Unintelligent football… and crab crab crabbing

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Arsene often refers to his team as being intelligent footballers… but today, I saw no evidence of that. Bolton enjoy long ball football… they play it, they practice it… so you’d presume they are quite good at it… so why did Arsenal play long balls into the box all game? That is playing to Bolton’s game plan… and that is why it took so long to break them down yesterday.

Arsenal should have played to Bolton’s weaknesses today… but they didn’t… instead we struggled away for 85minutes… picked our game up at the end and showed a bit of vintage Arsenal by squandering countless chances only to grab it at the death.

There were a lot of complaints in the stadium about the way the game was played out… understandable, it wasn’t pretty and the first half was nothing short of shambolic from an Arsenal perspective. However, I will defend the coach on this one… becasue nothing has changed since last week. The proposed signing of Arshavin was never going to make an uncreative team become creative… so yesterday was to be expected.

Arsenal crabbed the ball about quite nicely… if there was an award for the most sideways passes yesterday, we’d have won it hands down. The teams confidence seems so fragile at times, that no one is willing to risk that killer pass incase the crowd get on their back. This started to change in the second half with introduction of our Mexican magician, Carlos Vela. When he came on Bolton began to waver. The problem Bolton had with Carlos is they couldn’t sit back from him… when they did that, he’d go round them… and this was a key contributor for Bolton losing their shape and eventually, the game.

Arsenal really started to play after about 65 minutes… Nasri moved into the middle and began to orchastrate the revival… Carlos hussled and harried out wide… The young frenchman began to work some magic and slowly started to unpick the tightly organised Bolton defence. Adebayor was the first to be played through with a superb ball… he found himself in acres of space, but he panicked, took an age to mavourver himself and the first clear cut chance of the match was defended well.

Nik B then entered the fray… he looked like a man with a point to prove. Almost immediately he latched onto the end of a high ball into the box only to be denied by the Bolton keeper. 5 minutes later he found himself in the box, but he couldn’t craft anything meanigingful on the shot/pass. Then, right at the end… Clichy played RvP through with a well weighted pass… RvP floated a ball to the back post and Nik B buried the ball hard and low into the bottom corner. The crowd erupted, and Arsenal held on for a win.

Player ratings:

Almunia: Another weak performance from the Spaniard. On two occasions he didn’t call for a ball and confused his defence. He has also started punching crosses again… which is a sign of a keeper low on confidence. 6

Clichy: I thought the ref did a superb job of not protecting our man from the sporadic attacks by Kevin Davies. Gael played well though and started the move for the winning goal. 7

Toure: The difference in defence between Kolo and Gallas is that when a 50/50 ball is up for grabs… you know Kolo will put his neck on the line to win it. I thought Kolo showed the passion and heart we expect from a captain and I hope his new found responsibilit will be the starting point of great things from the Ivorian favourite. A spirited performance. 7.5

JD: I can’t fault him really. He and Kolo mopped up all day at the back and I think they dealt with Bolton’s sometimes physical approach well. 7

Sagna: A few of his crosses were a bit wayward, but it says a lot about his game that I have to criticise that… because his defending is always top notch. 7

Nasri: A very sparky performance today. He is starting to show consisitency and he is starting to justtify that price tag. He floats accross the midfield, linking play and always looking for someone in a good position. He doesn’t waste too many balls and the rest of the team are starting to look to him now. He looked great in the more central role, and I wouldn’t bet against him ending up there. 8

Diaby: A man struggling to make his mark in this Arsenal team. Having bucket loads of ability means nothing if you can’t show that in a game. He reminds me of the kid at school who was amazing in the playground and could do all the silky skills till the cows came home… but when thrown into a game where tactics and positional play are more important… they’d fail. 5

Denilson: Superb performance today. He was productive in the middle of the park and he was diciplined. I really am beggining to enjoy this guys game and though he lacks dicipline sometimes, I really believe he is trying his best to become a great player. 7.5

