Post Match View – Bolton Wanderers F.C.

I like beating Bolton. I’m over the moon not just from our 2-0 victory at the Reebok but also because I know we get another chance to beat them Wednesday. That the match today and the one upcoming midweek are very significant in the title race makes facing them even more exciting. We’ve answered some tough questions so far. This Bolton fixture may not be as difficult as it has been in the past but the result is just as sweet.

Craig Eastmond came in to play the holding role. Cesc returned and it was good to see that he hasn’t lost the form of his life. Noteworthy inclusions on the bench were Emmanuel-Thomas, Coquelin, and the returning Gael Clichy. Our No. 22 has missed 15 games with a back injury. I haven’t forgotten his performances were pretty bad before getting hurt. Let’s hope he sorts that out.

Bolton were up for it. In the first two minutes they’d already shown their intention to take the game to Arsenal. Armand Traore was too willing to let that happen. Yet in fairness to the boy (and to Mark Bright who also said as much) maybe he should have been given more support. Chong-Yong Lee will never have an easier opponent marking him.

By the fifth minute, we’d weathered the early storm. Cesc threatened Jussi Jaaskelainen’s goal after a decent spell of possession. Eduardo was beaten to the ball in similar fashion by Jaaskelainen on 7 and 17. Sandwiched in between, Diaby lost the ball three times and Cesc had a clear penalty not given. On 15, Traore was caught in possession. Seconds later, Almunia spilled a very easy ball to handle for a corner. The cynical Gooner could been forgiven at that point for feeling that it was going to be one of those days.

Arshavin was having yet another fairly anonymous game up top while we’d tried and failed to spring Eduardo on at least three occasion. It was going to take something special from someone else on the pitch. Step up somebody, please. Chelsea and United victories on Saturday made three points an absolute must.

Vermaelen headed away bravely on 20. Traore was at fault again. What the Italians call a tiro cross found its way past Jaaskelainen on 24. It looked like Diaby might have got there if he wanted it more or had at least anticipated better. At the other end, Gallas was forced to give Bolton an unnecessary corner. His stare at Almunia was telling. Again, it was clear that our No. 1 does little to help take pressure off the men in front of him.

On 26, an Arshavin shot won us a corner. He shouted instructions to Eastmond after. The debutant was having a so-so game. Anyone hoping to see glimpses of perhaps the next Alex Song will have to wait a bit longer. On 27, he escaped a booking after a clear and clumsy challenge on Lee. Maybe a more experienced player would have spotted and dealt with Lee’s threat to Traore better than Eastmond did.

On 28, Diaby sparked a quick scramble on top of the Bolton 18. The ball fell right for Cesc. He exchanged a quick one-two with Eduardo and then buried a neat shot past the far post.

1-0 AFC

On 30, Traore headed well back to Almunia to stop a potential one on one for Lee. It was one of the very few bright moments for the left back. Two minutes later, Eastmond shot through a crowd but Jaaskelainen saved it. Meanwhile, Mark Bright might have forced a few viewers to mute their televisions with gems like “11 men are always better than 10”, “Bolton must not concede a goal”, “the next goal is crucial, Bolton hopes it’s them”, and my favorite, “all good free kicks go in”.

On 34, a series of assaults on our captain started with a boot to his face and a tug of on his hair by Taylor while he laid face down in the Bolton penalty area. A minute later, he was taken down from behind by Robinson. On 38, Almunia saved from the aforementioned hair pulling Wanderer. On 40, Almunia saved well from a Klasnic shot that was not easy to see through the crowd in front of his goal.

I’ve heard the term ‘total football’ used may times in ways that didn’t necessarily describe anything that had to do with total football. Vermaelen’s run down the left wing to receive a ball from the Captain exemplifies total football – any player on the pitch can slot seamlessly in almost any position, at any time. We saw the same run from Gallas down the middle in the second half. Neither player ended up with the final ball but the concept was evident.

There were a couple more Traore mistakes for Lee to capitalize on and at least one more foul on Cesc by Robinson before the Half Time whistle. The Second Half would require a better performance from the nightmarish Traore, green Eastmond, anonymous Rosicky, sloppy Diaby, ineffective Arshavin, and as always, sure hands Almunia.

On 46, Klasnic could have done better after beating Gallas to a Davies knock down. I can’t remember him doing more than beat Vermaelen for that header the entire match, the sorry thug. On 48, Almunia, who looked steadier in the Second Half, did well to get to yet another Lee cross before Taylor could pounce.

Gallas headed a Cesc free kick high on 51. It looked like a decent chance. Lee would force a corner off of a Gallas deflection on 54. Bolton were winning all the battles at that point.

Taylor and Diaby shots were wide and high on 60 and 61. Zat Knight did well to clear a low Traore cross as Eduardo approached. On 63, Wenger sent Merida on for Eastmond. Clearly the turning point in the game from a tactical point of view. Bolton were working hard to win midfield but the addition of another Arsenal player to keep possession or to just make better decisions with the ball was a key to the final outcome.

