Andrey stakes claim for the hole-ing role | Park Chu-Young announces his credentials | Arsenal Ratings and Review

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Fabianski,

Yennaris, Squillaci, Vermaelen (c), Miquel,

Coquelin, Frimpong, Benayoun,

Chamberlain, Arshavin, Park

Thomas Vermaelen started as captain last night and Arshavin started in the hole just behind the striker. The midfield was pretty strong from a defensive point of view, but the back line really did look worry with only Vermaelen in there as proven quality.

Parks first contribution was to fall over, then get up, lay off Chamberlain who played a silly back heel. The opening 10 minutes was that dull, that’s all I had in my notes.

Frimpong started the first good move doing well to feed Oxo in from a wide position, the wideman breezed into the box but took too long on the ball and with it, failed to take his chance.

Chamberlain was taking a bit of a continental approach in midfield, the second time he was caught in possession in the opening half an hour nearly cost us, Pratley dispossessed him, sped away and only a good save from Fabianski kept the long range shot out.

Park was trying to make things happen down the other end, he dropped his shoulder on the edge of the Bolton box, made some space and fired a shot across goal from 22 yards, Bogdan was equal to it with a good save.

Kakuta, the future of world football, tried to catch Fabianski at the near post despite having two better options inside him.

Our possession play, even for a Carling Cup side, was poor. Lots of stray passes flying around the Emirates greenery.

Arshavin teed up Vermaelen from a freekick, the Belgian rifled it at goal, Bogdan saved, possibly breaking 4 bones in his wrist in the process.

Arshavin was at it again, creating space for Park to take a low placed shot, which was tipped round the post well by Bogdan.

Kakuta was running the show down the right, Miquel was giving him far too much space, he really did look Bendtner-esque outwide.

The second half started badly, Muamba dispossessed Frimpong in midfield, slipped in the impressive Pratley who cut it back to Muamba who took no prisoners roofing the ball.

Park strayed offside a few times, but two things appealed, a striker making the runs, a midfielder making the chances. It was like Wright and Bergkamp!

Benny was doing a solid job in midfield, he’s very similar to Hleb in style. He received the ball just past the dugout,  he dummied his man, cut the ball into the path of Andrey, he breezed into the box ad buried a shot past the keeper after being given the freedom of the area to shoot. A great finish.

Our second came not long after, Park ran into an offside position looking to be fed by Andrey, he held off with the pass, Park recalibrated, the pass was fed into him, he took no touches and  slotted the winner into the top right hand corner. Hello Thierry or Bobby!

The game wasn’t dead and buried for us yet, Eagles rifled a speculative shot at Fabianski who manged to fumble it over the bar… Very lucky! He made up for it on 76mins by denying Klasnic who was through on goal. His denial of Cahill from an unchallenged corner was pretty spectacular as well.

The game closed, the home fans got great value for money, we moved into the quarter finals! Hooray!

The victory train moves on… next stop, Chelsea.

Key Player Reviews…

Park Chu-Young – His first start for Arsenal was very impressive. He’s a sizeable Korean at 6ft and he’s quite strong to boot. He hangs off the last defender and looks like a more classic number 9 than we’ve had in the past. He’s intelligent, he’s not afraid to shoot. A massive thumbs up from me. 8.5

Yennares – He looks like Theo’s younger moustached brother, shave that off son, it’s not a good look! He was solid in defence and again, without blowing us away, he had an impressive debut. 7

Chamberlain – A much quieter game from the on fire man of the moment. He had a few telling runs but he was terribly sloppy on the ball at times and could have cost us. The folly of youth… He’ll learn, hopefully fast. 6

Frimpong – the sooner you realise 70% of his game is fire and brimstone the sooner you’ll realise how far he has to go. Far too casual in possession and at times thoughtless in the pass. On the upshot… His pace power and hunger for possession still excites. Passion is half the battle one. If Denilson had half what Frimpong had he wouldn’t be struggling away in Brazil. 6

Arshavin – Get in the hole! Yeah, that’s what Wenger shouted at the Russian pre game and it paid off. We created chances, we scored two goals and we looked dangerous going forward. He’s built for that position he has twice the genius anyone else at our club has trying to play that role. It feels silly not to give him a go. 8.5

Fabianski – Some top draw saves meshed in with a couple of scary fumbles just to remind you of why he’s number 2. 7.5

Vermaelen – Good to have his welcomed presence back in the side. He’ll be a big boost for the rest of the season, slightly humorous that after Wenger declaring hed be good for 50 straight games, he has a calf strain so is out for Sunday. 7

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Miquel – Played at left back for some reason and he looked very suspect. He was pretty much solely responsible for giving Bolton any chance of winning the game. Kakuta took him to the cleaners on numerous occasions. In the first half he tried to stay tight to him, only to be roasted for pace, in the second, he backed off him, only to be foiled by his dangerous balls into the box. 5

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We finally get to see Park at the Arsenal, but will it be a walk in one tonight?

