Posts Tagged ‘Eboue’

Season Previews 2010/11 – Arsenal



Last Season: 3rd

New Signings: Koscielny, Chamakh

Key Player: Robin van Persie

Ones To Watch: Jack Wilshere

Needs  A Big Year: Laurent Koscielny

Would Quite Like: A new goalkeeper and another centre back, but in terms of the season a first trophy since 2005.

Prediction: 2nd

Thoughts: TThe biggest story at the Emirates this summer was whether Cesc Fabregas would leave Arsenal and join Barcelona. After a fifth year without a trophy and a particularly spineless end to the season, Arsenal’s captain decided he had had enough and was going to rejoin his boyhood team.

Fine you might say, Cesc had given fantastic service and no one could begrudge him wanting to win things. However Barcelona were clearly not well versed in how transfers work, where if one club wants one of the best midfielders in the world, they have to pay what he’s worth, especially if he still has five years left on his contract.

Still an Arsenal player for now.

Instead, there were two derisory bids, and a daily quote from a Barcelona player about how Fabregas was being held prisoner, had Barca DNA, and Arsenal should just let him go. Seeing as Arsenal were very much in the position of power and Barcelona had spent what little money they had on David Villa, it meant Fabregas has to stay another year.

Is this the most important decision of the summer? Well yes and no. Nobody can deny Cesc’s influence and he had his best season for Arsenal, finishing as top scorer having played an advanced role. This will no doubt continue, as whatever his personal ambitions may be he’s professional enough to still do his best for Arsenal.

However the decision not to have a new goalkeeper in place for the opening day game with Liverpool has far greater ramifications. Yes, there’s still over two weeks of the window left, but despite being linked with the likes of Schwarzer and Marchetti, it is not guaranteed that a replacement will come in.

Crap meets crapper.

Manuel Almunia, for all his faults is still better than Lukasz Fabianski. While they are both the proverbial good shot stopper, neither seems able to deal with the mental pressure of big games and the physical pressure of high balls swung into the box. That Wenger views Fabianski as having the attributes of a No.1 keeper is worrying to say the least.

The lack of new keeper and the dearth of cover at centre-back (Campbell, Sylvestre, Gallas and Senderos out – Koscielny and fit again Djourou in) mean the same issues from last season look likely to rear their ugly head. As an Arsenal fan, it’s most frustrating. Knowing we are so close to winning the league but not addressing the clear issues preventing us from doing it is careless to say that least.

If you consider that they lost all four games against United and Chelsea last season, but were still in the running until late throwaway defeats to Wigan and Spurs, suggests that it only needs a player or two to help with that final step – that player or two being the aforementioned goalkeeper and extra centre back.

Needs to quickly adapt.

The talk emanating from the club over the summer suggests that it’s finally got through to the players what’s needed. No more slacking off when two goals up, no more being bullied by the more physical teams in the league, etc.

I think the impact of Sol Campbell’s half season cameo shouldn’t be underestimated. He came into the squad and showed what it takes to achieve something you want; that there’s no escaping hard work if you want to win. Though he’s left, his attitude seems to have rubbed off.

In terms of the squad, things generally look quite good. Marouane Chamakh has finally joined and should be an improvement on the departing Eduardo. The Crozillian never truly recovered from the horrific injury he sustained and coupled with hypocritical reaction to his dive against Celtic meant a change of scene was probably best. Chamakh is by no means prolific but gives a different option, and should prove useful in tough away games.

Vela stays for now and gets an upgraded squad number but the important news is Robin van Persie being fully fit again (albeit a couple of weeks behind in training). His injury really hurt Arsenal last November. Remember all the talk of how Arsenal could score 100 goals after all the big wins early on? The goals per game ratio went right down after RvP was out. They continued to challenge without him but with Bendtner also out at the time, you had the bizarre situation of Andrey Arshavin playing on his own up front, which was no fun for either player or fans.

Arguably Arsenal's most important player.

The Russian had an average season, nearly always played out of position. I think bigger things are expected this season. The midfield is boosted by Fabregas staying and Wilshere being ready for regular first team football. I would expect him to be ahead of Rosicky in the pecking order sooner rather than later.

Two players who failed to make their respective World Cup squads will be particularly determined to shine this year. Samir Nasri looked very sharp in pre-season and has a previously unseen seriousness about him. Similarly, Theo Walcott will want a season where he doesn’t pick up lots of small injuries. A run of 20-25 games in a row would do him a world of good. If he hits his target of 20 assists he’ll have had a great season.

