Post Match View – Manchester United

The first thing that I would like to do is remind you that Ryan Giggs hates Arsenal as much as anybody you could meet. The look on his face when we play United reflects the anti Arsenal sentiments of every United fan in the stadium. Our players need to understand that when we play against Manchester United, it is very, very serious and personal.

Yesterday’s match has served two very important purposes; the first being that we have shown which is the better team. The objective United fan will admit that a dodgy penalty and an own goal are not good enough. Yes, a win is a win but United were there for the taking yesterday. The second thing that I have taken from the match is confirmation that despite the large global and domestic fan base of passionate, loyal Arsenal fans, the club and Arsene Wenger are hated by even greater numbers, not least English commentators and match officials.

The match was entertaining. Granted the score is a downer, but if you are an Arsenal supporter who watched the game yet still fears United or feels inferior to them, you are a hopeless pessimist.

I feel bad for Abou Diaby. It was not the best decision to even attempt to play that cross but I wonder if the keeper has told him to just let it go. The flight of the ball was the best defense against the cross. It looked to me that no United player would have been able to play it. It is the keeper’s job to command his box and communicate with his players at all times. Further evidence that the communication must improve was in the second half when a ball was played in Sagna’s direction. He played safe and headed it into touch because Nani was not very far away. Upon realizing that he could have made a better decision than to just turn over possession, he looked over his shoulder and gestured to Almunia to talk to him.

A shot once grazed the upper 0.025µm of the longest strand of hair on my head on its way into the net. The contact with the ball was so minimal that nobody watching could suggest that it was an own goal. Still, I felt like shit. I can only imagine how Diaby feels.

The image of Arsene Wenger above will stay with me forever. It is a symbol of the way people go out of their way to humiliate him. Well into the five minutes of injury time that were added (a surprise in itself, really) the man who issues more yellow cards than any other in the league, Mike Dean, sent Arsene Wenger to the stands. After realizing that Robin’s equalizer was waved off, Wenger kicked a water bottle. It didn’t strike or harm anyone. And with so little time left on the clock, why has fourth official Lee Probert found it necessary to report the action to Dean? Well, it’s his job I suppose. Then the question is who is being more pedantic here, Dean or Probert? Dean has decided to send Wenger away with less than a minute left in the game for an act that did not provoke an opponent or the crowd. Wenger has every right to be frustrated.

It was a ridiculous move on the part of Mike Dean. The dismissal was academic at best. So much so that it seems an apology will be issued to Arsene from Premier League chief of referees Keith Hackett. I might find it hard to prove a conspiracy exists where Arsenal are concerned, but if you try to tell me that there is no bias against Arsene Wenger and Arsenal in general, I will excuse myself from the discussion because I remain convinced that there is. The injury time dismissal is just one example. Moreover, if you listen to English match commentators you will hear the evidence yourself. Here are just two examples from yesterday’s match commentary by Ian Darke and John Gregory:

1 – Nani falls from a non-existent foul by Bacary Sagna. Free kick is given. As the replay shows that there was absolutely no contact, suddenly the previously chatty Darke and Gregory go silent. Not a word was mentioned about the incident.

2 – The two commented on how a pitch-side reporter had sent them word of Wenger’s “moaning” to the fourth official about Darren Fletcher. Fletcher was getting away with foul after foul without intervention from the referee. Well, shortly after the second half started, Fletcher fouled Clichy. As the referee talked to the United midfielder, the two, in a very ‘oh, by the way manner’, glossed over the foul.

Losing the way we have to United can’t do anything but help strengthen us. Mocking and humiliating Wenger (at least they tried to) will only make him more determined to complete the mission.

The real losers yesterday were not the team in blue.

Finally, the aforementioned breakdown(s) in communication must be sorted out. The keeper must play a very big part in that. For all the shot-stopping heroics Manuel Almunia is capable of, he must control his box better than he has. Another big disappointment came in injury time – the boys were spent, little to no energy left. They tried to gain and maintain possession, to mount that final attack. Almunia throws the ball directly to an unmarked Wayne Rooney.

He still worries me.

You Tell Me

The Crucifixion of Eduardo/Old Trafford

I’m not going to rehash what everyone has already stated about Eduardo, but I will say two things.

1) UEFA, and the English media, has basically crucified Eduardo. When you think of the word “diver” and “cheat”, most will immediately think of Eduardo. Wenger’s press conference today was a thing of beauty. He brought up the fact that English divers (he didn’t name names, but Gerrard and Ashley Young are two names that come to my mind) and the fact that they get off scott free. UEFA should understand that they’re on the verge of setting a dangerous precedent, both undermining their own referees and their own laws. After Platini himself admitted that he dived during games, how can they honestly ban Eduardo for what is a yellow card offense?