Eboue: I thought he played ok today… well, in the sense he didn’t make too many bad passes and he didn’t do anything silly defensively. However, in the grand scheme of things, he doesn’t create and he doesn’t really defend that well. When you throw him into midfield… you are just throwing a body into the team. You need goals and creativity… if you can’t offer either out wide, why are you there? 6

Adebayor: So used to reading about how much the fans dislike his high line play… Ade appeared to be playing a lot deeper today. This reduced his overall effect on the team and took something away from his game. He fluffed his lines when we were at 0-0 and he looks like a player in need of a goal. Currently, Arsenal fans are witnessing a power shift… 5

RvP: That power shift is moving towards Robin Van Persie. He is the man who is taking over as numero uno at the club.. The status quo is returning. The Dutchman was superb today… he fights for everything, he is strong and he creates. The only thing missing from him today was a goal, but an important assist will do. When Robin starts firing… we will have a player on our hands. 8


Vela: Has all the ingredients to make us a real threat. Why isn’t he started? 6

Nik B: Has he taken a good long look at himself in the mirror and decided he needs to work for his place at Arsenal? Could have done… he looked like a different man out there today and took his goal brilliantly. 7

Rambo: Not on long enough to pass comment.

So not the best performance, but 3 points against a team who have been our bogey side for many years… made all the more important because the bindippers drew and Villa won.

Lets take the positives and move on to the next match in the hope we sign someone up pretty sharpish.

See you in the comments!

P.S. Thanks to the guys in the Hen and Chicken for letting me join them while I waited for a mate!

687 Responses to “Unintelligent football… and crab crab crabbing”

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  1. ethangunner


    man shitty are bidding on everyone !
    the valuation i say would be 12-15 .

    i mean we got that for hleb , and arshavin is of a similar mold but can score goals as well and 1 year younger .. or effectively the same age as when hleb left .. (if it drags on much longer)

    how arsenal wont let hleb go for any less that 12-15 yet wont bid the same for arshavin has got me Fooked !

    i think man shitty could easily walk away with him , if they offer more ..

    and benzema is a target for man U !

    we miss every boat by being stingy

  2. ethangunner

    “They offered about £10m. No new offers have arrived from them since. At the moment, Arsenal are the only club to have approached us about the player.”

    since ?

    so how long ago was the offer then ?
    7 days ago or more ?

    sounds like wenger is over it … im sure he would of improved the offer if he was
    serious ! it sounds like another target is going begging if you ask me !

    it sounds like to me a lot of time has passed since the 10 mil offer ..(7 days at least)
    maybe wenger is playing games, but with man shitty added into the fray i can only presume wenger has moved on to other targets … if he was serious about him im sure petrov wouldnt be coming out saying (prompting) other clubs of the awareness of current events

    i think there is little point in talking about arshavin any longer ..

  3. Jimbo

    The more I think about it, the more I’m beginning to believe my mate’s gossip was accurate – we’re not seriously interested in Arshavin at a price that’s realistically going to get him. I think Wenger thought we were onto a bargain, but now that he’s realised that he’s not going to be available at a price we’re willing to pay, that interest has dried up.

    We won’t be making another offer.

  4. Stu

    If we look inside then Wenger will obviously look in the wrong places.

    Instead of Merida, Wilshere, Coquelin he will use, Rodgers, Fonte and Randall.

  5. Stu

    I doubt it. Wengput him in the shop window against Burnley because noone wanted him after he went on trials to low league clubs. I can see why he wasnt taken after that shit performance.

  6. ethangunner

    all those above names are long term prospects ,NOT INSTANT FIRE POWER
    they need a real run in the EPL for at least 6 months .. and proving there really ready ..
    song isnt .. neither is nik and others ..

    maybe thats the plan to say fuck it this season and just use the EPL season to blood next years
    hopefuls ..

    there will be fallout too that view however ..

    cesc RVP and others could follow hleb and flamini out the revolving door ..

    if wenger tabled a bid he obviously wanted arshavin, so FFS just splash the fucking cash !
    it becomes more and more evident if we want some real change

    we need new owners ..
    and if new owners dont change things , then wenger is the next casualty .

