Monthly Archives: September 2012

Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2: Defensive Frailties Exposed Yet Again

Koscielny: Last week’s hero, today’s zero

Never in my life have I anticipated an Arsenal-Chelsea derby like yesterday’s game. For starters, Arsenal matched the European Champions pound for pound as both teams had notched up nine goals and also had the joint meanest defense in the Premier League.

There was also the prospect of playing a post-Didier Drogba Chelsea that failed to beat Arsenal in his absence (W0 D9 L13). With the Ivorian beast of a striker in their ranks, the West Londoners had inflicted pain in Arsenal’s backside with a W7 D3 L1…and he had 13 goals in 14 games against Arsene Wenger’s men.

I had suspected that despite the midweek thrashing of Coventry, Wenger would opt for the squad that was hugely impressive against Manchester City. I guessed right as Wenger used the same squad with the only exception being skipper Thomas Vermaelen returning back to the squad, thereby sacrificing Per Mertesacker – a move that haunted Arsenal.

After a few tame efforts, Abou Diaby let one fly that was easy pickings for Petr Cech, which also turned out to be his last contribution, as he picked up another trademark injury for being just Abou Diaby.

He was replaced by the Ox, thereby forcing the manager to bring Aaron Ramsey infield with the young speedster drafted straight to the wings.

With Arsenal dominating the proceedings, Chelsea launched a counter attack causing Vermaelen to break up play with a professional foul – a feat that earned him a booking as well.

Juan Mata swung in the resulting corner and in a somewhat mysterious fashion, Fernando Torres was allowed to side-foot the ball into the net with Vito Mannone rooted to the spot. The usually dependable Laurent Koscielny was caught in No Man’s Land and we hadn’t seen anything yet.

Moments later, Chelsea tore open the Arsenal rearguard with a sumptuous through ball leaving Torres one on one with Mannone. However, with some pressure from Koscielny, the forward miscued his effort and looked to Martin Atkinson to offer him some solace in form of a spot kick, but the ref was having none of it.

With the first half reaching its climax, Carl Jenkinson drifted forward and supplied a back heeled pass to Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard located the Ox with a carefully-weighted ball allowing the winger to send a low drilled cross in. Gervinho controlled the ball superbly and smashed it to the roof of the net on the turn to send the Emirates into raptures.

An equalizer was no less than Arsenal deserved as they controlled the game till that point.

Oscar had an effort that went wide and late on, he connected well with Torres but the Spaniard’s shot hit the side netting.

Chelsea began the second half with a silly booking for David Luiz after he attempted some theatrics in the box, much to Atkinson’s disgust.

Arteta intercepted a throw from Branislav Ivanovic and located Gervinho immediately that wasted no time in teeing up the Ox but the Englishman’s finish was wayward.

Kieran Gibbs and Lukas Podolski did their thing on the left wing and the German’s cutback arrived at Santi Cazorla’s feet. However, the diminutive magician launched his shot into orbit.

Chelsea continued to soak up Arsenal pressure and launched another counter attack that yielded fruit in form of another free kick in a similar position reminiscent of their goal in the first half.

Juan Mata stepped up to swing the dead ball in and it crept into the net, with some help for Koscielny of course.

That second goal changed the outlook of things as the Gunners pushed hard for an equalizer yet again. Gibbs dinked in a cross that was headed goalwards by Podolski but Cech was on hand to make a good save.

Wenger brought in the calvary in the form of Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott with Podolski and a disappointing Ramsey getting the axe.

Giroud almost got the match leveller when his left-footed drive was deflected by Luiz. With Cech clearly wrong-footed, he still managed to make an unorthodox save to keep the lead intact for Chelsea.

Cazorla sent in a dead ball into Chelsea’s danger area and Koscielny’s header hit the cross bar but the assistant referee raised his flag for an offside.

