Monthly Archives: March 2008

3 points and fighting spirit back for the Gunners

What a topsy turvy game it was at Reebok Stadium, where Arsenal have not won in the league for the last six years. And they were going into the match with their worst streak in 9 years and being 3rd in the league this season for the first time. The setting was not good at all. To make matters worse, Diaby comes up with a very bad tackle and deservedly gets the red card. In a few minutes Arsenal find themselves 2 goals behind against a confident Wanderers.

Like they say, when the going gets tough the tough gets going, maybe with a little bit of luck. The second half saw Bolton pressing hard for another goal to seal the match, but a lucky break sees Arsenal getting a corner and from it resulted the first goal. Campos doesnt clear the ball and butts it across the goal for Gallas to come running around the side and slot it in. 2-1 the score line.

Another clever passing from the left flank saw Hleb being fouled inside the box and Persie made no mess of the penalty and the score read 2-2, with minutes to go. Wenger knew that this was a game where the momentum was fast shifting to Arsenal and he needed to get those 3 points to fight for anything left of the title.

And that came from who else, but Fabregas who had a inconsistent game where he did make some telling contributions as well as some uncharacteristic mis passes. His shot at goal, took two deflections and went in.

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Credit should also be given for Wenger’s substitution that came just before the hour mark and from when Arsenal started coming back into the game. He changed Adebayor for Bendtner, Walcott for Senderos which meant Walcott played in quite an unusual role. It was a 3 man defence with Gallas and Toure holding firm and Clichy mostly on the assault. Walcott was on the right wing on his own and he did trouble the Bolton defence quite a bit.

Later on in the press conference Wenger said :

‘I can’t remember a better comeback, being 2-0 down and with ten men. Everything went against us, but we kept going.’

So this match should give confidence to the Gunners in their match against Liverpool in the Champions League. If Everton can do us a favour and beat Liverpool, the European match would be nicely set up. But Diaby’s red card means that the Gunners are further depleted for their League engagements for the next 3 matches.

This has been another match where Arsenal have saved points comingĀ  from behind.

Aug 12, 2007 v Fulham (h) 2-1 Hleb (90)
Aug 25, 2007 v Man City (h) 1-0 Fabregas (80)
Oct 7, 2007 v Sunderland (h) 3-2 Van Persie (80)
Oct 28, 2007 v Liverpool (a) 1-1 Fabregas (80)
Nov 3, 2007 v Man United (h) 2-2 Gallas (90)
Nov 24, 2007 v Wigan 2-0 Gallas (83), Rosicky (85)
March 1, 2008 v Aston Villa (h) 1-1 Bendtner (90)
March 4, 2008 v AC Milan (a) 0-2 Fabregas (84), Adebayor (90)
March 15, 2008 v Boro (h) 1-1 Toure (86)

March 30,2008 v Bolton (a) 2-3 Gallas (62) , Van Persie (68), Fabregas (90)

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Filed under Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Bolton Wanderers, Cesc, Champions League, EPL, Fabregas, Gallas, Liverpool, Premier League, Theo, Van Persie, Walcott

Chelsea – Arsenal = Drogba

The title kind of suggests what I feel about last night’s performance at Stamford Bridge. There was a wealth of difference between the two sides, some might even call it the match between the beauty and the beast,but if getting 3 points when you are in a bad phase and you are grinding out victories, so be it, I would like Arsenal to be the beast. Drogba once again proved to be the thorn and scored a brace within the gap of a few minutes to take Chelsea past Arsenal on the points table.

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Arsenal once again looked like having no plan B and a good bench strength. It is creditable for Wenger to see his young team come so far in a season where everyone had written them off after Henry’s departure,but this looks like as far as this team can go. When you have players like Nani and Tevez coming off the bench for Manchester United, you might have a re-think of your policy on going for young players. The season is not yet over, but one win in 8 matches or something is the first time in the last decade or so in Arsenal’s history.

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When Sagna flicked the goal in from a corner, it looked as if Arsenal will be the team to beat them at Stamford Bridge yet again. But the joy was short-lived as the once stable centre backs Gallas and Toure committed errors and could not keep Drogba from scoring. Almunia had a good match and he prevented Drogba from scoring a hat-trick by a really good save.