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So good, he levitates footballs with his mind

Tonight’s the night then, we will finally get to see our Korean wonderkid that we have for 2 years, but will he shine? I hope so.

Wenger had this to say about him…

‘Some people judged our players very quickly in a negative way and slowly they changed their mind through their performances. I prefer it that way round than the other. Some players like Pires and Henry took four, five, six months and they became exceptional players, Park arrived two months ago so that’s normal’

Well I’m not sure what that meant, a bit Cantona’ish if you ask me. I think all we have been asking is why hasn’t he played yet, when he continues to play the donkey that is Chamakh and Park doesn’t get a look in, you have to wonder. So I welcome the chance to see him play against the EPL new whipping boys Bolton tonight.

I think he’ll do well, for Wenger to mention him in the same breath as Henry and Pires is a big shout, such illustrious company, let’s hope the boy does good.

I think we’ll smash them tonight, we’ll have Oxo, Park, Frimpong and Coquelin on show and I hope he plays Miquel and not Squillaci with Vermaelen as that will be an interesting combination and we know Squillaci is a disaster waiting to happen, if I see him and Chamakh trot out I will be disappointed.

I think our reserves are much stronger this year so seeing players like Aneke out there won’t fill me with dread like his Carling Cup teams used to.

I’m going for a tonking tonight as there will be a few out there wanting to show their boss how good they are.

Here’s my wish for tonights team.

Fabianski

Yennaris Miquel Vermaelen Santos

Frimpong Aneke Coquelin

Oxo Park Ryo

I say this team because I would like to see them and I believe they all trained, I suspect though he will have Yossi in there as captain and Squillaci in place of Vermaelen. I hope I’m wrong though, Yennaris was born in Leyton so it will be interesting to see another young English talent on display tonight. I know he’s a midfielder but he also plays at right back so I put him in there in hope.

I put Ryo in there so Park has someone to talk to. I’m kidding, I know he’s Japanese, but I saw him in training and the thought of watching him and Oxo on the flanks is a mouth watering prospect, so I hope he gets the nod.

There are a bunch of stories out there about Robin signing a new contract, don’t get too upset people as Robin will be 30 at the end of this contract and Wenger doesn’t sign 30 year olds on big contracts, forget Keown, Adams, Wright and Bergkamp, they were all useless.

Anyway, if he wants to keep Robin he needs to sign a world class strike partner to play alongside him, if he’s not learned from losing Nasri and Cesc by now, he never will.

So lets all hope for a convincing win tonight and extend the confidence for the game against the racists in West London.

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Have a great day Grovers, and hopefully a top, top night!

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Arsenal season gathers momentum as Robin saves the day… again. Ratings and Review

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The big German tracking the big Englishman

Highlights

What.a.weekend.

The best are always the ones you don’t expect. Beating Stoke was great, watching Andy Carrol blaze a last minute penalty was joyous, seeing United humiliated at home was superb but finishing things off with Chelsea being beaten by QPR and listening to John Terry wriggle his way out of being a racist… Well, that was just gold!

The game…

The line up was minus Robin, the coach opting to rest him in favour of Chamakh. He went with JD at right back and gave our defence quite a physical look.

Stoke stole in with the first attempt at goal when Etherington dragged a hopeful low shot wide. We were controlling proceedings though. Chamakh had his first attempt on goal when he latched onto a corner that bounced in the box, he could only steer wide.

The first long throw of the match took forever to come in, Delap’s time wasting is awful, it came in like a bullet but Mertesacker dealt with it without panic.

Stoke wanted to make a violent impact on the game and had their chance when a ball headed out for a throw and their full back smashed through Arteta (sunshine in my eyes, name check please!).

It has to be noted, Stoke weren’t playing with their usual intent. A draw at halftime was on the agenda for them.

We broke them though, Rambo chipped a delightful ball over their defence, Gervinho chested it down and fired in. No mistake today!

‘1-0 to the football team.’ reverberated around the ground!

No sooner had the Ivorian made himself a hero, he’d made himself the muppet. Stoke had an innocuous freekick about 35 yards out, Gervinho managed to miss the dinosaur of Shawcross behind him, the defender made his move, the ball not the player was tracked, he picked out his header and after a bit of head tennis, Peter Crouch knocked it in.

Bad defending because of a switch off. I hope he was boll*cked for that.

The second half exposed that lack of spark we’ve suffered from most of the season, we had plenty of the ball but finding a decent outlet was proving tough. Theo was back to his infuriating worst and as Stoke got closer to a point, their gamesmanship started to shine through. Mertesacker was pulled down with two hands in the penalty area right in front of the lino who ignored the foul.

We werent helping ourselves, our forward three were playing far too narrow which played right into the hands of a defence who train to be an impenetrable wall of 8.

