Category Archives: Chary

Pod, Ches, BFG, & Jenks at full time

Man at the match, Chary: Saints in Hell – Adkins boys get six of the best

Tactical naiveté from the South coasters meant an irresistible first half performance from Arsenal’s attacking resulted in that rare and welcome occurrence – an Arsenal home victory free from any alarms or scares.

For my first visit to Ashburton Grove a day that may be the last rose of summer before autumn descends bathed my corner of the stadium (area 10, north bank lower tier) in hot sunshine.

Due to various transport mishaps your humble scribe was unable to have any pre match alcoholic relaxers so I was introduced to a new experience – watching a match completely sober. It goes without saying I wished for a comfortable game for our new look team and that was what I got.

A slight surprise was the use of Gervinho on the right of the front three, with Podolski on the left and Cazorla predominantly through the middle; the midfield three being The Ox, Arteta and, also surprisingly, Coquelin.
An early shot from our new number nine saw the jittery Southampton keeper spill the ball, but luckily not into harm’s way.

Having not seen our new signings from the stands having heard about Cazorla’s trickery and magic the reality was every bit as good as the expectation. Even from where I sat (or stood as for most of the match area 10 had clumps of constantly standing supporters) you could almost see the panic in the Southampton defenders faces whenever our Spanish maestro ran at them. Of course The Saints double teamed him most of the time and naturally stuck in a few “honest” tackles to try and kick him out of his stride. I see most opposition teams identifying Santi as the danger man and he will be singled out for close attention.

Podolski was all strength, determination and industry as he would chase after lost causes and win back possession with tenacity and it was just such an occasion where he miscontrolled a pass, tackled back and got the ball, then fed it in to the overlapping Gibbs who shot and, we thought scored, as he claimed the goal and in real time it looked like his goal. As the stadium screen didn’t award him the goal it confirmed what the replay suggested – that prolific ManUre striker – Mr Own Goal had scored for us.

Ashburton in sunshine Ashburton in sunshine

Ahh – an early(ish) goal and Gooners could relax as Southampton continued to play an open game – no lines of four players strung across the pitch defending as usually happens when the lesser teams come to play us. This meant more chances were created and another change from last season was a willingness to shoot more often, especially in the first half; defensively the back four looked more composed with Jenkinson especially impressive with his forward runs and defensive work rate and the Mertesacker (aka The BFG) making plenty of interceptions.

The squeeze applied by the Arsenal midfield led to a free kick in what would last season have been Robin Van Judas territory. Up stepped The Pod and thumped in a howitzer of a free kick which the keeper had no chance with and the stadium couldn’t quite believe an Arsenal forward could score from a free kick after years of the ManUre number 20 scuffing and skying all the free kicks we’d earn. Cue mass renditions of “He scores when he wants”

He scores when he wants The Pod’s freekick

Most teams would see two nil in around half an hour as a signal to tighten up defensively and stop attacking – not Southampton who carried on piling forward, with their number 42(Puncheon) catching the eye with a few tricks and pace on our left flank leading to a handful of corners.

What, you're still attacking ? Southampton corner

A neat flick over a Southampton fullback, who misjudged his positioning, from the ever impressive Arteta landed directly into Gervinho’s path who blasted in first time to make it three nil and just reward for a dazzling performance from the Ivorian who played with a sense of urgency and an attacking tempo that did justice to his talents –more of that please.

Even at three down, the willingness to carry on attacking meant Southampton left space in the midfield for Cazorla and Podolski to combine to set up Gibbs for another shot after another overlapping pass which produced another goal for that ManUre striker, Mr O.G. Four nil just before half time and the Saints supporters were completely dejected.

Perhaps it was the heat but the denizens of the North Bank turned out to be not only to be vociferous in their support but sometimes overly critical of a misplaced pass. The reactions to the Saints first half injury time goal seemed a tad over the top and disproportionate to a 4-1 half time score even though the goal was conceded due to Chesney’s fumbling of the ball after a cross that came in because Gibbs lost track of the attacker he should have been marking. Shrieks of “We don’t know what we’re doing” and “We’re a f**king shambles!” could be heard.

This caused the hitherto comatose away support to give us the “You’re going to win f**k all” chant, quite rich for a team heading for a fourth defeat in a row and rooted to the bottom of the table. Naturally the North Bank replied with “You’ll never play here again”

The so called contract rebel Theo had appeared for a kick around at half time with Arsenal’s speed driver Santos and Ramsey and the current second choice keeper Manone- however Wenger has made it known he expects Vito to fight for the keepers spot and after a few errors today perhaps Chesney is under a little pressure.

