Mirror Football

Sky Sports | Football

Arsenal News

Football Results

Barclays Premier League News

Arsenal News-Wire

Arseblog - "It"s fuckin" excellent"...an Arsenal blog.

Thierry Henry - Arsenal's Legend

Arsenal FC Blog

Arsenal Times News

Friday, November 21, 2008

Should Gallas be removed as Captain? Have your say.

Stating as fact that William Gallas' recent comments were made "in a misguided effort to deflect attention away from his captaincy" is unacceptably poor journalism, and any decent writer or intelligent reader ought to know that conjecture like this should always be kept out of news articles and confined to opinion pieces.

Any publisher that allows such blatant mixing of opinion and news is cheating its readers and showing contempt for journalistic standards, and while this is only after all a website about football, I still expect better. You should be on your guard against any temptation to do this if you have any respect for your readers or for yourselves as journalists.

You're right, mind you.
Andrew Ward, London

Arsenal Fans Have Had Enough Of Gallas
Monkey Steve asked whether Mailboxers can think of worst captains than Arsenal's William Gallas.

I cannot imagine that there has ever been anyone worse than this egocentric, responsibility-shirking, tactically-challenged, past-his-best apology for a leader.

As an Arsenal fan I am in equal parts ashamed and horrified that he has kept the armband for so long and if it is not taken from him now, I fear for our beloved club and the young players who deserve so much more from their captain.
A Woeful Gooner

...I never write in to 365 but this latest outburst by Gallas must surely be the straw that breaks the camels back when it comes to his captaincy. He has never been a consistently good player for Arsenal, let alone a good captain.

This is the latest in a long line of attacks on his own side, and quite frankly we, the fans, are sick of it. He is never positive, is the first to criticise his own team-mates, and doesn't even perform to his own very high standards.

A captain doesn't seek to shift responsibility to the other players in his side, as this latest outburst from Gallas has done. He is obviously trying to make other players the scapegoats. I hate John Terry, but his actions last night speak volumes of why he is the Chelsea captain and why Gallas was demoted down the ranks and subsequently sold.

Last night, in his post match interview, Terry took full responsibility for his mistake, admitted he was wrong and should have done better, and took all the pressure of Scott Carson, which may just spare him a second international exodus. Terry took one on the chin, accepted responsibility, and behaved in general as the captain should.

Compare this with his old accomplice Gallas. Arsenal's first 3 conceded goals this season were all from corners and were all scored by men Gallas should have been marking. Was Captain Bill's response one of responsibility and leadership. No, just like on the pitch, he sought to blame other individuals and in the press afterwards stated how certain members of the team had to defend better. Gallas clearly spends more time speaking to the press than his own team-mates.

Much has been made of Arsenal's problems, and I for one, do wholeheartedly believe that the team had no unity, no leader and no heart. The matches against Fulham, Sunderland and Stoke were some of the worst of the Wenger reign. As the two figureheads of the club, the manager and the captain, have to hold their hands up high and say that there is no collective desire in this team. (Even more so Wenger for persevering with Gallas for a second season, his choice of captain directly relating to the lack of brotherhood and teamwork on the pitch).

Would Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Ray Parlour, Dennis Bergkamp or Patrick Vieira ever have behaved in the way Gallas has done, NO. Whatsmore, with anyone of those players in the team you could be sure that any of our young players wouldn't dream of, let alone consider, stepping out of line or showing any signs of disrespect. Wenger has taken the best team in the world, a side which was invincible, and replaced them with a group of individual players with no particular allegiance to the club, whose best hopes of silverware is the Carling Cup. All of this to supposedly save money, yet we have the second highest wage bill in the prem?!

Not only should Gallas be stripped of the captaincy, he should be dropped. Bring in the 'real' Captain, Kolo Toure(someone who was around with the all conquering Arsenal legends of 04), partner him with Djourou at the back and see what happens. It surely can't be as bad as the 9 goals in 4 games conceded by Gallas and Silvestre. (Chelsea and Untied rejects who are apparently still good enough for Arsenal though).

I hate to be so negative but the club has become a joke, and its choice of Captain is the punch line. They need to re-install some figures at the club that represent Arsenal and can actually galvanise some unity and respect. Why Keown was never made permanent defensive coach after guiding a back four of Eboue, Toure, Senderos and Flamini to the best ever defensive record in the Champions League remains a mystery.

It's been said before but Wenger needs to buy a clear, proven, experienced quality centre back and defensive midfielder in January. I don't have much hope as aside from Campbell and Toure, Wenger has never signed a decent centre back. Can you imagine any of Stephanovs, Tavlaridis, Luzhny, Cygan, Senderos or Song ever playing for ManUre, Chelsea or Liverpool. Not a chance. Its dark days to be an Arsenal fan, and while Gallas is captain and his team of whiners and individuals carry on as they have been, the situation doesn't look like improving.
Cal, AFC, London

...I'll cut to the point. Gallas needs to go - both as our captain and as an Arsenal player. I'd say sell him in the January transfer window.

He is NOT captain material and given the way he has acted thus far, stripping him of the captaincy but keeping him on the playing roster will only create more trouble.

