Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal. Good result served with injuries

Villarreal 1-1 Arsenal: Senna 10, Adebayor 66. Highlights here.

Arsenal came away with a valuble away goal against Villarreal last night, which places us well for the Quarter final second leg at home next week.

adebayor-villarreal-bicycle-kick

Adebayor scored an amazing bicycle kick in the second half to equalise after Senna had scored a long range goal in the fist half. The fact that we got the goal is most important – I will take the result, even though we could have finished them off in the second half.

The Fabregas/Adebayor partnership again provided crucial goals – making it 3 in 2 games for Ade, with Fabregas providing every assist!

I didn’t see the game, I downloaded highlights after the match – and I was disappointed to see us go a goal down. It hurt to lose Gallas and Almunia, and as Wenger said – this meant he couldn’t change things around at half time.

Gallas has knee ligament damage – so he may be out for the rest of the season – a blow seeing as our defence has been very stable since December. Almunia is out for a few weeks with an ankle injury – so we will have Fabianski in goal for the next few games which will define our season.

I think Fabianski will do good – but he has made rash decisions at times during games this season – this is his chance to prove himself – he made some good saves last night.

Overall a good result – some annoying injuries – but this looks promising. The fact that Porto got two away goals at Old Trafford means that they have a good chance of going through – no British team has ever won at Porto – and they have the advantage!

What do you think Arsenal’s chances are? Leave a comment below.

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How many of Arsenal’s team would make it into Manchester United’s starting eleven?

As much as the end to the current season could be extremely exciting and successful for Arsenal, they are still not quite where they used to be as a club. There was a time, of course, when they were unbeatable. There was a time when it was only the Gunners and Manchester United fighting it out for the league title.

So, what has happened in the last few years which has prevented Arsenal being one of the ‘big two’? For eight seasons in a row, Arsenal finished no lower than second in the Premier League. This was until the last three when their final positions have been 4th, 4th and 3rd.

One way to see just how far away Arsenal are from being Manchester United’s main challengers again could be to see how the individual players compare. How does Arsenal’s full strength team match up to the best team the Champions can put out?

This is something I would like your opinion on, so without too much analysis, let’s take a look at my views:

Edwin Van der Sar v Manuel Almunia – Has to be Van der Sar unfortunately.

Gary Neville v Bakari Sagna – Personally, I’d rather have Sagna in my team.

Patrice Evra v Gael Clichy – For consistency purposes, it has to be Evra.

Rio Ferdinand v William Gallas – This is a close one, but I think the odds would be in favour of Ferdinand.

Nemanja Vidic v Kolo Toure – For similar reasons that Evra won, Vidic is the winner.

Cristiano Ronaldo v Theo Walcott – For what he has achieved in the last couple of years, it’s going to be Ronaldo.Ask me again this time next year though.

Ryan Giggs v Andrei Arshavin – Giggs is still a decent player, but for creativity and variation the Russian wins this one for me.

Michael Carrick v Cesc Fabregas – No competition, Fabregas all the way.

Paul Scholes v Denilson – A number of players could fill this position for Arsenal and all of them will be as good as/better than Scholes at some point, but for now, the former England man has to get the nod.

Wayne Rooney v Robin van Persie – For me, this is the closest one of the lot. In fact, I can’t choose between them. This one is a draw.

Dimitar Berbatov v Emmanuel Adebayor – Neither have been fantastic this season. However, the Manchester United man (and Carlos Tevez) has produced the goods more often.

The end result for this ‘experiment’ is Manchester United 7.5 v 3.5 Arsenal. Whether this means much, I’m not sure. However, it does suggest that Arsenal are just two or three established high quality players short of challenging for the Premier League again.

This could happen in the next couple of years when the likes of Walcott, Clichy and Denilson really kick on as players – you never know. It certainly makes a change from the days of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires, or Tony Adams and Ian Wright and co when Arsenal would have been much closer to Manchester United in this type of analysis.

Something to think about isn’t it? Let me know your thoughts.

By Thomas Rooney

Arsenal 2 – 1 Hull City Highlights. Bitter Brown’s spitting controversy

Arsenal 2 – 1 Hull City: Barmby 13, Van Persie 74, Gallas 84. Highlights here.

Morning all! Last night provided a satisfying win in controversial fashion. Hull’s early lead, through a lucky Barmby goal, was cancelled out by typically late Arsenal goals, from RVP and Gallas. Arshavin was the all-important factor again in this win; this was the sort of game we would have lost a few months ago.

A twisted Phil Brown had a bit of complaining afterwards which focused on three points:
1. He claims Gallas’ goal was offside, as Djourou headed it last – this is debatable.
2. He was unhappy that Wenger didn’t shake his hand
3. Most controversial of all – his assistant Horton, claims that Fabregas spat on him in the tunnel, and he is taking this to the FA.