With Arsenal staring at defeat, the Ox produced a moment of immense quality when he evaded a couple of defenders before executing a neat one-two with Santi Cazorla before teeing up Giroud with a defense splitting pass…

Against Sunderland and Liverpool, Giroud hit his efforts with a first timed shot that went wide. This time, Giroud showed some composure to ease past Petr Cech but he slammed his effort to the side netting.

Words can’t explain the reaction to that miss from Arsene Wenger, the dugout, Twitter and even my BlackBerry Messenger. I don’t know how you reacted that miss but I smashed a glass tumbler in my hands to the ground…and went to sweep it up later. Arsenal.

Mannone (6.5) was a spectator all game long, but he somehow picked up the ball two times from his net.

Jenkinson (7.0) attacked the right flank with purpose and did keep Chelsea’s attack from the left at bay.

Gibbs (7.5) was very good with his tackling on the day and his performance exhumed confidence. He almost supplied an assist for Podolski, had that header gone in.

Vermaelen (6.5) wasn’t too impressive with his overall defending and he conceded both free kicks that led to Chelsea’s goals.

Koscielny (6.0) didn’t justify the manager’s decision to play him ahead of Per Mertesacker. This is a game he’ll want to forget quickly.

Arteta (7.0) battled hard in midfield and won several interceptions for his team.

Ramsey (5.5) was back to his frustrating best with countless sloppy passes despite having the game of his life last week at the Etihad. He needs to add some consistency to his game.

Cazorla (6.5) didn’t really stamp his authority on this game, unlike his previous encounters.

Podolski (6.5) worked in tandem with Gibbs on the left, but he didn’t really penetrate the Chelsea defense.

Ox (6.5) was very clumsy all game long but he showed off his quality with his assist as well as that last move that almost resulted in an equalizer.

Gervinho (7.0) scored a well-taken goal but was ineffectual when he was redeployed to the left flank.

Walcott (6.0) failed to influence the game after his introduction.

Giroud (6.0) gave us another reason to feel that he’s a refurbished Marouane Chamakh.

Arsene Wenger believes that his side did enough to salvage a draw but I’d regard this defeat as a wake-up to the Red Army. A trip to West Ham’s Boleyn Ground comes up next and the Gunners will need to prove that this defeat was a minor glitch.

Let me check the region of my sitting room to see if any glass fragments were left over.

Sayonara.

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New Deal for Sagna, Andre Santos banned and more Team News

A New Deal: No less than he deserves

For all ye lovers of the beautiful game, you can actually score a goal with Olivier Giroud and see it this time (because he scores when no one sees). EA Sports has launched the latest instalment of their football series, FIFA 13 and it’s now up for grabs. I’ve played the demo on my PS 3 and boy, was I impressed or was I impressed!!!

And for those that prefer to control Olivier Giroud using a mouse in the comfort of your bed, table, or your trademark FM gaming location, Sports Interactive has announced the release of the greatest job on earth, Football Manager 13. You can also pre-order the football simulation game from here.

In this life, it’s fair to have a list of addictions and I’m proud to say that Arsenal, Football Manager and beautiful chickens top that list.

Moving on to reality, there’s so much news dominating the Arsenal world and I intend to take it from defense to attack.

On a general scale of things, Arsenal has announced its profits yet again and one can only wonder how the club continues to maintain its self-sustainability and still be among the elite in the Premier League.  Having a Masters Degree in Economics sure has its benefits and Arsenal has benefited massively on the financial front for having a shrewd gaffer like Arsene Wenger.

Wenger has also come to say that money is readily available for him to delve into but he won’t remove the dust from the club’s cheque book till he finds that special, special player. We’ve seen how the three new signings have come into the fray and the prospect of watching Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla every week makes me drool.

Going back to team news, I’ll start with ramblings coming from the defense and this time, I won’t utter a word about Dark Lord Steve Bouldimort and his defensive black magic.