Bounce back seasons ahead.

Once you factor in Song, Diaby, Eboue, the emerging Frimpong, Denilson and the hopefully returning Ramsey and you have more than enough options.

As discussed earlier, it’s defence where there are issues. There are currently just three centre-backs, at least one more is a must. Full backs are covered with Eboue and Gibbs being the reserves for Sagna and Clichy. Gibbs in particular excites me, I think he’ll be the first choice left back by the end of the season.

In terms of tactics I think Wenger will slightly adjust the 433 of last season seeing how overrun it caused the midfield to be. The benefits it brought to Fabregas and van Persie’s game make it worth sticking with but perhaps a slight switch to make it a 4231 instead with Fabregas advanced behind van Persie and two attacking midfielders/forwards playing either side of them will do the trick.

Arsenal don’t really have natural wingers who can play in a 442. You just get central midfielders or wide forwards out of position. It might be case of dropping an extra player (Diaby or Denilson) back to sit alongside Song with Fabregas ahead of them. Van Persie will be the central striker with any two of about eight players filling the wide roles in the 3.

It worked very well when the Dutchman was fit and the added bonus is Chamakh could take up the role were he to get injured. I would like to see more solid set-ups when playing the big teams as last season Chelsea, Man Utd and Barcelona had much fun drawing us out of position and hitting us on the break. In these games a four or even five men in midfield would work; there is enough pace in the side that the lone striker would never be too isolated.

Yes it is five years since we won a trophy but my players have great potential.

In terms of prospects, despite what many writers are saying, I think Arsenal will improve on last season if they sign a keeper before the window shuts. A simplistic theory you might think but if you consider that a top keeper is worth around nine points a season (that’s three match-saving performances – not unrealistic) then Arsenal will be very close indeed.

A slight tactical adjustment and they’ll be pretty close to that elusive trophy. Maybe even close enough to win it. No new goalkeeper or centre-back and it will be the same old problems and the usual 4th place.



Last Season: 3rd

New Signings: Koscielny, Chamakh

Key Player: Robin van Persie

Ones To Watch: Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs

Needs A Big Year: Cesc Fabregas

Would Quite Like: A new goalkeeper and another centre back, but in terms of the season a first trophy since 2005.

Prediction: 2nd


Live Report – Arsenal vs Fulham 10/05/10


As I made my way to the Emirates yesterday for the final game of the season, I realised it had been over four full months since I had last seen Arsenal live. After a flurry of games from August till December, a combination of mid-season malaise as we stumbled in and out of the title race coupled with the usual difficulty of red members getting category A tickets meant my last match had been the Fabregas inspired victory over Aston Villa in late December.

As a side note I found it had been generally quite easy getting tickets this season, there’s certainly been more availability than in previous years. Even as a red member I could have gone to pretty much every home league game (bar maybe Man Utd/Chelsea) had funds and being online when they went on sale allowed it. Yet when it came to a match such as Barcelona, all the silver members who couldn’t be bothered for much of the season instantly came out of the woodwork.

walcott van persie


Anyway I digress. As with every game, I had bought a month ahead at which stage we had clawed our way back into the title race for a third time. What followed were defeats against Spurs and Wigan which meant this game soon had the look of a meaningless fixture about it. No matter, it would still be a decent game to watch and a win was likely given Fulham’s pressing Europa League final this Wednesday.

I arrived earlier than usual, my timings slightly misjudged and soon found my clothing not adequate enough for the unseasonally low temperature. Given the anticlimactic nature of the game, there were no end of season promos or gimmicks before the game; only Sol Campbell receiving his deserved player of the month award and some man getting a £4,000 watch for predicting the fastest goal at the Emirates this season.

As I settled into my nosebleed seat behind the goal (right in the middle but row 32 of 33 in the upper tier) the line-ups were announced. There was mild booing behind me for Fabianski and Silvestre which wasn’t too much of a surprise but it seemed like booing for booing’s sake. It was pleasing to see the likes of Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou fit again on the bench while our remaining fit first teamers picked themselves.

Arsenal were shooting towards me in the first half and started brightly, immediately setting up camp in Fulham’s half. Nasri was charged with keeping things ticking over and he ensured a good tempo, regularly beating a man before laying it off while Theo was causing problems for Shorey with his pace.