Firstly the Gallas goal – it looked like it did come off the goalkeeper’s fist last, so Gallas probably wasn’t offside, but it may have come off Djourou. In either case it has been given, we were looking like scoring a second at some point, and luck, which we have lacked, finally came our way. So I can understand his frustration.

Wenger saw the goal afterwards on the Setanta interview and looked very awkward, the questions asked also focused on the fact he didn’t shake Brown’s hand – this was because Brown had gone off to the away fans and players at the final whistle, that is all.

The most crazy claim is the spitting accusation. Wenger told the post-match interview that this was the first he had heard of it. A very bitter Phil Brown said that Fabregas had spat at Horton:

“I was there and I witnessed it, he spat at my assistant manager down the tunnel, that’s their club captain. Hopefully he’s proud of himself. He spat at his feet.”

Fabregas has now put out an official statement on Arsenal.com.

“I categorically deny that I spat at anybody after the match. I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch, so why would I do it when I am not even playing?

“I can understand the frustration of losing a game to a dubious goal, that has happened to me many times in my career as well. But this is not the fault of me or any of the Arsenal players.”

I can believe Fabregas, I see no reason for him to spit, but we don’t know the whole story. It may be some sort of mix up, which has been misinterpreted. It would be in our best interest to get this sorted out as soon as possible. It would be very sad it if it has happened, but equally stupid if bitter Hull have fabricated this story.

Anyway a great result, with a good performance from Song yet again. I was happy with Walcott who looked dangerous at times too, even though his delivery wasn’t the best. Our best player by far was Arshavin, he created most moves, again showing his value, whilst Nasri and Bendtner showed their class, coming on in the second half and changing the game.

Nasri is looking increasingly effective in the central role late on in games, while Bendtner can drop off into the hole, and Arshavin drift in the wide left area. Our attack looks very convincing even if we were poor in the first half, I think that was down to the suprising nature of Barmby’s deflected goal. The fact that we have so many players who can switch from attack to the flanks and midfield is very exciting. We have kept the momentum up with that win, and now we need a result at Newcastle on Saturday.

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Transfer Rumours: Eboue, Yaya, plus Adebayor gives Gallas his backing

Inter Milan have been linked with a bid for Emmanuel Eboue, this is a transfer rumour many of you won’t have been expecting! It seems pretty unfounded – we don’t need to sell players during this window, our squad is threadbare enough already.

The same goes for the rumour that Barca are bidding £45 million for Cesc and Van Persie this summer. Fabregas will be linked with Barcelona as long as he is at Arsenal. The club cannot realistically sell him or RVP and this is just another tactic to unsettle him. If we don’t finish 4th this season things could look rather different though.

Yaya Toure’s agent has told the press that he is going nowhere:

‘Toure is happy at Barca, currently the best team in Europe and he has no intention of moving,’

I wouldn’t disagree with him, if anything it is more likely that Man City will sign him. If Arsenal do sign a holding midfielder then I doubt he will be such a big name.

Adebayor has backed Gallas’ comments earlier this season about our form:

“Gallas has always been like that – he has experience, he has won titles, played in a World Cup final. He doesn’t throw these thoughts around lightly. He said something because it was necessary to do it. “He is indispensable to the team. He is Arsenal’s rock – his behaviour since the armband was taken off him proves that.”

Update: Gallas is now out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, as well as Silvestre, so Toure will get his chance.

Ade went on to explain our recent form:

“At the moment, when we take the lead, we are scared. We tremble until the final whistle because the team is young and we have conceded several goals in the last few minutes of matches.

I think he is right there, but with results will come confidence. We have looked shaky after taking leads in games, and this is a problem that began last season, at the beginning of 2008 when we lost our lead at the top of the table. If we can regain our confidence we can definitely perform better in the second half of this season.

With injured players like Walcott, Eddy and maybe ??Rosicky?? returning in the next few weeks we should be able to maintain some consistency. As long as we get 4th place this season I’ll be happy, but serious investment is needed for next season.

Ahead of the Cardiff City 4th Round tie Arsenal have been allocated 4000 seats at Ninian Park.

Arsenal 1 – 0 Portsmouth Highlights. Arsenal get the points that matter.

Arsenal 1 – 0 Portsmouth: Gallas 81

Yesterday we saw Arsenal beat Portsmouth 1-0 with a decent performance. Highlights here.

We played poorly at times, but that is understandable for a squad down to the bare bones, and lacking almost all confidence.

We were lucky to escape some of Pompey’s earlier efforts, but as the game stretched during the second half our quality started to show. Ramsey and Vela came on to good effect, and 10 minutes before the final whistle we saw Gallas rise to put a Denilson free-kick beyond David James.

We lacked the creativity that Fabregas provides, and it might be more telling against better opposition, but with some January investment we can survive.

