Arsenal blast Everton away as fans lose perspective in a big way.

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So my first thoughts were… jeez… Song AND Denilson in the middle? If our players are good enough, why do we need two to do one job? My concern wasn’t with the victory… I was confident of that, my concern was we had to sacrifice a player to accommodate for our lack of strength in the middle.

Arshavin interviewed before and said he didn’t think ‘Youth’ was a good excuse… it was time to step up and show the world what we’re capable of… here’s what happened…

Almunia
Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy

Denilson Song Fabregas
Van Persie Arshavin
Bendtner

Nik B got the nod over Eduardo, probably due to his height and strength, I was guessing that we were going to play a 4-3-3, even though a 4-5-1 with Song and Denilson holding made more sense.

Well, it turned out we played in a 4-3-3… Song anchored and Denilson and Cesc tried to create and support him. It worked pretty well… everyone mucking in defensively and everyone helping out going forward.

It was a bit of a mixed bag after kick off, neither team really dominating… Arsenal made a few poor passes but also held the ball quite nicely. The first real threat came when Nikki B picked up the ball wide right, tricked the Everton defender with a step over… drove forward… played it into Cesc who cut a quick side pass to the oncoming Denilson who curled it into the top corner. What a goal, what excellent build up play… dare I say Bergkamp would have been proud?

Everton nearly responded from a good corner… Vermaelen was beaten easily to it by Felliani… mind you, he is 6ft 6! It served to highlight that we have problems from set pieces… Hangeland probably would have dealt with it (Hint).

5 minutes later, Robin whipped a freekick into the box from a dead ball and who nipped in at the back post? The Verminator with a superbly angled header back across goal! The goal looked like it had been practiced in training…

A few minutes later, Cesc proved that they HAD been practicing set pieces. He fired an inch perfect cross into the box for Gallas to nod in! 3 chances, 3 goals! What a game so far!

I will say that regardless of the goals, we still looked a little shaky at the back. A ball was fizzed across the box and everyone missed it…  It made me feel slightly uncomfortable.

The half finished, Song could be proud of a superb half of man marking against the human microphone… and the boys could be proud of their finishing!

I was expecting a quieter second half… we don’t normally go for the jugular… and with an important game coming up, I thought we might take it easy.

WRONG!

Denilson played RvP down the line, RvP raced wide past his fulle back, laid the ball back… Cesc races onto it Freddie-in-slow-motion-esque and buried it through the keepers legs! I made that 2 nut megs on the way to victory!

Our next goal didn’t take long either, Fab picked the  ball up on the half way line, ran 40 yards… jinked inside Yobo and buried it low and hard past the keeper! He ran over to dedicate his goal to the tragic Jarque. What a goal… Moyes was fuming… you would never expect Everton to bend ove in such fashion.

It wasn’t over though, Arshavin fashioned a shot late on that rebounded off the post… allowing Eduardo his first of the season. Adebay-who?

A rout wouldn’t be complete without a conceding a clean sheet… late on Saha scored a good goal to take away our perfect afternoon… oh well… we’ll still be top of the league for a bit!

Conclusion:

Arsenal kicked the season off in exceptional style. Our finishing was clinical, our passing was crisp and our marquee players were quiet. The real stars of today were the players I thought had the most to prove.

Bendtner – Vermaelen – Song

All were superb, all deserve the praise they will get in the press. So if those guys can maintain their level this year, imagine what will happen when the others come alive? It could be amazing!

I still feel some perspective is needed (Song is the new Vieira…?). Everton offered nothing today… and I don’t think we were firing on all cylinders. I don’t think we saw vintage Arsenal today… which is certainly a good thing. We played well, but it was one of those days where everything went in…. that’s not a complaint… that is just stating fact. We capitalised on an extremely poor Everton performance. What did please me more than that goals is that we weren’t bullied off the ball, we were rarely beaten in the air… and we had that determination to go for as many goals as possible.

‘Character’ <- That is going to be one of the most important words this season… if we can show it week in week out, we could have a great year.