  7. Stu

    So now that makes 3 the number of player we “tried” t sign. We wanted them but didnt want to pay for them. We offered too little for Alonso, same for Arshavin, only offering half the asking price and only bidding once and Yaya apparently

  8. ethangunner

    how can you sell hleb for 12.5 – 15 mil on his last years contract when he was in his 28th year yet
    only shell out AROUND 10 mil for arshavin who was a star in the euro’s last year ???

    and think 10 mil is a good offer ?
    FFS !

    campaign taste on a beer and chips budget !
    all the time charging the fans over the odds to watch ordinary football !

    this cant be wenger , as much as i think he is doing his best trying to save the club money i think if your only looking for players who add something to arsenal , and he has identified the target then GO FOR IT !

    by the time this deal comes to fruition there will only be 3 months left of the season ..

  9. ethangunner

    the lack of urgency is underwhelming…

    theres not much difference between eboue and arshavin !
    we dont need a big name right 🙂 ?

    haha ! no we dont need a big name player ….

    we need several !


    ethan only put half the blame on wenger the rest fully lie’s with the board.I was reading a couple of the arsenal fanzine’s trust all is not well in that room expect more of this stuff to happen while this credit crunch is in full swing,these flats have had a major part in wenger’s spending power and more of the same is coming our way we are totally fucked on the field

  11. Stu

    Maybe its all to do with Gadiz or whatever his name is.

    Wenger obviously wants these players but we never ever bid enough. Whether or not tats down to him we will never really know.

  12. Keyser

    Paulinho – Sorry for the late reply..

    It was over- elaboration, it wasn’t close to the sort of football we played last year, because we actually played quick incisive football to actually move further up the pitch efficiently.

    They broke play up in midfield or played out balls after a United attack, but took soo long playing these neat little balls repeatedly between themselves that by the time they moved the ball out wide, United had not just set themselves but were ready to counter themselves.

    This was Chelsea trying to run a poor imitation of an Arsenal tactic, they seemed torn between the small passing trying triangles of this year and the powerful, direct running of yesteryear, where their wingers were the creators, neither came off.

    Difference is they weren’t in control trying to break down a team.

  13. Pat

    ANDREI ARSHAVIN will sign for Arsenal this month — despite Zenit St Petersburg turning down an initial £10million bid.

    A Zenit insider revealed: “Negotiations between the clubs about Arshavin are continuing.

    “Since both sides want them to be successful, we should expect a good outcome soon — and certainly before the end of the transfer window.”

    Club spokesman Alexei Petrov revealed: “I can confirm that Zenit did get an official offer of about £10m from Arsenal for Andrei Arshavin.

    “It was rejected as insufficient. No new offers have arrived from them since.

    “At the moment, only Arsenal have officially appr-oached us about the player.”

    The bid is far below Zenit’s asking price of around £23m set last summer.

    But Arshavin is allegedly ‘desperate’ to play for the Gunners and has even been taking a crash course in English.


    the board were banking on them making a shit load of money due too them pricks in the banks it has fucked us over big time

  15. Stu

    Apparently Appiah has passed a medical for the spuds. Shame really. We could have done with him instead of having to play Denilsong.

  16. Pat

    The Sun was the first to report City rumor.

    I really doubt Arshavin will want to go to City. He’s a whiny bitch, and it seems he’ll get what he wants this time around. If not, he’ll just buy out his contract.

  17. Stu

    If its just down to us and city then Zenit will obvioudly want him going to city while he will want to come to us.

    He is near his best years so it would make no semse to move somewhere where he would be fighting relegation. At least if he joined us he would help us challenge for titles.


    i really don’t think he will be coming our way them city cunts have far too much funds available at there disposal

  19. Stu

    Not everything is about money. He will move for football reasons.

    City have too many attacking options, its defence they need to concentrate on because they shit goals like noones business. Sound familiar? At least we are near the top-ish.

  20. Stu

    Fair point i guess.

    I would still like to think he will decide based on footballing terms not money.

