Posts Tagged ‘silvestre’

Live Report – Arsenal vs Fulham 10/05/10

10/05/2010

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

Yay!

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.

.

T.

Advertisements

The Six Pointer – Same old Arsenal, Man Utd’s 2nd best striker & more…

08/02/2010

1. It’s getting boring writing the same thing each week but if Arsenal make the same mistakes each week then what choice do I have?! Unlike last Sunday against Man Utd, there was at least something resembling a performance against Chelsea, but once again Arsenal failed to win with their traditional combination of poor defending and not taking chances.

the wanderer clichy

Clichy the Wanderer

Quite where Gael Clichy was wandering to for the first goal I’ll never know but it was really rather stupid to leave your post as the ball was being played into the danger area. One Terry flick on later and Drogba is stealing in at the far post to slot home the opener. As I mentioned last week, Clichy has been in a funk for probably 18 months now but with Traore just as poor positionally and Gibbs injured there’s no other option (Silvestre is NOT an option).

.

2. When Chelsea smashed Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates in November, Wenger made an interesting point about how Drogba doesn’t really do that much (this was after having scored twice). To a certain degree he’s right but only because so often opportunities are given to him on a plate when facing what masquerades as an Arsenal defence.

drogba arsenal

Easy.

The second goal was made by Clichy drifting inside as Chelsea were counter-attacking. The failure to realise until too late that Drogba was on the right meant the Ivorian could easily cut inside him and blast a powerful shot past Almunia.

Considering how highly Wenger values pace, it’s distressing to see how devastating counter attacks have been from Everton, Man Utd and Chelsea in recent weeks. I’m probably being a touch harsh in thinking Almunia could have made a better effort but Drogba’s shot was pretty powerful. That said, I think a top keeper would have reacted.

.

3. Theo Walcott was at least visible in this match. Only for his appalling touch however. What was confusing though was both him and Bendtner have come back from long injuries yet it is only the former who is getting starts at the moment.

You can understand that neither are fit enough to play 90 minutes at the moment but surely someone like Bendtner would be more effective starting, as opposed to coming on when the game is lost. Likewise, surely Walcott is better suited to a sub role where his only reliable skill (pace) could be used against tiring legs rather than fresh ones.

.

4. Man Utd’s second top scorer this season is Own Goal with ten goals thus far. He scored a hat-trick on Saturday against Portsmouth and now has as many as Berbatov and Owen combined!

.

5. It’s a little depressing if Liverpool end up as the 4th best team this season. Despite their good recent form, to me they are fundamentally a flawed side but years of finishing in the top four has given them a head start in knowing what it takes. We saw last season how Aston Villa fell away and it seems like no one of Man City, Spurs or Villa can string a set of results together to make a charge this time round.

gerrard liverpool everton

Yay, I play for an average team!

.

6. The form of the bottom eight or so teams is so poor right now that a win shoots you right up the table. Two games ago Hull were in the relegation zone but a draw against Chelsea and win against Man City later they are up to 14th. Of course it’s still very tight with just four points separating seven teams so it’s anyone’s guess who will go down. For what it’s worth I still think Hull will be one of them.

.

T.

Bon Anniversaire Arsene Wenger (several days late…)

28/10/2009

This has been in my drafts folder for ages. It was originally meant to be posted for Wenger’s 13th anniversary at Arsenal a few weeks ago. It was then meant to be put up on his birthday last week. As you can see neither happened but better late than never. It was Wenger’s 60th birthday and what better reason for a few lists? 15 great signings, 15 poor signings, 15 memorable games and 15 great goals (plus a few extra chucked in). Enjoy!

arsene-wenger-1996

Arsene Who?

.

15 Great Signings:

1. Patrick VieiraA relatively unknown player before he joined from AC Milan, Wenger got Arsenal to sign him before he joined himself. A decade of midfield dominance, spats with Roy Keane and the Neviller and countless trophies followed. Managed to get £14 million from Juve once his knees were knackered too.

2. Thierry Henry369 games, 226 goals. Best player in the Premier League for about five years.

3. Freddie LjungbergHis red hair, his run of form in the 2001/02 season after Pires got injured, his debut goal against Man Utd, those underwear ads. A great player until his hip injury.

ljungberg-red-hair

It gave him his power.

4. Nicolas AnelkaHe left on bad terms but the money received bought Henry and Pires. The first example of Wenger buying cheap and making ridiculous profit. £22.5million profit in this case.

