Category Archives: Arsenal

Arsenal v. Liverpool, Kids Love the Milk Cup

Not as prestigious as it once was, the League Cup, now called the Carling Cup and formerly known as the Milk Cup (way back in the 80s) still throws up the occasional  cracking tie. So, when I read that Arsenal would host Liverpool, my mind immediately went back to the last time Arsenal and Liverpool met in the League Cup and Arsenal did a 6-3 over them, at Anfield. That was really a night to remember and to think, if you live in London you could see such a clash for as little as £5. For me, that’s the real benefit of the League Cup, memorable clashes that almost every kid can afford to see in person.

Unfortunately, that 6-3 match is long gone; goal scoring superstar Julio “The Beast” Baptista bagged his quad and then tired of the dreary rain of London, or maybe the food, or whatever excuse he could come up with and bogged off back to Spain and is now in Rome.  In fact, not much is left of either of those two teams that met that day, even Almunia, who was backup keeper for Arsenal then, has been dropped and is now third choice keeper at Arsenal.

Given all the departures and arrivals I don’t think the last time these two teams met in the League Cup will matter much to any of them. Maybe Cesc will have a whimsical twinkle in his eye as he sits in the stands, smartly dressed no doubt, reminiscing about the year that Chelsea beat the cup out of our hands — I mean literally beat Arsenal up and took it, like a bully taking milk money. But for players like Merida, Gibbs, Aquilani, Babel and Ramsey this is a chance not to reminisce, but a chance to prove themselves, against another top four team to boot.

Hungry youth playing in a single elimination match against another top club in front of 60,000 screaming fans, that’s a match to watch.

Wenger’s passed a lot of milestones these last few weeks (Sportsboys has an awesome breakdown of Wenger’s tenure) and so why not throw one more on to the pile: today will be his 750th match in charge. We all know the record, W 436 D 177 L 136, on the way to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups and as glorious as that is there are two things missing; the League Cup and the Champions League.

Don’t think that Arsene doesn’t want to win today or that he doesn’t care about this tournament just because he likes to blood youth. The inclusion of Nasri, Eduardo, Bendtner, Senderos, and Silvestre in the squad is a tip that Wenger is taking this match and this tournament very seriously. I can guarantee you that if Arsenal win the Carling Cup, which I said they have every chance to do in the season preview, they will proudly display the trophy in the trophy case and point to that as a jumping off point for more silverware.

The lineup should be straight forward: Nasri, Eduardo and Bendtner leading the attack; Ramsey, Merida and Coquelin in the middle; Gilbert, Senderos, Silvestre, and Gibbs holding the line; and Fabianski starting in goal. Notably absent from that lineup is Jack Wilshere who failed a fitness test on Sunday due to an ankle knock.

Liverpool’s £20m Summer replacement for Xabi Alonso (and one time Arsenal target) Alberto Aquilani will get his first start for Liverpool today which means that there will be two rusty players on the pitch tonight, Nasri and Aquilani.

Irregardless the rust, I expect that both teams will go for it tonight and fight for all 90 minutes. After all, for 11 young men tonight will be their last chance to prove themselves this year — they will leave everything on the field.

Ten Things I Hate About You

I bet they would sell the naming rights on the back stand too!

10. Too many supporters, even at 50,ooo seats they would be hard pressed to fill the stadium.

9. Why is the jumbotron showing the Spurs celebrating, when the action on the pitch is different? Maybe it’s a continuous loop of their 5-1 Carling Cup win over Arsenal.

8. It looks like at least one Spurs player is moving, that’s one too many.

7. They try to steal the clock end idea from Arsenal but everyone knows Spurs fans can only read digital clocks.

6. Speaking of moving, there should be a blur where their twitchy manager stands.

5. The back of the single-tier stand will never read “Tottenam Hotspur” everyone knows it should read “Naming Rights.”

4. There’s no way Spurs fans could afford real flags

3. It’s unlikely that Spurs would play a night game, unless they’re in the League Championship, don’t they play a lot of their games at night?

2. The Spurs players should be in red and white, since they obviously wish they were Arsenal so badly.

1. There’s no way that the grass would be that green, everyone knows that grass can’t grow in the shadow of the Emirates.