    At the start of the window i said we wouldnt buy anyone and unfortunately thats the way it appears to be. If wenger really wanted him that badly we would have him by now. 10m is fuck all nowdays. We need to offer at least 15m to even stand a chance.

  21. Paulinho

    Keyser – I still think they played very good football in that first half. They passed through United’s midfield very easily with the extra man in the middle and on a very boggy pitch. Ballack, Lampard were imposing figures and although alot of the execution didn’t come off – United’s back four was great – I could see that they were only a relative whisker away from striking. Joe Cole’s off the ball runs were also very clever.

    Ferguson himself alluded to that period after the match, talking about the good possession and the importance of their back four being totally switched on. Because they lost 3-0 and capitualated pretty badly after the second goal, doesn’t take away from the impressive nature of their passing moves.

    I thought the game was quite similar to our defeat at Old Trafford in 2006/2007 when we lost 2-0. Hleb, Rosicky, and Fabregas played some great football in the first half but it was all rendered ineffective and reduntant because we didn’t create much and lost. However we used that exact same template some five to six months later and beat them 1-0 at Old Trafford with just bit more solidness and resilence and of course, luck.

    Play that game again with a fit Drogba and a bit more final third clarity from Chelsea and they win that game and get that first goal and become the calm ones not chasing a score, making United look rushed and ragged.

  22. David

    what the hell is going on at Arsenal…we are bidding for a striking player when we really need defensive beasts……What a miserable first half of the season.

  23. Stu

    Dont worry David, doesnt look like we will get an attacker now that we have stopped bidding for Arshavin. And anyway there are no defenders that would do much more than what we already have. All we need is good organisation and team work. Neiother of which we have atm partly down to not having a defensive coach.

  24. Stu

    Guys, look on the bright side. We have won 3 whole games on the spin and havent lost in 7. We are sure to win the treble on that amazing form.

    And we dont need any new signings. Theo will be back in February, Rosicky in March and Fabregas in April. They will be like brand new signings. Not to mention Eboue the passmaster and Song the extraordinary talent. Guarenteed Champions!!

  25. Keyser

    Paulinho – That wasn’t a boggy pitch, a boggy pitch is what we had when we lost 4-0, that was almost immaculate by Old Trafford standards. They took too long passing through United’s midfield, that’s the point, even us at the Emirates moved quicker and provided more of an attacking threat,

    There wasn’t much made of Fergie’s remarks about Chelsea’s aging players but playing top teams away from home it tells, in Lampard, Deco and Ballack, even Mikel to an extent you’ve got good players on the ball who if allowed the space and time can still produce, but there’s no pace there at all.

    If you’re going to go with almost no width and no-one quick enough on the ball to stretch the play you need to be defensively sound, so you contrict United attacks and can structure your own.

    As soon as someone scores against them they don’t have enough in the team to be aboe to change tact, Mikel looked like Song out there being pulled in both directions without being able to cover either, this mean’t the others had to track back and cover.

    Essien is missed in that respect, he provided enough energy and mobility to allow Ballack and Lampard to push forward without being scared of a United counter attack. I doubt Scholari would have gone with both Ballack and Lampard either.

    I remember the game we won 1-0 at Old Trafford it was a passing masterclass but then the United team differes from that point they’ve got more of an attacking threat now and with Scholes back then we just passed around him because he was too slow to cover the midfield.

    I don’t get your point about the 2-0 loss ? Do you mean a few months earlier at the end of the 05-06 season, we played two up front that game with Pires, Gilberto, Fabregas and Hleb in midfield, we used Rosicky and Ljungberg minus Pires and Van Persie for the 1-0 win.

    Look around the Chelsea team who do you turn to ? Scholari regularly brings on Anelka switching to a 4-4-2 it may work against the Wigans but United at home, you need someone with that extra verve, Kalou ? Malouda ? Good players but nothing about them is exceptional, all the Chelsea fans I know expect several players to be offloaded come the summer.

