We AZ it in the bag ( < – Sorry) / Arsene, I have a gripe. Match Review and ratings

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Confidence breeds confidence. It’s as simple as that really. Arsenal kicked off their mini revival against Liverpool, continued it by spanking our pathetic neighbours down the road and tonight, we continued our march with a resounding win over a team in shop window mode.

Arsenal Starting 11

Spanish Waiter
The Verminator
Big Willy

For me, the only surprise was to see Eboue in there. Why I was surprised, I don’t know… he’s like athletes foot, just as you think you’ve rid yourself… there it is, flaking up your sock again.

Many were calling for Diaby to be castigated to a far away Island, indeed, many people I was sharing a viewing spot with. My thoughts were if he were to be dropped, he might not come back from it. I almost feel like Diaby needs to be played until he comes good or is replaced by one of the fit again established players.

Dropping him at this stage would be harsh. Like dumping a girl after she’s dropped 4 dress sizes for you. We’ve come so far… if I’m prepared to do it for Song, I”ll be damned if I’m not prepared to stick to my guns with Diaby.


So, the game kicked off and within 2minutes, Diaby had fluffed a pass and Eboue had gone on one of his classic runs that end in him falling over.

Give me a red shirt, a Β£30k a week contract and a ball and I can do that for you all day long Arsene… I can even throw in a dive for good measure, and I promise I’ll keep the same sordid secret Eboue keeps for you.

For Diaby though, things began to look up. His passing was measured, he tracked back to make a few important interceptions and he looked stronger/more balanced than he had in the last few games.

Our first chance came when the ref blew up for a back pass. A bit of a weird decision, but what the heck! Robin blasted it into the legs of the static wall. The way AZ were playing, you felt that wouldn’t be the last chance of the game.

Why I made the last comment is a bit beyond me, we could have been playing Chelsea and it wouldn’t have been the last chance of the game… I digress.

After watching the partnership between Eboue and Songs invisible friend develop with a few excellent balls, the time arrived.

Gallas found himself in nose bleed territory, he played it safe and laid it off to Cesc, who jinked inside his man, held off the challenge then slid the ball tamely but accurately past the keeper at the near post. He walked away and politely said, ‘fuck you’ to the AZ full back.

It didn’t take long for the second one to arrive. Arshavin picked up the ball centrally, laid the ball into Nasri who cleverly wrong footed his man with stylish jink of the shoulder, powered past two defenders and buried his shot low and hard past the Argentinian Mick Hucknell. Nasri ran off towards the crowd, presumably his celebration was him metaphorically dusting off the cobwebs of the last few months. Super goal, artistic celebration.

Half time came and Tony Adams was enlightening us with his wisdom. He said something that upset me though.

‘I applauded Arsene on his new 4-3-3, he corrected me though, he said he was playing a 4-1-4-1.’

For gods sake Arsene, it’s 4-4-2, 3-5-1, 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3… don’t start over complicating things and geeking it up, stick with tradition.

The second half kicked off and the fans were hoping for more goals and the Arsenal didn’t disappoint. Arshavin picked the ball up again, ran with it and perfectly timed his through ball to Cesc. He looked up and instead of bending it into the far corner in a ‘Thierry Pires’ kind of way, he hit it into the top corner near side. A masterful goal from the ridiculously productive Spaniard. No ‘fuck you very much’ this time, just a big thumbs up to the fans.

Gibbs who was playing well went close with a driven shot that just went wide.

Eduardo who had replaced Robin earlier on started the move for the 4th with a delightful back heel to Arshavin. The Russian ran forward, cut back and played Diaby in, the Frenchman took a touch and fired it back past the hairy Argentinian for his first goal of the night.

Superb, now all we needed was a clean sheet.

That would be too easy though.

In the dying minutes, Kieron Gibbs was out muscled on the half way line, Lens was played through, Eboue couldn’t get across quick enough to stop him getting a shot in that went into the bottom corner. Technically, Eboue did everything right… he didn’t dive in and he pushed his player out wide. Gibbs was guilty of naivety and Almunia was guilty of not being on his toes.

A bit of a disappointing end to the night, but who cares… we could be Liverpool or Barcelona!

Qualified and we barely broke sweat.

