Arsenal Score Six: How they took Braga apart: Highlights of The Fab Four – Wilshere, Fabregas, Arshavin, Chamakh

As Marouane Chamakh left the field last night, his name reverberated around the stadium, and for good reason. The striker has been a breath of fresh air for an Arsenal side which has all too often struggled with injuries up front. Together with the passing of Wilshere and Fabregas, and the movement of Arshavin, Arsenal pulled a new Braga side apart last night, scoring six goals.

Technically Chamakh is gifted, but this is only one of his strong points. He has the ability to create space for others, in holding the ball up superbly with a mixture of balance, strength and exquisite control. His touch is good enough that he generally holds on to the ball, even in very difficult situations, and his aerial strength means he can win headers and make knock downs.

Continue reading “Arsenal Score Six: How they took Braga apart: Highlights of The Fab Four – Wilshere, Fabregas, Arshavin, Chamakh”

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Braga’s Brazilian counter-attacking analysed: Champions League Scouting – Arsenal vs. Braga

Os Arsenalistas are about to face their namesakes, in a clash which sees Europe’s most consistent Champions League Qualifiers, Arsenal, take on S. C. Braga in their first campaign.

The 2009-2010 league season was excellent for Braga. Under Domingos Paciência they led the Portuguese league for much of the season, losing out to Benfica in what was a two horse race. Finishing second was still an unprecedented achievement for a club generally considered inferior to the ‘Big Three’ – Benfica, Porto and Sporting Lisbon.


The 2009-10 Liga Table

Continue reading “Braga’s Brazilian counter-attacking analysed: Champions League Scouting – Arsenal vs. Braga”

Arsenal 5-0 Porto Highlights: a balanced side get it right on the night with a Nasri stunner

Bendtner 10, Bendtner 25, Nasri 63, Eboue 66, Bendtner (pen) 90+1

I’m still reeling from the fantastic performance Arsenal put in last night. Say what you want about Porto, winning 5-0 in the second round of the Champions League is some achievement -especially after being 2-1 down in humiliating fashion in the first leg.

Arshavin provided a lot of the key moments in the game, setting up three goals. Overall I think everyone put in a good performance, and gave a good account of the team.

Continue reading “Arsenal 5-0 Porto Highlights: a balanced side get it right on the night with a Nasri stunner”

The Eduardo Affair: Botched and inconsistent

The Eduardo Affair has been grabbing all the headlines recently, and now that the striker has been charged with a two game ban it looks like Arsenal are going to appeal against what the club calls an ‘arbitrary decision’. This is the best course of action in a totally unjust situation.

UEFA have set a precedent in doing this, that is that they will now have to take retrospective action on all such incidents, and punish them in a similar way. If this does not happen, then it will mean that Eduardo has been singled out for special treatment, in a totally unfair way.

So I would like Ryan Babel prosecuted for his dive in the 2008 Champions League QF at Anfield, which knocked us out of the competition, and Rooney prosecuted for that dive with at Old Trafford in 2005. Last year Ronaldo dived to get the freekick at Emirates in the Champions League Semi, which he then scored to put the game beyond hope of a come back.

At Old Trafford on Saturday we saw the sort of problems this decision causes, when Arshavin was denied one of the most blatant penalties I’ve seen in years.

In the second half Wayne Rooney was looking to go down over Almunia as the ball headed out of play. In principle there is no difference between what Rooney and Eduardo did, they were both looking to go down over the keeper. Rooney ran towards Alumnia and was already down on one knee before he touched Almunia.

UEFA have overturned a referee’s decision, and now they must be prepared to do that for every game. The referee didn’t see it as a dive, he saw a foul, and gave a penalty. He then stood by his decision after the game. UEFA looked at video evidence (which they refuse to use during games) and retrospectively said that he dived, and decieved the referee.

For deciving the ref Eduardo has been given a 2 match suspension, an offence which would have earned him only a yellow in the game. This doesn’t make sense and I hope that Arsenal pursue all options and take a stand over this.

UEFA refuse video evidence during games, there’s the whole 5 ref crap on trial in the Europa League this season instead, but they are happy to use it after the match to prosecute someone. Eduardo isn’t even a serial offender, I’ve never seen him dive before, unlike C.Ronaldo or Drogba.

Le Grove have started up ‘dive watch’ keeping track of all the dives which UEFA should be prosecuting players for over the next few months, have a look and add to the list, because it only helps our argument.

Tony Attwood also discusses the possibility making UEFA look stupid with their overreaction to the situation, in a nicely written piece.

What do you think about Eduardo’s treatment, are UEFA right to take a stand, or complete imbeciles?