Willy (or cock, take your pick) will just bitch and moan about it for all eternity and screw the team even more than he already has. Just admit you were wrong Arsene and fix the problem before the rot spreads.
Matt Wright, Gunner in Aus

A Picture That Paints A Thousand Complaints
Ignoring the "did he/-didn't he say those moronic things" aspect of the debate over Gallas, I just wanted to draw everyone's attention to the picture that you have on your site in relation to Captain Numpty. I believe its the shot of him stropping at the end of the Brum game last year. Look at him. Look at his kit. Its pristine. Spotless.

He has just been captaining a top of the table side againtst some relegation battlers away from home, in a game where Brum were putting it about and Arsenal had to come from behind. And he's the skipper.

And at the end of the game he has less stains on his clobber than I do after eating me dinner. If ever one wanted a great visual on this talented but soft and workshy Arsenal team, then look to the "leader."
Mark "and hes wearing Dennis' shirt. Utter sacrilege". Johnson

Carrick: Rubbish
Michael Carrick is absolutely pants. He is masquerading as a 'passing' midfielder yet he only ever passes to his keeper or his center backs. Xavi is the best passing midfielder around (witness Euro Championship or La Liga), that's hows it done.To say he is similar to Scholes is a huge insult to Scholes. He rarely scores or gets an assist like Scholes has done his whole career (not so much in the latter days).

Someone even refered to him as a deep lying playmaker. When I think of a deep lying playmaker I think of Fernando Redondo. Redondo or Carrick? It's like comparing Maradona with Paul Dickov. He's not good enough for United or any other Champions League team.

Which brings me to another point: how bitter is Terry Butcher? Yes, Maradona used his hand to score a goal, get over it. Maybe he's more bitter due to the fact that he was beaten twice for that goal. Clown.

That's probably all.
Mox (not going to be published cuz I slagged off two Englishmen) Carlos

The Carrick Contradiction
I really can't believe the sudden love-in with Michael Carrick following one (admittedly very good) display for England against an understrength and underperforming Germany side.

Now I'm not blinkered to see the strengths the guy possesses. I will even go as far as to say that he has been a good (albeit wildly overpriced) purchase for Man Utd, the reason being that, given time on the ball, he's as good as anyone at crafting passes and making things tick. He also possesses an excellent football brain.

My biggest gripe with Michael Carrick though is that he is a completely different player against good and bad opposition (which is why he's been a good signing for Utd). When the team is on top, he's great - acting as a fulcrum at the heart of the midfield to keep play flowing and open up new angles of attack for his teammates. Put him up against top class players though and the man completely disappears.

Two games played in quick succession sum up Michael Carrick for me. The first is Man Utd destroying Roma at home 7-1 in the CL, where he was magnificent, scoring and setting up goals for fun. United were great, he was better. Roma, quite simply, were dog (they let the pensioner Larsson score ffs).

A few weeks later the same side ran up against a Milan team packed with experienced and quality midfielders. People will argue that the whole of United's eleven that day were shocking, but my point is that Carrick is the man United needed to turn to that day to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and haul them back into contention. Instead he misplaced more passes and missed more tackles than anyone.

I challenged a Man U supporting friend of mine to name a big game in which Carrick has excelled and beyond the Roma one, he was unable to cite one example. I on the other hand can think of several in which he has disappeared. The man simply doesn't make the grade at the highest level and will continue to be found wanting against top quality opposition (though hopefully only in a United shirt and not an England one).
Matt Houston, London

Scholes: Not Average
Loathe as I am to come to the defence of a Man Utd player, particularly one who has always tormented my own team, I think Neil Raines may have got a bit carried away when he described Scholes "very, very, average" for England.

14 goals from 66 caps is a good return and it would probably have been better but for his unhappy stints out on the left wing.
Ben Smith

...Can I just counter the idea that playing Carrick and Barry is somehow better than playing Scholes at his best. I have often found myself angry at the way England fans criticise Scholes for his England performances, without ever watching him pull the strings for Man Utd.

The reason for this is that when Scholes was banging them in from the edge of the box for United, they were playing with two strikers, in Yorke/Cole or Sheringham or Solskjaer, and two wingers in Giggs and Kanchelskis/Ronaldo/a.n.other. What this meant was that the back four were effectively kept busy, so Scholes could find the space for his brilliance to shine.

England, on the other hand, never had wingers, we had Beckham who wanted to be a central midfielder and Joe Cole or another right footed winger on the left who would always cut inside. What this meant was that the back four could sit narrow and one was normally free to pick up Scholes. Late runs into the box are often missed by midfielders but not by a spare centre back or full back.

Scholes was a victim of England's lack of wingers and formation, he is still and always has been a class player.
Paul Milton, Southampton

More Rubbish Cups
All this talk about the worst cup competition of all time is silly and a pointless waste of time...mostly because it's dancing around the real worst cup competition of all time, the British Cup Winners Challenge Cup of 1987/88, St Mirren v Coventry City, a fixture oozing glamour, and a cup so pointless, it still doesn't have a winner.

They played one leg out of two, abandoned it due to a lack of interest, and gave up...