Player Ratings:

Almunia: Pulled of a particularly spectacular save from a powerful 8 yard half volley in the second half. He did well with some tough crosses, but I felt he let himself down with the goal. 6.5

Eboue: Please don’t tell me he played well tonight because I won’t hear it. He was garbage. I counted at least 7 stray passes and one ‘gallopandcrash’. Average right back, superb dressing room clown. 5

Gibbs: In the main he did pretty well. I thought he was caught out of position a few times and strength is clearly an issue. It’s early doors for him and he must learn quickly. 6

Gallas: Just the one assist and in the main, an impeccable game. It was his header that should have been a penalty, which could have prevented the last goal happening. I’m marking him down half a point for not getting the decision. 8

Vermaelen: Top game from everyone’s favourite Belgian. Hard in the challenge, exciting going forward and strong as an ox. 8

Song: Truly the invisible wall tonight. Did everything that was asked of him. A very professional performance. 7

Arshavin: Superb from our dynamic Russian. There seem to be a lot of fans out there keen to underplay how good he is and that is a shame. Trying to down play his brilliance to justify the poor performances of the weaker players is a very boring argument. You don’t drop Arshavin for the same reason we never dropped Bergkamp of Thierry… genius. 3 assists and very strong performance for my favourite person under 5ft7. 8.5

Cesc: Again, suffers the same fate as Arshavin… the reason people don’t jump on Cesc’s back is because even when he is playing badly, he’ll pop up with an assist or a goal. Tonight he was superb, pulling strings like grade 8 Cello player and scoring goals like he has a reputation for finishing. If Cesc continues this form, it would be hard to argue that he could be classed among the top 3 midfielders in the world. 9

Diaby: I said he should be dropped after the Spurs game, and at the time, I meant it. There was not excuse for that performance, but in the week I softened my view. He is adapting to a new position which I personally believe is affecting his strengths (Not in a kryptonite way…). There are no excuses for some of the idiotic things he does on the pitch, but tonight he looked much better. I’m a big believer in his ability to become a top player for us and tonight he demonstrated glimpses of what he can do for us. He made some key interceptions, held off some strong challenges and came out with the ball and scored a classy goal. I’m giving that half point I took off Gallas, to Diaby… kind of like a gold star for effort. 7.5

RvP: A good game from a player some are calling ‘Henkamp’. He stretched AZ with his clever runs and he went close on a number of occasions. My favourite aspect of Robin Van Persie’s persona is his undoubted passion for the cause… Mr Arsenal through and through. As a fan, I connect with him in the same way I connected with Theirry, Paddy and Freddie. It’s great having players like that on your side and it’s great they are playing well and receiving the deserved credit. Arsene believes he is amongst the top 5 strikers in the world, what do you think? 7.5

Nasri: A very good return to action from a player we’re all expecting big things from this year. His passing was good, his ability to create space for others was still there and his eye for goal was demonstrated to all. This year I will be mostly looking for him to show up in every game, to score more goals and to man up and stop taking time off for girly injuries. 8


A top performance from a team on fire. We need to learn to maintain a lead till the end. The rate we are going, it is going to start to become a mental block. You could once again see that we started to panic towards the end, that’s no good going into the 90th minute of a semi final 1-0 up.

Attacking wise we’re looking superb and it was great to see Rosicky, Nasri and Eduardo come through the game unscathed.

If I were a Wolves fan, I’d be worried… very worried.

Err, happy Bonfire night?!

See you in the comments!

729 Responses to “We AZ it in the bag ( < – Sorry) / Arsene, I have a gripe. Match Review and ratings”

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  1. ManGoonian

    He is intelligent, has great technique and is a very coachable player,’ said Haesaert, who is now Ajax’s chief scout in Belgium.

    ‘Honestly, with a player like Thomas you don’t know where his limits are. He jumps like a spring, he has a terrific long pass, anticipates well. It will be a hell of a job to find a player with his qualities at that age in Europe.’
    Nice one…

  2. ManGoonian

    Haesaert also praises Vermaelen’s character. ‘He does not seek publicity. Thomas is very self-critical. He is the type who does not get carried away when he is doing well. He will never be associated with nightlife, drugs or anything like that. He is too much of a pro.’
    Oh well, the no booze or drugs thing is a real shame, but I spose he cant have everything…

  3. Pedro

    I can’t find it Suga?

    Maybe g-mail is clogged up!