A bad week ends, the Eduardo affair and Old Trafford

The dust is settling on what was a bad week for Arsenal Football Club. Firstly Eduardo was singled out for very harsh treatment by UEFA after a dive against Celtic. Then we go to Old Trafford, take the lead and outplay United, only to concede a silly penalty and score an own goal.

Eduardo has now been labelled as a diver and the way Man Utd fans treated him at OT was testimony to Wenger’s description of events as a ‘witch hunt’. Eduardo was booed as he warmed up and the fans made diving gestures to the player. God forbid he ever goes down in the box again, because the reaction will not be friendly and the pressure will be on the referee.

The United game was unlucky, we played well, Arshavin scored a cracker, but the team looked nervous. That nervousness led to Almunia conceding a needless penalty, where Rooney was already nearly grounded before Almunia touched him, and then led to Diaby’s crazy own goal. I thought Diaby was good for the most part of the game, so hopefully he can get over it.

I have to admit I was going crazy when we scored in the 95th minute, just like Wenger, and I felt the same frustration when I finally saw the offside flag below. The sending off of Wenger was farcical and he handled it impeccably. He deserves his apology. See the highlights of the game at Arsenalist.com

The game itself gives me hope, as we are still missing so many attacking players, and the team still played better than Utd. I think we can continue our good form in the coming games.

In terms of Eduardo Arsenal have submitted a 19 page document to UEFA in defence of the player. It seems though that UEFA already see him as guilty and he is going to get a two match ban no matter what. This is a dangerous precendent to set, and if they are to be fair then UEFA must take retrospective action on events in every game – something which they cannot physically do. Sam Wallace puts it nicely in this article in the Independent.

Finally today is transfer deadline day, and suprisingly there is nothing to report on the Arsenal front. I don’t think we’ll see any signings for the top four, but I wouldn’t mind Arsenal snapping up one or two last minute bargains.

What are your thoughts on the way Arsenal have been treated by officials in the last week?

Arsenal 3 – 1 Celtic: Highlights, talking point Eduardo

Arsenal dominated Celtic yesterday to reach the finals of the Champions League, with a good display of passing football. Sadly the headlines today focus solely on the dubious penalty Eduardo won for the first goal.

Highlights from the excellent Arsenalist.com:

There was little or no contact, and if it had been given against us I would be upset about it. The fact is though that this happens in football. As Wenger said Babel blatently dived in the CL QF at Anfield 2 years ago which knocked us out of the competition. I have no idea why Eduardo went down like that, but he isn’t the sort of player you expect that of, and it seems to be a one off.

The press seem to be having a field day over Eduardo’s actions, in a qualifier where we were always going to go through. Players like Drogba have a reputation for diving and never seem to get this sort of reaction. That is what I don’t understand. Eduardo wasn’t right, but there are much worse offenders in English football.

Aside from that the game was a straightforward affair, we passed the ball around neatly, and Eboue’s performance was a highlight! He made several nice turns and passes, and his goal topped it off. He was playing in the front three and often was playing as centre forward which was interesting.

Arshavin, Ramsey and Wilshere came on in the second half and all looked impressive. Arshavin showed why he is one of the best players in Europe at the moment, scoring a goal and making an impact within minutes of coming on. Denilson also performed well.

Most pleasingly the central defensive partnership of Vermaelen and Gallas was again solid last night. Vermaelen didn’t miss a header, and made several interceptions as did Gallas, and both made excellent forays going forward.

A good performance, now we need to see the draw this afternoon for the group stages. As well as that we have the small matter of a league tie at Old Trafford on saturday afternoon.

Arsenal vs. Celtic Second Leg: Fabregas out, expect rotation – Ramsey?

Fabregas is out for the CL Second Leg Qualifier tonight against Celtic with a hamstring problem. The injury is not serious according to Wenger though.

Fabregas was taken off at half time against Portsmouth, and went for a scan afterwards which showed that the muscle was not strained. I expect he will be back for the game at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, but if he needs more time then the club should allow him to recover.

Wenger said that he will be rotating the squad, as we saw in the Portsmouth game with several changes in defence and midfield. The players who need a rest will be rested but Wenger insisted that his selections will not be influenced by the Man Utd tie on Saturday.

“I will rest the players who need to rest. “Some players have played many, many games; if I feel they need to rest, I will do it. It is not as a result of that game [against Manchester United on Saturday], it’s just if you have a player tired, you play the player who is fresh. I will play the team who I think is most efficient to win the game considering the level of some players.”

Expect a 4-3-3 formation yet again, with Ramsey stepping up to replace Fabregas. He already has the passing quality to fit into the first team, and his goal on Saturday was well taken. What Ramsey lacks is experience so tonight will be a big test if he gets the chance.

Wenger knows that we will have to be on our game tonight, Celtic have spirit, but their awful European away record, and our 2 – 0 lead away from home definitely give Arsenal the advantage.

