Category Archives: Chary

Man at the pub, Chary: Set piece lapse gifts City draw

Poor marking at a corner in the last ten minutes of the game allowed City to equalise and prevent the Arsenal from grabbing their first league win since the opening day of the season after the home team appeared to have come from behind to defeat the League Champions.

Circumstances prevented me from attending today’s Ashburton Grove lunchtime kick off so I found a pub in my hitherto unnamed London satellite town where the audience gathered around the screens were split 50-50 supporting Arsenal and non football fans having lunch, hence “Man at the pub”.

Lunchtime drinking - a thankless task but someone has to do it

Lunchtime drinking – a thankless task but someone has to do it

Noteworthy points on team selection being Arsenal’s fifth signing, Danny Welbeck, starting in the middle up top, the prospect of Sanogo being there may have sent the goonersphere into a post interlull induced tailspin, and Monreal keeping his place while consigning Gibbs to the bench.
For the visitors the omission of Yaya “Birthday boy” Toure weakened the City midfield with the down grade Fernandinho taking his place, otherwise both teams were at full strength bar a few (Theo/Giroud for arsenal; Toure/Jovetic for City).

Pellegrini – whose appearance and style far from being that of “The Engineer” comes across as being more like a supply teacher – must have felt he had sufficient resources to avenge City’s last league outing, a defeat at the paws of the Orcs of Staffordshire.

Refreshingly Arsenal started the game with little of the usual hesitancy that had become a feature of some of their early kickoffs with the extremely robust front three of Alexis, Welbeck and Rambo leading the high energy pressing against the visitors, suggesting that the Arsenal were not overawed by City.

This urgency led to Welbeck running onto a loose pass from the the City defenders and chipping over the dandruff free Hart, the watching Gooners in the bar expecting the net to ripple. Sadly a Dulux coat of paint was enough to send what would a been a deserved opening goal for Arsenal and Welbeck back off the post into the grateful clutches of a grateful keeper.

Arsenal’s early dominance rattled the visitors and there then emerged a pattern of rotational fouling which broke up our attacking play, Fernandinho and Milner guilty of a couple of potentially yellow card tackles on Jack and Debuchy respectively.

Jack’s upswing in form seemed to continue as he exerted a degree of control on midfield and, to my eyes, was therefore targetted for fouls, however he hadn’t completely shed his habit of hanging onto the ball a little too long before releasing.

Emboldened by City’s lack of control in midfield Arsenal began to commit more men forward with Monreal being a little too eager to stay upfield, and this would lead to the sucker punch. Navas on the City right used all his pace to keep a ball seemingly destined to go into touch in play. The out of position Monreal was unable to defend his rampaging run to the Clock end penalty box where an onrushing Aguero expertly applied the finish.

Undoubtedly a blow but thankfully not one that seemed to knock the Arsenal out of their stride too much and they soon resumed their aggressive attacking approach.

This continued from the start of the second half, which saw Fatty Lampard withdrawn, possibly due to him picking up a yellow as well as looking off the pace, proving that Arsenal’s forward line is one of the better aspects of the squad.
Özil was feeling his way back into match fitness with some, although probably not enough, decisive interventions in our forward play and some smooth, slick passing.

At last Fernandinho joined Fatty and Zabaleta in the book after one lunge too many, even by referee Clattenberg’s somewhat lax standards, although shortly afterwards he just had to “even” things up by booking Flamini.

Eventually a particularly pacey combination of passes in front of the City penalty area, started by Özil winning the ball in the Arsenal half, allowed Jack to run onto Rambo’s pass then chip Hart delightfully for the equaliser.
An exquisite goal that heartened the team and the supporters, who may have started to fear a home league loss for the first time since last season’s opening day debacle made. The celebrations were made funnier by Aguero being booked for dissent in the aftermath of our equaliser and then subbed shortly after.

Continued Arsenal pressure led to the highlight of the game, Jack flicked on a cross to Alexis who lined up a right foot volley that arrowed into the top corner of Hart’s goal with the accuracy of a laser guided exocet – what a world class finish!

As our Chilean wheeled round in celebration I could see him bursting to take his top off, he unpeeled the Puma skinny fit top as I realised ruefully he was going to get a yellow, but to be fair the adrenalin of scoring such a goal would do that to many a player.