    Mang, shame he wasn’t saying that before the success when all the Dutch were scratching their heads…

  4. ManGoonian

    Maybe no one asked him then? Or maybe the hacks didnt wanna get any positive quotes as they had all decided he was shite, too small, etc…

  5. ethangunner


    For gods sake Arsene, it’s 4-4-2, 3-5-1, 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3… don’t start over complicating things and geeking it up, stick with tradition.
    with a winning result fresh on his mind from AZ do you think you will see an end to wenger’s formation selections any time soon ?

  6. gnarleygeorge9

    Apparently gm, he was on earlier. Even though he was about to savour that big day, he still was committed to coming on to Arsenal’s number 1 blog to talk Arsenal.

  7. Pat

    I’m trying to decide who is better. Santon or Gibbs.

    I think Santon, simply because how many players that age can shut down CR? There is something very classy about him. It was evident with a young Maldini and this kid might turn out to be a legend.

  8. ManGoonian


    I am soooo glad you have managed to settle that particuklar argument you were having with yourself there! Phew! I can sleep tonight now mate. πŸ˜‰

    Who is Santon then?

  9. ManGoonian

    Arsenal boss Wenger paid his in-form forward the ultimate compliment by insisting he would not swap van Persie for Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres or even Wayne Rooney.
    “Even Wayne Rooney”???

    Fuck me, these hacks dont half hype that wat up! he aint a patch on Torres, or even Drogba in his presnet run of form.

  10. reggie57

    The best football film was the firm with gary oldman and phil davis in it, that was the most realistic one,not like the recent remake by nick love!!

  11. Pat

    MG, you don’t know who Santon is? Fabulous LB, but I actually think he’s naturally a RB. He plays for Inter and when they played United, CR switched flanks in both games after getting no space against the young lad. He played LB in that game.

    Pity that he has Mourinho as his manager. Any other manager would play him as 1st choice

  12. A

    Not sure I’d say not a patch Mang – Torres and Drogba are much better goalscorers, but none of them are in the same league when it comes to their passing and vision, and if VP keeps up his current prolificness he’ll outscore them as well as having a better all round game….

  13. goonermichael

    rooney is the great white hope. God help England.

    I read in the standard on the way home that valuev is friends with Arshavin. Little and large is an understatement

  14. Pat

    RVP leads the line much better than Torres and Rooney. Can’t really say whos better in leading the line between Drogba and RVP, as they use completely different techniques to lead it. RVP uses balance, vision, passing, trickery while Drogba uses sheer pace, power, strength and even trickery sometimes

  15. AA23

    Green street is total crap, one of the worst films ever. Made by a German bird though so its no surprise.
    I like “I.D” when it comes to the hooligan films, totally ludicrous but something about it I like.
    “The firm” is a Good one too.

  16. goonermichael

    is that phil from eadtenders? He’s in the hotel scene. I like the bloke who played yeti. He was in a great tv drama about a hitman

  17. ManGoonian

    Ross Kemps brothers in it yeah Reggie. And the Irish bloke who was in Corrienation st. With a right dodgy cockney accent.

  18. AA23

    Have a look at “rise of the footsoldier”, the hooligan stuff is the usual bollocks but its got some pretty good stuff on the Rettendon murders. Second half is actually a good film if you like the Essex boys books.

  19. ManGoonian


    You talk crazy!

    No! I was suggesting in a list of Torres, Drogba and Rooney, the scouse twat is 3rd. RvP is a class above all of em, obviously!

  20. goonermichael

    sadly no Gnarly. I stopped watching it when they left (and eddie yates). Mind you he’s good playing twiggy in royle family.

  21. AA23

    Rise of the footsodier is good but only if you are into the Essex boys stuff. it tells a lot of the story behind that, but in a “pinch of salt” way. Craig Fairbrass is blinding in it though.

  22. ManGoonian

    Gnarley george;

    Yeah, they are still there mate… In small urns on the mantle piece in Hilda Ogdens massage parlour…

  23. AA23

    I’m downloading “Awaydays” now. i’ll let you know what its like if anyone gives a fuck. I love hooligan films.

  24. AA23

    Goonermichael, i seem to remember someone telling me it was written by an ex copper who did infiltrate a “firm” but the stuff about him becoming a “top boy” and all that is just fiction. You could maybe argue that its loosely based on the truth.
    fuck knows though mate. Maybe it is true, I doubt it though.

  25. goonermichael

    I thought it was true for some reason. I just checked wiki and imdb but they don’t mention it so I must have imagined it. I’m off now I’m being kicked off the computer by my wife. See you all later

  26. gnarleygeorge9

    Royale Family, now theres a funny show πŸ˜† Spose Albert Tatlock would be in an urn as well, & ally Walker & ……..

