Category Archives: Chary

Man at the match, Chary: The Ox swats Palace aside

A well taken second half brace by the deserved man of the match Alex Oxlade Chamberlain took three points off a hard-working, but fairly uninventive Palace side in the first game of a packed February fixture list for the Good guys of Ashburton Grove.

Buoyed by the sight of the ‘dippers dropping two points at the Baggies, courtesy of a Toure clanger (“Kolo is a Gooner” was sung in the pre match drinking bar with gusto”), the arrival of Tony Pullis’s (yes, HIM again) Palace was an opportunity for the Arsenal to extend the lead over fourth place Liverpool and put pressure on the Oil Slick teams ahead of their Monday match, the battle of the sugar daddies.

The mood of the crowd was a little subdued, partly as Crystal Palace are a team who are hard to get excited about and the lack of a transfer signing of note to get the crowd buzzing. As usual Red Action were passing a banner around the North Bank end, a nice spectacle and a worthy attempt to generate some pre match atmosphere in my opinion.

The 49ers

The 49ers

The only selection latitude Wenger had today was in the choice of left back so Nacho Monreal was given the starting berth over Gibbs.

Taking my usual spot behind the goal at the clock end I was close to the away supporters and quickly it became apparent they were one of those sets of fans who need a drum to keep their singing going.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeea-gles !

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeea-gles !

Which prompted the Clock End to ask:

“Who’s the w****r, who’s the w****r, who’s the w****r with the drum?”

Not only was the incessant thwacking of the bass drum annoying, but it made me think perhaps the Club had missed a trick by allowing them permission to bring a drum in. Why help the away support to create a better atmosphere for their players to the detriment of the home team?

The opening minutes of the game confirmed what I suspected that for all the talk of Pullis making Palace a better side it was 10 behind the ball for nearly all the time and packing the midfield.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a team with so little attacking intent or creativity and one quite happy just to play a deep line and have no forward ambition. Yes, Palace worked extremely hard but after that there was nothing, nearly all forward forays ended in misplaced or overshot passes betraying a paucity of attacking talent.

Sagna drives forward

Sagna drives forward

For The Arsenal Santi was a live wire and buzzing with energy and forward drive and as I had been reading about Podolski’s laziness after the Saints game I kept an eye out for his off the ball work rate. To my eyes there was nothing wrong with the work rate Lucas offered and his direct runs were an effective contrast to the intricate passes Özzy, Santi, Olly and the Ox were offering up in the final third.

An early Monreal cross shot was followed up by free kick chances served up by Özzy and Santi as the Arsenal’s strength, the creative midfield, exerted it’s superiority over a palpably inferior Palace midfield.

Nil nil at half time and muted cheers for the effort expended by the boys in red and white, no panic yet.

Arsenal started the second half at a visibly higher passing speed and even though they attacked the North Bank end at the far end of the stadium from me, I could see the increased sense of urgency.

A couple of minutes in and a Santi Cazorla through ball to our number 15 the Ox and a lob from him seemed to be going over, but it dips at the last minute and ruffles the net.

The Ox strikes

Phew, 1 nil up!

A relief, and even the wretched away supporters drummer missed a few beats.

For a moment the old Arsenal returned straight after the first goal as a rare Palace up field sortie needed Chesney to save with his knees to stop a very undeserved equaliser.

But this Arsenal has a bit more steel in defence nowadays and after that cardiac arrest moment the solid pairing of the BFG and Kozzer calmed the nerves allowing the Ox to grow in confidence and began to have more influence on the game.

As usual Podolski was taken off and replaced by an unmasked Tomáš Rosický (the protective facial shielding deemed not necessary now) who immediately injected a bit more life in the midfield.

A neat bit of hold up play by Olly fed the ball to the Ox who, even though he was a long way from me, his acceleration was obvious and he surged into the penalty area to rifle in his second of the game. This young man seems to be our main pacey alternative in the absence of Theo until Gnabry gains a bit more experience.

Chamakh was subbed off and he got a respectful applause from the home support as he trotted off – the class you’d expect from our support. Big time Bendtner came on for the knackered Olly came on and very nearly got the ire of the home support, who had cheered him onto the pitch, by losing posession in our penalty area but he then won it back and set up an attack. Boo boys averted !

The game wound down and as home support began to leave early we had the Palace fans say:

“We are Crystal Palace, we stay to the end, we stay to the eee-end, we are Crystal Palace, we stay to the end”

- Not strictly true as I saw a steady trickle of them leave from 80 minutes onwards – so there!

The BFG thanks the Gooners

The BFG thanks the Gooners

So three points, top of the table and it’s over to CSKA Fulham tomorrow to take points off Abu Dhabi FC, if we can get over the feeling of sordidness we’ll all need to be Chavski fans for an evening.
UTA!

By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)

Öoops Özzy

Man at the Match, Chary: Jack gets the job done

A goal in each half, from a Jack Wilshere in smoking hot form, meant the Arsenal finished their work for the evening on top of their Champions League group although not quite guaranteed qualification into the next round.