The atmosphere was average, with even the red action singing corner strangely subdued. The smattering of empty seats here and there didn’t help but it felt like what it was – a game which didn’t matter. There was the usual ‘stand up if you hate Tottenham’ before Fulham initiated a united ‘stand up if you hate Chelsea’.

arsenal fulham

We scored. Meh.

On the pitch the first goal soon came after a mistake by Mark Schwarzer. He tried to play it out, mis-controlled it allowing Arshavin to nick the ball. He went past the big Aussie and with Van Persie screaming for the ball to be laid off for an easy tap in decided instead to shoot from a tight angle. It went in off a defender and Arsenal had the lead. I don’t think Robin was best pleased at Arshavin’s greediness there and it seemed like he spent the rest of the half trying not to pass to him.

Van Persie soon got his goal, firing in from close range five minutes later after an initial good save by Schwarzer. Theo proceeded to miss a sitter, before setting up the third by drilling in a right-wing cross which went in off the unfortunate Baird. By this point attention was drifting, the game was won and people were curious to know the Chelsea, Man Utd and Spurs scores.

There was some ironic cheering every time Fabianski made a catch (he had flapped at one early on) while I was entertained by a son quizzically asking his dad why people were cheering the Pole like that. “Because he’s not very good” came the reply.

Half time came and went; the ‘highlight’ being a bizarre race between Gunnersaurus and a giant Lucozade bottle. It was that  kind of day. Gunnersaurus won and I thought he perhaps should have raced Silvestre in the second half to make things interesting. The second period was particularly flat – Fulham weren’t trying and neither were Arsenal.

gunnersaurus lucozade

This would have been more interesting.

Substitutions started to break up the game. Silvestre went off injured and got the warm applause befitting his final appearance. Djourou was equally well received in his place, as much for his return from injury as being the man who takes Silvestre’s place next season.

Despite Gibbs warming up for most of the second half, he failed to get on the pitch. Carlos Vela did however and he added a nice fourth goal, chipping Schwarzer in a style reminiscent of his Carling Cup highs in 2008/09. It was his first league goal this season and it probably says a lot that it was in a match with no pressure. I do wonder what his future holds.

The game petered out and the fans were invited to stay for the players’ lap of ‘appreciation’. Not everyone bothered but there was warm applause as the rather sheepish looking players made their way round (though William Gallas was missing). It seemed to be a mutual feeling of players and fans thinking what might have been. Hopefully next season it will be a lap of honour…

fabregas arsenal

If anyone deserved a lap of honour he did.



Weekly Photoshop – 2009 Review


Hello hello, long time no speak. This week there’s no Photoshop theme in the Guardian, merely a collection of the year’s best entries. They’ve decided to not just use the weekly winners (not sure why) hence Emmanuel Eboue gets in from way back in January while October’s effort for Old Trafford Injury Time also makes it.


My three personal favourites from this year are as follows:

3. Nicklas Bendtner (more for Ade as Ike Turner):

Nicklas may think he's "simply the best, better than all the rest" but sadly for him Ade is the Ike in this relationship.


2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (proving me wrong to be fair):

zlatan ibrahimovic barcelona guardiola

"Of course you can rely on me in the big games Pep." Zlatan's already epic nose suddenly seems to increase in size...


1. Roy Keane (both entries):

roy keane ipswich

There'll be none of this Tractor Boys business now Keane is in charge, it's manual labour all the way...

roy keane ipswich mick mccarthy

Mick McCarthy may have escaped Keane's clutches for now but he'll soon hunt him down.


Hope you enjoyed them all, I’m going to try to spend more time on them next year. Alberto Aquilani is first up in the new year.



Weekly Photoshop – Emmanuel Eboue


Following a bit of a break for Christmas and the gallery of the year (Zaki’s in there towards the end), we return to normal business with the first gallery entry this year. For those who are new, every Thursday the Guardian’s football website publish a selection of Photoshop entries around a topical theme. The funnier the better. This time it was Arsenal fans’ favourite boo boy Emmanuel Eboue.

Maybe if Eboue spent less time promoting his new album, there would be less '808s and Heartbreak' between him and the Arsenal fans.

Maybe if Eboue spent less time promoting his new album, there would be less '808s and Heartbreak' between him and the Arsenal fans.

The rest of the gallery can be found here.


Previous entries:

Credit CrunchZakiGomesMaradonaDelapAdamsBeckhamRamos.

Fantasy Football – Gameweek 17


Don’t you love that Sunday feeling?