On 65, Cahill’s vital clearance prevented a free header from the well positioned Eduardo. One minute later, Zat Knight stooped to head away with Eduardo on his hip. On 71, Taylor beat the trap but shot wide. He’s done well against us in the past but he must have forgot to put in his contacts today, such was his accuracy.

Clichy came on for Rosicky on 74. Vermaelen’s free kick on 76 went just over the bar. On 78, a good run by Cesc and then a good cross by Eduardo found Merida at the far post. He slotted home with his right foot.

2-0 AFC

Bolton pushed a high line and maintained pressure in pursuit of a consolation goal. I wondered if we’d catch them out for a third. The away support was fantastic at the Reebok with ONE ARSENE WENGER echoing throughout the stadium. Traore and Taylor continued their nightmares with a give away and an errant shot respectively. Perhaps Wenger wanted to let Traore work his way through what was an awful performance. He cannot play worse than that and will learn from it. I hope.

Eduardo’s form of late has been a concern but he has scored in three of the last five matches and assisted on both goals today. I’ll take that. I’m confident that he’ll find his form and make a difference.

Bolton Wednesday. I can hardly wait.


Bolton Wanderers Back to Back

It’s been an eventful week so far. Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup 3rd Round by Championship side Reading who are fighting a relegation battle. Liverpool cannot afford to fire Benitez. It would cost them over $25 million. I have no sympathy for Liverpool fans. Growing up in London during the late 1970’s and 1980’s a lot of kids supported Liverpool because they won trophies. They were glory hunters – the original Man U fans. They hated Arsenal when George Graham turned the club’s fortunes around. They still do but even more so because Wenger has got Arsenal playing better football than any of the Liverpool teams that played throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Liverpool are in trouble. If they don’t make 4th spot at the end of this season, then Torres will have to go. Gerrard may follow. Off the pitch, they are financially unstable. An average team and bad finance do not bode well.

Eight Ghanians from the victorious Under 20 World Cup team are in Ghana’s squad to play Ivory Coast today. With a number of notable names missing – such as Essien and Appiah – from Ghana’s team tomorrow, we could see one or two of them make their African Cup of Nations debut.

Certain English managers have been complaining about losing players to the tournament. In France, 66 players have left to play in Angola. Haven’t heard many complaints coming from their club managers and coaches.

Haven’t seen an Arsenal hat-trick for a long time, especially in the Premier League. I wonder if Sunday’s game against Bolton will provide one for Arsenal. Eduardo step forward.

Two back to back games against Bolton. What joy!

Keep it Arsenal

Arsenal v Bolton Wanderers is OFF

Due to heavy snow in London today’s game is OFF.

Hicks of Northern England

Here are some interesting facts about certain cities and towns that have Premiership clubs:

The London borough of Newham, where West Ham play, is the most ethnically diverse area of Britain.

There are no black communities in Stoke-on-Trent, Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley, Hull, Sunderland, and Wigan.

99% of Wigan’s population is white. Hull and Sunderland are not far behind with populations that are approximately 98% white.

The north-west towns of Blackburn, Burnley and Bolton have large Pakistani communities. Over 20% of Blackburn’s population is Pakistani. Yet, 99% of it’s season ticket holders are white.

Blackburn’s population is only 105,000. Wigan has a population of 81,000

Burnley has the smallest population, only 73,500 and is only 12 miles away from Blackburn.

What these small towns have in common is clear. They have small populations that are about as ethnically diverse as Hitler’s Germany. They have high unemployment rates, high teenage pregnancies, and high drug use. The result is an increase in white trash getting high and procreating.

This sounds like the Hicks in South Carolina or Alabama. It’s not far off.

In the eyes of the Stoke, Blackburn and Hull fans, clubs like Arsenal represent everthing that they are not and never will be: ethnically diverse, cosmopolitan, urban, modern, properous and foreign. The last point is important. If you support a team like Hull, then you have to accept that your team is never going to win anything – unless it’s a promotion play-off.

In fact, supporters of teams like Stoke and Hull will endure more disappointment than success. Every season they face a battle to stay in the Premiership. Eventually, however, they will go down and disappear like Bradford City. It’s the reason why their supporters take a bigger interest in the English national team than any of the fans from the top four clubs. Supporting England gives them a superiority complex that Hull or Stoke never can. Success is far more likely to be achieved with England than any Wigan or Blackburn.

So when a club like Arsenal employ mainly foreign players and coaches, supporters from clubs like Stoke are resentful. After all, Arsenal are an English club, yet contribute nothing to the English national team.

But this xenophobia isn’t just related to certain English fans, it’s widespread among English coaches. Fabio Cappello and Sven Goran Eriksson are secretly despised by English coaches like Sam Allardyce. In the eyes of Allardyce, the England job should be for an Englishman not a foreigner. England is the home of football and beer. Italy is the home of pasta and opera.

