Robin takes Arsenal record as Chelsea, Spurs and United give 2012 a gloatastic start!

by & filed under Match report.

Did you wake up with one of these in your pocket?

Some games are about the performance, others are about the points… others are about the points and what everyone else does around you. Yesterday, the final day of 2011, was about the latter. Arsenal took 3 points in a nervy encounter over a very solid QPR side, whilst almost everyone around them faltered.

Spurs drew with Swansea after taking an incredibly lucky lead. Chelsea dropped 3 points against Aston Villa after going in front and finally, Manchester United kept Steve ‘The best manager in Scotland’ Kean in a job for another month with a stunning victory against United at Old Trafford. I was doubly pleased after watching De Gea fluff his lines again, conceding a shoddy goal from a cross.

As good as Chesney? In your dreams United fans…

The big talking point before the game was the inclusion of Andrey Arshavin in the starting line up. Could he shake off the worst run of form we’ve seen from a top class player in an Arsenal shirt, or would he melt into the background and prove he’s no longer good enough for a place at Arsenal. Other than that, the team was pretty strong.

QPR started more solidly than Arsenal. Traore nearly found himself clear in the box, thankfully Mertesacker read the pass well and intercepted. Moments later, Wright-Phillips danced free of the German, an alert Chesney was on hand to deny his shot with a great block.

The game ambled along in a bit of a midfield game of chess. Arsenal were playing the patient game trying to pick out Robin whenever they could. Ramsey created the first half chance launching a superb cross to Koscielny, the Frenchman couldn’t jump high enough to turn the ball goalwards. Song found Robin shortly afterwards with a looped chip, the Dutchman brought the ball down with a deft touch and managed to trick his way into the box past Connolly, his shot with the outside of his boot was equalled by Cerny with a smart save.

The refereeing debacle started after Tarrabt slammed Andrey to the floor with a blocked elbow to the face. A clear straight red, shockingly none of the official picked up on the foul.

Rambo fired another solid cross into the box, this time Robin managed to manoeuvre his body to land a header, a shame it went just wide! The Dutchman was running the show up front, JD of all people played him in for his next chance with a quick pass across the box, Robin jinked inside his marker but his flick over the keeper was high and wide. Theo also went close after another Ramsey cross was flashed across the box, the Englishman didn’t show much conviction when going for it and his eventual shot was dragged horrendously wide. Apparently he hasn’t scored a league goal at home for a year?

It looked like Robin was played through again by Mertesacker from the back, his half volley with his right foot was blazed just over the bar. Was anything going to drop for him? If it was, one of Theo or Arshavin were going to have to pull their finger out. Anonymous performances should not have been on the agenda from those two.

The officials had another chance to balls up the game when they watched Luke Young make a superb diving save to keep out Koscielny’s shot. A blatant handball with no excuse. A few minutes later, the Frenchman hacked a QPR player down out wide, the ref rightly played the advantage but wrongly booked Vermaelen for the offence when the ball went out of play. What a plank.

The last good chance of the game came from Ramsey when he half volleyed a loose ball on the edge of the box, Joey Barton did well to stand his ground and clear off the line.

The players went into half time with their heads down. Robin was showing us up as a one man team. Others needed to start taking some responsibility and showing their quality.

When the second half opened, it was QPR who came out the traps looking like the team chasing a top four place. Two offside decisions early on prevented them from creating a couple of good chances. I only mention those events because I was shocked the lino knew what his flag was for! They did actually cause a bit of bother when a rogue cross caused confusion between Koscielny and Chesney, the keeper palmed the ball out to the edge of the box, and managed to gather the return shot.

Things took a turn for the worse when Vermaelen started hobbling. His 50 straight games that were promised by Arsene were in tatters and Coquelin had to fill in at left back. A nervy introduction, especially as QPR were taking the game to us.

We nearly took the lead when Ramsey played Theo in on goal with a superb early pass, Theo had all the time in the world, but predictably pulled his shot wide of the near post. A shocking finish from someone who constantly whinges about not getting a chance as a central striker.

