Ramsey Failed at a Corner

The Everton game exposed certain truths. Number one: Young players do not have the mental concentration that more experienced players like Gallas have. Take the first Everton goal. It came from a corner kick. Whenever Arsenal defend a corner kick, they defend using zonal marking. For me, zonal marking does not work for set pieces such as corner kicks. For corner kicks, you need old fashioned man to man marking. Zonal marking leaves players marking an area not a man. When Everton took their corner, Osman was standing on the edge of the penalty area. He then sprinted into the zonal area that Aaron Ramsey was covering, only Ramsey was staring at the corner kick not having a clue on who he should mark. His awareness was completely off, so he missed Osman’s run.

It was Ramsey’s job to pick up Osman. Gallas and Vermaelen were marking Cahill and Fellaini. Sagna was trying to help protect our pathetic goalkeeper Almunia from Saha. No goalkeeper should have his right back acting as his bouncer. The sooner Almunia gets injured the better.

On the goal line, covering the right and left posts were Nasri and Denilson. Traore was covering the area between the front post and the corner kick while Diaby was acting as back up for Gallas and Vermaelen.

On the edges of the penalty area were Arshavin and Eduardo. The Russian was closer to Osman. He watched Osman make his run but decided not to act. Instead he raised his arm – for what I have no clue. If Arshavin had taken responsibilty and tracked Osman maybe the scores would have stayed at 0-0. He didn’t and instead passed responsibility on to Ramsey who failed miserably.

Almunia once again showed why he should not be in the Arsenal first team. He can’t command his box, he can’t punch the ball, or catch the ball. He is an HIV goalkeeper spreading uncertainty throughout the Arsenal players. OK, he made a great save against Vaughan but that’s what Arsenal goalkeepers are expected to do. Every time Arsenal have to defend a corner or a cross I worry – are we protected? Because with Almunia as our condom, you know we’re not!

Traore is not a left back. He had a shocker. He’s a left winger. He had no help at all. Aged 20, he needs help playing in a position that he’s not comfortable with. Who was in front of him against Everton? Aaron fucking Ramsey – King of the Markers when it comes to defending corners. Traore did not have a good game. Positionally, Traore was poor. Every time there was an Arsenal set play or corner kick, the two center-backs would go up into attack and leave Traore as the last man, which is what happened for Everton’s second goal. If you’re a 20 year old center-back, you need someone more experienced to stay back and help you.

Everton got into Arsenal very quickly. They were fast out of the blocks and disrupted Arsenal’s fluency. Led by the cunt Phillip Neville who had a good game at right-back. But when Everton gained possession, they played the ball very well. All over the pitch, Everton were first to the ball. They snuffed out Arshavin, Arsenal’s best player going forward. To stop Arshavin you have to cut off the service to him. For the first 20 minutes of last Saturday’s game, Arshavin hardly touched the ball. It was only in the last 10 to 15 minutes that he was a threat.

Everton hussled and harried Arsenal’s midfield. Moyes got his tactics spot on.

Bolton will be different.

Man City are now in the title race

I’m not worried

Keep it Arsenal

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Three Points Dropped, One Rescued

– During a season, there is a big emphasis placed on beating teams that you should beat. For the Big Four, this basically means that you should win all your home fixtures against teams that are not in the Top Six. Everton are currently not there, but they certainly could be by the end of the year. After defeating them 6-1 earlier this year at Goodison, nobody could have expected a waltz, especially when you factor in the terrible weather.

– That being said, we were slow to start the game once again. I don’t know why this happened yet again, but it made me wonder if Wenger was going to unleash another tirade at the team. Allowing Leon Osman, the smallest figure on the pitch, to score off a corner is not acceptable. Earlier this year, much was made of the odd stat that we hadn’t scored a goal in the first 15 minutes (which ended when Cesc scored against Burnley). That stat makes perfect sense to me. We’re frequently slow starters, and frankly it’s getting increasingly annoying.

– Both are goals were technically “lucky”, but they were the result of slick passing moves. Why don’t you tell me how many of these “lucky” goals that Frank Lampard scores every other week? You don’t have the British media stuffing the word “lucky” down our throats when he does that, do you?