Half time kickabout Theo, Santos & Ramsey at half time

The second half started at a slower tempo but with Arsenal enjoying greater possession however as the tempo dropped Southampton started to pass the ball around and have a spell whereby Arsenal couldn’t get hold of the ball.

This, and the substitution of the fading Coquelin with Ramsey, seemed to wake Arsenal up and a few more corners at the Southampton end resulted plus some more free kicks.

Ramsey made a mug of another Southampton defender; much like Arteta did in the first half, with a flick that allowed him to run on and canon a shot of the post which rebounded into Gervinho’s path who stumbled the ball over the line from a foot or two out.

The forehead makes it 5 After Gervinho’s second goal

Gervinho’s confidence will grow from game to game now and the ovation he received after he was subbed shortly after scoring his second can only benefit his future performances.

Giroud and Theo came on for Gervinho and Podolski with Theo’s introduction causing a chap in front of me to make clear where he stood on Theo “Sign up or f**k off Theo” was his verdict, however he was on his own as a couple of his friends were goading him with the “The—oo” chant, so when Theo added a sixth goal, as a result of a Vermaelen drive ricocheting around the box, all those around him(myself included) took up the “The-oo” chant while pointing at him.

Initially Theo’s subdued reaction to scoring made me wonder if he was sulking, but as an ex-Southampton player it made sense he wouldn’t overtly celebrate.

Final whistle and a hefty boost to our goal difference and three points saw us climb to third in the fledgling table with the lasting memory being of the two Germans, Chesney and Jenkinson staying on to salute the North Bank. As they turned to leave we started up the”He scores when he wants” song and Lukas turned back to applaud us.

This guy could be special for us as indeed the team could be.

UTA.

Charybdis1966

(on YouTube and twitter as @charybdis1966)

Defending a rare Wigan corner

Man at the match, Chary: Arsenal pay the price for two calamitous minutes

A Wigan side, fresh from defeating the Premier League Champions elect, took advantage of a crazy ninety or so seconds of defensive chaos in the Arsenal backline to plunder two quick goals and then sat back for the last eighty minutes of the game to gain a win that eased their relegation fears.

Even before kick off an uncomfortably cold evening was made to feel more awkward by Arsenal kicking towards the North Bank in the first half, rather than in the second half which is the usual choice of ends, presumably because Robin lost the toss.

Wigan brought the smallest traveling contingent I’d ever seen, so small only one block was allocated for them, something I’d never seen at Ashburton Grove in the 50 or so matches I’ve been to there.

Did you come in a minibus ?

Did you come in a minibus ?

Forget the talk of Wigan playing expansive attacking football – because, bizarrely, Al Habsi in the Wigan goal was resorting to time wasting within a few minutes of the start, at nil nil even! An ominous portend of what was to follow (and be allowed by referee Mariner).

A few early chances came our way and, as you’d expect, it seemed like Al Habsi was going to have another game of his life against us as he clawed away two goal bound shots.

Sitting slightly to the right of the goal and behind the Clock end I could see all was not right with the right half of the back line – Sagna seemed to be running in cement whenever Moses ran at him and his powers of anticipation, usually so accurate, had deserted him and there seemed to be a lack of communication with Djourou.

For that reason when the first Wigan attack came down our left flank Sagna was easily outpaced and the resulting cross led to an easy tap in, on the second attempt, for Di Santo, the number 9 who then ran to the corner of the Clock end and East stand to give the home crowd the finger.

Classy stuff.

Unfortunately it was Sagna again who was turned inside out from the second Wigan attack of the game and another foray down our right flank by Wigan led to a partially blocked shot from Gomez which looped up and fell perfectly in front of him to prod into an open net.

Chesney was incensed with his defenders, Djourou and Sagna in particular, so much so that Song had to step in to cool the Pole’s temper with the crowd sensing a two goal lead may not be surmountable this time.

Straight after the second goal Arteta was subbed off so it may seem that our midfield shape had gone in the time Arteta was off the pitch which caused the two Wigan attacks to be so damaging.

Arteta’s replacement Ramsey came on then he, and the rest of his team, were confronted with the prospect of ten men behind the ball and elaborate time wasting for the remainder of the game.

There has been criticism of Ramsey for his slowing down/sideways passing but to my eyes playing against two banks of four he retained possession well and had no choice but to pass sideways when there were no forward options on as the Lancastrian bus was parked firmly in front of Al Habsi’s goal.