Arsenal’s superior attacking play had been rewarded and the game settled into possession football by the home team till the turning point of the game.
An aimless cross field ball in the last ten minutes of the game was chased by Debuchy who got his studs stuck in the turf and ended up turning his ankle – the “oofs” and groans heard around the bar when the slow mo showed the awkward angle the right back’s ankle landed confirmed the severity of the injury.

Now we could be down to five senior defenders covering four spots, only Bellerin looks ready for the first team at a push, so let’s all hope he is not out long term.

Chambers came on and soon after conceded a corner which was to provide the denouement – the inswinging corner saw Chesney flap a little and fail to claim with Demechelis rising to prod the ball goal ward.
Chesney got a hand to the ball but was unable to keep it out, in fact he seemed to divert the ball away from Flamini who was at the back post all set to clear, Mathieu slapping his forehead in frustration knowing that he could have prevented the goal.

The remaining minutes, plus six minutes of injury time, saw a helter skelter finish to the game during which it was Arsenal’s turn to be saved by the post when Dzeko’s effort was kept out by the woodwork.

An amusing moment in the closing minutes was Nasri poking in the net after the off side flag was raised and being given the bird by the Arsenal supporters. You could just see him itching to start his Adebayor-like celebration for the winner he thought he’d scored. Plenty of middle finger salutes from the Arsenal supporters in the pub.

Eventually time was blown and the feeling was predominantly of relief at not losing but slight disappointment that the lead could not be kept.

Negatives – the old failings of the inability to defend from set pieces and being vulnerable on counter attacks, especially on our left side, however today this could be more due to Özil’s lack of protection of the left back when he plays wide left than anything. The injury to Debuchy means we are now using an inexperienced teenager to cover centre back and right back spots which is a worry. Being young and inexperienced means we are going to see a few mistakes from Calum but we can only hope they won’t be regular or costly.

Positives – an encouraging debut for Welbeck which combined with our pace up front means opposition defences won’t be able to expect continued slow sideways passing in front of their penalty area to give them an easy game. We genuinely looked like we could go toe to toe with any other teams forward line and with the return of Walcott next month things look good up top.


By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)

Man at the match; Chary: Just deserts to time-wasting Palace served up by Arsenal

A long three months have passed since your humble scribe last made his way to Ashburton Grove and how the mood around the club and its supporters has changed. News of ManUre’s home defeat to Swansea brought a spring to my step as the much lauded, by the British media at least, Loius Van Butt Head (any fans of MTV of the 80′s and 90′s will know) started off his reign in calamitous fashion.

Walking up Gillespie Road

Walking up Gillespie Road

This is in no small measure due to this very significant addition to the in-stadium signeage.

Shove your nine years up ...

Shove your nine years up …

Of course this has been up for a while yet for those of us travelling to the Grove for the first time this season it’s worth highlighting.

I took my seat in the North Bank lower and guess who was a few rows in front ?



As the teams trundled out the only minor surprise was the selection of Sanogo ahead of Olly and as we attacked the Clock End goal away from me I saw very little of Sanogo’s efforts but he did appear to be a touch ineffectual.

Callum Chambers, however, confirmed his composed performances in the Emirates Cup were no fluke; whether he should be third or fourth choice centre back is the question for the rest of the season.

Very quickly it became apparent in the stands that the Palace manager’s hastily devised team tactic was ‘everyone behind the ball and defend in two banks of five.’ The Pulis stand-in’s dishevelled appearance on the touchline wreaked of a man who’s barely started the job and is in a bit of a muddle.

Smart manager, scruffy manager

Smart manager, scruffy manager

While Wenger was in a smart suit his counter part decided to try the “Brit on a beach holiday abroad” combo of t-shirt and shorts, nice.

As the Arsenal started to make inroads into the massed ranks of the opposition defence Alexis’ was the major threat with his quick starting, darting runs from deep. Granted, he sometimes overshot the final cross/pass but I could almost see the brown trails showing on the shorts of the opposing defenders. That’s what having pace in your attack does – it stops opposition defences sitting back as we no longer have to endlessly dilly dally laterally on the pitch.

Barely twenty five minutes into the game and Speroni, the Palace keeper, decided he would take his goal kicks with all the urgency of a baboon with hemorrhoids. This, allied to the 8-1-1 formation told you all you needed to know about the attitude of Pullis’ successor.

As expected with virtually their first upfield excursion, towards me in the North bank, a misplaced pass amongst our left flank defenders resulted in a corner which Palace duly scored from.

