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Arseblog has moved

Wednesday, 20 October 10, 09:47 AM

Arseblog can now be found here.

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Posted by arseblog | arses (0)

Shaktar preview - Eduardo's return

Tuesday, 19 October 10, 08:45 AM

At yesterday's press conference the issue of tackling came up again. Both Arsene Wenger and Emmanuel Eboue were asked about it. If you want to find out what they said go look at the interviews on ATVO. Lots was made about the Birmingham game and Jack Wilshere but enough has been said already.

The great thing about not being slap bang in the middle of an Interlull is that things move on very quickly and we have more important stuff to get on with. Tonight's game against Shaktar Donetsk in the Champions League could more or less assure our qualification. A win would leave us with nine points from three games and probably only requiring one further point from the final three to do the bare minimum and qualify for the knock-out stages.

In terms of team news Cesc Fabregas is back but may not start, the boss obviously exercising caution and wanting to ease him back into things. The trip to Manchester on Sunday may well be a factor too. Theo Walcott picked up a minor toe injury in training but should be fit to take part. Those two are the only returnees with Vermaelen, Sagna, Almunia and Koscielny all out. Robin van Persie's return is now estimated at 'mid-November', with the manager suggesting the Dutch coach has a 'good sense of humour' for expecting Robin to take part in a friendly on November 17th. I think it's fair to say expecting Robin to do anything, ever, requires a sense of humour. Unless it's to ensure little children also get injured.

Whether there's any rotation from Saturday remains to be seen. I think Wilshere will start as he's got a three game ban coming up and can use the time to recover. Cesc is in contention, obviously, Rosicky might play ahead of Arshavin while I suspect we might see Kieran Gibbs at left-back for this one. Lukasz Fabianski will continue in goal and I'm reminded of something Goodplaya said a few weeks ago. Paraphrasing, he said Fabianski didn't need one or two very good games, he needed about twenty ordinary ones, so hopefully another entirely ordinary performance is forthcoming tonight.

Shaktar are second in the group having won both their games and so far they haven't conceded a goal in the Champions League this season. The team might be chock full of Brazilians but you get the sense they're coming to London with the mindset that their focus is on not being beaten. Captain Darijo Srna says:

We are also a good squad with strong players. Shakhtar always create lots of attacks but, perhaps, there will be less offensive action here in London.

I suppose they've watched plenty of tapes and realised that if they defend well they've got every chance of scoring with their first shot on goal like so many other teams that come to the Grove. For us then, it's a matter of being more clinical with the chances we create, and going ahead means they have to go forward more, allowing us the space in which our football thrives, particularly at home in Europe.

Whether Eduardo starts or not remains to be seen but he spoke to the media yesterday, saying he wouldn't celebrate if he scored:

I don't think I will celebrate. I respect the club. I had some great moments here and have respect for the supporters and Mr Wenger, for the club. It was great times here with Arsenal, but now I am on the other side and play for Shakhtar.

It's a nice gesture because celebrating a goal is something that is almost spontaneous but I hope he doesn't have to bite his tongue, so to speak. If we're winning well and he gets a late consolation then I can live with that, not a problem, but sentiment can't get in the way of the fact that this is a game we should go out and win tonight. 

Arsene Wenger said of his return:

I will be happy and sad to see Eduardo. Happy because he was always a fantastic boy with a fantastic mentality. And sad because I worked very hard to get him here and he left with a feeling that he could not completely fulfill the promise he had shown in his first season with us.

And we all know the reasons why. It also shows the difference between guys like Eduardo, who leave a club in the right way, and those like Adebayor who will never get a good reception at one of their old clubs. As I said, it'll be nice for Eduardo and for the fans to have a proper goodbye but I'm hoping that alone is what makes the night memorable for him.

From our point of view it's a matter of continuing to build momentum ahead of a crucial league game on Sunday. I know the focus has to be on tonight but like on Saturday I think the result is far more important than the performance. If we can marry the two then fine but let's just win the game.

In other news it seems Vito Mannone's wish to play football has come true - except he's been sent to Hull on loan to do it. We can only speculate as to whether or not his Interlull outburst had any effect on this but certainly the promotion of Wojscez©® to number three left him in a position where his chances with us were always going to be extremely limited. Hull might well be cruel and unsual punishment, and I can only imagine what the horrors of Mannone and McShane in the same team might bring, but good luck to him up there. I suppose.