– Manuel Almunia was atrocious once again. He almost got Sagna injured when he threw a ball to him and Pienaar quickly tackled Bacary in an attempt to try to win the ball. He collided into Traore when it appeared that Armand had it covered. He flapped out a cross which made him effectively concede an open net. He went down to ground far too early and allowed Pienaar to chip it over him with ease. He failed to communicate to Traore that nobody was near him, allowing us to concede another corner. He made a decent 1 v. 1 save against James Vaughan, but did little else. How many times does he have to be told that a goalkeeper’s duty is not to start attacks but to relieve pressure? How many times is he going to toss a ball to one of our sidebacks when they’re not ready to receive a pass?

– The James Vaughan 1 v. 1 was created in a moment of incredibly poor sportsmanship by Everton. Denilson was on the ball and suddenly crumbled to the ground. He was not tackled or put under pressure by an Everton player. We were down by a goal, so this was no attempt to stop Everton’s momentum nor was it time wasting. Now I understand that you’re supposed to play to the whistle, but they should have kicked the ball out. Instead, they launched an attack and created a massive opportunity for Vaughan. After that chance died, Cahill kicked the ball out of bounds and the commentators saluted Everton for their sportsmanship. That’s frankly ridiculous.

– Andrey Arshavin was a peripheral figure, as were our other forwards for most of the match. Nasri linked well, but we created very few chances during the match. We need to get Andrey the ball more. The fact that Landon Donovan, who gave Traore a torrid time, had more of the ball than Andrey is a galling fact. It’s both Andrey and the team’s fault.

– Quite honestly, without Cesc and Alex Song, our midfield was light and it was always going to show. After a couple of sparkling displays, Ramsey added nothing to the match other than some tidyness. Denilson was effective, but we failed to control the game for large patches of it. Everton were simply the more eager side, closing down on our players fast.

– At around half time, I wondered how fair it was that we were playing in such atrocious conditions, when most clubs didn’t even try to get their matches off. Fulham, also in London, postponed their match. There are not as many scheduling conflicts for teams like Hull, so why would they try to get their match in?

– At 1-1, I thought to myself, with this weather, we need to score soon. Anything could happen, and when Rosicky gave away the ball, they scored. At 2-1 down, conceding two corners in a row, an equalizer and a point was most welcome. The fact is, we could have scored again after the second goal and we really did go for it.

– The elimination of thinking that “a draw is a good point” is what led to us conceding the second goal. Throughout the year, we’ve been going for winners more frequently than in past seasons. That’s both a good and bad thing, but in this case, a draw really is a decent point.

– When Gallas, Vermaelen, and Denilson all went down during the game, I feared for the worst. Apparently, the central defenders are both fine, but how much longer can they continue to be durable?

– I’ve been reading a lot of reports saying that Everton were robbed of the three points. While we were outplayed in the first half, we largely dominated the match in the second half. The only reason we went down is because we were aggressively trying to go for the winning goal. We had 65% of the possession. Just because a smaller club comes and frustrates a club like ours for large stretches does not mean that they deserve three points. It just means that they competed. A draw was the correct result.

– As it stands, a draw means we are now three points behind Chelsea. That still means that we can beat them at Stamford Bridge and be ahead of them. That is why the single point has value. This is the opposite of when we threw away two points at Upton Park. As disappointing as the performance was, an actual loss would have stunted our momentum. We prevented that, and Rosicky atoned for his earlier mistake by having a huge hand in winning us the point that moments earlier seemed gone.

Pundits

Arsenal destroyed Everton not because Joleon Lescott did not want to play for The Toffees and thus would rather be wearing a Manchester City shirt. No homos, we won because we got rid of bad wood, trained hard in pre-season on a new system that seems to have rejuvenated the way we play and in Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal now have a very good center-back.

Senderos fuck-off.

Alan Hansen (ex-Liverpool player) and Alan Green (a fat Northern Irish cunt who secretly supports Liverpool but is paid by the BBC to give unbiased reporting) think otherwise. This is what that dour Scottish cunt Hansen had to say about Arsenal’s stunning 6-1 win:

“Lescott did not want to play, his team-mates probably knew that and there was a lack of communication and cohesion.