Right, that’s about it for today, despite the regular kickoff time in England, the match is on at 12:45 (PST) because American clocks are special and don’t go back to standard time until next week (thanks George W. Bush!).  Pretty much the only way to watch the mach here in the States is via ESPN 360 and a few of us will be gathering at Doyle’s Public House in Tacoma to watch and support. There will be Liverpool supporters there as well but they are the friendly sort and you should come down so that I’m not vastly outnumbered.

See you tomorrow for the Good, Bad, and Ugly. UP THE ARSE!

Carling Cup Viewings, Swine Plague, and Naming Rights

Morning all, not much happening today, there’s no team news yet and all the press is from Arsenal players who are publicly saying that they feel like they let the boss down or some other such nonsense that sports starts always say after they have a pitiful performance. Irregardless, there are a few good bits of news about tomorrow’s match, Swine Plague among the Chelsea, Bolton, and Blackburn players, and a funny bit about Emirates Lite, aka Spurs’ “Naming Rights” stadium.

First off, I hear that Arshavin and Clichy are in the press publicly talking about the disappointment they feel having let relegation bound West Ham nick a point. Unless I hear something like “I’m buying the away fans who had to endure that performance half of an away ticket to the next away match” it’s just going to sound like platitudes to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with platitudes, all sports stars do it, but it’s not news as much as it’s noise.

Without looking at any of the quotes, let me guess that at least one was something like “Arsenal could send a message that we’re still title contenders by putting in a good performance against Liverpool on Wednesday.” Which is true, sort of… see, the folks who put in the most craven performances won’t likely be playing in the Carling Cup clash (Andrei Arshavin, I’m looking at you) so, I’m not exactly sure what kind of message it sends on behalf of Diaby, Arshavin, and Clichy for Wilshere, Rambo, and Gibbs to play their asses off. Maybe “hey, if you don’t want to play in the next game, we’d LOVE to.”

As far as viewings, 7amkickoff’s Midwestern operative (codenamed “Matt-#1″) tipped us all off to the fact that Stateside viewers don’t need to go to some dodgy JustinTV stream because the match tomorrow will be broadcast live on ESPN 360. You get ESPN 360 free if you’re a Comcast cable internet subscriber so for a lot of folks that’s a good option. If you don’t get it on your home cable, well, you might try a college library — seriously. Most college libraries have public computers and all colleges get ESPN360 for free as well. Or check here tomorrow, I’ll do my best to give an actual match report. UK viewers can go to a pub and watch the game on Sky.

No team news yet, we’ll know more later today, so a full preview will be up in the morning.

Bit of strange news today in that it looks like Blackburn Cloggers are the Swine Flu Mary of the EPL this season having transferred the virus to both Bolton and Chelsea. Normally, I wouldn’t pass on a chance to make fun of Blackburn, Bolton, and Chelsea but this is swine flu and, well, I just hope everyone recovers fully.

Ugh, I need a shower now.

Speaking of needing a shower, Spuds have released photos of their proposed “Naming Rights” stadium, aka Emirates 2: North London Boogaloo.*

I bet they would sell the naming rights on the back stand too!

Here’s your test for today: remember those pictures when you were a kid where you pick out the things that are wrong with the picture? Good, now, name 10 things that are wrong with the above picture.

That’s it for today, match preview and answer key for the picture tomorrow!

*I apologize for the cheap laugh.

West Ham v. Arsenal; a Major Missed Opportunity

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Arsenal threw away the chance of a fifth straight Premier League win as West Ham battled back to earn a 2-2 draw at Upton Park.

Telegraph: Redemption Sunday for Rafael Benítez but, come May, an equally important narrative from the weekend’s football could be Arsenal’s sloppiness in failing to punish slips from so many rivals in the Premier League title race.

Match Video

Why, it’s the Arsenalist of course!

Man of the Match

Alessandro Diamanti, all he did was come on and win the game, I mean get the point for West Ham. You could say we were naive, you can blame Chris Foy, but Diamanti changed the game.

Quote of the Day

In our job you have no luxury to miss opportunities, unfortunately. You have to get points when you deserve to get points, and sometimes to get points when you don’t deserve to get points. Today we didn’t get the points and we deserved to get the points. We play well, we are a strong team, and we want to learn, of course, to finish these games off when we can and that’s basically the most important lesson of the day. — Arsene Wenger.