Only available at 4pm every Sunday.

The one where it’s comes to the 4pm game and you are the only one of your rivals to have any players involved. I have great memories of the 2006/07 season where it felt like every other Sunday Arteta would cross to Lescott and I would get super points. I did eventually lose to The Football Guy but it was fun while it lasted. Last week was going relatively well, when up stepped Ashley Young on Sunday evening and grabbed me an extra 15 points. It was a nice end to the gameweek  – let’s be honest no one is stupid enough to have any West Ham or  Spurs players so that Monday game didn’t count. I only wish I had made him captain.

Ronaldo did nothing for the third week in a row so we can now permanently rename the captain choice section to:


Top 3 Alternatives to the standard choice of Ronaldo as Captain:

1. Young/Aston Villa – After a great start to the season where he got goals or assists in five of the first six games, Young had a relatively quiet October and November. However his two goals last week will hopefully see him start scoring good points again. He faces Bolton at home this weekend so is good value to do something.

2. Kuyt/Liverpool – This will be the first and only time I will ever suggest picking Dirk Kuyt as

2a. Gerrard/Liverpool – Nope sorry I just can’t do it, you’ll just have to go with Gerrard instead. We’ve touched before on Torres being out and Keane being as good as out which leaves Liverpool’s midfielders as the go to guys for points. Hull won’t be a easy game but it could be a high scoring one. 

3. Bosingwa/Chelsea – The first time we’ve gone with a defender as a potential captain but Bosingwa is the highest scoring player in the game and has risen in value by £1.4 million from his bargain initial price of £6M (I can’t believe people were unsure between him and Ferreira). Anyway, three assists and a goal in his last five plus a home game against West Ham mean he’s a good shout to not only keep a clean but also provide something going forward.




Suggested Transfers In:

1. Benjani/Man City – While Robinho has sparkled this season, the other Man City striking position has seen Mark Hughes try Jo, Evans, Sturridge and Vassell with varying degrees of success. That level varies from not bad for a young player (Sturridge/Evans) to pretty rubbish for a £19 million striker (Jo). These troubles have been mainly due to Benjani being injured. He had a career year last season but was injured until a few weeks ago. He’s fit now though and scored his first goal of the season last week. He’s started the last five games so appears to be Robinho’s partner of choice. 

2. Geovanni/Hull City – Hull are still flying high in sixth place while in his last six games Geovanni has nine bonus points, two goals and an assist. Still cheap at £6.3million too.

3. Crouch/Porstmouth –Three goals in three games. 




Players to avoid.

1. Evra/Man Utd – Through a combination of United being away for the Intercontinental Cup  World Club Championship, Evra has played his last league game of the year. His next match will be against Chelsea on January 11th.

2. Any Blackburn player – They have been rubbish and haven’t won in eleven. But the main reason not to pick them is that they don’ actually do anything in games. Not a single Blackburn player has scored over 40 points this season. That is pretty poor. They have three guys stuck on 38. Even West Brom who are bottom have Greening and Carson who have scored 50+. 

3. Eboue/Arsenal  – Well 60,000 Arsenal fans said so





The Six Pointer – Ebooooooue, Scoring Then Conceding & more…


This was the weekend that was…


1. There’s a more in depth take on the Emmanuel Eboue booing on Saturday in the previous post but needless to say it was uncalled for, however bad a game he was having. Home fans should support their team no matter what. Booing a team off at half time because they are playing crap and need to wake up is different to ironically cheering when Eboue’s number come up and then booing him as he trudges off the field. It achieves nothing, ruins his confidence and puts the rest of the team on edge. Yes he’s frustrating and possibly one of the worst players in the Arsenal squad (the others being Song and arguably Bendtner) but Abou Diaby is just as lazy and gets nowhere near the same abuse. The atmosphere this year has been quiet and nervous enough without the need to start booing our own players. On a side note I love how the Arsenal website completely ignores the main story of the weekend in their match report.

Arsenal propaganda

Arsenal propaganda


2. The old adage that you are most likely to concede just after you score didn’t ring truer than at Goodison Park yesterday. Just after Lescott grabbed his second, Ashley Young scores a wonderful winner with virtually the last kick of the game. A vital three points for Villa keeps them in the hunt for 4th spot. Everton huffed and puffed with Anichebe up front but clearly miss the Yak.  