I did find it amazing how many AKB’s came out of the wood work celebrating that ‘Arsene knows’… how short sighted can you be? We were top of the league until February a couple of years ago and look what happened. Certain sections need to calm down and take it one game at a time… they also need to understand that any victory is a joint victory… we’re all Arsenal fans… we all love the club… we all love winning.

I’m still sticking by my guns… we need a defensive midfielder and a centre back before the window closes… today changes nothing…  because the problem isn’t the summer, it’s ten games in when we start picking up injuries to key players. Le Grove have stated all summer that we are two players away from domination… lets hope he buys them.

Enjoy the moment, savor the fact that we’re in fantastic shape going into the Celtic match… and keep the faith that Wenger is going to sign Hangeland plus one… I’ll start to believe in our league campaign if that happens.

Ratings:

01 Almunia: I thought he has a solid game considering how little he had to do. He distributed well, dealt with some tricky crosses admirably and looked calm between the sticks. 7

03 Sagna: The commentators believed our right back was the weak link in the team today. I thought he was ok, his crossing is still a bit dodgy but at least he showed the desire to get up and down that line. 6

10 Gallas: A solid performance and a matching goal. He looks a lot calmer since losing his captaincy and he showed great desire to nod home his goal. Our season hinges on keeping him fit becasue he really is our best defender by a long way. 7.5

22 Clichy: A good performance from our roving left back. He whipped in a few duff crosses mixed with a few good ones. His passing was good and he looked tenacious as ever. 6.5

04 Fabregas: A pretty quiet first half… but he came alive in the second. He bagged two goals and an assist, and he looked very pleased to do so. He looks focused this year and he looks like more of a man in the middle of the park. I’m looking forward to great things from him this year… he is our heartbeat. 8

05 Vermaelen: A top class debut from the Belgian. He looks big, scary and powerful. He dealt well with the aerial onslaught early on and only lost out on one header and that was to the tallest player in the top half of the table. His goal was a real peach and he clearly does read the game well. The jury is still out… I’d like to see him against top class opposition and see how handles real pressure… but all in all… a debut to be proud of. 8

15 Denilson: Started off very poorly misplacing passes like they were going out of fashion. He scored a great goal though… In the second half he upped his game a little… and overall, he did ok. 7

17 Song Billong: My man of the match today. He imposed himself on the middle of the park, making tidy interceptions, reading the game well… he also out musculed anyone who dared challenge and he looked very accomplished on the ball. A top performance… now he’s set the bench mark… the question will be about whether he can maintain it? Wenger keeps threatening to send him back to defence… on todays performance, he might struggle. 9

23 Arshavin: A bit of a nothing game from the Russian which kind of pleased me… 6 goals without our main man being involved. So when he inveitably comes to life, we’ll be a huge threat. 6.5

11 Van Persie: No goals, but two assists and some lovely link up play. I’m always surprised to read articles when people try and convince you that Robin isn’t a team player… can I just reiterate that Robin was top assiter in the league last year… and this season he started off with another two? More goals is what we need Robin. If we can get 20 from you this year, we’ll have a very complete striker on our hands! 7.5

52 Bendtner: The usual moans and groans came when he was spotted on the team sheet… but not from me. Bends played very well, mucking in defensively and sparking to move from the first game. I’m hoping for an Ade like transformation from him this year… and 20 goals. 7.5

Have a great day Grovers…. football is back and I couldn’t be happier!

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Diaby is our best tackler.

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Morning Guys, just before my match post, here is the last in the series of guest posts written by The Killer Viper, enjoy!

As the pre season comes to an end and the kick off looming large, the big question is what system Arsenal will play this season. After gathering all the hints and clues from the pre season friendlies and post match interviews I have come up with an analysis of the formation and tactics.

Arsenal’s performance in the emirates cup suggests that we played a 4-3-3 in the pitch. To everyone’s intrigue and bewilderment, Arsene confirmed that he put out a 4-2-3-1. If you had followed Brazil in the confederations cup you would have noticed that they played a 4-2-3-1 where Ramires (the right winger) played almost like a cm. He drifted deeper next to Gilberto’s right. Gilberto was the CDM. Melo, who roamed a tad deeper, was patrolling the left side of Gilberto. Kaka played centrally behind Fabiano. Robinho too had a lot of freedom on the left. The reason I am mentioning this is to put across the point that Arsenal are playing a 4-2-3-1 which resembles a 4-3-3.

The 4 virtually pick themselves. Moving onto the ‘2’, Denilson will play centrally as the first function DM, similar to Gilbero. He will play deep and will look to latch onto all the loose balls. Another important function of him is to start the attack from the back by making the right passes. The other mid fielder playing slightly in front of Denilson to his right is Diaby. Diaby is a tough tackler and his link up play is top class (After coming back from injury, he put in 45 successful tackles in 5 games excluding interceptions. That is almost 9 a game. What I am trying to put through is that Denilson and Diaby put together can be twice as good as Flamini.).

He can be the second function midfielder similar to what Melo performs in Brazil. I can tell you that Diaby is better than Denilson and Song in tackling. Last season we saw Fabregas playing higher up in the field as a second striker. In this system, he will have the freedom to control the space and be the creative force of the team. He will not exactly play as high as he did in the latter part of last season but he will play to the left of Denilson with the freedom of moving up and making late runs. He can also help in defending, thus forming a strong defensive wall. The paranormal left winger Arshavin will keep cutting inside which will create space for both Clichy and Fabregas to make the killer cross or pass. The right wing slot is up for grabs in my opinion. Theo is the front runner as RVP looks likely to play striker. Theo is best suited as his pace and agility will provide a different dimension to the team. He will be invaluable in counter attacks. The trio of RVP, Arshavin and Walcott can keep interchanging to confuse the defenders and markers. This will also help in creating space.

Eduardo upfront will tender a good plan B. His cold and immaculate poaching is just what the doctor ordered. With top notch creators such as Arshavin and Fabregas in the array, he can knock the stuffing out of the opppnents. We shouldn’t forget that he scored 34 goals and a dozen assists in just a paltry 32 games!

Diaby has been receiving a lot of flak from our very own gooners. He is a quality player in the making and this could be his season. With him and Denilson in front of the back four, they can form a perfect shield for our attacking players to flourish. Playing him on the left flank was a tactical ploy used by Wenger to improve his decision making, tracking back and dribbling. He has the potential to make the second function midfielder position his own.

Wenger believes Song is a CB which leaves Denilson as the only contender for the out and out DM spot. An invisible wall in every sense, Denilson combines sound positional play with efficiency and mops up the defense with accurate passes. Some have criticised him for not tracking back. But he has improved after Wenger played him in the right flank early in the season. Anyway, these stats show the comparison between Denilson and Flamini. You decide.

2008/9 Denilson (3,074 minutes)
Tackles won (includes aerial): 148 (average 4 per game)
Tackles lost: 81 (average 2 per game)
Pass interceptions: 146 (average 4 per game)
Accurate passes: 2,009 (average 59 per game)
Bad passes: 238 (average 7 per game)
Assists: 7
Goals: 3

2007/8 Flamini (2,665 minutes)
Tackles won: 102 (average 3.4 per game)
Tackles lost: 56 (average 1.9 per game)
Pass interceptions: 57 (average 1.9 per game)
Accurate passes: 1,321 (average 44.6 per game)
Bad passes: 100 (average 3.4 per game)
Assists 2
Goals 1

Why does the 4-2-3-1 look like a 4-3-3? It is because of the fluid movements and runs off the ball that are hallmarks of Wengerball. But this also has its negatives. The inability to overcome their urge to attack leaves the DM isolated. Only with discipline and proper understanding of their roles can the team flourish in this system. Perhaps, the greatest strength of this system is that it provides the right balance between defense and attack. As I said before, that comes only with discipline and responsibility. Total football comes with impeccable organisation. This season will mark the return of Wengerball and maybe even trophies!