There was some talk around of me of why was Alexis marking the leviathan that is Hangaland however the team and supporters dusted themselves down and got on with the business of getting back into the game.

Arsenal pressed forward, predominantly on the right hand side where Debuchy and Alexis were combining together in the manner of team mates who had playing together for a season and not just a few weeks. it reminded me of our previous right sided partnership of Walcott and that French bloke we signed from Auxerre; what was his name again ?

On the stroke of half time a well deserved equaliser was headed in by Kozzer (from an Alexis free kick), who is popping up with important goals time and time again so the tone of the half time break would then take on a different flavour. I’ve always found the North Bank lower to have more than it’s fair share of pessimistic Gooners so it was good to hear that most felt confident of a winning goal coming up in the second half.

Soon after the second half kicked off Gibbs was subbed and Nacho came on; those saying he should be shipped out should take note of just how often Gibbs is injured and therefore why we need him as experienced back up. To my eyes he went on to have a good game and in fact our attacks on the left started to get better from his introduction onwards.

Soon after the initial flurry of attacks it became apparent that Palace were planning to hang onto the draw by slowing down play by a combination of Speroni’s slow motion goal kicks and assorted defenders collapsing with cramp to eat up more time. Sadly the referee was not keeping a lid on the time wasting and he let it go.

Other things worsened the mood of the home support, for example Arsenal were awarded a free kick they wanted to take quickly but as the referee turned his back a Palace midfielder kicked the ball away – a yellow card all day long, something the lino should have flagged to the referee but didn’t.

Something else that summed up Palace and their approach was when another delicate defender of theirs, Dann I think, was being subbed off, instead of walking straight off the pitch(of course he was proceeding at funereal pace) he not only didn’t take the shortest roue off the pitch, but he arced his walk as he approached the touchline and walked parallel to it so it took even longer for play to restart.

Earlier on just as Arsenal were about to take the corner the Pulis stand in decided to bring on a sub just then ! No waiting for a later break in play as is customary.

As full time approached Puncheon finally got his second yellow after a number of niggling fouls and we got the huge advantage of playing against ten men for a couple of minutes of normal time plus injury time.

Due to the time wasting already seen the five minutes of injury time flagged up was the minimum expected and Arsenal kept on pushing forward, but with renewed urgency.

Another attack resulted in a cross that Olly flicks on and just in front of the North Bank goal, yards from me. I can see someone swivel round to latch onto the flick. Next thing I know Speroni parries and somebody else has tapped in the rebound.

What relief and total justice that Palace concede a goal scored in injury time that their time wasting created.

The winning goal

The winning goal

Through the sea of arms I can just make out Rambo rushing to the corner flag to celebrate, the thing I notice most vividly is his fists pumping in triumph, fist pumps of vitality and strength, not the “couldn’t break a wet paper bag” fist pumps of our dear manager.

By now my row of the North bank lower has taken on the character of a thrash metal mosh pit as the delirious celebrations resulted in yours truly being hurled several seats to the right.

How sweet an injury time winner is and how different the mood at this seasons opening fixture compared to lasts.


By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)

Man at the match; Chary The Arsenal sign off at home with comfy win

Kozzer and his children

Kozzer and his children

A casual stroll in spring sunshine at Ashburton Grove finished off our home season with a comfortable one nil win thanks to an Olly power house header within a quarter of an hour of the start.

As seems almost traditional nowadays the last home game of the season was chosen as an opportunity for a bit of fan protest, this time at the 3% ticket price increase coming into effect for the 2014-15 season.

Protest signs

Gathering for protest

Gathering for protest

It seems the majority of the ire comes from the fact the extra commercial revenue from new deals and TV income more than covers the extra income from this 3% increase and the inevitable effect of pricing fans out of attending games.

Due to the Abu Dhabi FC’s defeat of Everton the previous day the Arsenal were assured of a 4th place finish before kick-off so yours truly could enjoy a stress free game with pretty much nothing of note resting on the result.
For the West Brom supporters a point was needed to guarantee safety but as an Arsenal fan I was more than glad to not allow them any such comfort and demanded a win.

Wannabe bar codes

Wannabe bar codes

This win looked more than likely when after some early probing the Arsenal were awarded a corner.