Anyone fancy organising a second leg to settle the dispute that rages on to this day?
Michael Connolly

...In yesterday's mailbox, Ian Hueston of Dublin stated that 'Man Yoo also won the trophy the only time a 3rd place play off match for the FA Cup was played between the two losing semi finalists'. Sorry, I don't think that's true. I recall Wolves beating Arsenal 3-1 at Highbury, probably in August 1973, in the FA Cup 3rd place match. I even recall there being highlights on ITV the following afternoon.

I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the Texaco Cup in this list of crap tournaments, although to be fair, I don't think it was actually that crap. The first one was held in 1970-1, and, oddly enough I remember this because Wolves won the trophy the first time it was held. I think the idea was that it was a dry run for a possible British cup, so there were teams from England Scotland and Ireland (without looking it up, I'm sure Wolves beat Derry City in one of the earlier rounds), and included the highest placed teams that hadn't qualified for Europe.

The final was a two-legged match between Wolves and Hearts. Wolves won the first leg 3-1 at Tynecastle, but Hearts could only win 1-0 at Molineux in the return (on the same night Arsenal won at Spurs to win the first leg of their first Cup and League double, trivia fans!).

I'm sure the tournament lasted for more than one season, but the following season Wolves qualified for the UEFA Cup, so probably wouldn't have defended the title.
Paul Quinton, just realising how sad I can sound sometimes, Wolverhampton

Thanks to f365 for this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

All your rants!!

Losing The Faith On Wenger
If Wenger thinks he will win anything with Diaby, Denilson, Song , he really needs to go. Cream over the youth products all you want. If Wenger loves unearthing starlets, let him become a f**k*ng scout!

Most fans pay £40 + a game in the hope that their team wins a match, or a league, not so the profits of a club are secure! If we don't qualify for the CL, which I think we won't, finally, finally, someone may have the balls and turn around to him and say, 'you f**k*d up...now what? You gonna spend some money on a complete player?'

Our defence hasn't been up to scratch for ages and he has done nothing to remedy that. Our defensive midfield was weakened and he did nothing. People forget about Gilberto and we have missed him so much. Giving the captaincy to Gallas instead of him was disgusting and Wenger should be ashamed of how he treated one of the most professional players we have had. Fabregas will leave, I can guarantee it, his apathy and poor form this season has been evident for all to see, as will Adebayor, and then what? We could get £60 mill for those two, and then what? I know, service some of that debt, because we won't be in the CL and that money will need to be replaced.

To my fellow Arsenal fans, get used to not competing at all, I fear barren days ahead.
John 'utterly disillusioned' Matrix

Arsenal Lack Leadership In The Stands
I've been an Arsenal season ticket holder since the move to the Emirates, at a cost of £3,500 over 3 years. In return I've seen some incredible world class games, but also a lot of frustrating games, and this season is looking like there's going to be a number of fairly meaningless games (obviously I'm hoping for a good run in the Champions League).

I chip in with the singing, shout 'come on lads' a few times, stand up to show my hatred of Tottenham etc. etc. but I do often find myself sitting quietly and well-behaved like those around me for long stretches in some games. Sorry fellow gooners, but most of you do the same. We need leadership not just on the pitch, but in the stands as well.

In fact I missed the Villa game on Saturday and passed my ticket on to someone else. After 3 home games in two weeks unfortunately the missus demanded my attention for a saturday afternoon. Again, sorry guys, I guess I should take some share of responsibility for our poor performance against Villa. I'll do my best to get to every single game remaining this season (although I have to miss one over Christmas).

But after reading some of the mails yesterday and this morning I was wondering if I myself was falling into the category of fans no longer wanted at the stadium, and if so I will consider my position for the greater good of the team. Otherwise, f**k off and stop your bitching, we're in this together, scumbags.
John Davies

Letting The Side Down
We now find ourselves in a mutually acrimonious viscious spiral:

- The team falters due to inherent weaknesses.

- The fans, enraged behave in a terrible and unprecedented way - but towards the team, as I suppose the only outlet for their ire. (How many players have been frequently booed this season - Bendtner, Adebayor, Eboue, the whole team? Booing has been present almost every other game.It is absolutely disgusting in my view, and I am ashamed that our Arsenal supporters relationship with our own players has come to this.)

- The team personnel already with fragile belief and love in the arsenal project and the badge really do lose any remaining vestiges of love, performances drop further, and players cannot wait to get out.

- All is destroyed.

I implore all Arsenal Fans. I share your pain, but on no account boo the team. Even more so if they are spineless, do we need to get behind them to give them heart. It is not any players fault that he is on the pitch, so any annoyance at his percieved lack of quality should not be directed at him.

Angus Hulme

A Red-Letter Day
I was getting ready to write an angry tirade against Darren Hoare just now, until I read the last lines of his email. It's true there are probably loads of Red Members like myself, waiting to get the next level of membership so I can get to more games.

I supported Arsenal as a kid and was a Junior Gunner (most clubs have an equivalent) but I then moved further away from London and even abroad for a while, hence I didn't continue paying every year. But back in the day (pre/early Wenger) it was still possible to get tickets without being a member). Now I live in the Westcountry and it's not exactly easy to get to every game. I'm lucky if there is a ticket for a game on a day I can make, and I can afford it at the time. It's not just the tickets, but then the travelling down there.