Chris Foy

I promised to look Chris Foy up in my archives, and sure enough I came across two examples of his refereeing prowess: the insanely officiated Charity Shield match at the beginning of the season and Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Bolton back in January. While liveblogging the match yesterday I commented that Foy was “having a nightmare” but in retrospect, that’s just his officiating style; utter shite. He will allow Ballack to elbow Evra in the face just like he will allow Diamanti to elbow Cesc in the face. He will allow Hines to try to break Clichy’s ankle, the same way he allows Kevin Davies to murder people in broad daylight. But the one thing he can’t stand for is a tap on the ankle in the box! That’s a stonewall penalty!

The thing is, as much as I’d like to blame Chris Foy for his mavericky, throw away the rule book style of refereeing, you can’t. He’s consistent across the board and Arsenal need to just adjust to him. Besides, if we’d have put in a single decent fucking cross last night we would have easily won that match 3-0 or even 4-0.

Sorry for the cursing there, I have no other way to describe Bolton’s striker than to call him a “Kevin Davies.”

Arsene Wenger and the Four Keepers

In Mooney, Manny, Fabby, and Sneezy Arsenal have four goal keepers and not a one of them seems ready for the rigors of an entire season of football.

Mooney (Almunia) seems to have done something wrong and is now in Wenger’s dog-house. Exactly what transpired after the City game is not public record, but from the press conferences and interviews one could make a guess that Mooney either lied about getting a chest infection and was subsequently dropped or that he was dropped and that Wenger used the chest infection excuse. I know, I’m not really telling you anything! That said, my suspicion is that Mooney was the one who caused the problem and the reason I say that is because Wenger had a sly smile ever time he said “chest infection.” Either way, I can’t  see him coming back in this team except as an emergency replacement.

And now Manny (Mannone) seems to have made a hash at keeper as well, though we really shouldn’t be too hard on the lad, he’s young and it’s not his fault that he is learning his trade in the toughest league in the world and playing for a team which seems to enjoy throwing away games. I’ve seen enough of him to think that he has a bright, bright future but that he needs to learn his trade before playing in these high pressure games. His reaction time is absolutely amazing, and while some people think that Mooney might have saved that penalty, he went the right way but Diamanti hit an unsaveable penalty, one inch to the left and Manny saves it. As for the free kick, that left-footed in-swinger to the near post is hard to parry away and probably not something he’s seen before.

Fabby, I haven’t seen enough of him to be convinced. In fact, back in pre-season, folks like East Ave Arse were already saying that Manny was better than Fabby. Frankly, they both suffer from lack of experience so for me it’s 6 of one… We’ll see, he’s going to be tested by Liverpool on Wednesday.

Sneezy is Arsenal’s unknown, but if Manny isn’t ready and Fabby isn’t ready then Sneezy is, erm, double-plus unready.

No offense to any of these keepers but this is something that can only be solved in the transfer window. Funnily enough, Arsene supposedly ran the rule over Robert Green and considering the fact that his mistake gifted Arsenal our opening goal, I’m not surprised he decided not to go for him.


Throw away a lead twice in a season? Could be costly, but certainly not a problem. Throw away a lead twice in a week? That’s a problem.

Arsenal are a team that is custom built to outscore their opponents and two things seem to be happening with this team at this moment: they are both not scoring enough and not defending their lead. Silly mistakes at the start of the season were papered over by eye-popping scoring displays; 6-1 at Everton, 4-1 against Pompey, and 6-2 against Blackburn Cloggers.  Silly mistakes in the last two matches have not been papered over with eye-popping scorelines and so Arsenal have suffered point-wise.

Tellingly, Wenger didn’t talk about the need to defend the lead, he talked about the need to be more clinical up front, to put in a better cross, and to take our chances. For those of you out there who were hoping that these two examples this week would lead to a defensive revolution, you might as well bury that hope deep, deep, inside. Arsene is going back to London Colney with only one thing in mind: get this team to score more goals.

I’m not pushing the panic button, yes we wasted a chance to gain on everyone this weekend, but this team has the quality in every position (except maybe keeper!) to win the League(s).  We just, I guess, need to learn how to score more goals.

I think a 5-6 goals per game average should be safe. Maybe.