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Wolves 0 Arsenal 3: The Gunners Tame the Relegation-Bound Canines

How cheeky can you get?

The English Premier League is widely regarded as the most viewed, most exciting and probably the best football league on Earth. Fans from all over the globe unite for a single cause offering their support to the 20 teams in the division.

However, the standard of officiating in recent times have become very shambolic. Week-in-week-out, some unfortunate teams are always on the end of some shocking decisions that change the shape of every game. I don’t want to start with the decisions that have gone against Arsenal, because the outlay is large enough to start up a new blog with.

Call me a hater, a beef-monger or whatever you must, but the refereeing decisions that have favored Manchester United this season has certainly left a bitter taste in the mouths of the lovers of the beautiful game.

On Sunday, Sir Alex Ferguson’s hordes hosted Queens Park Rangers but a contentious and appalling decision brandish a red card to Shaun Derry after a blatant piece of cheating from Ashley Young certainly changed the reflection of the match. Words can’t explain the decision to rule this goal out:


However, the picture can be epitomized by this tweet:

Moving over to more relevant news, Tottenham’s demise against Norwich City gave Arsenal a big incentive going into this stroll in the park against Wolves. Arsene Wenger shuffled things a bit, drafting in Andre Santos for Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou for Laurent Koscielny (suspended). Eyebrows were certainly raised when Aaron Ramsey was selected over the in-form Tomas Rosicky.

Arsenal got off to a flyer when a Robin van Persie incisive through ball put Theo Walcott through but the winger was denied a clear-cut goalscoring chance by Sebastien Bassong. According to the FIFA Rule Book, the ref was left with only one decision to make, thereby giving Bassong a chance for an early bath.

Arsenal’s captain stepped up to score one of the cheekiest penalties you’ll ever see. Thierry Henry showed such class against Leeds United in the yesteryear.

For those who like numbers, that effort was van Persie’s 45th goal in 50 Premier League games, and he became the fourth player in Premier League history to score against 17 different teams in a Premier League season (after Andrew Cole 1993/94, Alan Shearer 1994/95 and Ian Wright 1996/97).

Arsenal’s captain turned from scorer to provider when he executed a neat one-two with his telepathic partner Walcott, that placed his effort past Wayne Hennessey with consummate ease. Wolves threatened from a Chris Berra header but the first half plummeted into mediocrity after that.

Arsenal didn’t take its foot off the pedal and would have gone three up but Ramsey’s poor decision making left the score line the way it was. He was sent through by van Persie but he chose to feint his shot when he was meant to pull the trigger only to be blocked afterwards. The Isreali Rabbi, Yossi Benayoun made himself available for a pass but Ramsey’s pass was wayward to say the least.

Wolves enjoyed a brief spell of possession and some intricate passing in Arsenal’s danger area saw Matt Jarvis swing a cross that was headed goalwards by Kevin Doyle. Up stepped Wojciech Szczesny to add another spectacular save to his impressive collection.

That was certainly a telling moment because Arsenal gave themselves some breathing space after some great work from the captain. Van Persie lost the ball initially before slaving hard to win it back. He sent a pass to Alex Song who in turn found the Rabbi that blasted the ball on the keeper’s blind side to make it three.

Wenger withdrew Walcott for the Ox while Carl Jenkinson got some minutes under his belt when he replaced Bacary Sagna. There was still time for Ramsey to miss yet again but the last goalmouth action came from the hosts as Nenad Milijas’ stinging shot was saved by Szczesny.

At the sound of the ref’s whistle, the Gunners sealed a victory that has sent them five points clear off Tottenham as well as seven points off Newcastle and Chelsea. Who would have believed this in August?

Szczesny (8.0) produced to top-drawer saves to aid his team.

Sagna (7.0) put up another efficient performance.

Andre Santos (6.0) disappointed me a bit and was very sloppy with the ball.

Djourou (7.0) deputized well for Koscielny and made some decent blocks to break up play.

Vermaelen (7.5) was very agile and was more than a match for the Wolves forward line.

Song (7.5) assists when he wants.

Arteta (7.5) continued his imperial form in midfield with another stellar performance.

Ramsey (7.0) missed a few chances but he had a 90% pass completion and he put up a 100% effort. It’s high time we get off his back.

Walcott (7.5) scored a well-taken goal but eased out as the game progressed.

Benayoun (7.5) made a good account of himself and capped it up with a decent finish.

Van Persie (8.0) ended his goal drought with a finish that epitomized his confidence in front of goal.

Oxlade-Chamberlain (7.0) had a decent touches and he showcased his pace and dribbling skills.

Jenkinson didn’t play long enough to get a rating.

For a team that has recorded 12 losses in 17 home games, relegation will certainly be deserved. This is also coupled with the fact that Wigan and Queens Park Rangers secured vital wins to help their cause to beat the drop.

It’s fair to say that the Gunners tamed the relegation-bound canines.