But I don't doubt that with the next level of membership it'll be easier to get tickets so, he has a point when he says the more passionate Red members will be able to get to more games. Frankly, I'll suffer the dent in the wallet if it means I can get to more games and I don't just mean going to watch other big four teams - I'll just as happily shout myself hoarse watching us against anyone (and have done before!).

Of course, the next problem when I get there, is being told to shut up and sit down when trying to start a chant......but just so you know, there are genuine fans out there on the waiting list so when the plastic ones give up and go and support Chelsea - we'll be there to replace them!
M (supported arsenal before we became 'Gooners') Green

...Whilst not wanting to get drawn into pointless bickering (for shame) I do take some issue with Darren Hoare's ridiculous idea this morning that the reason for the good atmosphere at Arsenal vs. Manchester United and the subsequent Ashburton atmosphere void at the Villa match was the fact that Silver Members (one below season ticket level) bothered to attend the United game and that those pesky Red Members, who apparently "have no idea what it's like to really support the club", couldn't get a ticket.

A reasonable argument at first glance perhaps, but undermined somewhat by the fact that the reason tickets were more easily available to us lowly Red Members for the Villa game was that many of the sainted Silver Members decided to give the game a miss, presumably on the basis that it's 'only Villa'. Now that's "supporting a team" eh Darren?

I'm sure you can draw your own parallels between a group of fans only bothering to turn up for the big games and the Arsenal players' recent attitudes on the pitch.

I would note also the excellent atmosphere at many of our home Carling Cup matches this season, where ticket sales generally ended up going not only to Red members but, Yee Gods!, to the general public, who, using Darren's idea that the lower level of member you are the less you know how to support a team and make noise, would surely not have a clue at all what to do at a game.

There are many issues with the crowd at the Arsenal; too many day-trippers, too many early leavers, over-zealous stewarding - let's not turn this into a tedious "my member(ship) is bigger than yours'" game.
Michael (Red Member) Evans

...You whinge at The Gunners' so called "Red" member fans (the ones on a waiting list for games) for not creating enough atmosphere because "most of these people do not attend games on a regular basis and therefore have no idea what it's like to really support the club".

At the same time you applaud the real fans, the "Silver" members, who only attend the "more prestigious fixtures, leaving out the so-called 'lesser fixtures' because of the ticket prices". So, in your opinion, the true Gunners fans are the ones who cherry pick which matches they want to see, whilst the fans who are left to scrape the barrel are fair weather supporters?
Stephen Smith

Blame The Club For The Lack Of Atmosphere
While I agree with my fellow Arsenal fans in the mailbox complaining about the lack of atmosphere at home games, I don't blame the non-singing fans, I blame the money grabbing club. The passionate (and dare I say real) fans can no longer afford to go. Whilst I sing my heart out when I'm there, I can only afford to go a couple of times a year.

Look at the Carling Cup games where the prices are dropped, and you see that the Emirates actually can produce an amazing atmosphere, and it's not just because the kids do well. Last year I went to our Carling Cup game against Sp*rs, and despite us being crap (we managed to squeak a 1-1 draw), the atmosphere was the best I had experienced at the new ground.

The only way to fix this is for Arsenal Football Club to stop being greedy, and cut the price of standard home tickets to around £20. There may be a reduction in revenue, but since we don't spend any money on new players, that doesn't really matter, does it?
Adonis (I'm too upset to think of anything funny to put in here) Stevenson, London

And All Of Arsenal's Other Problems
Can we all please f**k off about the crowd noise at the Emirates.
I go every week and it is not as bad as it is made out to be. And, yes I chant.

Focus on the problems at hand please. I am not going to say Wenger has to go, but he does need to be made more accountable, and not be allowed to "spin" his way out trouble. There are problems at the Emirates, and I for one am questioning why a CEO can't be appointed. My belief (or conspiracy theory) is that none of the candidates are willing to become another "yes man" to Wenger.

David Dein has never been replaced and he was the only one who would question Wenger. He also took care of the contract negotiations, which is now mostly under Wenger's remit. His decision to sell to Usmanov though was a terrible one and made his position untenable.

Wenger's singlemindeness towards his vision is amazing and I truly respect that, but he needs help. Martin Keown would be a huge plus.

And the slating that Denilson gets is not justified. Generally, he has played better than Cesc this season (although a 70% Cesc is still a better player than most players at 100%). The problem is that he is not a great partner to Fabregas. Not Denilson's fault, but Wenger's.

Hleb is missed tremendously, but primarily for his ball retaining abilities and ability to move the ball up the pitch, rather than his fannying about in the box (although he was instrumental in our offense as well). This added a huge element to our defensive capabilities. Flamini is missed for his tenacity, leadership and ball winning abilities, which is exactly what Cesc needs next to him right now.

