Monthly Archives: October 2007

End of a vision and more about Fabregas

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Who is Hugo Tocalli? Many people including myself did not know him, till Tim Vickery, BBC’s South American reporter wrote about him.

He retired as co-ordinator of Argentina’s Youth side. And in his 13 years Argentina won 5 out of 7 World Youth Cups. That is some youth side. Most of the current squad players have come through the youth ranks, whose credit must go to this man. I am sure Messi, Riquelme, Mascherano etc might owe this man a lot for the way they play now.

So would the sun be setting on a wonderful youth system that brings about a classic style of play and some wonderful players? I guess not else Football will be the loser.

In other news, after Fabregas’ wonderful performance in the last match and the previous matches, he has come in for a lot of praise.

Comparison with Paul Scholes is reported in the Telegraph.

And in a seperate article in Telegraph again, ex Arsenal Goalie Bob Wilson talks about Fabregas and where he stands in the Arsenal all time stars list.

One memorable quote from that article:

It reminded me of what Arsene Wenger said three years ago when I was just finishing my time as goalkeeping coach with Arsenal. He told me: “I have seen the best 17-year-old player I’ve ever seen.” Well, it was an extraordinary statement for Arsene to make. I remember saying: “But wasn’t Pele the best 17-year-old?” “I am telling you about a player who plays in a different role to Pele; Pele was a striker, not a creator.”

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Filed under Argentina, Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Fabregas, Hugo Tocalli, Paul Scholes

Arsenal play ball at Anfield

Not many teams go to Anfield and dominate possession and let the Reds chase the ball. Arsenal did just that despite being a goal down from the 10th minute. A late winner was all that was missing from a wonderful performance from a young team, in a match which was considered the true test for the Gunners.

Wenger said later

I feel we have come out of this first big test stronger. We played without any handbrake, without any restrictions. We played the game we wanted to play, based on our technical qualities and our movement.

I was always very confident, but I hope we convinced a few more people. In my opinion, we have the talent to fight up there for the title.

Arsenal have one more match to prove their title aspirations and a victory at home would put a lot of theories to rest on how this team will have to prove against worthy opponents etc. This team is not looking at the fixtures in Dec and January now. They are probably looking at how to win the next one against Sheffield United. That I think is what this team under Arsene is done well, taking one match at a time.

Hleb is in some form this season. I hope he gets to continue on this purple patch for some more time and his link up play with both Fabregas and Rosicky is very sublime. The slick passing between them is worth many a highlights reel. And the way in which he did not pass to Adebayor or Bendtner and sneaked it past 2 or 3 Liverpool defenders to the advancing Fabregas is a class act.

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Chances were lets say even and Liverpool made their earlier one count and Gerrard in a moment of brilliance bamboozled one past Almunia. Crouch came up with some classic hits on target but most of the red fans were trying to win back possession for most part of the match. Arsenal move came in waves and the substitutions of Gilberto, Bendtner and Walcott did not slow pedal the attacks one bit, in fact the goal came after their substitution.

Toure and Gallas had a wonderful match and Eboue was again getting into his antics. I wonder when he will grow up and play like a man. He can take a leaf out of Sagna’s book. Adebayor is going goalless for some matches now and I think it is all going to come back as a hat-trick or something very soon.

With Man U working on the Tevez-Rooney magic and Chelsea putting six past Man City, the league has come alive and the saturday clash between Arsenal and Man Utd will be some match.

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Filed under Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, EPL, Fabregas, Hleb, Liverpool

Can we beat the Red Buggers?

Yes we can. If we cannot then I will be disappointed.

As far as I am concerned, there is nothing in this Liverpool team as the media and ESPN commentators make it out to be. Torres works hard and has a lot to prove for the millions dished out to Athletico & Gerrard has been in terrible form both for club and country. Now who else has impressed you this season. None to be precise. If you dig deep maybe Mascherano followed by Kuyt. Thats it.