Maybe this league will prove to very competitive and turn up some interesting results in the next few matches.

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Filed under Almunia, Arsenal, Chelsea, Drogba, EPL, Premier League, Sagna, Sunway Lagoon, Super Sunday

My predictions after the Boro debacle

This could turn out to be crucial points lost in a week where the nearest rivals Manchester united and Chelsea both grind out 1-0 wins to get full points and Liverpool also gained maximum points. A Toure header towards the end of the match saved the blushes for Arsenal in a match where the domination was clearly by the home side but finished poorly inside the box.

Though I would not want to comment on refereeing decisions, the ref has to explain why he disallowed the Adebayor goal. Having said that, Arsenal didnt look like taking a shot at goal for all the build-up play. So Manchester United go in front by goal difference and they have a game in hand (Bolton at home) and can go 3 points in front come the Super Sunday on March 23rd. And Chelsea have a chance to be same on points too by mid week.

Here is how the next few league matches look for Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea

Match # Arsenal(67) Manchester United(67) Chelsea(64)

Match#30 Boro (H) Bolton (A) 1 Tottenham (A) 1

Match#31 Chelsea (A) 1 Liverpool (H) 1 Arsenal (H) 1

Match#32 Bolton (A) 3 Aston Villa (A) 3 Middlesbrough (H) 3

Match#33 Liverpool(H) 1 Middlesbrough(A) 3 Man City (A) 1

Match#34 Man Utd (A) 1 Arsenal (H) 1 Wigan(H) 3

Match#35 Reading (H) 3 Blackburn (A) 1 Everton (A) 1

Match#36 Derby (A) 3 Chelsea (A) 1 Man Utd (H) 1

Match#37 Everton (H) 3 West Ham (H) 3 Newcastle (A) 3

Match#38 Sunderland (A) 3 Wigan (A) 3 Bolton (H) 3

Total Points Arsenal – 95, Manchester United – 94, Chelsea – 91

Is this possible? Well you never know

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Filed under Arsenal, Chelsea, EPL, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Premier League, Toure

Another 2 points dropped

This is becoming a season of draws for Arsenal as Wigan held onto the League leaders in a pitch fit to play rugby not football. With only one loss in the season so far Arsenal have now drawn 9 games!!! Which means they have conceded 18 points to opponents. Now this could also mean that we did not lose those matches as well. Manchester United have drawn 4 and lost 4, which means they have conceded 20 points to opponents. So that leaves them 2 points behind us with a game in hand.

Arsenal had their chances as early as the first minute when Fabregas put Adebayor through to goal and he only had Kirkland to beat but could not. Adebayor had couple more chances in the match but he could not do anything with what was presented to him. This has been a season like that for him where his form has been on both extremes in a matter of a match or two. Fabregas was also out of touch strangely and came close with a header in the first half. Injuries meant Fabregas played in the right side of midfield with Gilberto and Flamini in the centre of the park and Hleb on the left. But Gilberto is increasingly looking tired and out of touch and he seems all set to be sold off come the end of the season. He had a bad match.

Adebayor and Bendtner played together yet again. There was not much to talk about. Second half saw Van Persie coming in for Bendtner but there was not much that he could do also. He had a free kick hit way above the target which showed how much rusty he has been ever since he got injured. Lots of time needs to be spent in the training ground before he can become sharp and focussed.

Manchester United has a chance to go ahead on Saturday when they play away to Derby. Arsenal play Middlesbrough on the same day. This season looks like going all the way down to the wire.

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Filed under Adebayor, Arsenal, Bendtner, EPL, Fabregas, Manchester United, Premier League, Wigan

There was only one Kaka and there will be only one Fabregas

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Filed under AC Milan, Arsenal, Cesc, Champions League, Fabregas, Kaka

AC Milan 0-2 Arsenal

It is not often that the World Player of the year/European Player of the year feels frustrated and throws the ball in disgust and gets a yellow card. Even more when the player we are discussing is Kaka, one of the coolest footballing dudes. It showed how much Arsenal has got into their skin of this aging AC Milan side, how much they had tackled and won the ball from these silky footballers like Kaka and Pirlo, how much they had played their passing game and ran around the Milan team. Arsenal qualified to the quarterfinal stage beating Milan by two late goals that set the tone for a new era of youth and exuberance in Europe. This is the end of the Maldini era and the begining of the Fabregas era.