How the hell we have the second highest wage bill is beyond me, especially given we lost Helb and Flamini due to not being able to meet their wage demands. It's tragic that it is almost getting to the point where I am more interested in my dream team than in Arsenal.
David, London, Gooner

Fabregas Has Had Enough
Cesc isn't tired, he just doesn't want to play for AFC anymore and I for one don't blame him. Every year the team gets turned on its head, his footballing partners go and get replaced with younger, less experienced players who don't have the same rapport with him. He wants to win and he knows he can't do that under Wenger, the man's gone nuts. He's a brilliant manager who has lost the plot.

If he'd been sensible he would have acquired Given, Alonso and Villa in the transfer window, all of them up for grabs and all affordable. Cesc would be happy and firing and Arsenal would not have dropped any points. Given behind Sagna, Gallas, Silvestre and Clichy is a quality back 5. Alonso would partner well with Cesc, he'd know where he stood.

When Cesc plays badly so does the whole team - just look at Fulham, Hull, Sunderland, Stoke, Villa etc. I think Arsenal fans are in for a rough ride and I wouldn't expect the beautiful game this season...
Benjamin Ford

Unhappy With Newcastl;e Fans As Well
To the f**k wit sitting 3 rows behind me in the Leazes End at St. James' on Saturday, take your support elsewhere you c**k. To abuse the club's greatest ever keeper and claim he was at fault for both goals against Wigan, costing us the match, had to be the most ridiculous, full of s**t statement I'd ever heard.

So congratulations at being even more cringeworthy than the t**t who ran on the pitch to have a pop a Kinnear, but was so slow he didn't get within 50 meters of him.
Tom (I censor my own email) Charteris

Finally, A Mention Of Villa
In this Morning's Mailbox, all the talk was of how poor Arsenal were, but lets have a bit of credit for the Villa!

Coming of the back of two Premier League defeats, and a squad struggling to cope with the demands of European football, I think most Villans were expecting us to get turned over in a pretty bad way.

But Credit to O'Neill, he dropper Reo-Coker ( which was overdue), set his team out perfectly, and seems to be getting the best out of Gabby Agbonlahor, who a month ago looked the laziest footballer on the planet, but has shown willing in recent games and deserves his England place.

We scored 2 goals, missed a penalty, and were unfortunate not to be ahead at half time ( ask Wenger, he said so himself). Our defence stood firm ( Laursen is a classier version of Terry), and we fully deserved our victory. So lets have a bit of credit where it is due.

Also, 4 Villa players in the England squad is almost unheard of in modern times, but each of them deserves it, and if Ashley Young doesn't get in ahead of that twat Downing then Capello needs his head looking at.

Up the Villa!
Adam Hall ( waiting for the inevitable 4-0 drubbing by Man Utd on Saturday), AVFC

Petrov Has Made The Difference
You may remember a few months ago, a few mentalists were talking about the world ending when they started up the Hadron Collider in CERN, but nothing happened.

Well I have news for you all. The world did end as we know it and we are currently living in a new, alternative universe which is exactly the same as the old one except for one key difference.

Since that fateful day in September, Stillian Petrov is now good.
He has been injured of late, and the results against Newcastle and Middlesbrough are no coincidence where we were poor. He returned to the team on Sat, and we promptly spank the Arsenal.

People talk about Gabby, and Barry and Young, but Petrov is the key to our season. If he stays fit, then maybe, just maybe we can push for 4th.
Phil, AVFC (I am actually from Brum, you know)

Dowd Not Fit For Purpose?
Watching the two games yesterday highlighted one thing for me: The difference in referees: Steve Bennett is fit and able to get close to the play as he can keep up constantly with the breaks.

In the aftermath of the Hull v Manchester City game yesterday Stephen Ireland et al were loathe to hammer Phil Dowd as he is 'a nice fella' but the second half was a constant stop-start affair for one reason: Dowd can't run!

He was waddling around and when either team broke on a quick counter-attack he started to try and sprint and then would blow for the slightest perceived infringement.

I thought they had fitness tests?
Ian (G) G

Another Believer In The Anti-Liverpool Conspiracy
I am not a paranoid Liverpool fan otherwise I could've stopped myself writing in. Don't give a monkeys if Gerrard is injured or not, ridiculous time for a friendly (didn't England play Germany at Wembley in the last 12 months or so anyway?) and as has been pointed out Ferguson has been pulling this trick for years.

All I'll say about the Ferdinand/Rooney pull outs is look at United's next three matches: Villa, Villarreal and Citeh all away all big games, a slip up in any of them and they could see Chelsea disappear further over the horizon (i'd say LFC as well but I'm not hexing anything) and finish 2nd in their Champions League group giving the possibility of a tougher test in the 1st knockout round after Xmas - if it were your club's interests the phrase "it makes sense" would probably spring to mind even if it does smack of underhandedness (is that a word?).

But most big clubs in Europe try this on and to be fair Rafa and Ferguson have let several other big name players play for their countries this week, so in this specific case we should only be asking why Capello is singling out Gerrard. Could it be that United still have several players Capello may view as important to his future plans for England whilst Liverpool only has Gerrard thus he feels he has less to lose by cajoling us more than them?