5. Marc Overmars He was almost too good for Arsenal while he was there and it was no surprise to see Barcelona snap him up for £25million. Scored the winner at Old Trafford in 1998 that helped overcome a 12 point deficit and was generally very, very quick.

6. Robert PiresHis form in 2001/02 earnt him Footballer of the Year honours and he was arguably just as good in 2003/04. Scored a silly amount of goals from the wing, ran oddly, had a cool goatee strip thing  and apparently knew the French for va va voom. Always felt he left too early as Wenger wouldn’t give him a two year deal. Still doing the business at Villarreal.

7. Cesc FabregasPinched from Barcelona, and will probably head back there one day but for now has developed into one of the best midfielders in the world. Perhaps the prime example of Wenger buying a young player and making him world class. Club captain at 22, the best is yet to come.

8. Andrey ArshavinProbably the first current world class player Wenger has bought. Has already made a significant impact in his short time at the Emirates, even if he can be a right lazy bugger sometimes.

9. Jens LehmannHe was immense in 2005/06 when battling to be ahead of Kahn for Germany. Also provided much hilarity as well as the odd moment of madness in his five years at the club.

10. Emmanuel Petit‘He’s blond, he’s quick, his name’s a porno flick. Emmanuel, Emmanuel.’ Had one of the funnier chants of recent times. Signed as a centre back, made a midfielder – he formed a fearsome partnership with Patrick Vieira for three short seasons.

11. Sol Campbell You can’t beat signing your local rival’s captain on a free transfer.

12. LaurenHard. As. Nails. An ice cool penalty taker too.

13. Kolo Toure Bought for £150K. Sold after seven years for £16million. Was fantastic at centre back until he got malaria and developed a fat arse.

14. KanuRidiculous skills. Could do things with a ball you never thought possible.

15. Robin van PersieAbsolutely loves to blast it. As a result has scored some brilliant goals in his time at Arsenal.

.

15 Not So Great Signings:

1. Alberto MendezBought from the mighty FC Feucht. I remember reading Wenger could have bought the whole club for the £250K he paid for Mendez. Made no impact.

2. Nelson VivasCost Arsenal the title in 1999 with his mistake for Hasselbaink’s  winner vs Leeds late on in the season. Always got booked too.

3. Igors StepanovsMan Utd 6-1 Arsenal is all you need to know.

4. Francis JeffersThe supposed fox in the box managed four league goals from 2001-04, a time when Arsenal scored by the bucketload. It would have helped if he’d played more than 22 times. £8million he cost!

5. Pascal CyganWasn’t that bad but I remember how I used to shudder every time I saw his name on the team sheet. If you though Vidic had a slow turning circle…

6. Mickael SilvestreWhy? What purpose does he serve? He won’t even get a link.

silvestre

Just retire already...

7. Tomas DanileviciusA headbutt in a pre-season seems to ring a bell but that might have been after he left for Dunfermline. Played twice, didn’t score. The kind of random Wenger gamble where you wish we’d just saved the £1m.

8. Jeremie Aliadiere Still only 26, he pissed about at Arsenal for eight long years, never learning from any of the amazing strikers at the club and scoring one league goal in his time. You always knew Wenger was basically giving away a game when Aliadiere started up front.

9. Jose ReyesA bit dim, which meant he was the victim of many a prank. Involved in the Aragones ‘black shit’ saga too which meant his Arsenal career was over before it began given that Henry hated him. Scored a great debut goal against Chelsea though.

10. Amaury BischoffNormally Arsenal sign midfielders and then injure them. They tried the opposite and bought someone already injured. Needless to say he left after a year. He did play a game apparently.

11. Christopher WrehGeorge Weah’s cousin. The family talent had obviously been diluted. Did score a couple of important goals in the 1997/98 season to be fair.

12. Kaba DiawaraAll I remember was that he never scored, hit the post several times and was then still sold back to France for half a million profit.

13. Richard WrightBig ears, crap goalkeeper.

14. Abou DiabyThere has to be someone current. Possibly the most frustrating player I’ve seen. could be excellent. Isn’t.

15. Rami ShaabanJust where does he find these keepers from?!

.

15 Memorable Games (not all good):

1. Arsenal 1-2 Man Utd 14/04/99The one with everything, but especially the Arsenal missed penalty that would give Man Utd the momentum for the treble.

giggs-fa-cup-arsenal

A good but overrated goal. Also, I didn't want to inflict the Giggs rug on you.