Right, that's about that. A busy, busy day lies ahead, plenty to do. See you tomorrow.

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Posted by arseblog | arses (2238)

"Waaaaah! Waaaaaah!", cry the crying cryers

Monday, 18 October 10, 09:10 AM

Morning all, the start of a new week and we awake to the dawn chorus. The birds are singing and a pack of no-mark cunthounds from Birmingham are baying in the distance.

Roger Johnson is the woofer in chief, funnily enough invited onto Sky's Goals on Sunday show yesterday. I guarantee you his presence on that show was not even thought about until Saturday evening. He has accused Marouane Chamakh of being 'embarrassing' because of his alleged dive. 

I'll tell you what's embarrassing - it's a footballer trying to take the moral high ground when he's got no business doing that. Not long after the penalty Chamakh challenged for a header near the touchline, just inside the Birmingham half. He found himself sandwiched between two of their players and Johnson came steaming in, won the header but made sure his elbow made contact with Chamakh's head.

It was a difficult one for the referee to see but replays showed it clearly. Johnson thinks this kind of retribution is ok, that because he's done nothing as heinous as 'diving', he's in the right. Clearly, he lacks the intelligence and self-awareness not to go on TV and berate an opponent when he's been involved in an incident which is, to my mind, far worse. A dive, alleged or not, has a small impact on a game. An elbow to the head, at that speed, can do serious damage to an opponent. 

So, to sum it up, who the fuck is Roger Johnson? And when you do find out please tell him to go the front of the queue where he will be required to then go and fuck himself.

As for their manager on the Wilshere tackle, Alex McLeish says:

People are still going to interview Eduardo about “that tackle”. It’s scandalous. Will people be interviewing Jack Wilshere in a year about that tackle?

I don’t want to get into a war of words with Arsene. I respect him. But it was a bad tackle and he should be drawing a line under the Taylor one.

Well, firstly nobody will be interviewing Wilshere because Zigic's leg wasn't hanging off and broken in all kinds of pieces. And secondly, I don't think Arsene has said a word about Taylor since the Eduardo incident. It's Birmingham who have brought it up in the light of the Wilshere tackle seeking to justify it and excuse it.

I'm not making any excuses for Jack or defending his challenge, by the way, but while the troll-pundits do their worst let's compare and contrast reactions. Wilshere has apologised, admitted he deserved a red card and says he'll learn from it. A stark difference to those players who refuse to acknowledge that the way they play can cause harm to opponents and question the validity of the red cards they receive. Different from the players who accuse others of cheating when they cheat themselves. Hippos, I think they're called.

It strikes me that Birmingham, booed off at home last week, are just using this to deflect from another defeat and, perhaps, to build up a bit of a siege mentality. The little club hard done by away from home at one of the traditional big clubs. Which is absolutely fine, they can do what they want. It doesn't mean they're not a pack of bleating Barbie collectors. And to think people accuse Arsene Wenger of whinging. He's got nothing on this lot. What a bunch of Marys.

Maroaune Chamakh has hit back at Birmingham's claims that he's a diver, saying there was definite contact. The only thing I'd add to this is that regardless of whether there was contact or not referees are going to be keeping a very close eye on him in the near future. I genuinely think his quickness in and around the area means he's very good at drawing fouls from keepers/defenders but I also think he has a tendency to make sure everyone knows there has been contact. Perhaps a touch of subtlety is required.

Still, it doesn't take anything away from him as a player and he's been a great addition to the squad. With RVP and Bendtner out injured it makes me wonder how we'd have coped without him. The idea of having to play Arshavin or Vela up front is retrospectively scary in the extreme. With Bendtner, at least, on his way back, the burden won't be just his and hopefully he can continue to make the same kind of contribution as he has done up until now.

Tomorrow night is Champions League and Shaktar Donetsk. I think the last time we played them at home was in 2000 when two late Martin Keown goals saved the day against opponents we knew little about at that stage. Now the Ukrainians come to London with a team full of Brazilians, some household names, and, of course, our old friend Eduardo.

He talks to Jonathan Wilson in the Guardian about English football and how he's settling into life at his new club. And without wishing the labour the point here's another vast difference between the Wilshere and Taylor tackles - Eduardo, in an Arsenal shirt, never recovered, never regained that turn of pace and predatory instinct in and around the box. Zigic remains as average as ever. There will always a be a sense of what might have been. Plucked from Croatian football his signing, coming shortly after we'd sold Thierry Henry, was a surprise to everyone. 