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The Wolves aftermath and more speculations about Thierry Henry’s loan move

The first half of the Premier League season has painted a vivid picture for football fans all over the world.

We’ve learnt that Bolton, Wigan and Blackburn are presently in hot soup and they stand a chance of playing npower Championship football next season.

We’ve also learnt that the destination of this season’s Premier League title is odds on to be in the city of Manchester, as the clubs from London continue producing inconsistent performances.

Arsenal had a big chance to cement their stay in the top four for a week as well as put their fierce rivals Tottenham under some pressure but the disappointing draw against Wolves has raised a few eyebrows yet again.

Funnily enough, it wasn’t like the Everton or Aston Villa performance where Arsenal played crap but had enough in the gas to get all three points.

In Arsene Wenger’s newsletter to Arsenal fans worldwide, he reiterated that he couldn’t fault the attitude, commitment or desire of his players to win the game. Wayne Hennessey had the game of his life and will probably go back to being mediocre when Wolves take on an opponent of ‘equal stature’.

Down the years, many goalies pick the game against Arsenal to make the media Vultures sing their praises all week long. Ben Foster was a goalkeeper that conceded an 85-yard punt from Paul Robinson but he became a colossus in the Carling Cup final and we all know how that result ended.

It was expected that a few words would emanate from the Arsenal camp and Mikel Arteta has said that Arsenal needs to be more ruthless at home. In the Premier League, home form is an important attribute that goes a long way in shaping the destiny of a club in a season.

Stoke City is a club that has a very dismal away record but the Britannia Stadium has become a fortress for them. This has been one of the key reasons why their Premier League status has been intact since their promotion in 2008.

I don’t even want to write about Manchester United’s home form last season. 18 wins in 19 home games with a shaky away form was more than enough to hand Sir Alex Ferguson and his hordes a history 19th title.

Per Mertesacker is another player that has said a thing or two to the media Vultures. He said that the draw against Wolves was a missed opportunity but he still believes that Arsenal can break into the top four.

Arsenal is within touching distance of Tottenham and Chelsea and with the form Andres Villas-Boa Constrictor’s side is showing, they’ll be the likeliest candidates to be usurped by the Gunners.

Moving over to everyone’s favorite section of the news, the media Vultures are at it again linking Arsenal to many forwards in the business.

Give Me Football reports that Arsenal is considering a January bid for AC Milan’s Alexandre Pato. It’s reported that the duck from Pato Blanco isn’t really in good terms with his boss Max Allegri and he could be seeking a move away from San Siro. It’s believed that a bid of £25m could be enough to seal the deal.

Pato is a proven talent that has bags on pace as well as good dribbling skills and a clinical finishing ability. He’ll add a lot to Arsene Wenger’s side because he could be deployed as a center forward or in the wings.

Mirror Football has also reported that Arsenal is linked with Montpellier Herault SC’s Oliver Giroud and the striker currently has an audacious price tag of £40m. Giroud has been in good form this season with 13 goals in 18 appearances but the £40m price tag will make him beyond Arsenal’s reach.

Still sticking with transfer news from Ligue 1, Arsene Wenger has ruled out a move for Lyon’s Yoann Gourcuff because the midfield is too crowded for the French playmaker.

Lyon has to understand that Arsene Wenger is no Harry Redknapp or Roberto Mancini that can afford to get the Steven Pienaars, Nico Kranjcars and Owen Hargreaves to hand them warm and cozy spots in the bench.

Besides, Arsenal has more than enough personnel in the midfield this season so Gourcuff will have to wait till the summer.

Thierry Henry has been training with Arsenal for a while since the close of the MLS season and has been linked countless times with a move to the Emirates.

With Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh leaving the club next month for the African Cup of Nations, some firepower will be needed upfront and the fans have pleaded with the manager to get Lukas Podolski among others.

Arsene Wenger is getting frustrated with the barrage of questions asked regarding Henry’s possible arrival and it seems as if some Arsenal fans will get their wish because the Daily Mail has reported that Arsenal has finally offered Thierry Henry a two-month loan deal.

I gave five reasons why Arsenal shouldn’t re-sign Henry and it didn’t go down well with most of the Gooners reading the article.

As a true Arsenal fan, I hope Thierry Henry does well again in his second coming because Arsenal needs a lethal finisher to support Robin van Persie and a clinical free kick taker.


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Arsenal 1 Wolves 1: Wayne Hennessey Puts Up a Goalkeeping Clinic


Arsenal had the chance to continue its good form with a win against Wolves that would have propelled Arsene Wenger’s men into the top four for only the second time this season. The Gunners had won seven of their last eight games at home and they come up against opponents that had not scored an away goal in Arsenal’s home ground since the inception of the Premier League.

Wenger made four changes to the squad that won Aston Villa in the midweek fixtures. Johan Djourou was deemed fit enough to replace Francis Coquelin at right back. Alex Song returned from his one-match suspension while Tomas Rosicky and Yossi Benayoun came in Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott’s stead.