Paranoid point number 2. Andy Gray, just get used to it / ignore him. Ridiculous that he's still allowed to do Liverpool games so often really (don't mind the odd one who hates us - Alan Smith - who only pop up now and again), but ever since he climaxed over Gerrard's stunner v Olympiakos in 2004-05 his attitude towards Liverpool has constantly been "negatively slanted" to say the least.

Either way with the amount of former Reds in the media (whether they're positive about us or not) no other fans are going to voice sympathy for us even if the man's faults and bias are blindingly obvious to all and sundry.
Rob "that Friday night in November brings back all the childhood teasing that has scarred me for life" Pudsey

Putting Paul C In His Place
Just a quick one in reply to the "I don't watch England anymore" dimwitted Paul C... it is Capello himself who wants to check on Gerrard and not "The F.A" as you suggest, and I'm pretty sure that when the Paul Scholes incident that you refer to took place, Capello was not "our" nations manager.

I to continue with the proving your lack of intelligence to the football365 community you actually suggest that the equally dimwitted Mascherano "paid the price" for United and Chelsea's wrongdoings, I have to say that is quite possibly the most idiotic sentence I have read in my entire life.

And with your mardy arse 5 year old rant of "I'm never watching another international match ever again. I haven't watched one since the Euro Final, and from now on I shall watch none at all, irregardless of its 'importance", you are exactly the type of "fan" that our national team does not need, good riddance!!!
Stuart Harkness, Knutsford, ENGLAND..... super England!

...Paul C (cos I'm not witty enough to think of a hilarious sign-off line!), Dublin - have a word with yourself mate. We're criticised often enough (sometimes justifiably, in my view) for our moaning and self-pitying ways - we don't need tools like you wading in with your ridiculous conspiracy theories.

Sentences such as, 'if one club in the entire planet has suffered more from international football than any other surely it's Liverpool' just make it easy for people to knock us. You're either a Manc pretending to be a Pool fan or you need to chill out a little, maybe stop drinking quite so much on a Monday morning and try and control that temper of yours.
Rob (was Capello standing on the grassy knowl?), LFC

Who's In Charge?
So John Terry was made England captain after Scolari made a phonecall to Capello advising him to do so, and now we have a 20 year old who's never played for Chelsea somehow getting a callup?

My question is this: Why is Scolari running the England team?
Andy Wilson

Defending Gomes
Stephen Marshall writes, in his usual knee-jerk fashion, that Gomes is utterly useless and should therefore be replaced, but not by his immediate understudy. No, that would be a bad move because he is a geriatric 'dwarf'; not sure when being over 6ft made you a midget, but I shall bow to his clearly superior knowledge.

Now Stephen, exactly why is it you wish to see Alnwick in goal? Is it because he's been so impressive in all his loan spells? Is it because of the manner in which he commands his box, and grasps firmly onto any cross sent within 5 metres of him? Or is it because you are just picking a name off the squad list, and deciding that he's great, despite no top-flight manager ever seeing such qualities, nor, for that matter, any of those loan clubs making the move permanent. Now why is that?

Perhaps Mr Marshall is a scout and has seen many of Alnwick's appearances, and thus knows more than anyone else possibly could. Perhaps he's a member of the Alnwick family (or even a co-star in Ben's film career), sticking up for one of his own. Or perhaps, just perhaps, he's become far too desperate to see his name on the monitor, and thus writes self-contradictory, short-termist letters that are just perfect for the mailbox.

Mr Marshall, does the damage you refer to include the myriad of remarkable saves made by Gomes over recent weeks? The sheer number of points saved thanks to the man who is a shot-stopper beyond compare? Or do you not watch games in full, preferring instead to refer to MotD and their delighted mocking of the hapless Heurelho? The man has been playing with broken ribs, he's been taking a battering from all and sundry, and he's been part of a team that - up until a few weeks ago - was looking absolutely pathetic.

During our miserable start, it was his work that prevented us being mauled on many an occasion. Yet you want to drop him for Ben bloody Alnwick? Are you actually an idiot, or just doing a damn good impression?
Terry Hayden

Rubbish Cup Competitions - A Final Wordþ
A brief Scottish interlude...

Surely the Anglo-Scottish cup is worthy of a mention. My team, St Mirren seemed to always end up playing Bristol city in the final, winning it once even. Nowadays we just get gubbed on a regular basis by the likes of Motherwell, but if ever a final word was required on this and other diddy cups, this snippet from wikipedia says it all:

'In the 1987-1988 season an attempt was made to revive the competition as the Anglo Scottish Challenge Cup; however after a poor attendance for the first leg game between Coventry and St.Mirren, the competition was shelved, with the second leg never played'.
Stephen O

Courtesy of football 365.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Star Gazing

After watching the side - minus Nicklas Bendtner for Jay Simpson - that beat Sheffield United 6-0 a month ago dismantle Wigan 3-0, Arsene Wenger has hailed his latest crop of Carling Cup wonderkids as his best yet. Here's the lowdown on the 11 for the future...

Lukasz Fabianski
The 23-year-old Polish goalkeeper was the oldest Arsenal player on the pitch last night.
It is rare for goalkeepers to reach their peak - both in terms of power and appreciation - before the age of 25, so Fabianski is already ahead of his time. Promoted to be Manuel Almunia's deputy following Jens Lehmann's summer departure, Arsene Wenger says the Pole is on the brink of a first-team breakthrough and is likely to keep Fabianski active over the coming months: "I am convinced that with only one goalkeeper you do not have a chance in a season like ours." A better shot-stopper than Almunia, only his decision-making remains suspect.