I am not saying for a single minute that the uncertainty over Lescott was the sole cause for Everton’s defeat but it was definitely a factor.”

Alan Green the BBC broadcaster wrote in the Belfast Examiner:

“So, forget about opening day results, Arsenal will again be a little adrift and Chelsea will heed Carlo Ancelotti and make the Champions League their priority leaving the Premiership title between Manchester United and Liverpool.”

Green compared Arsenal’s win on Saturday to Sheffield Wednesday’s opening Premiership win of the 98/99 season. Adding that Wednesday got relegated that season.

Green had once described ex-Manchester City defender Sun Jihai as wearing shirt “Number 17…that’ll be the Chicken Chow Mein, then” he announced during a live radio broadcast for BBC Radio Five Live. In January 2007, Green commented on Five Live, during the Everton v Reading match, when film star Sylvester Stallone was paraded on the pitch, that Stallone’s limousine might not have wheels when he returns to it.

Talking of comments. Aberdeen boss, Mark McGhee (another fat cunt), spoke after his crap team had lost their season opener to Celtic 3-1. This is what he had to say about the Celtic v Arsenal Champions League game:

“I’ve watched a lot of Arsenal over the last five years or so and I think Celtic have as good a chance next week as they would have at any time during those five years.”

“Arsenal are a terrific footballing team, but Celtic, with their movement and play that they had today (Celtic had just beaten his team 3-1), are capable of giving them a real game.”

Have you ever heard of a team called FK Sigma Olomouc? No, don’t worry, it’s not a new STD that’s been infecting your cock for the past few days. No, it’s a team that Aberdeen lost to in a qualifying tie of the new Europa Cup. Aberdeen, were in fact smashed by this team. 5-1 at home and 3-0 away.

Mark McGhee, has no place to comment, so please fuck off.

Goal technology must to be introduced after the farcical refereeing in the Bristol City-Crystal Palace match on Saturday. Crystal Palace scored a legitimate goal that was ruled out by the referee because he thought the ball had hit the post. Bristol City won the game 1-0 after scoring a last minute winner. Palace were refused a replay.

I feel sorry for Crystal Palace.

My last point is about Manchester City. If they are in the top five at Christmas, then you can bet your bottom dollar that they will spend millions of pounds to be in the top four.

My thoughts now though are on Celtic. An away goal and draw will do but a win will be what I want.

Arsenal

Post Match View – Everton

The drunken, rude, smelly West Ham fans in attendance made overcoming a negative start to the day slightly more challenging. Some very negative vibes came my way through an early morning call from someone who felt it necessary to remind me that he doesn’t like our manager, that the rings of Saturn disappeared two days after he’d predicted – costing him a large sum, and how life in general just isn’t all it’s advertised to be.

I was pumped for the first chapter of our great story. I didn’t want to deal with his negative vibes. He annoyed me.

Later, I met a colleague and overall great man at the pub. He said that he didn’t feel good about the match. His morning hadn’t started well either. I’ve become an optimistic old bastid so I reassured him with what might have seemed like a ridiculous statement, ” Everton 0 Arsenal 6″.

I don’t make predictions. They seem silly to me. How can someone tell me today that he/she knows what will happen in the future yet not be able to repeat the feat when I ask for the winning lottery numbers? I said 6 – 0 because I believe we’re good enough to make it happen (against any team), not because I knew it would.

He probably chuckled inside nonetheless.

The West Ham fans made it difficult to watch the match. They wanted trouble, but but we didn’t back down. They wanted attention, but we gave them little. They wanted space so they unleashed a highly offensive stream of rectal flatus. Full English breakfasts, umpteen pints, and extreme envy laced in vile, demonic sentiments for our great club and manager caused that section of the bar to suddenly have an olfactory displeasure that no Red and White wearing supporter of The World’s Greatest Team should be subjected to.

The damn place was packed so we suffered through it, but we would eventually have the last laugh. With each Arsenal goal, the decibel level of those in claret and blue lowered as that of those in Red and White increased. Watching the ring leader, the stupid, fat skinhead wannabe slink his way out of the bar felt almost as good as seeing the smile on Eduardo’s after he scored the sixth.

