Arsenal versus Boro’… hardly the highlight of the football calender. Middlesborough replaced Wimbledon as the team I least like to go and see Arsenal play each year. There is something extremely boring about them… I am sure I watched an interview with Steve Gibson once where he complained profusely that his club finished around mid table most years, yet still received the minimum coverage for games in the league.
Steve, that is because your teams over the seasons have mostly been very dull. Your star player, who attracted a bid of £15million from Spurs (Says it all) is the most over hyped player in Premiership history… I had to check the team sheet twice to make sure he was actually playing yesterday… apparently he was… and apparently he is very, very average. He has all the flair of Tony Adams… actually, that is probably unfair on Tony!
I hope when you reflect on your season you look at Gareth Southgate and realise what a horriffic mistake you made. I must be honest, I am looking at a piece of toast that is more inspirational. How do club Chairman interview these peple and think…
‘This is the guy to take my club to the next level and beyond!’
Anyway, enough moaning about poor recruitment decisions… onto the game.
It really was a timid affair. Arsenal went into the game knowing the outcome, the fans arrived at the stadium knowing the outcome… Boro’ knew they were beaten when they arrived on the team bus to see Gareth reading a football for dummies manual whilst clutching a pink comfort blanket.
We knocked the ball around casually, maybe a little to casually. We were sloppy at times… clearly with one eye on the Manchester United game in the week. We set up with a 4-5-1… the boss rested key players that would play in the week… Song was ousted for Denilson, Adebayor was benched for Bendtner and Arshavin was given a run out because he wont play in the week.
It took a while for us to find out stride, Arshavin sneaked the ball throught to Nik, he laid the ball superbly back into the path of the Russian who ran through into the box, cut back and passed the ball across the box to Cesc… who buried it past Jones. 1-0 it stayed until half time. (See here).
The second half was even more lack lustre from a Boro’ point of view. I can imagine Southgate had a teary breakdown in the changing rooms, perhaps hysterically telling his team that they were doomed… because Boro’ came out with an even more negative attitude to the game in the second half. Arsenal really took over the possession. Aliadiere went close when he waltzed through our defence, latched onto the long ball, but finished with all the precision he used to when he played for Arsenal.
Then came the killer blow… Emmanuel Eboue, the visionary, the legend… laid on an inch perfect pass through to Cesc who pretty much walked through the Boro’ defence, walked round the keeper and slotted the ball home with embarrassing ease. The ball rolled into the net in slow motion (See here)… Game over… Arsenal were done, Boro’ were finally out of my life forever… I could go home and start to get nervous about playing a real team.
Almunia: Made a tasty save from Aliadiere in the second half. His handling was good, his calmness appreciated. Good to have him back. 7
Gibbs: I really like young Kieron. He is powerful for one so young he is a good defender and he looks a bit special in the final third. All he has to do is maintain his concentration the whole way through the game. 7.5
Toure: Mopped up pretty easily today. I am still concerned that even a team as poor as the one on show today can fire a ball through the middle of the park and get through on goal. I guess we’ve just got to keep our fingers crossed in the week. 7
Silvestre: Better than he was against Liverpool, but then again… how could he not be playing against a striker as blunt as Aliadiere? 7
Eboue: Had a much tidier game than he did against the Chav’s. His favoured position is right back, but I still don’t really rate him there against top opposition, clearly that is why the coach bought Sagna. His set up for Cesc was sublime… a real top pass. 7
Nasri: Starting to find his position, starting to impose his style on the team… and starting to look dangerous. I am excited about Nasri and I’m hoping he’s going to develop into the player we all hope he will. 8
Arshavin: I love watching a player who wants the ball at his feet every minute of the game. He is world class. Today wasn’t his greatest game in the red and white of Arsenal… he hit an air shot, dragged a shot so wide, it hit the corner flag… he even misplaced a 5 yard pass… but the quality in his final ball is amazing. Another assist, another entertaining day out watching one of the best players in the world. 8.5
Theo: I keep being told that he is going to become the best player in the world, but I’m really struggling to see how at the moment? He doesn’t seem to have the tricks to go round people… ask yourself this… what would he be without pace? Hopefully we’ll see a Song like development from our young winger… hopefully. 6.5
Cesc: I’m still not sure about playing him in the hole. I know he scored 2 goals, but I always feel he plays better in that deep lying role, picking out passes. He is great player though, so he will develop into whatever role he is asked to fulfill… and his two goals were great. It just doesn’t look like he is enjoying himself there. 8
Denilson: I could write the same thing about Denilson every time. He is tidy, compact and carbon efficient. He doesn’t waste many balls, but he rarely does anything exciting with them either. That is why when he makes a bad pass it’s highlighted… because he is so cautious in his play, you feel he shouldn’t make any bad passes. I didn’t think he had a good game today, but he didn’t have a bad one… the epitome of average. That’s not a complaint, I just can’t think of a better way to describe him? 7
Bendtner: I wasn’t really impressed with him. It’s his nonchalant attitude and his sloppy play that grates me. He set up the move for the first goal, but other than that, I thought he was very poor. He perked up a bit on the second half… but he needs to do better and he does need to start finding the back of the net more often. 6
So… next up Manchester United… whose excited?
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