Unlike John Terry that was banned for being a ex-girlfriend shagger shite defender racist, Arsenal’s deputy fullback, Andre Santos, (Gibbs is No. 1 now) has been given a 12-month driving ban as well as a £3,600 fine for attempting some Grand Theft Auto in the streets of London.

The bloke claims that he was rushing to come for training as he was late, so he hit the gas and went as high as 145 mph, which gave him one GTA star, prompting the police to get involved in a high-speed chase. The only sad part was that there was no Pay and Spray shop nearby for Andre Santos, so he was apprehended close to Arsenal’s training ground.

Arsenal has also been handed a boost with the return of Thomas Vermaelen from his bird flu and Arsene Wenger will be faced with some serious selection problems in choosing his centre back pairing for tomorrow’s early kick-off against Chelsea.

My favourite Indian Arsenal blogger, Supreetkini, (After Vijay Murali and Sounak Mukherjee) published a brilliant article juxtaposing between Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker on their statistics. Trust me, it’s worth a read.

Lastly on the defense, Arsenal is set to offer Bacary Sagna a new long-term deal in the next two weeks, as his current deal expires in 2014. Should Arsenal fail to secure Sagna’s services for the long term now, we could be faced with another saga next summer and trust me, it has become a tiring trend.

I know that Sagna has expressed his frustration of the departures of Robin van Judas Iscariot and Alex Song, but he has to do more talking on the pitch when he returns because Carl Jenkinson is certainly give him a run for his money. Wenger has also stated that Sagna is in full training, and that’s good to know as well.

Moving over to midfield, the best news is in regard of the return to full fitness of Jack Wilshere, that’s going to taste some football next week Monday in an Under-21 fixture against West Brom. This will be Wilshere’s first match in the best part of 14 months or so, and I was certainly ready to see my No. 10 play but I don’t think you can find Arsenal Under-21 fixtures anywhere.

Wenger has urged for caution over Wilshere and has told the fans that we shouldn’t expect fireworks from the young lad. The last time I checked, Wilshere’s full name isn’t Nazario da Lima Ronaldo, it’s Jack Andrew Wilshere.

Emmanuel Frimpong is another player returning from a lengthy spell on the sidelines and he has expressed his delight in playing some football, instead of causing mayhem on Twitter. To wrap up the news on midfield, Craig Eastmond and Sanchez Watt have been sent on loan to Colchester to gain some much needed match experience.

Moving over to the forward line, only one name dominates the proceedings as he finally, finally ended that goal drought that haunted him more than the zombies in Resident Evil.

Olivier Giroud has expressed his relief after breaking his duck against Coventry CIty and he hopes that the goal will be the start of a beautiful adventure,

This goal has taken the pressure off me. It’s done, I have my first goal. But it has to be the start of a beautiful adventure.

“Even unconsciously I was thinking about this first goal. I tried not to think about it but my family, friends and a lot of people were talking to me about it.

“For a striker, it’s always good to find the net again. I have an assist already this season but it’s not like a goal. For a striker, it’s important for the confidence. I hope many more will follow.

“I want to play week in, week out, find my rhythm and keep scoring. I am convinced that with some perseverance, it will come.”

Arsene Wenger has hinted that he may start Giroud against Chelsea unlike everyone else including ex-Gunner legend, Ian Wright, that believes that it’s high time Theo Walcott gets a run-out spearheading Arsenal’s attack.

Giroud has also stated that the team is not getting carried  away by the good start to the season and there’s so much work to be done.

Good for you Giroud, but I’m done here.

Sayonara.

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Goal Glut in Capital One Triumph and Wenger Responds to Walcott’s Pleas

Giroud finally breaks his duck

Yesterday night was pretty frustrating to say the least. Arsenal hosted Coventry City in the club’s Capital One Cup curtain raiser but the game couldn’t be seen for reasons best known to the King Cobra that died of agonizing pain five days after biting Chuck Norris.