The back four looked comfortable and reassuring in a way that gives me hope. Gallas and Vermaelen looked like they’ve played together before. The fullbacks were never troubled and took advantage of that to venture forward to good effect – something we sorely missed last season. Almunia had little to do, but I’m watching you Mr. “I Want To Be England’s No. 1”. Your probationable offences are not easily forgotten.

Denilson – more than just good stats. I welcome the response.
Cesc – 2 goals, 2 assists. And nice touch with the tribute to Dani as well.
Alex Song – the boy can play. Matthieu who?

I wonder how much the abuse that Robin will receive with his back to goal will affect him. Nik looked effervescent at times while making a very solid contribution. AA23 never felt the need to leave third gear, yet we’ve scored six and neither of the front three got a goal. I’d take note of that if I were the opposition.

It’s only one game, but it’s a very positive start. Believe it or not, I knew we could put six past the would be gate crashers, the pretenders that so-called experts picked to finish ahead of us.

Celtic beware!

The Season Starts with Everton

I’ll probably write a full season preview after the transfer window closes. The truth is, it’s hard to make definitive statements before knowing what we’ll fully have at our disposal. I will state these three points though.

1) In Andrey Arshavin, we have one of the three best players in the Premier League (Essien and Rooney are the other two in my opinion). And sometimes, these players are the ones that decide who win the championship.

2) Never write off Arsenal when coming off a summer without a major international tournament. Sure, we had a few players in the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup, but it’s not similar to the effect that the World Cup or the Euros have on our team. If you look at all our league triumphs, you’ll notice they come in these years. Take a look at the team that should have won the Premier League two years ago. Same deal there.

3) None of the other teams above us have improved considerably. In the case of Manchester United and Liverpool, it could be argued strongly that they have regressed. This year is wide open. Wide open.

And off to previewing the first match of the season.

Quite frankly, it is actually a difficult fixture. Everton are especially tough at Goodison, but at least they’ll be deprived of Arteta and Jagielka. They still have players like Cahill, Fellaini, and Jo. It’ll be interesting to see where they play Fellaini throughout the year. While decimated by injuries, they would play him up front, but he’s a natural central midfielder. They’ll definitely be pumping balls at his big afro throughout the whole match. We’ll see whether or not Vermaelen will be able to deal with these aerial balls, a very interesting thing to keep an eye on.

For my money, David Moyes is a dead ringer for Moe Szyslak on The Simpsons. But anyway, he’s a decent manager. He can pump out the maximum out of minimal conditions, but I don’t think he has the tactical nous to ever manage a big club. Everton seems to be his level, and that’s not an insult.

Our season starts with a brutal stretch of games. If we come through it, we’ll show everybody that we’re for real. The odds may be stacked against us, and it seems as though 50% of the pundits have predicted us to finish out of the top 4. But that’s why they’re pundits and not maangers. They don’t have a fucking clue.

Believe.

2009/10 Season Preview Part One

The new season starts on Saturday. Instead of looking at the current Arsenal squad, I am going to concentrate on the so-called Battle For 4th Spot. Starting with:

ASTON VILLA
Martin O’Neill is another Phil Brown but slightly tamer. Remember his gay celebrations when Villa scored against us? I do. What about when he fronted Wenger on the touchline at Villa Park? Acting hard and talking up his team is what Martin O’Neill is all about. He sounds just like Phil Brown.

Villa deserved to beat us at The Emirates 2-0 back in December, but the 2-2 draw at Villa Park was my lowest point of last season.

I want revenge.

I want James Milner and Ashley Young to suffer pain. Remember Villa were shocking in the second half of last season. So why believe the hype surrounding them? After all, they have a 40 year old keeper, lost their captain, signed an expensive crock and a teenager who has only played Division 1 football. Delph has been bought to replace Ashley Young who will join one of the big four next summer – and that big four does not include Villa.

Villa won’t be the surprise that they were last season. Wankers.