“I thought Celtic did well in Moscow, it makes us more on alert, we know they had a very good away performance. To be strong at the Emirates is vital for our season. Any time you show weakness at home can have consequences for the game and also your season.”

Highlights on Arsespeak after the game!

Arsenal troubles: Retain Wenger and strengthen the squad

This season has been Wenger’s most difficult one at Arsenal, he’s had to cope with an inexperienced squad, injuries, impatient fans, player strops, and at the end of it he has still managed to ensure that we squeezed into the big time yet again next season, as well as taking us to the last 4 in Europe and an FA Cup semi-final.

Now he has to put up with harsh questioning from fans at the Shareholders meeting, and endless speculation that he will leave to go to Real Madrid.

Personally I think it would be awful for Wenger to go. His work isn’t finished at Arsenal and there is more to come. A barren patch is just that – a patch – and we are going to come out of this.

The main thing we need is to learn the lessons of the past two seasons – both fell apart due to a lack of depth in the squad.

We need to sign quality players with experience as Arshavin is asking for:

“We must buy in the summer. Not more potential, but players who are ready to do it now, players like me.

“We need two or three. If Arsenal want to win, they have to do it. We are tired of waiting.

“I believe that out of the top four English teams, when it comes to football, Arsenal are the best.

“They have the best style and the best coach. At the moment, young players come to Arsenal because they see it as a very big team, but if we carry on like this without winning trophies, young players will not want to come.

“Everyone likes the appeal of Arsenal, the football of Arsenal, the young players of Arsenal, but if there is no result they will stop.”

Action has to be taken – sell Adebayor to Milan if that is what it takes, and bring in several new players. Ade has potential, but he doesn’t seem happy at the club – as shown by his interview on the BBC. Best thing we can do is get a large sum of money for him.

He is the only player I could tolerate leaving, if any more go then we are looking at another season of disappointment – and disillusionment among the team.

Stick with Wenger though, stability is the key – what is the rush anyway – surely a team built over years which develops to its full potential and is successful over the long term is more preferable to a quick fix?

Depressing result but I’m still proud of the Arsenal

Last night was not a great experience for any Arsenal fan. Two early goals and the tie was most definitely over. It was disappointing to see so many fans leaving so early, but I have to say that for the first ten minutes the atmosphere was fantastic.

Nevertheless you have to look at things in perspective. We have been blighted by injuries this season and in November you wouldn’t have thought that we would have made two semi finals and managed to qualify for the Champions League next year. The way we were playing then was awful and the team has improved a lot.

There is still a lot of work to do on this team, but considering this is the hardest season Wenger has had at Arsenal I think we have come out of it well.

Tonight I’m supporting Barca, I would hate to see another Chelsea – Man U final, either winning it would be a disaster. I don’t want Chelsea to win it before Arsenal, and I don’t want Fergie to have back to back CL titles.

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Portsmouth 0 – 3 Arsenal Highlights: The second team gets a run out

Portsmouth 0 – 3 Arsenal: Bendtner 13, Bendtner 41 pen, Vela 56. Highlights from the Arsenalist

Comfortable is what you could call this result, and the 3 points have now secured 4th place in the league, and Champions League qualifiers next year. We are now unbeaten in 21 league games, and have equalled a club record scoring at least 3 goals in the last 5 away games.

Arsenal’s youngsters dominated for most of the game, although Portsmouth did have their chances to even the scores. Wenger rested most of the first team, including Almunia, opting for Djourou and Song in central defence – Vela and Ramsey also got starts, whilst Arshavin captained the side.

Wenger:

“We were sharp, composed and mobile with a great attitude.”

The changes were obviously made in order to give as many players as possible a rest before the crucial Champions League game on Tuesday. Walcott and Bendtner were both taken off in the second half – Sagna and Song were the only players from Wednesday’s team to play 90 minutes.

Randall, Bischoff and Merida got their chances in the second half as subs and the team looked impressive, by the end of the game we were in complete control.

Bendtner’s first goal was a header from Arshavin’s cross which David James dropped and let itno the back of the net. That will add more weight to the fans calling for Almunia to get his chance in the England squad.

Then Arshavin was brought down just before half time in the box, and a penalty was given although Arsh himself thought it was a clean tackle. Bendtner slotted home, and then in the second half Vela added another.

The only other event of note was Portsmouth’s red card – Arshavin was through on goal and Pamarot the last defender took him down. The resulting free kick came to nothing, but Pompey were down to 10 men with little chance of getting anything from this game.

The visiting Arsenal support was in high spirits, there is a little hope that we can beat Man Utd on Tuesday, and now that the league position is secured, the Champions League is what will make or break this season. It’s going to take a more composed performance than the first leg to go through, but we still have an outside chance of making it.