  27. gnarleygeorge9

    That coronation Street was seen, by Australians, as a stereo type of the quint essential English folk. So while you lot were having a laugh about corks on hats & us being called Bruce & shiela, so have we been all these years πŸ˜†

    When me & my mates 1st went to England in 1981, we sat down to watch Coronation Street, coz it got banned down here years before coz it showed miserable living with no sunshine, anyway, when that music came on we were in tears of laughter, 7 eno with a mini fishing net on her head πŸ˜†

  28. ManGoonian


    Dont tell me, that piece from Goal is about Diaby? So, you take my advice and seek help for your obsession then fella> Naughty naughty…

  29. Jaguar

    The title should have been Diaby, shows why he is hated among the gooners,and is an aberration among the glorious gunners, with yet another fuck all display.

  30. A

    Hated by silly irrational Gooners Jaguar, don’t tar us all with your brush! The vast majority of Gooners do not “hate” Diaby, the vast majority of Gooners wouldn’t “hate” any player who pulls on the shirt having never done anything to wrong us!

  31. Jaguar

    I am compiling a youtube video, which details his misses, losing possession ,wonderful own goals and lazy displays.But youtube wont allow me to post a video which lasts for more than three hours.

  32. AA23

    I’m not a big Diaby fan but he was alright yesterday, better than that mug Fabregas anyway, why we persist with that spanish idiot is beyond me.

  33. Jaguar

    I am an irrational gooner,A.If that bastard, finds himself in the team ahead of a fully fit Rosicky and Nasri, I would simply be mad,irrational,illogical or whatever.

  34. Jaguar

    WTF?Diaby doesnt even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence along with Captain Fantastic.What else does Fab need to do to prove his loyalty,AA23?


  35. A

    Jaguar saying you “hate” a player who plays for the club you supposedly support, who’s never done anything to wrong you, is ridiculously irrational

  36. Jaguar

    I hate him because he undeservedly finds himself a space in a glorious team, ahead of other deserving players,and does fuck all to justify his inclusion,apart from two or three flashy touches,which would eventually end up in him losing possession.

  37. AA23

    Fabregas is shit, he’s only scored 8 this season.
    …I just wanted to feel what its like to be B.B.K, Jaguar or David for a second. Its fucking horrible.
    Diaby still has a long way to go to prove himself in my eyes but he’s definitely improved lately so fair play to him, hope he keeps it up.

  38. ManGoonian

    Yeah, the way he gifted possesion back to AZ last night….the fuckwit put the ball in their net allowing them to have the ball back!

  39. ManGoonian

    yep, AA23, I thought he didnt have much of a future, but he has come on and is doin well in a new role and is adding consistency to his game…

  40. Jaguar

    I am not on a wind up mission,guys.I have always had the same opinion about Diaby,and I do get a feel that my views will be vindicated some day.Even if he scores a hattrick ,I wouldnt change my opinion.

    I have always been sticking up for those so called ‘marmites’ like Eboue,Bendtner and Song, who have improved by a hell lot in the past few months.But Diaby,I dont have anymore to say.He has been on a downward spiral from bad to worse .

  41. Jaguar

    I mean those tap ins against shit teams at home.Even Jermaine Pennant, had a hattrick while playing for us.Does that make him Arsenal quality,A?

  42. A

    I actually really rated Pennant once upon a time Jaguar! Such a talented player as a youngster, he had a similar if not greater impact on games than Wilshere currently does, such a pity he wasted all his talent because of being a total bellend!

  43. ManGoonian

    Pennat blew his chances with us from off field shenanigans. It wasnt from a lack of talent Jaguar.

    He went all charlie big spuds, larging it and livin it up, drink driving snortin coke off page 3 stunners chests… You know, really top stuff like that…

  44. gnarleygeorge9

    Diaby’s problem is IMO between his ears. He seems to have something about him, but he is about as consistant as something that isn’t consistant πŸ˜‰ Anyway you get my gist.

  45. Jaguar

    I think Pennant and Bentley could have made it great for us,had they stayed with us,A.Those lads,thought that they were greater than the club and got doomed, in the end.

  46. A

    Yeah I agree Jaguar, Pennant much more than Bentley though imo, I’m not sure he ever would’ve been a regular first team starter for us, but would’ve been a very good squad player, and twice the player he’s become now.