  26. graham

    So funny, I read blogs and match ratings and everyone has different ideas as to why our team is struggling… more balls into the box, less balls into the box, lack match winners, we need a natural winger, play nasri in the middle, theo as striker, 433, 451,411, new goalkeeper, new coach, on and on…… post modernism at it’s best. over analytical.

    Patience everyone. All you guys are is an arm chair coach. You’re not going to bring us better results by being over critical after every little petty error. You are doing no one good except blowing your top off and carrying out your anger on your keyboard.

    Stand behind the team, be the 12th man on the field, encourage and nuture instead of booing off our team for keeping a clean sheet at halftime and booing young, naive player like Bendtner when he is off form. Pitty me, I don’t expect our 4th choice striker who is 20 years old to be carrying a young and inexperienced team. There are only so many Messi and Cesc in the world that peak at such a young age.

  27. Geoff

    Graham, that’s the whole point of this blog, if we didn’t have opinions, we may as well not have a blog. Welcome to our world.

  28. PDT

    Graham, no one condones booing. But we are also fans and have a right to express our opinion off the field. Thats what being a free society is all about.

  29. PDT

    “It looks like we have a certain type of player right through,” Redknapp said. “The bench have plenty of flair but we are in a relegation scrap and we need men, we need characters to get out of it. We have some but not enough and that is the problem. You would put your life on Ledley King, you would put your life on Jonathan Woodgate or Michael Dawson . . . we have some.” And then his voice, like his team’s performance, trailed off”


  30. Geoff

    They’re in the same position now as they were when the back hand taking bulldog took that shower of shit on, ha, fucking ha!

  31. ethangunner

    yes we are armchair managers who know we need to mix things up because currently and for the past 3 years it isnt working !

    patients everyone ?
    i aint a doctor so to fuck with patients !

    i want action ..
    thats football !

  32. RasDef

    You guys and gals should check out Gourcuff’s goal against PSG last night, some real great football was played!!!

  33. RasDef

    True, but like everyone knows ManU always have a good second half of the season, there is a possibility for them to loose points, i think mainly in high profil matches like Everton, Liverpool and ManC, what I’m really hoping is that Newcastle can pull a performance against them next week!

  34. iceman

    Considering the weekends results…………being very optimistic but I still feel with the right additions this month we are still very much in the mix……All the teams above us are beatable……… The fat lady hasn’t sung yet.

  35. ethangunner

    well i gotta say man U as ever is in a good position .
    its no fluke … but ………
    i suppose the arsenal 1 – eyes will continue to say its only luck ..

    but id rather be inside the top for with 2 or 3 games in hand ..
    than be US !

    until we get enough players to compete with them , we will always remain the whipping boy of the top 4 !
    and i cannot even see anyone close to grabbing a shovel to dig us out of this hole we got ourselves into !

    the board would rather state C.L football isnt important to arsenal !
    wonder why they would make such a statement like that EH ?

  36. ethangunner

    Sorry but being optimistic is only deluding yourself !
    i saw this bollocks coming pre – season ..
    and we are on track to have precisely the season we signed up for !

    another shit 1 !

  37. ethangunner

    even if we sign LEGENDARY NAMES this window they still might not adapt or as usually with our top players get injured long term ..

    not withstanding that arsene will only probably sign 1 name + a youngster .
    unless someone puts something in the water , this season is over already ..

    salvaging 4th spot and a run in the FA cup is the only glimmer of light that can been seen !

  38. RasDef

    I dont see why Wenger doesnt like signing players during the winter transfer period, it you look at Fergies signings he got Ferdinand and Evra during the January period and these players are now essential to him.

  39. iceman

    If we can beat the teams above us (who we still have to play) and match their results upto about 10 games to go…..I say we have as much of a chance as they do…..We’re young/inexperienced all that…yes….but when we turn it on…..we do turn it on
    (see Chelsea/United games)………… Luck or no luck (see offside goals/Shrek being wasteful) etc…..

    I know I haven’t given up yet….Stranger things have happened……..I bet you Liverpool will fall at the last hurdle even if they are leading at the time………..wishful thinking if you like…… 🙂