2. Man Utd 0-0 Arsenal 21/09/03 The one where Ruud missed a penalty and Arsenal started their 49 game unbeaten run.

keown-van-nistelrooy

Rarrrrr.

3. Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal 17/05/06The one where they were 14 minutes from being Champions of Europe.

4. Arsenal 2-1 Leicester 15/05/04The one where they went the season undefeated.

5. Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal 21/02/06The one were they beat Real Madrid on their own patch.

6. Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal 08/04/08The one where they were robbed in the Champions League.

7. Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea 06/04/04The one where they dominated three of the four halves but still got knocked out.

8. Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea 04/05/02The one where they won their second double in four years.

9. Man Utd 0-1 Arsenal 08/05/02The one where they won the league in Manchester.

10. Inter 1-5 Arsenal 25/11/03The one where they produced the most unexpected scoreline I’d seen in years.

11. Leicester 3-3 Arsenal 27/08/97The one with the Bergkamp hat-trick.

12. Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal 13/11/04The one where we’ll score one more than you.

13. Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool 12/05/01 The one where Michael Owen stole the FA Cup.

14. Arsenal 7-0 Everton 11/05/05 – The one with the biggest league win under Wenger.

15. Arsenal 0-0 Man Utd 21/05/05 – The one where Arsenal stole the FA Cup.

.

15 Memorable Goals (in no particular order):

1. Thierry Henry vs Man Utd 30/09/00. Probably the first classic Henry Arsenal goal. He was just on the cusp of dominating the Premier League when he scored this.

2. Tony Adams vs Everton 03/05/98. Conclusive proof that Arsenal had shed their boring tag. Steve Bould chipped, yes chipped a through ball to Tony Adams who chested it before smashing a left foot volley home. The goal that sealed Wenger’s first title.

3. Dennis Bergkamp vs Newcastle 02/03/02. I remember people at the time saying he didn’t mean this. Fools.

4. Robert Pires vs Southampton 07/05/03. I think this gets underrated as it was a meaningless game before the 2003 Cup Final but few players could have done such a lob with three touches let alone one.

5. Ray Parlour vs Chelsea 04/05/02. Romford Pele scored few but when he did they were usually special. Tim Lovejoy gets slated to this day for saying ‘Oh, it’s only Ray Parlour’ just before he scored.

6. Dennis Bergkamp vs Sunderland 15/01/97. The non-flying Dutchman scored many an amazing goal for Arsenal but his trademark was opening up his body and curling one round the keeper into the top corner from about 25 yards. Like this.

7. Robert Pires vs Aston Villa 17/03/02. Any goal that makes Peter Schmeichel look silly gets the thumbs up from me. Pires was quite possibly the best player in Europe in the spring of 2002.

8. Freddie Ljungberg vs Juventus 04/12/01. I remember being at work during this match and trying to check my phone for text updates. Little did I know what a special goal I’d see when I got home. Just watch Bergkamp’s skill again and again and again…

9. Eduardo vs Burnley 08/03/09. Out for a year and he comes back with this. Quite recent but no less special for it.

10. Thierry Henry vs Spurs 16/11/02. Hmm how to wind up your rivals? I know, run 75 yards, dribbling past half the team before scoring, and then run all the way back and celebrate in front of the Spurs fans. Nice.

11. Dennis Bergkamp vs Leicester 27/08/97. One third of the greatest hat-trick in Premier League history.

12. Robin Van Persie vs Charlton 30/09/06. Trust me, he didn’t shin it. Well not on purpose anyway.

13. Ray Parlour vs Valencia 04/04/01. Back when Valencia and John Carew used to screw Arsenal over every couple of years there were many a disappointing night in Europe. This special from Ray Parlour however resulted in one of the most mental celebrations I’ve ever witnessed in pub.

14. Emmanuel Adebayor vs Villarreal 07/04/09. Yes he’s a prick but there’s no denying this was a great goal. The last good thing he did in an Arsenal shirt.

15. Thierry Henry vs Liverpool 09/04/04. Dumped out of the FA Cup and Champions League in consecutive games to Man Utd and Chelsea of all teams, Arsenal were 2-1 down at half-time at home to Liverpool with an unbeaten record to protect. Pires quickly equalised, before Henry gave Carragher the runaround for an amazing third. He’d complete his hat-trick later on and Arsenal went on to win the league unbeaten.

.

Want a few more? Ok then. Pires vs Liverpool, Henry vs Inter, Fabregas vs Spurs, Henry vs Real MadridKanu vs Chelsea & Henry vs Charlton.

.

T.


%d bloggers like this: