The Six Pointer (super duper late edition) – Wenger’s plinth, Stoke raise stake & more…

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A super delayed six pointer on the weekend’s action but what can you do? It was bank holiday weekend, the weather was nice and your resident scribe was out and about. For what it’s worth, some thoughts on the weekend gone.
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1. Arsenal will be encouraged by the performance against Man United if not the result. Two costly errors turned a comfortable 1-0 lead into 2-1 defeat which though disappointing showed that the new formation and current personnel can compete against the top teams as well as the bad ones faced thus far. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a United side create so little in a game and the midfield especially was quite pedestrian.

After Fletcher somehow got away with taking out Arshavin in the box as well as handling it in the same move (thanks Mike Dean), the tiny Russian decided to score from 25 yards shortly afterwards. Foster should have done better but it was none the less a good strike. The second half saw Almunia stupidly dive at Rooney’s feet but unlike Boruc with Eduardo, he kept his arms out, allowing Rooney to dive over them and get the decision. There definitely was contact but Rooney was falling already (look at his left foot trailing). If Almunia hadn’t had come out so far, there’s no way Rooney was scoring from that angle/speed. Another error for him against United then (there’ve been a few down the years…).

For United’s second Diaby headed in unmarked from six yards. You don’t even need to see a picture to imagine how silly that sounds. But the reactions of Gallas and Vermaelen below should tell you everything you need to know about how bad an error it was.

Diaby makes a boo boo.

Diaby makes a boo boo.

Arsenal tried to get back into it but it wasn’t their day and van Persie had a goal correctly ruled out for offside in the fifth minute of stoppage time. This led to a great scene where Wenger was sent off for kicking away a water bottle in frustration. I think most fans were amused by the way he made the officials look like idiots by standing arms outstretched amongst a sea of United supporters.

I do wonder when someone will take action over the “sit down you paedophile” chant constantly sung at Old Trafford though. The media silence over it is deafening. Why is something done when Sol Campbell is abused but not when Wenger is. This goes beyond terrace banter and I don’t see how calling calling him a paedophile is any different to being racist or homophobic to Sol Campbell.

I'm Arsene Wenger, who the hell are you?

I'm Arsene Wenger, who the hell are you?

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2. Chelsea were again efficient in their victory over Burnley and their midfield is working particularly well right now. Drogba and Anelka combined once more and everything is running smoothly at the Bridge at the moment. Their first ten fixtures are very generous and they should be in the clear not too long after the international break.  They were the only top side not to lose anyone in the off season (unless Shevchenko counts?!) but this time last year they were also wrecking havoc before it all suddenly went tits up.

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3. A nice line in man management by Rafa Benitez during the week. After criticising Steven Gerrard for not performing at his highest level, Liverpool’s captain popped up with the winner against Bolton. Interestingly, until Bolton’s Sean Davis was sent off, Gerrard had done bugger all. Once he was given a bit of space it was inevitable that his influence would grow.

Look how far he was from any Bolton player for the winner. Gerrard mentioned that the same tactic had been used on him by Gary Megson last season (though Bolton still lost that one too) and it could be an interesting tactic for other managers going forward. It does seem right now if you stop him you stop Liverpool.

Gerrard in acres of space to score the winner.

Gerrard in acres of space to score the winner.

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4. I still think it’s too early to consider Spurs or Man City title challengers but they are both looking capable of getting a top four place. I read a stat today that since Harry Redknapp has taken over they’ve won only one less point than Arsenal and winning four from four so far this year is their best start for decades.

I did wonder how they would go forward following the injury on Saturday to Modric but they’ve gone straight out and bought Kranjcar who is an excellent replacement. Man Utd and Chelsea are next so let’s wait until the end of September before reassessing.

The same goes for Man City really who face Arsenal and Man Utd before a tricky tie against Fulham. Again though, their start has been solid and Adebayor is beginning to look like the striker of 2007/08 once more.

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5. Stoke have been quietly going about their business and currently find themselves in fifth place. The Britannia Stadium has become a real fortress for them and they are confident enough to start spending a little bigger too, as demonstrated by the £15m or so splashed out on Collins, Tuncay, Huth and Arismendi in the past week or two. They’re not to everyone’s taste but Tony Pulis is doing a great job and the way Stoke are going they could well end up comfortably in the top half of the table.

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6. Two straight matches without Heskey starting, two straight wins for Aston Villa. It’s unfair to lay all the blame for Villa’s extended poor run at his feet (no Laursen and tiredness was a big factor last season and no Barry is a big loss this season) but their strengths are geared to playing at pace in a 4-5-1.

To this effect Agbonlahor and also Carew (who is much more mobile then Heskey in my opinion) are much better suited to the style of play. Heskey still has a role to play but a much smaller one if Villa are to again push for Europe. However the better Carlton Cole does, the more Heskey’s England place is under threat too.

This may have led to a goal. Probably didn't though.

This may have led to a goal. Probably didn't though.

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T.

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One Response to “The Six Pointer (super duper late edition) – Wenger’s plinth, Stoke raise stake & more…”

  1. Football Guy Says:

    WRITE SOMETHING…….. NEED SPORTBOY GOODNESS!!!

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