Wolves had a quick break when Steven Ward’s through pass went beyond Johan Djourou leaving Matt Jarvis the threat of Per Mertesacker to shove off but the big German made a decent block to break up play.

Jarvis tried to launch another move from the left hand side but a swift counter attack by the home side was enough to create the game’s opener. Rosicky did very well to hold up the ball upfield beofre teeing up Benayoun that sliced in a magnificent through ball for Gervinho.The Ivorian shimmed past Wayne Hennessey in goal before slotting the ball home.

All eyes were on Robin van Persie as the forward was just two goals shy of breaking Alan Shearer’s Premier League record for most goals scored in a year that currently stands at 36. Gervinho and van Persie linked up well in attack but the Dutchman had a quick lash at the ball when he had enough time to take an extra touch or two.

Van Persie worked hard to win the ball off Karl Henry in defense before fashioning a chance for Rosicky. As expected, the goal-shy Rosicky sent a pass to Mikel Arteta that blasted his effort off a Wolves defender. Rosicky was in a better position to shoot but when you’re a player that has scored only one goal in 2011, what would you expect?

Rosicky created another chance for van Persie that was manhandled by a Wolves defender but Arsenal’s captain still tried his best to send a shot in that was saved by Hennessey in his near post. Van Persie was laying siege to the Wolves defense and was fouled right on the edge of the 18-yard box but Arteta’s excuse for a free kick was very tame to say the least.

Out of nothing, Wolves won a fictitious corner kick off Per Mertesacker. Jarvis swung the ball in but it was cleared out of the box before the ball arrived at Stephen Hunt’s feet. The Irish winger fired a shot goalwards and the ball ricocheted off Laurent Koscielny’s body but Steven Fletcher was on hand to score a real poacher’s effort with his head.

At the start of the second half, Arsenal continued to barrage the Wolves defense and Koscielny fired a shot that went off a defender’s arm. The Emirates erupted with shouts for a penalty but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Rosicky used the outside of his boot to swing the ball and Mertesacker rose the highest to head the ball goalwards but the goalie was equal to the challenge.

Andrey Arshavin came in for Benayoun while Aaron Ramsey replaced Alex Song that was in danger of losing his discipline after picking up a yellow card for a rash challenge on Fletcher and Hunt. Arsenal’s chances of getting the match winning goal were bolstered when Nenad Milijas picked up a straight red for a lounge on Arteta.

Ramsey flicked the ball to van Persie who was onside but his shot couldn’t go past the impressive Hennessey in goal. Arshavin attempted a neat one-two with van Persie but his left-footed effort just missed by a lick of paint.

The onslaught on the Wolves goal continued but Wayne Hennessey was in inspired form. Van Persie had a free kick that was destined for the net but the Wolves goalie stepped up again to pull another save from the top drawer. Ramsey sent another through ball to van Persie that drilled an effort to Hennessey’s near post but the goalie’s legs stopped the ball.

Marouane Chamakh came on for Djourou and his major involvement in the game was to clash heads with his captain following a corner kick from Arteta. Van Persie was concussed while Chamakh had to leave the pitch to dress the wound he sustained following the clash.

The 4th official raised his board and Arsenal had only six more minutes to get that goal that was needed to move them to the top four and Hennessey stepped up again when Thomas Vermaelen was unmarked inside the box to make another impressive block.

At the sound of the whistle, the Wolves players celebrated with their hero in goal whose one-man show kept Arsenal at bay. In this corresponding fixture last season in November, it was the Arsenal players that created with Lukasz Fabianski as he put up his best ever performance in an Arsenal shirt that night.

Szczesny (6.5) was faced with only one attempt on goal and it went past him.

Djourou (7.0) was solid in defense and ventured forward a few times.

Vermaelen (7.0) put up a good performance and was unlucky not to score Arsenal’s winning goal.

Koscielny (7.0) was rock-solid in defense.

Mertesacker (7.0) almost scored his first Arsenal goal with a header but the goalie came to Wolves’ rescue.

Song (6.5) did okay in midfield and was lucky not to see red.

Arteta (7.0) worked hard in midfield and swung many dead balls in.

Rosicky (6.5) showed some spark in his play but lacked that cutting edge.

Benayoun (6.5) gave an assist but was a bit disappointing in my opinion.

Gervinho (7.5) used his trickery to score Arsenal’s goal.

Van Persie (7.5) gave his all to score but the goalie was more than a match for him.

Arshavin (7.0) showed good movement and was unlucky not  to score.

Ramsey (7.5) sent in a lot of through balls that cut the defense like hot knife through butter.

Chamakh didn’t play long enough to get a rating.

In one of the most mysterious weekends were points were dropped faster than Usain Bolt’s 100m record for Jamaica, Arsenal had the chance on a platter to get a win that would have been enough to add to Andre Villas-Boa Constrictor’s woes but Arsene Wenger’s men picked the right game to be plofligate.