It was always the result that would matter, having so spectacuarly capitulated in the previous three games. I’m happy with the win, and hopefully we can build on the result.

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Loss to City shows what a bad state Arsenal are in..

Man City 3 – 0 Arsenal: Ireland 45, Robinho 56, Sturridge (pen) 90 Highlights here..

Yesterday we saw a second defeat in a row for an Arsenal side which was very poor. Yes, we had several first teamers out, and yes, Gallas has put the club and captaincy into turmoil, but you would have expected more against a side who have struggled to win games this season.

Almunia was named as captain as Gallas didn’t travel. We conceded 3 relatively soft goals, but it could have been more really. We had one good chance after Ramsey came on and put Bendtner through, but apart from that it was a poor game.

Wenger looked resigned to defeat, and the players just couldn’t get a grip on the game, even Clichy was making uncharacteristic errors, a mix up between him and Silvestre allowing Ireland to get the first goal just before half time.

We might have been better starting Ramsey, because he was the best player in the second half after he came on, and putting Song to CB with Djourou at RB. That might have added some creativity, because for most of the game we had none.

Our squad is threadbare at the moment – Toure, Sagna, Fabregas, Rosicky, Eduardo, Walcott, Adebayor were all unavailable, and they are all first choice players for me, not to mention the fact that Gallas isn’t going to play any more. I applaud Wenger for dealing with Gallas and I think a new captain will do us good but there are some problems in the squad which have been apparent during the building of this new generation.

We don’t have the strength and depth to play at the top at the moment. Our team this season is probably the weakest that we have ever had under Wenger – conceding 18 and losing 5 before December shows you have far we have fallen.

I think the first team would be acceptable if all the injured and suspended players mentioned above were fit and playing, but we still would have very little depth in the squad. Players like Denilson and Song aren’t ready, neither was Hoyte yesterday, and at the moment Bendtner doesn’t have the quality to be a first team player either.

Wenger is a fantastic manager, but he seems to have got himself into a bit of a mess. Losing Flamini, Gilberto, Diarra and Hleb last season was disastrous, and we haven’t got a midfielder who can fit the defensive role.

Leadership is another problem, Gallas has exposed some deeper problems in the team, and I think we need to make a clean start, bring in two or three new faces in January, name a new captain (Fabregas?) and get on with trying to build a successful team.

Obviously we are lacking in confidence, but we have gone from a team which was last year only a few points away from the title, to one which now may struggle to get 4th place.

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Gallas ‘outburst’ makes Man City clash more crucial than ever

This is a guest post by sports writer Thomas Rooney

It’s certainly not boring being an Arsenal fan these days is it? There always seems to be something going on at the Emirates that will dominate the national press in the lead up to games. This attention is sometimes positive, but more often that not – it’s negative and has an impact on the whole club.

The last few weeks have been more up and down than ever, it has to be said. First there was the fantastic performance at Fenerbahce, followed by an encouraging away win at West Ham. Then there was the disappointing draw with Spurs and the Rory Delap influenced defeat at newly promoted Stoke City.

The Gunners were able to pick it up again the following weekend to record a priceless win over Manchester United at the Emirates. Everyone decided that this was the result that would kick-start the season and it was now time to hit top form. However, consistent with the ‘up then down’ pattern of the season so far – Arsene Wenger’s team proceeded to lose at home to Aston Villa.

Now the party line is that Arsenal’s title challenge is over and that the season might as well end now. Unsurprisingly, this is a point in the season when the captain of the club needs to come out and rally his troops. With their backs against the wall, the team spirit needs to be stronger than ever.

So, Arsenal captain William Gallas decides the best thing to do is brand his fellow team mates ‘not brave enough’ and reveal that there were a number of arguments in the dressing room at half time of the Tottenham game including one player who ‘insulted’ his team mates with a negative attitude.

These are, of course, not encouraging comments to hear. Nobody wants to believe that there are potential splits in the dressing room or bitterness between Arsenal players. That’s going to do nothing for the results on the pitch after all is it?

Personally, I am going to defend Gallas slightly on this. Yesterday, Sky Sports News revealed the quotes of this ‘outburst’ and focused heavily on the negative stuff. However, Gallas also asked his team to be ‘soldiers’ and that every single weekend they need ‘to fight’.

There is no doubt that this whole scenario is being used by Gallas to fire up his players. Why else would he come out with these comments on a Wednesday in between games? It’s not as if they were heat of the moment comments is it?

Something that Gallas’ views do, regardless of whether you are happy with him, is make this weekend’s clash with Manchester City extremely important. If Arsenal grab a win, it will be Gallas’ comments partly responsible and it could really fire up Wenger’s men for a decent run. If it’s another defeat, then god help Gallas. He will be criticised from every angle and the dreaded ‘crisis’ word will be branded about all over the show.