So if Arsenal get only one point from the match in Anfield, it would be 2 points lost than one point gained. And by any chance if Arsenal lose, it should be called an upset. But I think one point from this match would be a good return for Arsenal compared to Liverpool who cannot afford to lose anymore points to any team outside the top four.

Torres and Agger are believed to be fit by Sunday for this important clash. Arsenal are without Van Persie but I think they should be able to manage this match without him and most probably Eduardo will start with Adebayor for this match. With Fabregas and Hleb in such good form, lets hope there will be some exciting soccer for us to watch. Clichy and Sagna will have a lot of work as Pennant and Risse will be troubling in both the flanks. We will have to see whether Gerrard will be able to go forward as much as he does with other teams when he plays the Gunners.

My expected line up for the match would be:

Almunia

Sagna Toure Gallas Clichy

Hleb Fabregas Flamini Rosicky

Adebayor Eduardo

So Walcott one of the stars of the last match might start from bench and he can definitely come as a sub and do the damage against he aging Hypia. This will be a good learning for Arsenal who have taken care of their problem from last year (beating teams in the middle and bottom of the league). Now this young team needs to prove that they can do it against the biggies.

I am sure Wenger will take only one match at a time and hence we will discuss Man Utd’s trip to the Emirates after this match.

Go get them Gunners.

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Filed under Arsenal, EPL, Liverpool

Seven Star Performance from the Gunners

 

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On one of the best European nights in England, Arsenal demolislished Slavia Prague at the Emirates Stadium. In front of 60,000 fans, the Gunners put seven past the hapless Czech team. Theo Walcott matured in 90 minutes as Fabregas once again lived upto his reputation and Hleb put in a wonderful showcase of his talent.

The first goal from Fabregas was a beauty, curling from the edge of the box, after Hleb did his dancing around 2 defenders and passed it to Fabregas. The 5th minute goal set the tone for the match and it did not turnout to be one of those “it cud have been a 7-0 match”, but it indeed was a 7-0 match. Infact if Adebayor had taken his chances, the scoreline could have been 10-0! Hleb got involved again, striking a shot of a rebound from the corner towards the crowded goal line. It got a lucky deflection and that was goal no.2 for Arsenal. Hleb was all over the park and Slavia Prague did try to pass around themselves and take a shot at goal. If I remember correctly, Almunia made couple of saves and one of them was a tough one.

Walcott had a his first Champions League goal gifted to him by the Praha goalie who failed to clear the ball and presented Walcott with the ball. He still had work to do. He beat the keeper and hit it clear of the diving defenders. That gave him some confidence and his runs and twists and turns around the field was quite a sight. Arsenal went into half time 3-0 up.

Second half started in similar fashion, and a brief period of 10-15 minutes was absolutely stunning football from Arsenal which resulted in 3 goals for the gunners. Hleb had his goal first, a neatly stuck shot sending the defenders and the goalie the wrong way. I have a feeling that Hleb is looking set to take the role of Bergkamp in this Arsenal team. His dribbling and ball holding skill is exceptional. Walcott hit his Henry-like goal next and it was definitely a classy goal from the youngster. This performance will definitely boost his confidence and he is set for a brilliant career in this team. The next one was a classy counter attack following a corner at the other end. Hleb to Adebayor, who did his part in holding the ball and passing it to Walcott who cushioned the ball for Fabregas to slot it in.

S ubstitutions followed and the tempo slowed down a bit. But Rosicky, Gilberto and Bendtner were worthy replacements. But I thought all the forward efforts were orchestrated for Walcott to hit his hat-trick which never happened. But Bendtner got his first Champions League goal in style, keeping the defender at bay and pushing it in.

It was a great nite and for fans all around the globe this must have come as a great curtain-raiser for the weekend biggie against Liverpool. I can only hope that Arsenal build from here and have a wonderful 2 weeks ahead.

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Filed under Arsenal, Bendtner, Champions League, Fabregas, Hleb, Slavia Praha, Walcott

Slavia Praha Preview

SK Slavia Praha arrive in London as the toppers of the Czech domestic league. With 25 points from 10 matches they sit pretty at top and in the weekend they won their home match 3-0. So they sure are full of confidence when they play away at Emirates.