    It’s just a case of young stupid English players having too much too early and it going totally to their heads. Didn’t Bentley make himself a website and fan club when he was a youth player?!

    Really worried the same could happen with any number of our current crop!

  47. Jaguar

    Well,let me put it straight

    I used to love Diaby, two years back.I still remember his sublime skill and pass to set up Theo’s goal against the Chavs.Since then he has never done justice to his so called potential,and has been on a downward spiral.Wenger is equally culpable for this, much to his stupid tinkering.

  48. A

    Ah ok Jaguar, your hatred makes a bit more sense then, love makes people crazy, if you loved him and he hurt you, I get the intensity of your emotion towards him….

  49. Jaguar

    I am not really worried about Wilshere,A.But I dont share the same about Walcott.Wishere to me has always been a level headed professional.But Walcott,hasnt really stepped up,considering his potentiual.

  50. A

    I’m the opposite Jaguar, Theo is always very level headed, he hasn’t fulfilled his potential yet but it’s got nothing to do with hit attitude, possibly a lack of confidence, the opposite problem that most young English players suffer from! Wilshere has become more of a hot head, luck not to have been sent off a couple of times for the reserves and U21s, though I’m confident(ish) that he’ll grow out of it, rather than let it harm his development, or become a total nobhead like Rooney, or it being an illustration of his personality off the pitch.

  51. Jaguar

    May be our views differ,A.I would rather have a Tony Adams, who would die for his club,be it by killing the opposition players.Wilshere to me,is one of the best things which has happened to English football after Wayne Rooney,and would surely be a legend if he does justice to his potential,on and off the pitch.

    I was not talking about the personal side,A.Walcott has always been professional off the pitch.But he hasnt had much of an improvement in the last two years.

  52. A

    I dunno Jaguar, there’s a difference between being someone who would die for their club like big Tone, and someone who’s a thuggish prick, does petulant kick outs, vicious attempts to injure other players etc, like Terry and Rooney

  53. ManGoonian

    Awww, so Diaby spurned your advances Jag and now you hate him….Makes sense now.

    But what is off field potential?

  54. ManGoonian

    Rooney gets away with murder. Yeah, we could do with a player who is allowed to maim opposition players by refs!

  55. Jaguar

    I didnt mean off-field potential, MG.Or simply whom would you like,a David Bentley or Steve Sidwell.

    That should clarify your doubts.

  56. gnarleygeorge9

    This via ESPN Soccernet

    Arsene Wenger has claimed Robin Van Persie is the deadliest striker in the Premier League and that he would not swap him for anyone else in world football.

    Robin van Persie has flourished under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger.

    Van Persie has hit eight goals this season and Arsenal boss Wenger maintains that his strikeforce is even better now than the forward line-up from the Invincibles season of 2003-04.

    “For me Robin is the best striker in the league at the moment, because he is a great link player, and that’s what I like first,” Wenger told the Daily Mirror. “We play a collective game so it’s very important that the target man in our team links well with our other players.

    “I wouldn’t swap him for anyone. He knows how we play, we play together for four or five years now with all the team and everybody knows the movement of each other.

    “He has adapted to our style and is suited to our style, like Drogba is suited to the Chelsea style. I have a huge respect for Drogba, he is a top class player, he is a fighter, he scores in the big games. In every single big game he scores. I know what kind of player he is.”

    Wenger also believes his wealth of options in attack makes his current attack even deadlier than the 2003-04 season when Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Jose Antonio Reyes and Freddie Ljungberg fired the Gunners to the title.

    Wenger said: “There is depth, we have options. We have never had so many creative players. When you think against AZ Alkmaar, Rosicky came on, Eduardo came on. But you have to remember that Walcott was not there, Vela was not there, Bendtner was not there. You have plenty of offensive options available.

    “Let’s say they (the Invincibles) have done it, we have it all to do. We have a good potential, I believe we have a fantastic technical level, we have a good spirit in the team and it is all good ingredients.

    “But let’s show that we can do it. At the moment we are behind Chelsea and we should be in front of all of them already. We dropped two points at West Ham we could have taken and we lost at Man United and I still wonder how today.”

    Meanwhile, Wenger has revealed Fran Merida has agreed a new deal at the club, but has yet to sign it.

  57. Pedro

    Grumble, it’s pretty embarrassing when you completely miss the point of Almunia being called the Spanish waiter, probably because you’re about 13 years old.

    Children eh?