Many of the Ashburton Grove faithful had barely settled into their seats (yours truly included) when the first home attack of the night caught the French team napping. I was seated in the lower tier behind the goal in the clock end and had a close up view of Jack opening his body and curling the quick fire first goal beyond the flailing keeper. Were Marseille Totn**b in disguise as they conceded so quick?

Are you Totn**mb in disguise?

“Are you Totn**mb in disguise?”

Any hopes of an upset in the away end seemed to die right there and while they carried on singing pretty much the whole way through, apparently aided by one Joseph Anthony Barton who was in their ranks, there was little sustained interest in how the game was going from the travelling support.

That said it appeared to me that Marseille were very much snapping into tackles, their midfielders seeming to have an elastic/bouncy running and tackling style, and harrying Arsenal in possession with the good guys fighting back to gain possession energetically.

While there was not much of note from the Marseille fans, an ill-advised decision to wear what looked like a team onesie from the Marseille coach caused me much mirth.

Team Onesie

Team Onesie

There was also much laughing at the referee’s wardrobe malfunction accompanied by wolf whistles when he his shirt was being seen to.

Selection wise Monreal for Gibbs while Arteta and Cazorla benched were the only changes with Jack and Flamini replacing them.

The presence of Flamini was the main reason that, in contrast to seasons gone by, a one goal lead was seen as very slender and we would concede a goal to a counter attack. I noticed that straight after an attack had failed or finished our returning ex-Marseille man would wave his arms to his team mates and shout for them to get back to their positions and not dwell on the missed chance.

THAT is the sort of protection he has been giving the back four; think how many times in the past after shot was saved by the opposition the goalie would bowl out the ball and the opposition forwards would run through the middle of the pitch unhindered. Not so much now thanks to Flamini and a more responsible defensive attitude from all midfielders.

This, to my eyes, accounts for the more relaxed attitude of the home crowd with just a goal lead to defend and hence the atmosphere being less fractious than in the past.

So when Özzy had his penalty saved, note not “missed his penalty”, their groans were minimal.

Öoops Özzy

Öoops Özzy

In fact, as the penalty incident was just in front of the block I was in, most of the crowd thought it was outside the area and we had the rare feeling of getting a penalty when none was deserved rather than the familiar rage when we are usually denied stonewall penalties.

Giroud had various chances to double the lead in the first half but the ball didn’t quite sit up for him yet the crowd would still sing his song after a failed shot. His tireless work in the offensive and defensive parts of the field accounts is probably why any of his fluffed shots aren’t followed by groans.

Half time arrived and the crowd happy although wistfully wishing perhaps a few more goals for the good guys would have been nice.

You don't get these at Shite Hart Lane

Half time

With their onesie clad managers words no doubt ringing in their ears the Marseille players seemed to play with more urgency straight after the restart however Arsenal’s slightly more combative tackling approach, I don’t recall ever seeing quite so many sliding tackles from us, gradually eroding away the Olympique de Marseille’s bright start to the second half.

I recall one instance where Tomáš Rosický sprinted across the pitch to dispossess a Marseille midfielder and it was just as well he got the ball as it could have been taken for a lunge otherwise.

With arsenal attacking the end far away from me there was not much action at the Clock end in the second half, except for a few smart saves from Chesney, who seems to be having consistently better games this season.

Another player who had a good game was Nacho man Monreal.

He can defend half the pitch in his own

Lone Nachoman

It’s easy pick out how well he provides width on our left flank for attacks but his goal line clearance to keep a clean sheet, after Chesney’s partial block from a Gignac shot spun up and over the Pole towards the goal, was excellent defensive work.

I could see his eyes follow the arc of the ball, rather like a cricketer in the outfield waiting to catch a lofted shot, as it fell towards the goal so he could volley it clear. All defensive units like a clean sheet and thanks he got from the BFG and Chesney was proof of that.

Özzy seemed to put aside his penalty mishap and pull the strings more in midfield leading to his part in Jack’s second goal. Yes, he is having a little dip in form but still his importance the team cannot be underestimated, every team shudders a but when they see him prowling the midfield, and opposition supporters fear him.

In my previous game, the Capitol One Cup game versus Chelsea, the obnoxious Chelsea fans stopped their vile chanting when Özzy came on as a sub and seemed to be caught by surprise.

Arsenal bringing on a superstar? No, they can’t do that. (That game may have been lost but the Chelsea crowd reaction was something I’d not seen before and worth pointing out).

As the game wound down Theo and Santi came on for Jack and Rosický while after Marseille had already brought on Valbuena and Thauvin.

The new defensive responsibility was further exemplified by Santi tussling to get the ball off Valbuena; the sight of those two sprinting for the loose ball looked like Sports day at Oompah Loompah school.

The game petered out and the crowd were happy at full time with the result with confusion over whether the Dortmund- Napoli result, when it was read out, was good or bad news.