EVERTON
Tough first game of the season. But Everton away is always a tough fixture. I would rather play Everton now, when the weather is still nice and the pitches are in good condition, than in the winter. Last season, van Persie scored a last minute equalizer in the January fog after that Aussie, Cunthill scored from a corner. Everton are another team tipped to take 4th spot from Arsenal. This is because they finished 5th in the Premiership and reached the FA cup final after knocking Man United’s reserves out in a semi-final penalty shoot out.

I’m not a big Everton fan. They play long ball and rely on crosses and set pieces for goals. David Moyes seems like a drill Sargeant and Phil Neville is scum. Jo is their only signing and Lescott looks as though he’s off to Man City, only to be replaced by Senderos. Hardly an improvement. 4th spot – fuck off.

SPURS
Palacios is a good signing but Bassong will be another Dawson. After all, he played for Newcastle and helped them get relegated. Peter Crouch is awkward and a threat in the air, but he’s not Luis Fabiano. The Scum also signed two unknows from Sheffield United who will turn out be the new Bale and Bostock – nobody’s in other words. Spurs will not have the terrible start to the season that they had last year. However, they will never make the top four either.

Carling Cup finals provide The Scum with a false sense of superiority. Harry Redknapp is now expected to provide Scum fans with the 4th spot that they so badly crave. If he can’t deliver, he will join his thicko son Jamie as a pundit and quit coaching. Last season, The Scum got a lucky 4-4 draw. That chav Bentley went mental. Clichy fucked up that day. I want revenge badly. Good to see Bentley get arrested for drink driving.

Cont.

MANCHESTER CITY
Spending money on big transfer fees has never guaranteed you anything. Teams need time to gel. City fans are expectant. A mediocre start and Mark Hughes will get the sack. And that’s what will happen to City. 4th spot is still a pipe dream for them.

LIVERPOOL
Alonso is a big loss. Arbeloa will be too. Mascherano would love to join them. Carragher is getting on. Aquilani is injured and Glen Johnson is way overpriced.

Pundits believe Liverpool will be champions.

I think otherwise.

Liverpool are in the fight for fourth spot. They are too reliant on Torres and Gerrard. Kuyt and Benayoun are underated and more dangerous than people give them credit for but who else have they got?

Voronin? Lucas? Ngog? Babel?

Please!

People need to realize that Liverpool will not do the double over Man United and Chelsea, like they did last season. They will also lose to Arsenal at The Emirates.

Liverpool fans are in for a shock.

So are Arsenal fans.

Arsenal are going to surprise you.

A Season of High Expectation

“People say we are young players but we’ve had a lot of experience and we’ve had ups and downs…we can learn from that. Getting into Semi-Finals will spur us onto greater things and we know not to make the same mistakes again. We will certainly learn from last season.” Theo Walcott

Many other factors (not just lack of experience) have stopped us doing better, but I feel this group can and is ready to produce. A lot rests on them of course, but the experience Theo talks about is there.

Starting with the League Cup final defeat to Chelsea, they’ve endured disappointment after disappointment – the terrible refereeing decisions that helped Liverpool get by us in the CL (Kolo and Phil didn’t help matters), the Eduardo injury, the defection of key players (only to regret leaving), the Gallas witch hunt. We’ve seen changes at Board level. We’ve seen fans turn against their own players, fans call for Arsene’s dismissal, fans have shown their impatience and true colors. It’s been a traumatic recent past for Arsenal Football Club. Arsene doesn’t get enough credit for his thick skin or for his focus.

Despite the doom and gloom that lingers from recent seasons we have to be thankful. Unlike Chelsea we have an effective youth program. Unlike United we don’t pretend that our large debt is less important than winning. Imagine what that club’s fans would be like if Rooney had to miss an entire season, if Ferdinand was missing for the final third of the season, causing them to fall short of their targets. The debt would suddenly be important again.

There is obvious disappointment among everyone affiliated with Arsenal that we haven’t won a trophy since Patrick’s last kick for the club. That’s natural, especially as we’d just come from a period of “winning trophies for fun” as Robin has put it. But we’ve got to accept that a host of players in their prime were winning those trophies. Since that final, we’ve developed a group that will win many trophies before they reach their own prime.