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With respect to Champions League, Group H is unique in two ways

  • This group is the only group made entirely of qualifiers
  • Sevilla and Slavia Praha are debutants to the Champions League

A victory here would ensure qualification for Arsenal and this would mean a settled side takes on Liverpool and Man Utd in the premier league. But nothing is easy in Europe and hence Wenger will be cautious of this Czech team.

The likely team should be

Almunia

Sagan Toure Gallas Clichy

Walcott Fabregas Flamini Rosicky

Adebayor Eduardo

I think Hleb who had a great match on the weekend might also come in instead of Rosicky. I will definetely be watching this one. So here is to a good match and an Arsenal victory.

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Filed under Arsenal, Champions League, Slavia Praha

Toure scores as Walcott impresses

I did not get to watch the match, but was following it online. Caught the match highlights and it was nice to see Toure and Rosicky score. Rosicky and Walcott were the impact substitutions made by Wenger in a night when we badly needed to win against Bolton. With Liverpool getting luckier by the day and Man Utd winning another match by scoring 4 goals, we had to win and that we did.

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Toure has been trying to score from a long ranger for some time now. I think the closest has been the crossbar-rattler against Sunderland. That was some hit. But this freekick was nicely placed low into the right side of the goalie. The movement of the ball(initially I thought it was deflected) must have taken it past the goalie. Nevertheless, Toure has had his first goal this season and I hope he has many more this season.

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Walcott who has been criticised for his performance whenever he has played has been showing consistent improvement in the last two occasions he has come into play. Wenger has hinted that Walcott has a big chance of starting from the next game. Eboue has not performed as expected on the right. Theo’s assist and Rosicky’s cool flick on meant we can rest easy with another 3 points.

The real tough test comes from now on when we play Liverpool & Man Utd in the next couple of weeks. May the force be with the Gunners.

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Filed under Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers, EPL, Toure, Walcott

Injuries and Bolton Preview

The Internationals week saw a lot of activity for the Gunners. Eduardo was on target on Saturday against Israel, Gallas had a good outing for France. Bad news was that Van Persie got injured in what looks like a knee injury that can keep him out for more than 4 weeks. Senderos picked up a back injury in a friendly played in the week.

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In defence Toure stands like a rock and Gallas coming back would be good news to the team. Senderos should be fine in a fortnight. But what is really bad is the injury to Persie.

In the next 4-5 weeks, Arsenal plays:

20 Oct Bolton (H)

23 Oct Slavia Prague (H)

28 Oct Liverpool (A)

31 Oct Sheffield Utd (A)

03 Nov Man Utd (H)

07 NOv Slavia Prague (A)

12 Nov Reading (A)

24 Nov Wigan (H)

The double biggies at the end of the month would be a very crucial period for Arsenal’s campaign. Especially the trip to Anfield where we were humiliated 4-1 last time. I distinctly remember this match as it was on my Bday and I was in Singapore, for the official inauguration of the Arsenal Supporters club. It was a very bad start for all the Gooners in that pub.

But having said that in Adebayor, Eduardo and Bendtner we have quality that should see us atleast hold on to draws in these two matches atleast. With Togo not qualifying for the African Nations Cup, Adebayor will be available throughout January.

The Bolton game might be seen as an easy 3 points to many, but I think teams like Bolton and Blackburn play a very physical game everytime they play Arsenal for the last so many years. They are our Bogey team. Away at the Reebok last time, Anelka scored a goal from outside the box to seal victory. And he likes scoring against his old club. This time they are visiting the Emirates without a manager and there is a lot of uneasiness in the team. This could act both ways if you ask me.

Lets hope Adebayor scores in this match because whenever Adebayor has scored Arsenal has never lost a match. And just for those who like Trivia, Toure and Clichy are the only two Arsenal players who have played every minute of this current Arsenal premier league campaign.

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Filed under Arsenal, EPL, Van Persie