As Santi went over to the corner by the away support a chorus of boo-ing started – really? Booing Santi is just mean and petty, like abusing a puppy; he’s so harmless and smiling. However we shouldn’t expect any such foresight from away supporters who appeared more intent on bouncing inflatable beach balls for the full ninety minutes than anything else. There also were a lot of Spanish flags in the away end, perhaps because the Baggies think they have hit the big time with a continental manager. Ha, delusional I say.

The floated corner was met by Olly charging towards the near post and thumping the header in to give us the lead, his henry-esque knee slide in front of the away supporter’s just rebuke for the pointless booing a few seconds before.

It was also gratifying to see us have some set piece threat for a change as in seasons gone by opposition would relax whenever we were awarded a free kick/corner due to the fact we would generally waste them. This was usually because the Cutch Dunt would want to take them and his conversion rate was woeful (by the way enjoy no European football next season Mr Van Judas, assuming you don’t jump ship when things get slightly difficult again).

By this time my neighbour in the North bank lower had finally finished meticulously applying sun block to his head, shoulders and ears (!) and just about registered the fact we had scored.

Team selection wise I should say the omission of Ramsey was a little worrying, but hopefully a precaution in nursing him back from injury and the sighting of the little seen Abou Diaby was one of those “X files” moments. My thoughts on Diaby are well known but it’s been said he has now waived his wages whilst injured although I’ve seen nothing concrete to refute this and prove it is not merely urban legend.

Whilst the crowd atmosphere was generally soporific it didn’t take long for the first FA Cup final chants (“She wore”, “Que sera, sera” etc…) to start up, quickly followed by those urging Sagna to stay.

On the pitch Özzy was showing his class by threading lots of through balls into space and ghosting into positions near the West Brom penalty area, Poldi was also showing himself to be a handful with some vigorous running.
He is a fan favourite and it would be foolish to let him leave as he is now playing the full ninety more times than not.
His effort seems more than adequate with his tracking back and he did take on the West Brom full back in a few foot races he competed well in. I also enjoyed it when he powered in a cross after one such run and had it blocked by the stomach of said full back, who then hobbled afterwards. Good, I hope that hurt!

The away team themselves seemed to be experimenting with a novel formation that required the outfield players to move up and down the pitch in a square block whilst pursuing the ball, a little like junior school kids would when playing 20 a side in the school playground.
If I’m trying to be fair, and I don’t know why I should be, I would say their midfield was quite energetic and their wing play had its moments up till the final third.

The first half ended and we then got the chance to see the legend that is Bobby at half time soak up the adoration from the Arsenal faithful.

"Hey Bobby...."

“Hey Bobby….”

During the second half the chants for Sagna to stay increased in frequency and as it became clear West Brom lacked much quality there seemed little urgency in the crowd to push the team on for more goals even though chances were created.

Oooh, Santi Caz-or-la !

Oooh, Santi Caz-or-la !

Poldi had a shot come off the post and Özzy ran on to a bouncing ball that fell to him via an Olly ricochet, as he chased the ball running towards me I could tell the ball came to him on the up part of the bounce, which was more difficult to control than meeting the ball as it hits the floor or is at the peak of the bounce.

The game petered out with two final incidents of note, one of sheer comedy and one of skulduggery.

The skulduggery was courtesy of Dorrans strong arming Olly at the half way line while the play was in the West Brom penalty area. When I saw the arms raised I feared a red may be awarded but luckily it was just a yellow each for both protagonists.

The comedy highlight was when Foster, who had looked very shaky with his clearances all game, punted a long ball for a West Brom midfielder to run onto, the said midfielder started the chase and then promptly fell flat on his face. The delay in him getting up, whilst he wished for the turf to swallow him up, allowed the

“Are you Gerrard, are you Gerrard, are you Gerrard in disguise?”

singing to start; the style of his fall was like that of a shot cowboy in a Sam Peckinpah movie and much hilarity ensued.

Final whistle at final home game of the 2013-14 campaign

Final whistle at final home game of the 2013-14 campaign

All that remained was for the final whistle to go and the lap of appreciation to start, this year thankfully not preceded by chants of spend some effing money.

Post match lap of appreciation

Post match lap of appreciation

Players on final lap

Players on final lap

Barring a slice of outrageously good fortune in obtaining Cup final tickets this will be my last match report of the season; I hope you enjoyed them and it’s been a pleasure conversing in the comments and I look forward to seeing you all next season.


By ChärybdÏß1966 (on Twitter @charybdis1966)