scoring a second. Clichy was once again amazing, this boy deserves some headlines and if I didn’t have that boring old template for match reports I use then I would’ve given him it today. Something along he lines of: Gael Clichy, Clichy, he’s better than Ashley, he’s gonna shag Sheryl Tweedy, Gael Clichy, Clichy!
However, he star of the show was Mathieu Flamini. He was completely controlling the midfield and chased down any ball anywhere near him. I don’t know about his nickname ‘Gattuso’…I think it’s the AC Milan midfielder who should be calling himself ‘the new Flamini’. This guy needs a new contract but there’s good news today on Arsenal.com with Mathieu saying his priority is to sign a new deal with Arsenal. Lets hope all the little details are sorted out soon.
Flamini marked his great performance with an even better goal. It came 17 minutes from time when Matty picked up the ball on the left, he cut inside and let out an absolute screamer from 30 yards. It was swerving away from the ‘keeper and went right into the opposite top corner. A brilliant strike and if you haven’t seen it, well, you better.
Fabregas wrapped things up in the 80th minute. Bendtner took long a long ball on the chest just inside the box and played a nice little touch to set up Cesc who smashed the ball into the back of the net. He needed a goal and hopefully that strike will give him a bit of confidence to find his goal scoring touch again.
So it ended up 3-0 again, an easy game really. We went top for the night but Man United are currently playing Portsmouth off the park as I type. They’re 2-0 up at half time and Chelsea are also in the lead. We’ve got Man City at the weekend so build up to that to come.
Newcastle Preview: We can go top tonight 29 January, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Premiership.
So it’s back to the Premier League tonight after those cup games and win or draw tonight and we go top. Man United play Portsmouth tomorrow evening so lets hope Dolphinhead and the gang can get a result at Old Trafford. I say if we draw tonight we can go top, but if we only came away with the one point you’d have to be quite disappointed; not only do we know that Newcastle are a team we can beat, it also gives United a chance to open gap on us.
A win here tonight is pretty much vital. We’re at that stage in the season where any slip up can cause a dramatic effect. Fabregas has reminded his team mates how important these games are.
We beat tonight’s opponents 3-0 at the weekend, so we know we can do it. However it is interesting to see how Keegan might approach this game different, tactically. It will be a test because he sort of knows that if he goes out with the same approach he may well get beaten comfortably again. We will have to be on our toes.
We’ll be back to our preferred 11 tonight. I believe we only have 16 players fully fit, so we don’t really have much choice in terms of the squad but the first 11 will look something like this:
Sagna – Senderos – Gallas (c) – Clichy
Walcott – Fabregas – Flamini – Hleb
Adebayor – Eduardo
It’s either going to be Walcott or Diaby (who has just been offered a new deal) on the wing with Hleb on the other flank. I’d go for Theo, his pace really caused Newcastle problems, they couldn’t deal with him, so I’d play him again. On the other hand, his impact value as a sub is equally as important so I can understand if Diaby starts on the left win tonight.
We cannot be complacent tonight. You’d think with playing the same team only three days ago we’d know what to expect but it’s completely the opposite. It’s a bit like when someone has to take two penalties between in one game against the same ‘keeper: Do they go the same way? Or will they try something different?
Anything like the weekend’s result would be great, and if it all goes brilliantly to plan we also have a goal difference to catch up on with United. Let’s not get too confident tonight. I’m going to predict 2-0, Adebayor and Fabregas with the goals; he’s due one. Thanks for reading.