3. With the Toffees (desperately) needing a striker and Micheal Owen fit and back amongst the goals tapins, what price a cheeky bid in January? Newcastle have even less money to spend than Everton so may sell rather than let his contract expire in the summer. His rumoured wages of £110k a week might prove a problem but he is a boyhood Everton fan so may take a pay cut. In my Portsmouth game on Football Manager 2009 he actually ended up going to Man Utd in the summer but somehow I don’t think that’s very likely in real life. 

6 yard punisher

6 yard punisher


4. Man City’s league results this season have been the height of inconsistency: LWWLWLLDWLLLDWLD. Bring on the January sales…


5. Will Robbie Keane be classed as the flop of the season? His form has been so poor he was dropped against struggling Blackburn when you’d think who better to play against when suffering a drought. His only league goals have come against bottom club West Brom at home and he’s now suffering the ignominy of being linked with a move back to Spurs. He’s cost five million a goal thus far (I’m being generous and counting Europe) and has done little to help Liverpool’s climb to the top of their table. Their most important summer business currently looks like it was not selling Alonso to Arsenal.


6. A word finally for Darren Anderton, the greatest sicknote of them all. He finally retired on Saturday after a 500 odd game career blighted by injuries but with an uncanny ability to always be fit for major tournaments. He only won 30 caps for England yet played in Word Cup ’98 as well as Euro 1996 & 2000. As far as final games go, to come off the bench and score the winner is a nice way to end.  He now passes on the mantle of permanently injured player to Tomas Rosicky. It was going to go to Louis Saha but he couldn’t make the ceremony due to a calf strain.

Shocked he was on the pitch...

Shocked he was on the pitch...



Ebooooooooooooooue – Was It Justified?


Is it acceptable to boo your own club’s players? On Saturday Emmanuel Eboue was booed off the pitch after being taken off for an error strewn performance in which he looked shot of confidence. He had come on after half an hour but was taken off just before the end (when was the last time an uninjured sub got subbed?) having given the ball away numerous times while Arsenal were holding on to a 1-0 lead against Wigan. The most notable  incident saw him essentially tackle Toure and pass straight to the opposition.

Unliked by fans

Unliked by the fans.

Now I’ll be the first to admit I’m not Eboue’s biggest fan – I think he’s a lazy, nonchalant player who frustrates, dives and contributes little from the right wing. He feigns injury more than he scores. He had zero goals and just two assists in the league last year and has scored just three times in his Arsenal career. That said he’s a pretty good right back (no Sagna though) and an alright right winger whilst also having the ability to fill in at several other positions.  His main strengths are his strength, pace and running. He seems popular amongst the players if not fans, always in the goal celebrations and apparently the team’s joker. Basically a good squad player who is worth keeping for his versatility until our younger players mature.

But liked by the players

But liked by the players.

Showing frustration is different – you can moan at a player all you want, say he’s f-ing useless this, piece of crap that. But booing is unproductive and frankly embarrassing. Is his performance likely to improve when booed? I don’t think so. Many players thrive on adversity but Eboue is not one of them. He looked distraught when taken off. Let’s put this in context too. Eboue hasn’t has a great Arsenal career thus far and has many bad games including on Saturday. But that’s all it was – a bad game. Every Arsenal player has had a bad game. What about players that have cost trophies? Was David Seaman booed after Nayim’s lob? Almunia after Paris? Bergkamp after the FA Cup penalty miss in 1999? (say what you like but that was the key to United’s treble). Even Gallas hasn’t received the same treatment despite everyone thinking he’s a prat. After Adebayor’s summer flirtation with Barca I didn’t boo him. I just didn’t cheer him on.

Too much of this

The unecessary.

Whilst I would not be sorry to see him leave I felt the booing Eboue received on Saturday was unfair. As far as I am aware you go to games to support you team, through the thick as well as the thin. There are players you like and players you think are a waste of space but to boo them is to become a fan of the opposition. The changing dynamic of football fans means there are many who have only started supporting Arsenal recently – the entertainment fitting in with it being trendy, all with a price to match. When you don’t get the entertainment you are disappointed and you vent your frustrations. The atmosphere at the Emirates is often dictated by how the team is playing and not vice versa. Only the big games against United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs see constant singing. This goes back to the final years at Highbury too. There was a reason it was nicknamed the Library. You may feel that after paying £40 (or more, in many cases) you are entitled to do what you want but if you’re not there to support the team you shouldn’t be there at all. I for one hope it doesn’t happen again.

Needs a hug

In happier times...



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