Some blame Wenger and his spending habits/transfer policy for the trophy drought. Some believe allegations that the club puts on a face of having cash to spend on players when it really doesn’t. Whichever you believe it’s important to note that these players have reached the Champions League semi-final without their best performers – Gallas, Cesc, Eduardo, Clichy (even if he was a big disappointment last season), and the cup tied Arshavin would have at least made Manchester United work a little harder for the right to go to Rome.

So the new season is upon us. At the time of writing, only ex-Ajax captain Thomas Vermaelen has been added to the squad. The well chronicled departures of Toure and Adebayor may or may not be addressed with replacements but as always, that is Arsene’s decision.

Our first match is a decent test against Everton, one of the clubs that many feel could finish above us – Manchester City, Aston Villa, and maybe another depending on form and who you believe are seen as capable (if not overdue) to crash the gates of The Big Four. As I’ve said before, don’t be surprised if the club that falls first is not Arsenal. Frankly, I find it wishful thinking if not spiteful that so many “experts” continually deem us as less equipped to maintain our standing than the pretenders, the would be gate crashers like Villa who barely won a match in their last 15 last season. Nor am I impressed by Manchester City’s millions. Everton don’t scare me. No team does.

It’s ironic that Everton could be the destination of the next player sold. Philippe Senderos has not lived up to expectation. At the time of writing, reports suggest that he is in talks with Everton and that a move is imminent. It’s been suggested that if Senderos is sold, we’ll be poised to bring in one or two additions. No matter what Arsene chooses to do, we’ll need to be more supportive of the team than we were last season.

Defensively, we haven’t been as impressive as I’d like but I feel that we’re good enough, just. The back four haven’t got any weaker in my view. Of course I’m betting that Vermaelen can’t be worse than Kolo had been in his last two seasons with us. There were times when he was well below average. Clichy bottomed out last season. He was shockingly unlike himself. Gallas is under less pressure (at least for now) and if he can continue the form displayed before season ending injury, we’ll be fine. Djourou has expressed that he feels ready for a breakthrough season. I am looking closely at how that develops. He can become a key player for us if it happens. Sagna has shown stellar form in the past. He approached repeating that form last season but there was still room for improvement. Silvestre has enough left in the tank to provide decent cover but to rely on him for more than that could be risky. Gibbs has a season of responsibility and heartache under his belt. The quality is there. If he plays well enough to push an in form Clichy, we’re sorted. Eboue at RB is not a terrible option if Sagna goes down. Almunia can make a difference, but will he be the difference. Fabianski has to improve on that display in the FA Cup semi-final if he wants to be taken seriously.

In midfield is where we’ve missed replacements from The Invincibles era the most. No Patrick – nearly impossible to replace, mind – no Pires, Ljungberg, Edu, or Parlour. Cesc has been a wonderful player but regaining his proper form is obviously a key. I commented recently that perhaps he, Flamini, Hleb, and Rosicky will never be able to perform consistently at their best level without each other. I hope I am wrong, but they haven’t proven otherwise. Denilson is a very useful player – OPTA proves it – but he’ll have to improve his final ball and his goals tally to complement his fantastic statistics. Alex Song is an under-rated player. His versatility and power make him one of the most important players in our team. I look forward to further improvement on what was a season that shut up a lot of people last term. Diaby is running out of time but if he can stay healthy, perhaps the 4-3-3 will suit him better. Nasri is a very good player from whom we saw flashes last season. Once healthy, he could do even better than just glimpses of his undoubted ability. A full season to build on will help. Ramsey and Wilshere will be used depending on the opponent, tactics, and whether or not Arsene sees a need. I won’t expect too much from either player but they are both capable of helping the cause, especially Lil’ Jack. The kid is special.

We don’t lack forwards. Robin has the most Arsenal appearances among the strikers, but it is Andrey Arshavin whose name will probably be first on the team sheet. I get a rush when I think of how many goals can come from Eduardo, Robin, and Andrey. In Theo, Nicklas Bendtner, and Carlos Vela we have effective options up front. The key will be quick transition going forward much like it was with the last Arsenal team that “won trophies for fun”.

Winning trophies for fun may look unlikely to most people and I understand that, but I expect big things of many players this season. I suspect that they expect big things of themselves.

I expect silverware.