Where I was sitting there appeared to be no one getting on Ramsey’s back for the handful of misplaced passes with the crowd’s ire being reserved for the awful timewasting by Wigan, like every re-start taking an age and excessive deliberation about who would take each throw in/free kick.

It became apparent as the first half drew on Marriner was not going to take any action against time wasting and his inconsistent approach with what was a foul drew his competency into question.

Sadly he seemed very eager to blow for every tiny foul against us but let Wigan fouls go unpunished – Sagna was booked for his first foul, and one only in the centre circle, while things like Wigan players climbing and tumbling over Arsenal defenders (Djourou was used as a climbing frame by Wigan forwards on more than one occasion) was ignored.

Despite being hampered by an officious and one sided approach by the referee and timewasting by Wigan, the Verminator pulled a goal back for the good guys with a towering header that the Ashburton Grove faithful were hopeful would start a fight back, while the disjointed Arsenal midfield permitted a few more attacks and corners for Wigan.

Defending a rare Wigan corner

Defending a rare Wigan corner

Arsenal pressed on till half time but had few chances, a couple of Benayoun headers and a Rosicky shot skied over after a neat one two with Robin, and the first half finished with a sense of anxiety building in the crowd.

Half time brought a few boos for Gazidis as he came pitch side for a presentation ceremony, perhaps his perceived part in last summer’s transfer window fiasco has not been forgotten by all Gooners.

As expected Arsenal started the second half with a sense of urgency but as it became apparent the combination of Wigan timewasting and ten men behind the ball meant it was going to take something special to unlock the massed blue and white defence.

Additionally Marriner’s willingness to give virtually every decision he could to the away side was beginning to grate more and more.

For example a shove on Theo as he drove into the penalty area was not even called for a foul, even though it seemed a DOGSO and therefore a penalty/red card to me while an innocuous trip by Song was a yellow.

As if to confirm how much Marriner was rooting for Wigan, he even put his arm around their number 16 consolingly, proof of how friendly he was with Wigan. This was after he awarded another soft foul against Arsenal as if to say…”there, there, we won’t let those nasty boys from Arsenal stop you getting your moment of glory…”

Even the introduction of the Ox and Gervinho to provide more attacking options didn’t provide any more chances; Gervinho worryingly looked a shadow of the player who was skinning defenders for fun earlier in the season.

As time started to run out Marriner finally remembered he could book players for time wasting, but by then regular time was almost up and Wigan had got the result they wanted assisted by the time wasting by then anyway.

As the final whistle blew the handful of Wigan fans present began to sing that they were staying up and the Arsenal players beat a hasty retreat off the pitch.

Some may complain that they didn’t stay to applaud the crowd much, but if they felt as half as devastated as I did seeing three points slip away I could hardly blame them, although some may rightly feel they should always applaud the crowd.

A slightly more fussy stewarding regime seemed to be in operation as I saw an Arsenal fan ejected for bringing a bottle of Corona to his seat (yes, a fairly dumb thing to do anyway) and another steward spending all the first half picking out anyone using cameras – hence the lack of many pictures this time.

While third place is still in our hands we have made it more difficult for ourselves with this defeat, however our club needs the fans to get behind them now more than ever.

UTA! (twitter @charybdis1966)

Man at the match, Chary: Krul’s karma comeback

For once footballing justice was seen to be done where a side wasting time to hang on to a draw had left Ashburton Grove with exactly what they deserved – nothing. Aided by referee Webb (aka Fergie’s rent boy) who was happy to let Krul take an eternity for every restart in play, the Toon army were flaunting triumphalism till the Verminator’s late strike gave them the heart break the Arsenal are so used to being on the receiving end of.

Following on from the impressive showing at the previous home game, as reported by Tim, the Gooner faithful were expectantly waiting for the good form to continue against a Newcastle side that have surprised many this so far this season.

Thanks to leaving my membership card at home your humble scribe was forced to queue up at the ticket office, close to the Armoury, for a paper ticket and therefore missed the first ten minutes of the game.

When I finally got to my seat the selection of Arfa instead of Cisse/Ameobi in the starting line-up suggested some attacking ambition to me from the Pardew, the Newcastle manager – who I was watching for any signs of bad behaviour on the touchline, as evidenced in his fracas with Martin O’Neill in his previous game.