It was time for some changes. Off came Chamakh and Theo, on came Arshavin and Robin. The difference was immediate. Gervinho switched flanks and Arshavin put Stoke on the back foot with his unpredictable play.

It didn’t take long for us to pull ahead, Arteta chipped a ball out wide to Gervinho, he pushed into the box and cut back to Robin who bundled it over the line. Fancy that, a striker making a run into the box!

It didn’t take long for us to stretch that lead and bury the game, this time Gervinho took to the other winger, found his way past the dozy stoke defence, cut back and whadya know, Robin was there to help the ball over he line in quite grubby fashion!

3-1 up… The crowd were over joyed, the players even brought out some one touch football for us! Most stayed till the end and gave the players plenty of love and applause, was that because of massive train delays? Maybe. Who cares though, the players won’t know!

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Ratings

Chezzer:  Hard to fault him for the goal. In the main, a solid game, his passing is improving and he doesn’t let high balls into the box phase him. Capello said yesterday that you don’t win anything without a good goalkeeper, at least we have that area covered now. 7

Santos: I can’t really work him out yet, one minute I think he’s the new Sylvinho, others I think he looks a bit slow and cumbersome… and dare I say it, a touch casual? 6

JD: I like the fact he’d clearly read my last match report and taken the Cesc comparisons literally. A few hospital passes had to occur before he decided that he should just stick to playing right back. He dropped a few Senderos like clangers but as the game grew, he started to play much better. 6.5

Mertesacker: I think it’s difficult to put the goal on him or Koscielny. When you have all the time in the world to pick out crouch in the 6 yard box, it’s always going to be tough to defend against. Overall though, things were far less fraught than they usually are. Less panic and no real aerial problems. A marked improvement. 7.5

Koscielny: He’s really starting to grow as a player next to an experienced centre back. I love his tenacity and the snapping at ankles he does. He doesn’t give anyone much time and I can see him being a solid asset for us this season. 8

Arteta: A much better performance from the Spaniard, he roughed it and he tried to play ball. His long range pass to find Gervinho for the second was top notch. He still isn’t sparkling, but I think that is more to do with him finding what his role in the team is than anything else. 7

Song: He’s certainly playing a deeper role this season, the bounding into the box of last year has been curtailed for the solidity of the team and when he just plays in front of the back four, he’s fine. His dodgy passing in the final third leaves a lot to be desired, but in fairness, if you watch defensive midfielders across Europe, there aren’t many that ooze class on the distribution front and his isn’t that bad in comparison. 7

Ramsey: A very encouraging performance from the Welshman. He covered plenty of ground and made it known to Stoke that he wasn’t a shrinking violet. Loved his energy, loved his assist and I’m pretty pleased he’s starting to find some much needed form. 8

Theo: A bit of a garbage game from the wideman. Sometimes he looks like a footballer, most of the time he just looks like a very fortunate sprinter. He struggles to dribble past players, he makes poor passing decision and unless a team lets him run at them, he’s a pretty impotent force. The crowd are far less forgiving of him this year and it’s a shame that after 5 years of dross, he’s not going to leave us next summer with us all regretting his loss. Must up his game, or the only club interested will be Everton. 5

Gervinho: Many have questioned whether he’s been a duff buy, I haven’t thought so. I think we’ll have form like this from him all year. He blows hot and cold, but when he blows hot, he’s hot. He was awkward, busy and clinical yesterday. His first goal was Thierry-esque with some superb control to boot, his two assists were fantastic as well, a proper wing wizard contribution! His best game in an Arsenal shirt and the perfect lift before the Chelsea game next week. 9

Chamakh: He’s just not a very good player. His movement is telegraphed, his control isn’t top four and his passing is at times, is horrendous. If Robin gets injured, I’m not sure how we’ll cope in his absence. 5

Subs

Robin: Came on and done the business as always. The big worry is how dependent we are on his talent. Outside him, there are no goals. He’s a massive boost for the crowd and he’s a massive boost for the team. Our whole game changed with his introduction and he stood up and let himself be counted when it mattered. A captains performance! 8.5

Arshavin: A great cameo appearance out wide or wherever he fancied playing. He gave balance on the wings. What I mean by that is that we went from 10 men with Theo on, to 11 men when Arshavin came on. 7

Frimmers: Came on, then lost it, then won it back. 6

Quick Conclusion…

We’re building a bit of momentum now. We’ve got a reasonably solid base to work from and we’re starting to find out way in attack. Chelsea don’t look quite so daunting after their loss yesterday, so overall, things are looking up. It’s an interesting step change in expectation amongst Arsenal fans at the moment, we know we’re not great, so every win holds that little bit more joy. 4th place really is going to be a trophy this year and after the weekends results, it looks like it’s at least attainable if we can grind out some consistency.

Roll on Bolton!

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I’m off for a cup of delicious blind coffee to kick start my day…

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