However all agreed Mourinho’s Chavs defeat at the hands of Basel was hilarious.

Onwards and upwards, UTA !

By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)

Man at the Match, Chary: Arsenal second string lose out in Capitol One Cup.

A goal conceded in each half eased Arsenal’s fixture congestion problems by ushering them out of a Cup competition which many will say was our fourth priority of the season. The first goal due to a defensive howler and slightly fortunate ricochet/shot and the second half goal an inevitable result of the home team pushing up for an equaliser and being open enough for the petro-dollar team to launch a counter, which Mata expertly finished.

After the hard fought league victory against Palace at the previous weekend the attention was on the starting XI to see who would be rested for the visit of the Bin dippers for the next league game. A cold night at the Emirates saw Rambo surprisingly start with the rest of the team, Kozzer aside, being as we’d expect with BFG, Gibbs, Sagna, Giroud and Özzy left out.

The first unwelcome surprise of the night was the 4-5 block allocation given to the West London plastics.

Mourinho Groupies

CSKA Fulham Bus Stop

For League games 2-3 blocks seems to be the allocation yet this time the blue hordes had spread, like vermin, beyond this and made the extra noise commensurate with their larger allocation.

Two main features of the away support was the persistent shout of “Show us your European Cup” – to which the home support countered with “Where were you when you were shit ?” and, secondly, an almost prepubescent style gushing worship of Abramovich’s (current) favourite eye gouger Jose, the Specious one, Mourinho.

Who's eye can I gouge ?

Who’s eye can I gouge ?

The Justin Bieber-like worship of Eye Gouger by the Chavs made me think it would only be a matter of time before soiled Y fronts would be hurled at their beloved José from the away end as a sign of their devotion.

Initially the possession and play was fairly even and with the onus on arsenal at home to attack so they pressed more, however as with all Mourinho teams the defence was packed and every time the good guys attacked the Chavski penalty area was packed with the blue-kitted Mourinho automatons.

Chavski were happy to counter attack while staying solid/turgid, but it was one of these counterattacks that was partially cleared but led to a looping ball just outside the Arsenal penalty area.

This was not dealt with by Jenks properly and his attempted headed return to Fabianski in goal failed to reach him and fell invitingly for a Chav player to rifle through his legs for the first CSKA Fulham bus stop goal.

To the home crowds credit there was still the will to urge the team on to equalise and while Rambo played his usual for this year, sterling effort in midfield and Santi showed touches of genius, surprisingly Nacho man Monreal seemed quite an attacking threat on our left flank. The first half finished with Arsenal still pushing forward and the mood fairly optimistic amongst the home support.

The second half began and the away support were even more obnoxious than before with various snide and crude chants directed at Arsenal and Wenger, with a lot of finger provocative finger wagging at the home support going unchecked by the stewards whilst at least three Gooners ejected for responding to the provocation or just for standing up to respond.

Of the non-first team players Nacho man seemed to impress the most especially attacking wise suggesting he is a possible option on the left side of midfield.

Monreal unimpressed with Chavski free kick award

Monreal unimpressed with Chavski free kick award

Sadly, however, Ryo looked far from ready and the way in which he was constantly shrugged off the ball reminded me of watching Carlos Vela in Cup competitions in years past where it appears he’s not up to the physical side of playing in England.

With time ticking away Wenger brought on Özzy to create a way pass the solid wall of blue defending Schwarzer’s goal.
Within minutes of that, as Arsenal pushed forward ever more desperately the inevitable sucker punch was duly applied as our two centre backs for the day left a huge gap between them which Mata ran into and volleyed in a superb second goal.

The sucker punch delivered

The sucker punch delivered

This sent the already raucous away support into further paroxysms of delight and I noticed many Arsenal players shoulders sag at this point.

Giroud was then brought on to replace a largely ineffective Bendtner however despite finally getting some shots on target the feeling that there was going to be no arsenal goals intensified as shots went just wide and Arsenal’s forward players couldn’t find a way through the Chavski robots who were happy to sit back given their two goal lead.

The game wound down as predictably Mourinho used his subs to break up the rhythm of the last few minutes play and allowed Mata to be applauded off; a smattering of applause from the home support showed we have the class to appreciate a good player.

Demba Ba to me seemed just like a clumsy battering ram who barged his abut the final third with little intent on doing anything with the ball.

Final whistle

Too many empty seats

The final whistle went with swathes of empty seats on show and a chill wind starting to whip up from the concourses. To me there seemed an inevitability about the remorseless progress of the Chavski team through the game and in the competition as a whole and as much as I find Mourinho to be a despicable so and so and the ultimate personification of preening narcissism he does build an air of invincibility about his teams, whatever the personnel he uses.

On the up side we have one less competition in which we have to stretch the resources of our injury ravaged squad for yet I hope this defeat won’t damage the morale and confidence of a team on top of the league.

UTA !

By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)