Thankfully we do have a player who knows where the goal is. His name is Robin. We also had a player raised on Arsenal in SWP playing for QPR. He saw Arsenal were struggling so passed back to Andrey under no pressure. The Russian took advantage and bounded forward, he slipped Robin in perfectly and the Dutchman made no mistake with his finish it, powering the ball low into the bottom corner.

Robin broke Thierry’s record and the crowd came alive. We were a one man team, but what a man our one man is!

The game wasn’t won though, Taarabt finally woke up and started pulling some nuisance strings. He launched a speculative shot at goal, Chesney did really well to keep out the ball that bounced awkwardly in front of him. The Moroccan nearly won a penalty when he dived cunningly inside the box when it looked like he’d broken free of Coquelin. Good refereeing for once.

Down the other end. Alex Song played an awkward ball into Robin, he somehow managed to control it and cut the ball back to Gervinho who did his usual and turned a simple tap in, into a horrendous 6 yard miss.

Arteta made everyone smile when his poor freekick came good, smashing Joey Barton from ten yards. Coquelin was doing very well under pressure. QPR were targeting him as you would if a novice defensive midfielder was playing left back… thankfully he’s a quality novice.

Our attacking disasters weren’t over. I couldn’t work out if the team were desperate for Robin to take the Shearer record, or we are so dependent on his goals, the only player we see when we move forward is him. It reminded me of the team under George Graham with Ian Wright as our sole outlet. Gervinho found himself in space again, but his effort on goal was abysmal. Part of me was wondering whether a holiday to Africa would do him some good… I know, a naughty thought, but he really does look a mess in front of goal lately.

We used our experience to see out the game… it’s never nice watching teams time waste in the corner, but I’m not too snobby about that anymore. We’ve given away so many games in the last ten minutes… it was nice to see the players actually using their brains for once. The ref blew up for full-time and we took the three points. Ugly, but effective. Like Lionel Messi… or Susan Boyle.


You can’t batter every team and we certainly didn’t do that to QPR. However, you can accept that a win is a win. When Chelsea, United and Spurs drop points against inferior opposition, you have to hold you hands up and be thankful to the footballing gods. We created 16 chances and had far more off target than on. Still, we are creating chances. When Thierry comes into the side, I’m hoping we’ll convert more. Our major problem at the moment is the over dependence on Robin. Fine if he’s the indestructible Thierry in his prime, not so great when you know there’s an injury around the corner.

Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin looked very mediocre today. The Russian at least managed an assist, but outside that, he was quiet compared to the sparkler of a player he used to be. Theo was totally shown up by one of the worst left backs I’ve seen at Arsenal. Really shambolic when you’re supposed to be England’s major hope next year. Gervinho also disappointed. I really like him as a player, but his finishing seems to be regressing.

In midfield, I was really pleased with Aaron Ramsey. People complain about him because his attacking passing isn’t always up to Cesc standards… they forget he isn’t a Cesc type of midfielder. He creates and he goes direct. He was a menace today, but he really needs to be paired with a creator. Wenger needs someone outside Jack he can call upon in midfield. Arteta isn’t really that man and nor is Song most of the time. The team needs creativity and it needs it soon.

Our other major problem is in defence. Losing Vermaelen is a bit of a worry. Even if it’s only a niggle, those niggles tend to turn into full blown injuries, especially when you’re coming back from a long lay off. We need to bolster defence because Coquelin at left back isn’t a good idea.

Our next game is against Fulham, which doesn’t gives us much resting space. I do expect Wenger to address these issues. I’ve been told first hand a small squad with injuries leads to more injuries. Wenger will know that, let’s hope he doesn’t decide to wing it again… because that rarely works out long term.

That’s my first post of the year, welcome to 2012, enjoy your hangover and make sure your New Years resolution is talking more Arsenal in the Le Grove comments section!