Gavin Hoyte
The 18-year-old right-back younger brother of Middlesbrough's Justin Hoyte
Recognised as a better player than his brother, there is no reason why not. At the very least, a Premier League career, as with Hoyte Senior, should await. "He had an outstanding game," eulogised Wenger in his post-match press conference. Currently the captain of Arsenal's reserves, Hoyte is unlikely to dislodge Bacary Sagna but could provide satisfactory cover.

Johan Djourou
21-year-old centre-half who spent the first half of last season at Birmingham.
If he were to make it with Arsenal, it would probably have happened by now - Djourou made his Arsenal debut as long ago as 2004. Regressed during his stint with Birmingham, Djourou seems to have lost Wenger's confidence ever since. A decent player but probably one who is too lapse-prone to be a regular starter in a Big Four team.

Alex Song
21-year-old Cameroonian who can play either at centre-half or in midfield.
Song's future looked bleak after a disastrous first-team debut at Fulham two years ago - he was substituted at half-time - but the African has found a niche for himself in the seniors' squad as the only player suitable for the midfield anchor role. Demonstrated his versatility on Tuesday with an outstanding display in defence to subdue Amr Zaki.

Kieran Gibbs
19-year-old full-back or winger who spent a chunk of last season on loan at Norwich.
Wenger is a fan but Gibbs' way into the first team, if he continues at left-back, is not only blocked by Gael Clichy but also the unforgotten 19-year-old Armand Traore (currently on loan at Portsmouth). Another player who surely have a long career in the top flight - but not necessarily in a red-and-white shirt.

Jack Wilshere
16-year-old who played from the right of midfield against Wigan despite being predominantly left-footed.
This boy could be special. The jewel in the crown of Arsenal's Academy, Wilshere was even on the substitutes' bench this weekend against Manchester United. Similar in style to Joe Cole, Wenger believes the youngster - so young that he couldn't drink the champagne awarded for his man-of-the-match display - has "the same potential" as Cesc Fabregas. A terrific prospect - and an English one. Tomas Rosicky's latest (but sadly predictable) setback means Wilshere might even make a few first-team appearances this season.

Aaron Ramsey
17-year-old Welsh midfielder bought by Arsenal for £5m in the summer.
Ramsey is set to make his full Welsh debut next week and looks to be Fabregas' replacement-in-waiting. On this evidence, however, he will be pushing for a first-team spot next season. An awesome talent.

Mark Randall
19-year-old English midfielder born in Milton Keynes.
The only disappointment in the victory over Wigan was the number of misplaced passes and unnecessary flicks made by Randall. A lot of work is still to be done before his future is secured.

Fran Merida
18-year-old Spaniard who spent three months on loan with Real Sociedad at the start of the year.
Overshadowed on Tuesday by Ramsey and Wilshere, Merida still provided enough cute touches to explain why Wenger rates him so highly and such a fuss was made when Arsenal poached the then 15-year-old from Barcelona. Not yet ready for first-team action, expect Merida to go on loan again in the new year - but don't forget about him either.

Jay Simpson
19-year-old Tottenham-born striker who won the PFA's Fans' League One player of the year award for 2008 after scoring eight times while on loan at Millwall last season.
At any other club, the buccaneering Simpson would be regarded as a star in the making, although that discrepancy is in part made by the impression that he is not the sort of striker Wenger prefers. Nonetheless, even before his excellent two-goal performance against Wigan, the Frenchman made no secret of his admiration: "At the moment it is too early to say if he has a future, but I think so yes." At the very least, a lucrative career in the top flight should await.

Carlos Vela
19-year-old Mexican bought by Arsenal as long ago as November 2005 for a fee of just £125,000.
Wenger has hailed Vela as the best finisher at the club and his two stunning chips against Sheffield United and Wigan demonstrated precisely why. Already on the verge of a first-team breakthrough, Vela will surely be provided with a few opportunities to impress before the season is out. Claims that Arsenal lack strength in depth seem laughable given that this youngster is currently only their fifth-choice striker.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Official Match Report - Arsenal Vs Man Utd

By Richard Clarke

This game began the afternoon in incessant rain and ended in bright, brilliant sunlight.

Ditto Arsenal’s season.

At his pre-match press conference, Arsène Wenger had faced an inquisition about his side’s title chances and you got the feeling the obituaries would have been written had they slumped to a weak defeat against the champions.

In the end, they came away with a hard-fought and thoroughly deserved victory that could breathe new life into Arsenal’s season.

Samir Nasri got both goals. The first came in the 22nd minute via a deflection, the second via superb Arsenal passing just after half time.

Manchester United had ample possession and their build-up play was expert. However they spurned the chances they created. Their only goal came 45 seconds from the end of normal time via Rafael’s volley when they were going for broke.

This time it was Arsenal who picked the pocket of a side who had played the beautiful game...well... beautifully.