Midfield control has been grasped by the trio of Flamini, Fabregas and Hleb. They played like men possessed to show Europe the hunger and vitality of youth in this young Wenger side. Hleb was here, there, turning, beating 3-4 opponents,stealing possession, Flamini was biting into Gattuso and Kaka and Pirlo and giving them irritating times, Fabregas had all the time in the world to look around play some through balls and also be present in scoring positions from time to time. It was a match dominated by Arsenal and though Milan had their chances, Arsenal were the team that the crowd in San Siro watched.

For all the domination of possession which looked as if Arsenal were playing in the Emirates and not San Siro, it looked for a long time in the match like the same old story of lost chances and defeat at the end. But this team has been scoring late goals after late goals and last nite again was the same. Hleb won the ball from Pirlo I think, and passed it to an advancing Fabregas, who ran with the ball, cut in into the centre and slammed a low shot from almost 30 yards!

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It dipped, pitched in front of the really tall goalie, who did not expect Fabregas to take strike and squeezed in between him and the goalpost. I was feeling restless seeing the chances being missed and was shuttling between my bed and the sofa, 5.45 in the morning. I never expected Fabregas to shoot from such long distance and even if he did I did not think that it will go in in anycase. But it did and the joy on Fabregas’s face said it all. he announced his arrival and he has been the main man for Arsenal yet again in a high profile encounter.

Adebayor was a thorn in the Milan defence and he kept troubling them and he was also rewarded with his first European goal, courtesy Walcott. He beat the Milan defender in a race to win the ball, went past him and passed aquare of the goal in front of the goalie for a simple tap in for Adebayor. He deserved his goal as he worked tirelessly, from attack to defence in the whole match. Senderos starting with Gallas again had a tremendous game and Almunia was efficient at the back with a few good saves. Clichy and Sagna were impeccable and Clichy did create some problems to the Milanese players. Eboue and Diaby also played their part. the unfortunate part was the wrongful booking of Hleb by the ref. It was a clear cut unlawful tackle by Nesta and should have been a free-kick or for that matter a penalty.

Hopefully this win should act as a morale booster to the team in their pursuit of the League crown. With Persie also back in the side, it should be a good month for Arsenal. For all those who support Arsenal I am sure this victory at San Siro will go as one of the best nights in Europe.

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Filed under AC Milan, Adebayor, Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Champions League, Europe, Fabregas, Flamini, Hleb, Kaka, Milan, Walcott

Can we beat Milan?

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I think we can if we put in a performance like we did at Emirates. The away goal will come to matter if we score at San Siro. And I think, if Arsenal score once this tie is in the pocket given that it will be difficult to score twice against Arsenal. But having said that, Milan team is a tiger at home. Last year the way they destroyed Manchester United is good enough to unsettle any team.

One good news for Arsenal is that Seedorf will not be featuring in this match. He has been a key player in their recent pursuits of European glory. Contrary to some reports, Kaka might be playing in this match as he will be key to how Milan perform offensively on Tuesday night. Emerson and Jankulovski were also injured in their recent clash which makes it a slight bother for Ancelloti. Their 1-1 draw in the Serie A match on the weekend means they are on a slightly subdiued form at present. But we all know that AC Milan in Serie A and AC Milan in Champions League are two different teams.

Arsenal on the other hand have been having long term injury problems. Van Persie and Toure might start on the bench for this match and will probably feature in the second half. Saving a point against Aston Villa in the Premier League would have done their confidence a wee good, but the manner in which they played the entire match would be a cause for concern for Wenger. His team looks very thin and the subs used in that match are just not there with respect to quality. We need Persie and Rosicky back as soon as possible.

But a victory tomorrow night will give the side the right impetus to forge ahead in the Premier League and will stand them in good stead for a fighting chance in the Champions League. There has been criticism of the approach taken by Wenger in promoting youth in winning the European Crown by the former Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi. This is going to be a vindication of Wenger’s wisdom and I would like to see him come out of this victorious.

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Filed under AC Milan, Ancelloti, Arrigo Sacchi, Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Emerson, Jankulovski, Kaka, Milan, Rosicky, San Siro, Seedorf, Toure, Van Persie