Have a great day, and a fantastic New Year.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’LeGrove’ show_count=’yes’]

Pedro & Geoff

594 Responses to “Robin takes Arsenal record as Chelsea, Spurs and United give 2012 a gloatastic start!”

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  1. incesc

    watched moneyball today

    if kroenke thinks billy beane is great, we are fucked, the guy was/is a loser.

    can see the similarities with wenger though. trying to mould a team of freaks and injured players with good stats into a team

  2. Bade


    After a massive win in the family homegrown poker masters tournament (where, by the way, 4th is not a trophy), I can gladly tell you Flappy is a home grown and Diaby too

  3. kwik fit

    bade if that’s the case then we can’t even take Henry. Someone need’s to tell wenger before he make’s a complete fool of himself…or maybe not….

  4. albo

    One of the things that makes me laugh about football fans/pundits is that EVERY season results like this weekend happen – top teams getting beaten by teams at the bottom of the table, beaten by teams that have way less quality etc etc. And yet, on here (for example) every week there will be people acting as if any team in the bottom half is an easy game.

    Likewise, EVERY season the team at the top drops unexpected points, and EVERY season there are twists and turns in the title race, and yet EVERY season around this time pundits are writing teams off that will be back in the race in a month.

    Its moronic, and people never learn. I’m sure tomorrow people on here will be moaning during the game that we ought to thrash Fulham when in fact it will be a very, very tough game. A London derby against a well organised team with us depleted from injury. But it won’t stop people on here ignoring the facts and moaning that we’re not 3-0 up at half time!

  5. Bade

    Bad news for Arsene if we may be forced to wave Diaby’s contract (as for his footballing services we already did), however word on the street suggests the medical staff are reluctant to let go him, as 3 of the staff were brought to take care of the special Diaby wing on the new medical facility. Also the maintenance employees are itchy about their future at the club

    If we’re selling Diaby, half of the new medical centre will be directed to offering private medics to the public in order to insure employment to the whole staf

    Hence now way Diaby will be released, too many mouths to feed reliant on his fitness, or the non existence of it

  6. incesc

    anyway the point for me is, if we are going to buy podolski im sure they know how to fit him in

    we have loads of players on the fringe that can be swapped for a bonafide first team goalscorer.

    almoonia, rosicky, chamakh, diaby, park, squid, fabianski and kocielny

  7. Bade

    In fact having Flappy and Almunia in the squad is a total waste of space and squad membership. So at least one will be out (loaned probably)

  8. kapslock

    Evening lads. Brilliant start to 2012. All top teams dropping points apart from us. When does that ever happen?

    Tyler’s commentary was epic for that Sunderland goal. Great stuff.

  9. incesc


    i’ll hold my hands up and say im glad i was wrong about kocielny

    he has turned round his awful first season, and is indispensible at the moment

  10. Bade

    And Flappy came at the age of 22, so in a couple of months he’ll turn 27, which is amazing, as he’s so shite while he should be at his prime…….

    Blimey I was confident he;s no more than 24!

  11. Ricky


    That’s bollocks! I don’t think anyone expects fulham away to be a walk in the park..

    Especially after what happend in the reverse fixture.

  12. Bade

    We’re totally fucked unless that forces Arsene to offload few of the dross

    I’d say one definite is Almunia or Flappy
    Then Rosa or AA23
    Then Squillaci, anyway he’s not playing any significant game. He should be more honorable than and let go his chair (squad number)

  13. Bade

    Kwik, Lurch

    Basically we can shift the surplus to the reserves to make space for new commers, Squirll featuring there more than in the first team anyway

  14. Lurch LeRouge

    yeah thats the equivalent of de registering Bade, may as well sell or give them away to clear the books.

  15. kwik fit

    One day into the new transfer window and our enthusiasm regarding potential incoming’s has already hit the wall 🙁

  16. Lurch LeRouge

    not really Kwik, its just brought other dimensions into play, we’d all love the dross to get shifted on and the regulations suggest this is likely to happen.