So why is Arsenal the target for this English xenophobia and not say Chelsea, a fellow London club that has a foreign owner, coach and just as many foreign players?

The answer: Arsene Wenger.

Wenger epitomizes everything that coaches like Alladyce are not: sophistication, style, multi-linguist, international and educated. Wenger was the first foreign Premiership manager. He revolutionized English football with sports science, continental coaching methods, diets, communication, training facilities and foreign players. Because of Wenger, Arsenal will always be the founder of change in the way Premiership clubs, think, act and play. But not everyone likes change.

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan says he will never appoint a foreign manager. He hates the foreign influence on the Premiership, stating that it has brought an increase in diving. However, the biggest xenophobes are the managers at clubs like Stoke. Tony Pullis thinks that his coaching methods are just as good as fellow foreign managers.

Pullis has never coached or studied abroad. His experience is with lower league teams like Bristol Rovers. He has never coached a team that has played in any European competition, only English teams that fight relegation. He knows that he will never coach a top four club. Those jobs rarely come around and when they do, they go to foreign coaches. That fact hurts him.

So when Arsenal play teams like Bolton, Blackburn, Stoke, or Hull there are certain factors you have to remember. They employ managers like Phil Brown, who like to play traditional English football – long ball, in-your-face, no time to settle, kick and rush. They pick big, burly, physical players like Ryan Shawcross to score goals from set-pieces or crosses. They play for a draw, stating that they are fighting relegation even though it’s September.

All of their managers are English, born and raised in these small, white, northern hick towns.

They hate Arsene Wenger. It’s why they try so hard to beat Arsenal more than any other club.

Wenger represents everything they know they can never be or will be. Wenger represents change. He is a pioneer. He is Arsenal. Without him Arsenal are nothing.

The Negatives need to remember that.

Villa and Bolton

Today, I watched Bolton Wanderers versus Aston Villa.

Why did I bother.

It was like attending a Southern Baptist church.

It was stale, boring, full of crosses, with Martin O’Neill acting like a nutty evangelical preacher – jumping up and down gesturing at nothing and remonstrating with his coaching staff over certain refereeing decisions such as throw-ins or offsides. Occasionally the crowd would sing crap songs – about how Bolton were the greatest team the world has ever seen. That world is obviously full of blind people and guide dogs. The Villa chant wasn’t much better. It went like this:


I know what you are thinking. The lyrics are difficult to memorize.

On 43 minutes Villa scored. Ashley Young put in a cross, a Villa player missed the header and the ball went in off the post. The goal was a fluke. But the commentator started talking about Villa taking 4th spot. I laughed inside.

The second half was the same. Crosses, headers, long balls from the back, tough tackles and not much else. Those wankers that say that the English Premiership is the best in the world need to watch this game – it was worse than MLS.

On 60 minutes, Bolton equalized. A cross, a defensive error, a goal. Bolton’s fans celebrated as though a revelation had just happened – no Bolton fans, it was the average Tamir Cohen scoring a shit goal.

The game painfully continued, just like a painfully boring sermon in some crusty Baptist Church. Both sets of supporters sang nothing songs about their loyalty to their clubs, and both teams played long, protracted, football. I was bored just like I would be sitting in a pew in any stale church in the South.

The ref only played 2 minutes of added time, saving me and plenty of others from the threat of being brainwashed by the commentator who kept on telling me that Martin O’Neill had worked miracles. Let’s get this straight, not even Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela worked miracles so how the fuck has Martin O’Neill?

The commentator later said that David Moyes should win Manager of the Year. For what? Getting to an FA cup final, reaching 6th in the Premier league? Or for not even making the group stages of the UEFA cup and then losing to Blackburn in the Carling cup 3rd round.

I then came to a conclusion about Bolton and Aston Villa. Bolton are like a hemorrhoid on your penis, while Villa are the herpes of the Premier League. Every so often they have a good season by threatening to finish in the top six by playing really painful football. They then get knocked out of the UEFA cup by playing their reserve team, complain about their small squads and then try and enter the Intertoto cup in order to qualify for the UEFA cup again. Genius!

That pathetic competition has now been disbanded, so Villa will instead try and break into the top four by buying more average international players like Nicky Shorey and James Milner. Those players can’t even break into the England squad. But the point is they’re English, which is more than Arsenal can say about their squad!

It was 13 games ago when Villa last won a match. Yet Martin O’Neill says:

“Overall I have been delighted with the team and on the whole we have been playing pretty well.”

12 games and zero wins is shocking. On the whole, Villa have played football similar to that of Stoke. Horrible! Overall, I would be disgusted by Villa’s results, but I support Arsenal, so I find them a complete joke.

If Arsenal win their next two Premiership games, they can look forward to more Champions League football next season. Villa on the other hand will disappear, only to reappear some time later like a bad hemorrhoid or a dose of herpes on the Premiership landscape.

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