Winning beautiful at an ugly time suits me just fine! Ratings + Review

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Mannone

eboue Verm gallas clichy

Diaby Song Fab

Rosicky Robin Arshavin

Arsene Wenger celebrated his 13th year at the club and secured his place as the longest serving modern day manager of Arsenal football club.

Could he deliver a win on a unseasonably warm autumn evening? Well, he certainly delivered an exciting starting line up capable of one. Diaby retained his place alongside Song and Fab in the midfield. Rosicky took his place in a 3 prong attack that made me a bit damp…

Arshavin must have read the comments because he looked like a man with intent to destroy tongiht.

First time the Olympicos (<- Didn’t it used to be spelt with a ‘k’?) keeper was called into action was to deal with a cross. The former Greek Euro Cup winner looked like he’d come down with a bout of HIV since we last saw him.

The first decent shot came from Arshavin. Cesc played a superb cross field ball to Clichy, who controlled it… powered into the box, laid it off to Arsh who tested the keeper low to his right only to be denied.

Arsenal were playing some super football.

The next chance came after RvP played a simple ball to Arshavin on the edge of the box, the Russian played it first time to Cesc who controlled then half volleyed it onto the bar… the ball came back out to Rosicky who tested the keeper again… but Arsenal were denied!

Arshavin went close again when he found himself in the box with a defender in front of him, he took a touch, dragged it right and poked a shot low in one fail swoop, only for our afflicted keeper to save again.

The first freekick on the edge of the box had Cesc and Robin over it. Rosicky edged in like he wanted a piece, but Cesc took over and buried it into the wall. Very poor.

Fabregas looked like a different player this evening… the provider was being provided with all sorts of chances from RvP, Rosicky and Arshavin. It was a joy to watch… the only thing missing? A finish…

Song was playing very well, mopping up like a dinner lady on speed. He played some nice passes and kept things ticking over much better than he did against Fulham.

The Greeks did manage to fashion a chance when they looped a ball over Clichy’s head and one of their player nipped in at the back stick to head straight into the hands of the Don.

Mannone made a superb save early into the first half, clamouring back to fish out a well aimed header. Arsenal were in danger of being sucker punched if they didn’t score soon.

Robin went close up the other end with a fierce shot on goal… he followed through on the defender when attempting to be first to the rebound. He received a yellow for his troubles.

Eboue played well; his final ball acceptable for a right back… not acceptable for a right midfielder. He has a favoured position, play him there Arsene… he looks good enough to displace Sagna at the moment.

Arsenal were huffing and puffing… but could they blow down the Greek defence and nick a win? Well…

Fabregas lethargically ran forward, released Eduardo who cut it back superbly for Robin to bury home!

Fantastic!

We weren’t finished though… Fabregas slid a ball across the box, Arshavin latched on, possibly thinking he was offside, he flicked it in Kanu-esque (The one against Boro’ in his first season). No more than we deserved!

Happy days!

Mannone: Deputised like a little clean sheet dream boat. He pulled off a superb save from a corner and dealt with his kicking duties very well. Another clean sheet to add to his improving CV. 7

Clichy: A bit of a mixed bag for Clichy. He slipped over a few times and nearly let the Greeks in, but overall, he was in control today. 7

Vermaelen: Super performance from the Belgian. He got forward for our set plays and marshalled the back line very well. 7.5

Gallas: Again, some very good tackles and some good passing tonight. The defence had little to do, but they controlled the back line well. 7.5

Eboue: A very strong performance at right back. He linked up superbly with the attack and with a little bit more concentration with his final ball, he’d be displacing Sagna for sure. 8

Song: I thought Song had a very good game today. He sat back and let the big boys get on with the attacking play. He was goal side when teams broke tonight and his passing was pretty solid. He had a few hairy moments where he fell over or gave the ball away dangerously… but overall, a much better performance than the one I saw at Fulham. 7.5

Diaby: A better performance than he’s been giving us lately. He still doesn’t get the ball out from under his feet quick enough and he’s often guilty of sloppy simple passes… however, we take each game as it comes and we judge today’s game as an improvement. 6.5

Rosicky: A very good first half performance. What we’ve missed sometimes in midfield is a player who is diciplined enough to play the simple ball when nothing else is on. Rosicky held the ball up nicely and his turn of pace was very impressive for a player whose been out for so long. Fell away a touch in second half, but let’s be honest… he’s still adjusting to being able to stand up! 7

Arshavin: Does he care about becoming the best? Did the 10 or so blinding games he had last season go to his head? Well, tonight it looked like he’d taken stock of his play this year… maybe read Le Grove and the comments, and pulled his socks up to deliver a scintillating display! He was all over the park, at the centre of most of our play, chasing lost causes… demonstrating his amazing ball control and skill. The latter was epitomised with his cheeky back heeled goal! It may have been offside, but who cares… we were owed that goal! 9

Cesc: A battling performance from someone whose looked off his game. He still looks like he’s not enjoying his game, but he was a lot more involved today. Surround great players with great players and you get great performances. 2 assists finished off a night where my only complaint would be his finishing. He did hit the bar though and he hit the target a few times… so not that bad really! 8.5

Robin: People were complaining about RvP starting, saying he lacks the finishing ability etc… I wasn’t one of those people. He is top class. He was the most creative player in the Premiership last year and he banged in 20 goals in total. He is a very good player and I think he offers us more than Eduardo does at the moment as he is a more complete player. Robin played very well tonight, linking in nicely with the front player, going close on a few occasions. His just desserts arrived when he got his goal late on to give us the victory. 8

Conclusion:

So what did we learn tonight Grovers? Well, we learnt that great players feed off great players. Tonight it looked like our front 5 were competing with each other to see who could be the most skilful and ingenious (They should ask best finisher to that list!). That was great to see… and it’s how it should be at a club like Arsenal.