2) To those Arsenal fans who are condemning Eduardo, stop deluding yourself. Imagine if Eduardo kicked the ball out of bounds because he knew that he dived to get a penalty. As unlikely as it would have been, had Celtic come back and we had been knocked out of the Champions League, would you have accepted that because it was good sportsmanship? No, you would be furious that Eduardo didn’t put it away. Arshavin pleaded with the referee not to award Arsenal a penalty last year against Portsmouth, but we still took the penalty. Robbie Fowler did the same thing when he fell over Seaman’s challenge. He was later awarded a sportsmanship award, but he still took and scored the goal. This is precisely the definition of what it means to be a professional footballer.

Now, on to United.

Alex Song says he remembers when Patrice Evra branded our team a bunch of babies. I have not forgotten it, and it’s great to know that the players have not forgotten it as well.

We catch United at an odd time. We are without Cesc Fabregas, but they are without Rio Ferdinand. They have just come off a 5-0 victory against Wigan, which journalists have interpreted as United finding their groove once again. As silly as it sounds, that’s not what it was. Wigan held out for over 65 minutes, and the game’s final scoreline was not an accurate reflection. United are struggling to find a new gameplan that does not feature Cristiano Ronaldo. Rooney may be a menace, but the midfield lacks real cohesion. They have workmanlike players, but they lack the cunning they once had from younger versions of Scholes and Giggs.

That being said, you can never count out a United team. They did snap our 49 unbeaten streak (thanks to a Rooney dive, of course), and they also ended Chelsea’s unbeaten streak before they could approach ours. Players like Darren Fletcher have a way of scoring in games like this.

People have predicted us to lose. People have predicted us to win. People have predicted it to be a draw.

All I can say is, I want revenge. And Alex Song wants revenge too.

Myles

So far this week we have discovered certain truths.

Billy Mays, the King of Oxyclean, died of a drug overdose.

So did Michael Jackson, except the death of the King of Pop is being treated as murder.

Arsenal qualified for the Champions League group stages. This means that a large chunk of money will be coming their way, which could be spent on new players. According to some wank called Myles, Arsene Wenger can only buy players once qualification to the Champions League group stages had been secured.

According to my penis Myles, I am going to wank tonight. The missus is blowing up like a live volcano and lava is flowing from you know where. What would you do Myles, spend 8 million on Matuidi or just say fuck it and stick in the lava?

Matuidi could provide the defensive cover that my cock is looking for as it battles with Mother Nature to get three points. 8 million is a lot of money for an unknown condom from St Etienne, who has never experienced Premiership rumps.

But why am I asking you Myles? You were never a player – either on the pitch or off it. Hanging up my boots when it came to women was hard. Not a day goes by when I wonder what its like to have Arsenal’s Champions League money and to go back into the transfer market.

But Myles, that’s another story. You see, I don’t have your inside knowledge. I can’t write books like you. I’m just another average Mother F who supports Arsenal passionately.

However, I find you Myles blasphemous to my club and religion: Arsenal Football Club.

In life, some of us have ambitions or goals. I didn’t have any until I came across you. Meeting you one to one would be a lifetime goal. Bring your snotty, politically correct kids along to watch, because it will be more entertaining than watching your favorite teams Manchester United and Chelsea

You’re not an Arsenal fan Myles.

You’re a fraud.

My day with you will come.

Keep it Arsenal

Stop Leeching Off Our Club

What gives someone who hasn’t got a real vested interest in Arsenal Football Club the right to criticize it or its players? I struggle to understand what the guy who only recently started watching Arsenal has got to lose if we end up on the wrong end of a 3-0 score line later vs. Celtic. I wonder why it is important for people who have never tasted bitter, humiliating defeat to Man United or been taunted by Spurs fans, to express how much they dislike Arsene Wenger. Yet these people will wear Arsenal gear and in the case of a certain parasitic author/blogger, reap benefits from their “association” with the club.

A great man has told me that some websites may need libel insurance to help address the risk of being bullied by powerful parties with the means to kick them into touch. My knowledge of libel law is limited to knowing the definition of the word and that it is easy to claim but not always easy to prove. In other words, I know Jack McShyte about libel but I do know that if someone with enough time and money on his/her hands wants to claim that eighteen86 has written something defamatory about them, they could be a major annoyance.

The topic was brought up on an otherwise decent website founded by the (much more palatable) colleague of the annoying, parasitic author/blogger. This author/blogger is like a flea living in the coat of your healthy, loveable dog. Were it not for the pompous scribe, I would still frequent the site. Its founder has interesting insights when he finds time to post.