    Like I said £13.5M for Poldi sounds like a players going the other way, equally the regulations reduce us to another couple of U21 targets.

    The prospect the regulations likely kill is the one for Gourcuff.

  17. kwik fit

    Yeh bade he has collected some dross on that list of 17. I hope he’s proud of himself. At least 7 of them are average/crap and probably on big wages as well.

  18. Bade

    I agree Lurch, but again it’s on the nutty’s hands, it’s doable in case he fancy’s it

    Rosa pulled some strong interests from Hamburg or some other German side, so it doesn’t have to be going the other way to the same club. To any other club, but the other way, is still good enough for us

  19. incesc

    so under these rules, could you have a squad of 400 under 21s from japan, but you’d meet the homegrown criteria?

  20. kwik fit

    Other dimensions do come into play lurch. In a short window however movement in and out becomes much more difficult. Plus we don’t have a great team of negotiators to push throw deals in a rapid manner.

  21. Bade

    Incesc, Chamakh is a case for the summer

    No crazy manager would sign him when he’s on a two months spell to the ACN

    The only one crazy enough to do so is already managing him…..

  22. albo

    Ricky – haha you say that mate, but we’ll see what the comments are like during the game shall we?

    incesc – I’d go so far as to say Kozzer is one of the best 4 or 5 CBs in the EPL (particularly as he is a very decent RB too!). Definitely didn’t think I’d be saying that after his first few months!

  23. Bade

    Incesc, yes indeed

    Look at Kiwk’s link @ 22:36. you’ll find out we have 52 registered footballers in our squad, with 30 of them (including SZCZ and Jack) are amongst “the uncounted under 21’s”

  24. kwik fit

    Deregistration is the only viable option. Do a ‘Bridge’ on them the overpaid underperforming son’s of a gun’s.

  25. Bade

    Well Kwik, it’s a matter of will more than anything else

    That was blatantly shown when we signed 5 players, for of them are already very useful to us, in a space of 48 hours

    Two of them, by the way (Arteta and Yossi) were signed without a even having medical*

    *(Hearing Arsene denying those were panic buys really makes me blast out of laughter…. As Arsene tend to sign crocked players with no medical, as part of his “planned moves”

  26. incesc

    so its more a directive at having young players then homegrown

    why not just say you have to have 10 british players in the squad of any age.

    whats the point in chesney being “homegrown” when he plays for poland?

    and why is wilshere not in the homegrown list when he is a ful england international?

  27. Thomas, It's up for grabs now

    Evening Grovers! Being working so unable to get involved the last days…

    Just on this squad thing.. the squad must not be made up of 8 home grown…. but can consist of up to 8.. Hence we only had 5 so registered only 5..

    The 17 Non home grown is the limit. This is where the movement will be..

    Only 22 were registered because we only had 5 home grown and 17 non… The U21’s don’t need to be registered. Arsene can actually choose from over 50 players in the PL as we have so many under 21’s on the books, and don’t forget this includes the Szczesny’s, Jack W, etc..

  28. Lurch LeRouge

    we’re already subsidising wages with Denilson & Bendtner according to Pedro and DDM so there’s a track record.

  29. Bade

    I think Pedro and Geoff should address this issue in the coming days, maybe in tomorrow’s post, or in the coming few days

    I remember SurferX posting a guest post about it in the summer

  30. albo

    Re squad numbers. Can Henry essentially take the place of Chamakh/Gervinho while they’re away? How does it work with players away at the ACN?

  31. Bade

    Arsene is an LG junky so he must know it by now

    Hi Arsene!

    We know you’r permanent oh here

    Nothing personal eh mate! I even like the English in French accent …

  32. incesc

    i really dont get it.

    you can have a squad of 17 foriegn players, 8 foriegn kids and no home growns

    or 50 foriegn kids and no home growns and fulfil all the regulations??

  33. Lurch LeRouge


    look if some of my ATVO and SKY subscription ends up buying a bullet that downs a north korean over the DMZ I’m pretty comfortable with that.

  34. Thomas, It's up for grabs now

    Just been reading back now Lurch! 🙂 Just caught up!

    It’s quite a science… He must also factor in all those who will be over 21 at each registration period and whether they will be home grown on non.. so if he bought a player at say 19 and a half he will be non home grown after 21….

    This would require some extensive analysis of all those U21’s to see where they will end up..

    One thing for sure that list of 17 will need pruning!

  35. Bade


    Look at it the other way

    You can have as many as 17 squad members who are over 21, and never played more than 3 full seasons between the ages of 16 and 21 in a Capital British registered football team


  36. Bade

    No Albo

    You can’t change the squad list between the transfer windows

    You have to submit you list when the windows shut, and you’r basically stuck with it until the next window

  37. Lurch LeRouge


    squad of 25 maximum of players over 21.

    17 foreigners max
    8 Homegrown

    and limitless U21’s of any nationality.

    we currently have 30 players listed in the first team.

  38. incesc

    i guess my point is bade

    you can have a squad with no british players at all, and fulfill the homegrown quota.

    but essentially, you have to have a turnover of players to keep all but 17 of them under 21.

  39. albo

    One of the biggest issues for us has been the point Thomas just made. A couple of seasons ago we were WELL within the limit because we had so many young players. Suddenly guys like Theo being past 21 take up a squad place etc. Takes some planning, and explains why Arsene was so opposed to it despite it not seeming to affect us at all at the time…

  40. Bade

    Incesc homegrown regulations have nothing to do with British or non British players

    It has though to do with the British teams.

    You have to play in a British team 3 full seasons between 16 and 21 to be considered “homegrown”. But you can be born wherever ….

  41. incesc

    yeah but surely it was brought in to improve english footballers and their chances in the top flight?

    its all a load of crap really, i doubt it will last.

  42. Bade

    So basically you can fulfill the “homegrown” rule without having even one single British bloke in your squad

  43. Thomas, It's up for grabs now

    Spot on Albo.

    He must assess the entire squad as it will be at the end of each window and see who fits into which category… It’s no point really having 10 home grown 20 year olds who qualify as U-21’s but the next window will be competing for those 8 spots of which we already have 5 filled.

  44. Lurch LeRouge

    yeah HG is a protectionist policy, but it works because the Home office only allows certain quality through, FIFA has to recommend them etc… so british kids still have an edge.

  45. Bade

    One more thing Thomas,

    Your have to take in consideration where do you loan your young players

    Take Le Coq of instance

    He had a season loan in Lorient so it doesn’t count for those 3 season required before 21. I reckon this is why he’s played in the team now, to reach his seniority as “homegrown”

  46. Lurch LeRouge


    That is precisely why Theo is in a precarious position asking for £85K, he needs to start delivering very quickly if he has any hope of securing a deal like that.

  47. incesc

    but what about in 10 years when you have all these 25-30 year old footballers trained up in england that cant find employment because of the same rules?

  48. Radio Raheem

    Anyone watching the beeb atm? jeez so called ‘men’ dancing and singing to Adele…that should be a treasonable offence

  49. Lurch LeRouge


    thats the biggest complaint of protectionist markets, essentially those players need to learn new languages and start travelling – like the rest of us do!

  50. Bade


    You can have more than 8 “homegrown” if you wish so, the limitation only abridges the number of over 21 and non homegrown players

    So if we have 10 under 21 who all “homegrown” and turn 22 the next window, they don’t have to fight the 8 homegrown spots, it will be only a blessing

  51. incesc


    what if arsenal decided they wanted messi, ronaldo and eboue tomorrow.

    those 3 players would hugely benefit the premier league’s revenues, ticket sales, advertising…

    but the rules forbid it.

  52. Thomas, It's up for grabs now

    Bade,.. I’m not sure about that.. a loan player is still affiliated to his parent club right? and this is the stipulation.. affiliated for 3 years..