He looked like being another inspired Wenger project and was really beginning to find his feet in English football until Taylor's tackle meant he had to do Exorcist head to look at them. He left this summer without having had a chance to say goodbye. It's clear he holds the club, the manager, the fans and his old teammates in great affection, and while I hope he has a quiet game tomorrow night, I'm sure he'll get a great reception on his return.

Arsene's press conference takes place later today so we'll get any updated team news and we can look at that on tomorrow's blog.

Till then.

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Arsenal 2-1 Birmingham - back in business

Sunday, 17 October 10, 10:47 AM

It sounds a bit dense to say the most important thing yesterday was the three points but I'll say it anyway. Or at least left it unsaid having already said I would say it. You know what I mean.

United dropped points at home to West Brom and Chelsea drew 0-0 with Aston Villa. A brilliant Arsenal performance without the right result would have been utterly useless yesterday. And while it might not have been brilliant it wasn't that bad. We certainly started very brightly, creating a couple of decent chances. Wilshere's shimmying 1-2s with Chamakh should have brought the Moroccan a goal but Carr made a decent block.

Clichy fired one wide with his right foot, Diaby had a couple of shots and created a chance for Arshavin, and we even had a goal disallowed for offside when Squillaci headed home a Nasri free kick. I thought the decision was generous to Birmingham, to be honest. 

Then, as is our wont, we fell behind. It's difficult to mark a 6'8 guy who is attacking the ball and I wouldn't put any blame on Fabianski as the header was almost bottom corner, but when you know there's a 6'8 guy in the box you've got to work harder to ensure he doesn't get any supply. We were caught on our heels a bit and didn't close down the Birmingham player quickly enough. It all felt very familiar. Arsenal dominating possession, not taking chances and getting punished by the opponents first real attempt. 

Their lead didn't last too long however as Scott Dann took a swipe at Chamakh, down he went and the ref pointed to the spot. Birmingham were incensed, suggesting Chamakh dived. I've watched it lots of times and I really can't see too much contact. If there was any he certainly made the most of it but those who want to complain about Chamakh's gamesmanship should also point the finger at Birmingham's time-wasting. Even at 0-0 it was taking Foster an age to take his goal kicks.

Not saying it justifies anything but you can't bend the rules yourself and then complain when somebody else does it. Samir Nasri stepped up and fired home the penalty with plenty of conviction. The game got a bit tetchy then. Nasri was booked for kneeing one of them up the arse while Roger Johnson went through the back of Chamakh in the air and clearly elbowed him in the head at the same time.

This was the point when I wished I had a stream with no commentary. Having to listen to Trevor Francis watch a replay of Chamakh being elbowed in the head and saying "What's wrong with that? A great centre-half's header" is just too frustrating for words. So 1-1 at half-time and we were looking for a quick start to the second half. Which is exactly what we got.

Jack Wilshere brought it forward from midfield, got on the end of a looping Song backheel, played a lovely pass inside their defence for Chamakh who found himself through when Steven Carr fannied out of the tackle. He rounded the keeper and slotted it home to make it 2-1.

I thought we might go on and score a couple more from there but we were lacking something in the final third for much of the game. I thought Diaby was good yesterday until he got close to their penalty box. His decision making wasn't great. Arshavin was hugely disappointing. A tight game like this needs the bit of creativity he has when he can be arsed but he looked like a player who, generously speaking, felt the full effects of the Interlull. He was taken off for Rosicky who was prepared to have a go, forcing Foster into at least one decent save.

Nicklas Bendtner made his comeback, replacing Chamakh and he almost got on the end of a Rosicky cross but at 2-1 you always feared the equaliser. Fabianski was never really tested with shots on target but I thought he did very well with their crosses, corners etc, making a number of excellent punches. We stood firm however and the game was heading into the final minutes of injury time when Jack Wilshere was sent off for a bad tackle on Zigic.

No complaints at all about the decision, not from the manager or the player, and he'll now miss three games. After everything that's been said about tackling recently you know there have been plenty waiting for something like this to happen so they can have a go and stick the knife in but frankly I can't is neither affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its contents. This is a safe-cache copy of the original web site.