We, at eighteen86, feel that everyone deserves their professional respect but obviously there are those who must be called out from time to time. The parasitic author/blogger is one such character. I’ve heard from a very reliable source that he called Abou Diaby a cretin.

What exactly is as a cretin?

I wondered if I could possibly be one myself so I took the time to do a bit of research. The respected medical journal The Lancet was just one of my sources – I didn’t make up anything to suit my argument.

Insufficient iodine intake can lead to mental impairment and stunted physical growth. The condition is called cretinism. Cruelly, terms like retard, idjit, and spaz have been used to describe the unfortunate individuals who experience this debilitating, awful condition. To be in a state of limited mobility and mental stagnation is not something to trivialize.

What I’ve found through the research has made the parasitic author/blogger even more annoying. His actions are malicious. I’d laugh if a libel suit was thrown at him.

I wish he’d take six weeks off and then retire. You are not nearly as important as you think you are. Ben and all the other sycophants that praise you should sleep right through the season, or longer.

Professional Arsenal

Everybody claimed that Arsenal won the first leg due to two lucky goals. Even Arsene and some of the players went on to posit this opinion. That being said, everybody quickly added that Arsenal clearly deserved to take a two goal advantage back to the Emirates.

There will be games where we struggle. Celtic was one of them. Credit Celtic for harassing us far more than either Everton or Portsmouth did. They were playing at home, and while they weren’t impressive offensively, they did a decent job of disrupting our natural passing rhythm. Part of that disruption can be credited to the fact that we’re still settling into our new formation. Andrey clearly approves of it, so we’ll give it some more time before we make a judgment on it.

To me, this illustrates just how professional our squad is becoming. They’re taking care of business and winning the games that Champion sides should win. It was a professional performance.

That hasn’t prevented others from criticizing our team because our strikers aren’t scoring goals. Such ridiculous tosh shouldn’t be tolerated really. It would be one thing if the strikers weren’t scoring and we were being shut out of games. But the fact is, we’ve scored 12 goals in 3 games and the goals have been flying in from everywhere else. People can talk about van Persie looking out of sorts and not effectively using Arshavin all they want, but this is something that was to be expected.

The bottom line is, we look more solid in possession and we’re covering up our potential shortcomings.

There is much to look forward to.

Losing on Sunday may be a big disappointment, but it won’t hide the fact that it has been a good month for Arsenal. That is, if we beat Celtic tomorrow and advance to the Champions League group stages as expected.

Liverpool Not Arsenal Will Struggle

In the race for 4th spot, Liverpool are the team that are most likely to drop out. They have history. Back in 2005, Everton claimed 4th spot at Liverpool’s expense, only for the Reds to win the Champions League and claim a back door route back into the competition. Arsenal have no history. They have qualified for the Champions League in every season since 1998.

Rafa Benitez loves the Champions League. He uses his tactical acumen and works his magic to grind Liverpool into the latter stages of the competition. But he may have to start thinking about the Europa League.

This season, however, the Champions League may prove to be a distraction for Liverpool. A distraction in their fight to stay in the the top four. Two defeats in their first three Premiership games does not bode well. True, we can only judge teams after 10 games but Liverpool were a little bit fortunate last season and have showed cracks during pre-season.

Add the financial robbery by their owners of the club and you have a club on the verge of a crisis.

Selling Alonso and not having Steven Gerrard on their pre-season trip to Asia due to his court case has not helped. Yes, Liverpool will get better. Aquilani when fit will improve them, but Voronin and Babel will not.

Teams like Stoke and Birmingham will identify Liverpool as weakness in the top four and play that extra harder when paired against them. Arsenal were that team last season but seem to have a new look about them. Gallas looks like a new player. Vermaelen looks very good so far and Denilson, Song, Ramsey, and Diaby all look like Premiership players.

I’ve always said that Liverpool are the weak link out of the teams that finished in last seasons top four. The British media still think that Arsenal will be the team to drop out of the top four. In 2006, Arsenal came close to that prediction and ever since then we have always been the media’s favorites.

Now the tide has turned. Arsenal have a steel look about them. Liverpool seem to lack confidence. On Saturday we shall see where Arsenal are at. The Champions League group stage qualification should be secured by then (netting Arsenal 2 million pounds in the process).

Defeating Manchester United will detonate the Premiership. Wenger knows this and this is what Arsenal will be aiming for. United do not have Ferdinand. It is a good time to play them. Arsenal always do well playing at Old Trafford this time of the season.

Fourth spot is not on Arsenal’s agenda.

The Premiership title is.

The critics and pundits need to realize this.