Arsenal may need to sack defender / £125million bid rejected

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Good morning Grovers, I’m going to cover a few topics today… Crime, the NHS… then a spattering of footballing thoughts.

First things first… Arsenal could be in trouble defensively.

Robbery
Armed robbery
R v Turner (1975) 61 Cr.App.R. 67

The Sentencing Guidelines Council is currently considering advice of the Sentencing Advisory Panel on this subject and is likely to issue a draft guideline during 2005.

Legislation: s.8, Theft Act 1968
Maximum penalty: Life imprisonment

That doesn’t make pretty reading from where I’m sitting… nor does this picture taken before the £40million jewel heist in London this week.

JD... what have you done...!

JD... what have you done...!

I’ll leave this one with the authorities… JD, I’m a little disappointed, especially as it looks like you’ve carried out the crime with Gary Neville…

Next up… I’ve been listening to the fall out in the US about Obama’s proposed healthcare reforms. Sarah Palin dubbed the NHS ‘evil’… Now I’m struggling to see how comparatively, a free health service can be classed as evil… yet the American system, of which 27% of people under the age of 65 have no access due to being priced out of health insurance… is some how ok?

Sarah, there is no doubting that I spent many special nights in with you over the election period… but I find it staggering that a great nation like a America can take someone as retarded as you seriously. Anyone who believes Africa is a country should be discarded from Politics immediately and sent to work the glamour modelling circuit over here.

I have a relative who has just had their life saved by the quick thinking of the staff at the NHS… and I’m backing them 100%, they do a superb job and we should be grateful of the hard work their staff put in everyday. If you ever wanted evidence that politicians are controlled by big business… just keep an eye on the propaganda coming out against the proposals… it’s so transparent it’s embarrassing.

So… onto today… and Arsene Wenger has finally manned up and stuck it to Barcelona,

‘I have made a bid for Messi and nobody speaks about it’

Well Arsene, I’ve just spoken about it… the bid was rumoured to be £125million. I’m proud of you boss, even if they rejected the offer. Geoff has always suggested we should do that when Barca come knocking for our players…

‘Yeah sure you can have our best player, but we’d like yours in return please’

It’s how we should roll. On the subject of Cesc, the coach has this to say,

“Cesc is committed to the Club,”

“He has told me that and told that to the press. We cannot master the noises coming out of Spain.

“They have the same problems in the newspapers looking for headlines. When they have no ideas anymore, they come out with a Fabregas story.

“He has corrected those stories. It is not him who encourages the idea. It is the press who encourages the idea. Where does that story come from? Does that come from Fabregas two days ago? It comes from Spain.’

So, that’s that… Cesc is staying. Hooray… we love you Cesc.

Wenger is also taking a sensible approach to Jack Wilshere. Whilst admitting that he will be involved this season, he wont be involved heavily due to his age. That is fair… he’ll be a great impact sub and a good back up player if injuries get on top of us. We wouldn’t want him burning out early now would we?

So today, it’s the first game back of the season and I’m on my second set of pants already due to the excitement… the sun will be shining over the dump hole that is Liverpool and I’m very confident our boys are going to dish up a beating to the boys in blue (Everton, not the police). We need to make sure we impose our game on them from the off and we need to make sure we have a sense of urgency right the way through the game. Here is how I think we will line up:

Almunia

Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy

Eboue Denilson Cesc Arshavin

RvP NikB

Here is how I’d like us to line up (How do you make a 4-3-3 look right on the screen?):

Almunia
Sagna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy
Merida Cesc Denilson
RvP Eduardo Arsh

I’m going for a 2-0 comfortable victory! Come on you Gooners!

Geoff will be back with his normal previews next week and I will return to my match reporting duties! See you tomorrow Grovers, I’ll have you a super exciting victory report waiting for you at 0900.

Happy Saturday!

P.S. If I see any name calling or petulance on the site today, you’ll get pulled secret police style and banned for a day… we leave all that nonsense for the other blogs.