    Lurch.. right on… I didn’t realise this whole squad managment thing was such a science until I looked at it.. I did jot down all the ages and do some predictions one day but those notes are in the office now a few thousand miles away!

    Jenks also.. He is Feb 92 so he won’t make the homegrown grade when he hits 21.

  53. incesc

    and i could go on..

    arsenal represent english football in europe, we go on long cup runs and play a lot more games than lower placed teams like say liverpool.

    why restrict our squad the same way as theirs?

  54. Thomas, It's up for grabs now

    Yes you’re correct there Bade.. The core rule is the number of non home grown.. This is a max 17.. so if you go 10 home-grown then this can only be 15. (not including any U-21’s of course)

    But this is the very list that is always going to be under the most pressure.. Any time someone is bought (over 21) they go on the non-homegrown list.. And if you bring a large bunch of home-grown over the 21 line at the same time it’s going to play havoc with the non-homegrown list!

  55. Bade

    Well Thomas,

    I thought it was about being registered as an active player, so a loan cuts you out

    I didn’t check it but it’s the logic of the law, otherwise English club can make circular deals in order to validate them as “homegrown players” and this way you miss the whole object of the rule

    But it worth a deeper check indeed

  56. Bade

    Basically Thomas this rule will raise the already high price tags on British footballers, regardless of their true value

  57. Lurch LeRouge

    Its funny how the club spin this whole side of the decision making process.

    A few weeks ago Ivan spoke about AW’s long term future and framed his commitment when he said they were discussing the squad 3-4 years down the track.

    The reality is all managers need to rationalise their squads with a 3-4 year window of foresight to make the finances work, so AW isn’t special in this.

    Ivan wasn’t lying, but what he said doesn’t actually have any significance to AW’s commitment because its a mandatory exercise.

  58. Bade

    I was planning to have a nice and easy day tomorrow so I would have the time to inspect further on this “homegrown” issue, but I have to attend some funeral so that narrows my free time massively

    But someone should dig it out

  59. Bade


    It’s Bollocks regarding Eboue

    He doesn’t have to change his age to 19, he’s only 20 years old now. It’s written in his new shiny passport!

    What a ridiculous accusation that is

  60. incesc


    but 3/4 years ago they probably projected the team would be made up of nasri, denilson, bender, diaby, fabianski and so on.

  61. Bade

    Any of you saw Eboue play in the Turkish league?

    Do you think he’s still having those odd warm ups and bizarre training while waiting to be introduced into a game?

  62. Lurch LeRouge

    not its dreadful, there’s nothing ‘epic’ about it.

    That photographer knows nothing about male portraiture, like not even the first rule of key lighting.

    I don’t know where they find these guys but they aren’t inspired to make the players look heroic in the least, there’s massive room for improvement on a marketing level right there.

  63. incesc

    i know the henry picture is shit, but sometimes i like arsenals low key approach to signings

    arshavin just said “I am gooner”

    and i was sold

  64. Lurch LeRouge

    they aren’t much better but at least the light complements his skin tone, TH just looks like a rabbit in headlights.

  65. incesc

    they should have looked at goya and done a painting,r:21,s:0&tx=88&ty=92

  66. Lurch LeRouge

    A male portrait needs shadow to give definition and make the individual look strong etc…

    doesn’t need to be complicated, using just one correctly placed light rather than 3 badly placed ones makes all the difference.

    the problem is nob jockeys think throwing more heads into the equation makes the image look more technical/professional, unless done correctly the light just becomes a mess of conflicting angles.

  67. incesc

    but what about thierry as a naked giant, looking over white hart lane, with fergie on his knees!

    haha epic

    got a spartacus boxset for christmas, im all about epic things right now!

  68. Lurch LeRouge

    haha, if we’re talking Goya

    bearded eboue munching on a headless chicken…,r:3,s:0

  69. Lurch LeRouge


    i mean what the fuck?!

    and onboard flash on the camera – which could have at least been bounced off the ceiling to give shadow detail.

    dreadful, but its all the same right the way through the squad.