Of course, one great game cannot make a season. Arsenal’s three points here only replaces the ones lost so badly at Stoke last week.

But with everyone looking for Wenger’s team to respond, this had been an emphatic answer.

Ahead of the game, Wenger knew he had five players out but he was due to make late calls over the fitness of another five.

In the end, Manuel Almunia (sickness) Bacary Sagna (ankle), Theo Walcott (shoulder), Mikael Silvestre (broken nose) and William Gallas (hamstring) were declared fit and started the game.

Only Emmanuel Adebayor (ankle), Emmanuel Eboue (knee), Robin van Persie (suspended), Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) and Eduardo (broken leg) missed out.

Wenger brought in Abou Diaby to play just behind Nicklas Bendtner with Nasri and Walcott supplying width either side of Cesc Fabregas and Denilson in central midfield.

The back four was all-French, so Kolo Toure was left on the bench.

This is always a massive game but after Arsenal’s recent problems it appeared to have taken on seismic proportions. Given it was November, the points would not be decisive but Wenger’s men needed to make a statement of intent in the title race.

It would be a pivotal afternoon.

It nearly started in the worst possible fashion for Arsenal. With only 90 seconds Silvestre played a weak back pass to Almunia, who under pressure from Wayne Rooney, came out to collect with his hands. Anderson took the resulting free-kick from inside the area but the wall deflected it to Michael Carrick on the edge of the area. His bobbling shot wandered inches wide.

Manchester United had started with all the swagger we expected. They had the ball in the net in the eighth minute when Ronaldo crossed low from the right and Ji-Sung Park’s dummy allowed Rooney to shoot. Almunia palmed the ball out to Dimitar Berbatov who slotted home. Fortunately for Arsenal the Bulgarian had strayed offside.

By now the light shower of the morning had turned into a downpour. And Arsenal would have their fans singing in the rain.

In the 11th minute, Bendtner slammed a header just over from Clichy’s left-wing cross. Five minutes later Nasri sent over a similar opportunity but neither Diaby nor Bendtner could crane their heads enough to connect.

Perhaps Arsenal’s best chance before the goal came on the quarter-hour when Van de Sar’s weak punch fell to Diaby but his snap-shot was deflected wide.

The all-important strike would come a couple of minutes later but, not before Rooney had shot after an ominously incisive Manchester United side.

The goal began when Patrice Evra fouled Sagna on the right-hand byline. Fabregas clipped it over to the far post where a clearance from Nemanja Vidic fell to Nasri. The Frenchman bought a lottery ticket by firing a low shot into the congested area. His numbers came up when the ball flicked off Gary Neville’s leg and flew past Van der Sar.

It was just what Arsenal needed but the job was nowhere near done. Park’s low shot forced the best out of Almunia and the visitors continued to pressure.

Eight minutes before the break Diaby steamrollered through only to be brought down by Michael Carrick. Howard Webb did not give a foul and replays proved he had been incorrect.

Right in front of us Arsenal were rebuilding the confidence that had been undermined in the past 10 days. They sustained pressure before the break and might have added to their lead when Walcott miskicked an effort just wide from Clichy’s cross.

This was fast becoming a throwback to Arsenal v Manchester United games a decade ago. It was helter-skelter and packed with incident.

Sagna, Gallas and Evra were all booked just before the break. You could see more yellow cards after the interval.

It was that kind of game.

And the opening few minutes of the second half suggested it just might be Arsenal’s day.

Around 90 seconds in, the home side passed and passed and passed until Fabregas fed Nasri on the edge of the area. The Frenchman lashed the ball home with relish.

The 21-year-old ran towards the touchline before being engulfed by his team-mates. It was a moment of unbridled joy.

However it was nearly shortlived. Park found Ronaldo at the far post and the winger’s sidefoot volley flew inches wide. A crucial moment.

While 1-0 was wonderful and 2-0 was terrific, neither had ended the argument. The visitors were on the attack for most of the afternoon, that said Almunia had not been overworked.

Diaby barged past Van der Sar to send a header just over but by now Arsenal were mostly working on the counter-attack. Manchester United were pushing forward in search of a lifeline.

Midway through the half Almunia needed lengthy treatment after Carrick, without malice, had caught him in the head when the ball ran loose from a corner.

By now Ferguson was searching for inspiration via his substitutes. Rafael, Ryan Giggs and Carlos Tevez were all on with 15 minutes left.

Although Manchester United were still pressing, Arsenal had a major shout for a penalty in the 74th minute when Vidic appeared to haul over Nasri as the French winger closed in on a hat-trick chance.

With 10 minutes left, Wenger made his own substitutions with Alex Song replacing Walcott and Fabianski coming on for the struggling Almunia.

The Pole had only caretaking to do really before picking the ball out of his net with 45 seconds left. Manchester United now had defenders in the area and one of them, Rafael, plundered a volley from just outside.

That came seconds before the fourth official announced six minutes of injury time.

It was time to scrap for Arsenal’s season. In fact the home side would have the better chances, especially when Bendtner dribbled through and swivelled a shot over the bar.

The whistle blew soon afterwards.

Arsenal were back. But had they ever really gone away?