There are still big question marks over our ability to concentrate till the end and I still wonder if we have the personnel to keep clean sheets against the real quality teams in Europe… but tonight is a good start and I’m going to enjoy the victory and winning beautiful, but making it a little bit painful along the way!

I’m heading into Paris today, if anyone would like me to pick up some arrogance or rudeness for them, be sure to let me know in the comments!

Adios… sorry, I mean au revoir!

P.S. Sorry if I haven’t got back to you on the e-mails of late, I’ve been away from my PC a lot. I’ll catch up on Friday!

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Tonight we face the Greeks, tonight we demand earth, water and 3 points!

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So this is it, the first group game at home and this team are dangerous, this team have Matt Derbyshire in it, yes, you heard, Matt Derbyshire.

I expect to see our best starting 11 out there, I expect us to make it 5 games on the trot since we lost to the Northern chavs, tonight I expect to see the real Arsenal, we won ugly on Saturday, but we won, that for me is real progress, tonight I expect to see Arshavin set the Grove alight, I hope he starts with Arshavin, Eduardo and Robin up top, I hope to see Cesc, Ramsey and Rosicky in the middle, I hope we don’t see Diaby but I expect we will and by the law of averages, he is due his good game so I won’t be too upset if he plays.

Maybe this is the sort of game to take a few chances and give Wilshere a start but I doubt it.

We need to start getting some goals because our build up play has been very sweet, I know we have a ton of money and yesterday’s accounts showed that, they also showed that Arsene has had the money all along but chose not to spend it, so tonight we need to get behind whoever he puts out, because no matter how much we want him to buy, he won’t, and he can’t, we have to wait until January so I suggest we talk about what we do have, and not what we want.

He’ll probably start Diaby, Song and Eboue, Eboue has played well, my problem with him is there is no end product, maybe there will be tonight, two players who won’t feature though are Nikki B and Denilson, Nikki B pranged his Aston, I’ve done that, so please, a bit of support for the boy, doing that does make you feel sick. Really sick, and a little silly, in my case it was a birds fault, in his, a tree.

I hear on the Grapevine that Denilson won’t be back until the end of the year, shame for the boy, but it does allow Ramsey to show what he has, good luck that man.

Theo’s injury is as much of a mystery as Nasri’s, Theo has been busy making commercials so perhaps he’s being rested, but Nasri’s injury wasn’t bad, he’ll be six weeks, that was in July, so either Wenger can’t count or the injury was worse, I broke my arm in 7 places on August the first but this weekend I’m playing golf again, so god knows how bad his break was.

The up side of all this, is the young kids are growing together, losing to the Mancs when we were the better team shows how much stronger we are as a unit, but we need to start converting promise into points, and tonight I expect us to do just that.

I’ll be there, so stewards, back off, I’ll be standing and singing and there may even be a little bad language thrown in, so I apologise in advance, but leave me alone.

One of my favourite films involved Greeks, ’300′ but remember what happened to them? …they lost! – So 5 nil the Arsenal, and yes, that is a prediction.

I would have said 5-1 but Alminia has been dropped, go Vito, go!

Have a great night tonight Grovers, I have a funny feeling it could be one of our greatest ever European games, up there with Madrid and Milan.

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Mannone may not be the one but he proves a point.

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And that point is? Well that point is, it proves unequivocally that Almunia clearly isn’t good enough. I thought Vito was magnificent, I have to admit I didn’t think he could step up, but he did, so well done Vito.

Vito himself said he had the game of his life, but why? That should be what a keeper does week in, week out, other top keepers do, Given does for one, I think this shows us that we really are lacking a top keeper, don’t forget we are the Arsenal, we should have a top keeper.

We can have the greatest outfield players in the world, but if the keeper is bad, it matters not.

You are only as good as your weakest link, and we have a few I’m afraid, but to have one between the sticks is asking for trouble.

When Lehmann went south, Wenger was ruthless, Almunia got the nod and we applauded, now Almunia is good for a clanger in every game and frankly he should be replaced, we have 3 young kids, if they could step up, great, we then have a goalie for 10 years, if they aren’t ready, then we need to buy a Given, yes I know he’s gone but we need to buy someone of that ilk, maybe Robert Green, I don’t know who, but I do know that we need to do something.

Arsenal have always had great keepers, Wilson, Rimmer, Jennings, Lukic, Seaman and Lehmann and I even liked Stuart Taylor but he went. We can get away with mediocrity outfield but we can’t between the sticks.

Arsene you need to be ruthless, Almunia and his performances so far this season have been unacceptable, bring on a kid or buy a new keeper, he isn’t good enough for us to win a title.

Great result against Fulham, there are no pictures on a scorecard, and high time we learned to win ugly, mission accomplished there boss, however, the cracks were beginning to appear, let’s hope we can put that right and put in an Arsenalesque performance against the bubbles on Tuesday.

Have a great day Grovers, tomorrow we are back on the big stage and we need three points.

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