As for the Manchester City game, well they are strong at home and have a lot of attacking ability in their ranks. Therefore, Gallas and co will be well and truly tested at the back. Arsenal haven’t lost back to back games for 58 league encounters. I don’t think I am alone in having a sinking feeling about this one though.

By Thomas Rooney

Gallas promotes his leadership skills as Arsenal look to close gap on leaders

This is a guest post by sports writer Thomas Rooney

First of all, attention has to be paid to the fantastic week Arsenal have had. Since my post last Friday, the Gunners defeated Manchester United (highlights here) to keep their title hopes alive, then on Wednesday the ‘kids’ proved how talented they are once again as they brushed aside Wigan in the Carling Cup (highlights here).

All in all, it has been a remarkable and pleasing turnaround that could just kick start the season once again. Of course, a lot of hard work would be undone if Arsene Wenger’s side fail to continue their return to form against Aston Villa this weekend – so here’s to another three points!

Speaking ahead of the clash at the Emirates, Arsenal captain William Gallas has hit back at critics that have suggested he doesn’t have the correct attitude to be the club’s skipper. Ever since his bizarre reaction to the 2-2 draw at Birmingham last season, his leadership skills have certainly been under the microscope.

Gallas believes that he has always been a decent captain for his side though and insists the criticism he occasionally receives is only after poor results. The Frenchman said that after the Manchester United win ‘everyone was saying my leadership was good’ despite questions over it before the game.

To be honest, I think he has a point here. As we all know, football is a results business. Gallas went on to say that he actually thought he had ‘a better game against Spurs’ which emphasises how much a win means to fans.

As long as the team wins, the criticism will be heavily reduced. That’s why Gallas finished by saying that at the end of the season the only thing that matters is that Arsenal have a trophy because ‘everything else is forgotten’.

So, the Aston Villa game tomorrow. Martin O’Neill’s side have been hailed as the only team capable of breaking the top four places in the Premier League and they certainly have a team of more than capable players. They only sit three points behind the Gunners, so a win is an absolute must for the home team.

As far as team news goes, well the ‘big guns’ are set to return despite the impressive showing in the Carling Cup at the weekend. Emmanuel Adebayor and Manuel Almunia should take their place in the starting line-up, as will the already mentioned Gallas. Robin van Persie is suspended though and Emmanuel Eboue is still suffering with a knee injury.

Arsenal are unbeaten in 19 Premier League matches against Villa, but have failed to beat them in the league at the Emirates as yet. Two 1-1 draws have been produced in the last couple of seasons. This time around though, I expect a confident Arsenal performance against a team that will be rather down after their home defeat to Middlesbrough last weekend.

By Thomas Rooney

Arsenal 2-1 Man Utd highlights, super Sam!

We did it! I still can’t quite believe it, but we beat Man Utd 2-1 at home. Nasri’s two fantastic goals gave us 3 points! We played with a weakened side, and we had just come off the back of some awful results and we still did it! The lift this will give the team will be amazing. The game started tentatively, but we got into our game as it went on. We defended hard throughout the match, and we did close the game, bringing on the likes of Toure and Alex Song. We still conceded in the 90th minute, to a goal which we couldn’t have saved, and that put us in for 6 horrible minutes of injury time. But a great win and special mentions to Nasri, Gallas, Fabregas and Diaby who all played fantastically!

Wenger defends Arsenal style as Gallas is upset

Wenger has been defending our style of football in the papers after critcism of the draw against Spurs and loss at Stoke. He feels that our attacking, fluid game is the best way to win trophies.

“We have to be strong enough to keep on with the way we play and we can win the Premier League and the Champions League.

I would agree with him, we have won plenty of silverware in the past under Wenger, playing his brand of football. I think Wenger has the style right, what we are not doing is finishing games properly. This may be due to a lack of experience in the squad, and Gallas has also been saying that he doesn’t fell we always have the right focus.

Gallas is one of the players who I would pick out as sometimes losing his concentration, but others are guilty too.

The fact is, we are going through a bad patch of form, but things can be righted. Wenger pointed out that we went to Fenerbahce with a midfield of under-21s and won, and they’ve never been beaten at home in Europe. (Click here for the Fenerbahce highlights).

This is true, but our goal glut that night covered up the weak defence which Fenerbahce easily penetrated. If Almunia hadn’t played so well it could have been 5-5, not 5-2. Tottenham were lucky that they managed to score all their chances. (Click here for the Tottenham highlights).

Again, against Stoke we saw the defence struggling to cope with the long throws and strength of the oppostion. (Click here for the Stoke game highlights).

I’m not calling for Wenger’s head, I think we just need some hard work put in on the defence, and some refocusing. A new defensive player in January wouldn’t hurt either.