Never in my life have I caressed my F5 button on my laptop as I stayed faithful to different websites that offered live commentary. My BlackBerry played its own role as well, as I delved into Twitter and remained there for the entire 90 minutes. There were a couple of hilarious tweets as well but Twitter was a nice place to be for a change, unlike last season when tweeps barraged players with all sorts of vitriol and abuse after frustrating matches.

After waiting patiently for the best part of 40 minutes or so, Twitter went haywire when Olivier Giroud scored his first goal for the club courtesy of some brilliant play from Andrey Arshavin and Francis Coquelin. I’d stated on Twitter that the Frenchman had no excuse if he didn’t find the net against Coventry and I’m sure that his confidence levels would have sky-rocketed to the Milky Way.

However, Giroud missed a chance to get a brace as his spot kick was saved by Murphy in goal. That’s Giroud folks, he scores when no one is watching.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain lashed in the second goal from what was stated as the pick of the bunch and I’m still waiting patiently for those Gooners on YouTube to show me some love. According to those lucky tweeps that saw the game at the Emirates, the Ox shot had some swerve on it as it went past Coventry’s custodian between the sticks.

Andrey Arshavin was believed to have had a stinker all game long, but he produced a moment of immense quality to slam in the third after some nice play from Giroud. Up stepped Theo Walcott, a player staking his claim to be Arsenal’s No. 9, and he sent Wenger a nice message with a brace on the night. Ignasi Miquel also scored his first Arsenal goal with a header.

It was also a night to remember as the Denchster, Emmanuel Frimpong, made his first appearance since rupturing a cruciate ligament in his knee seven months ago. There was also some game time to a forgotten figure at the Emirates, Marouane Chamakh, and the exciting Serge Gnabry made his debut as well.

I’ll still be on the lookout for the highlight’s of this fixture and I’ll paste the link on this blog, as well as Twitter and Facebook once I get it.

At the end of the game, Arsene Wenger stated in his post-match interview that his team needed to be serious…and they were serious. With Manchester City and Everton already out of the competition, the Capital One Cup offers Arsenal another chance to end the trophy drought and their cause has certainly been aided with the fact that Manchester United and Chelsea are locking horns in the Fourth Round. Arsenal will go to the Madejski Stadium to play Reading.

Wenger also lauded Giroud for getting his first goal and admitted that Arshavin stinks at the wings, and he aims to play the Russian captain in the hole behind the striker as the season progresses.

In the wake of Walcott’s brace against Coventry, many now believe that it’s high time the Englishman gets a run-out spearheading Arsenal’s attack in the coming games. Walcott certainly has the pace and the clinical finishing ability to be a centre forward but his poor ball control and decision making will certainly be a concern.

Wenger was asked on the matter but he has urged the winger to remain patient,

“I’m not against it, I’m not against it at all but we try and at the moment there is big competition up front, we have a different formula and the team is doing well.

‘His time will come for that and at the moment we have to be a bit patient.

‘He is a great finisher now, in front of goal he is really absolutely amazing.’

Wenger also revealed the club still has plans of retaining his services for the long term,

‘We want him to stay, I always said exactly the same,’ he said.

‘We are all professional and I always said that lets hope we can extend his deal and that is part of every professional situation.

‘I speak to Theo of course, we are always in touch with them (his agent) and you have to give us some time to try and sort that out.’

Desires: Theo Walcott wants to play in the middle

Walcott celebrating a goal against Coventry

The ball is certainly in Arsene Wenger’s court and it’s good to know that his players are giving him headaches for team selection. In just two matches at the Emirates, Arsenal has smashed in 12 goals and it’s worth noting that seven players have been involved in the goals with Theo Walcott notching up three.

And they said that we can’t score without Robin van Judas Iscariot and we can’t get assists without Alex Song.

How cute.

Speaking of cuteness, a 16.4 inch bronze statue was erected in the  Paris’ Center Pompidou modern art museum in honor of Zinedine Zidane for his infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi in the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Now that’s deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeench.

Sayonara.

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