Sure enough that selection option reaped dividends as no sooner had I settled into position then Arfa exploited a positional error by Gibbs and fired in a classy, virtually unstoppable, shot to score and put the away team in front.
At this point I felt like it was my fault and wondered whether I shouldn’t leave, but no sooner had I bemoaned my role as a bringer of bad luck than Theo sprinted towards me, positioned behind the Clock end goal, and rifled in a cross which Robin bundled in, exactly how I couldn’t see as most of the Clock end was already standing, arms and scarfs waving.

That was as swift a reply as is possible to going behind to the oppositions only forward foray and it’s worth pointing out even after the Arfa goal there were no groans from the crowd, just singing/cheering to urge the good guys on. Even the equaliser caused mass celebrations and I got carried away in hugging a stranger in the next seat as the solidarity amongst the supporters appears to strengthen game by game.

The Toon army were silenced and the “We pay your benefits” chants aimed at them caused much glee in the aftermath of the equaliser once the “He scores when he wants” died down.

During the first half the difference between the two wide players of the front three was painfully obvious, Theo was having a storming game whereas The Ox was subdued and didn’t seem to want the ball much. The Ox’s inexperience and youth means we are going to get games like this from him occasionally and as long as the fans show patience with him we are going to have a superstar on our hands.

Rosicky was driving forward and pushing for space in the midfield and getting a fair amount of kicking from Newcastle (and Tiote in particular) which Fergie’s rent boy was happy to wave play on, as you’d expect from the man who allowed a king fuck kick by De Jong on Alonso in the World Cup final.

Webb always seems to want to be the star of the show and his overly demonstrative style of refereeing, coupled with his poor decision making, is always going to make him the ref you don’t want in charge of your teams game unless, of course, you support the plastics of Salford FC, from Old Toilet.

Fergies rent boy at it again

Webb shows who's in charge

To be fair to the Newcastle players when Kozzer was caught on the follow through of a tackle and went down they did stop play, something many teams would not have done.

However the goodwill for that gesture was drained away by Krul’s persistent time wasting tactics when taking goal kicks and free kicks. It was gratifying to hear that as soon as he started this mid-way through the first half the home support started the whistles and booing to highlight his poor sportsmanship.

In situations like this where the team need a certain extra push to drive them on it was great to see and hear how the crowd got behind the team as a red and white tide surged at the Newcastle back line relentlessly in wave after wave of Arsenal attacks.

Another free kick

Another free kick

The change in atmosphere at the Grove during this season will make the hacks lazy assumption that Arsenal have quiet home support look as fatuous as it is specious.

The second half started much as the first half ended with Arsenal attacking and Pardew jigging like a dancing fool on the touchline resplendent in his “Man at C & A” suit that made him look like a parking valet. As we’ve come to expect from him he was haranguing officials all through the game and encroaching on Wenger’s technical area primed to reprise his jig of joy in Wenger’s face from their meeting at Upton Park.

When a Newcastle player went down and the Toon army jeered Arsenal for not stopping play, the hilarity of the Newcastle players not stopping play either when they regained possession made Pardew’s protests look as foolish as the man himself.

Krul’s’ time wasting worsened as the second half went on and Robin ended up running up to him while he dithered around with the ball in order to speed things up and that sowed the seeds of the later confrontation.

Again the crowd didn’t let this go unnoticed and even though Webb did nothing the fourth official was noting the delays so when 5 minutes of injury time came up the Newcastle players shoulders visibly sagged as holding back the Arsenal attacks was wearing them down.

A Gervinho sliced miss and a few headers which Krul did well to keep out in injury time made me think we would have to settle for a draw but as the stadium clock read 9.53 (5 minutes would be up by 9.54) another cross from Theo resulted in the ball in the net – who was the scorer I couldn’t see as everyone leapt up as one and cheered themselves hoarse and yours truly spent the next 90 seconds turned to the away supports and swearing at them as Ashburton Grove reverberated to the sound of a stadium packed with ecstatic Gooners.

I could make out a bundle at the corner of the north bank and West stand where the exultant arsenal players celebrated the deserved winner.
While the man pile, at the bottom of which was the match winner the Verminator, was breaking up Chesney had jogged up to the centre spot where the ball had been placed and cheekily kicked it to the corner flag in front of the away supporters – as if to say to Krul that he was not the only one who could waste time.

Robin was waving his hands up to urge the crowd to make more noise for the end of the match and the crowd upped the volume levels even more with few empty seats even this deep into injury time.
The speed at which Newcastle were re starting play for the final few seconds was priceless – Krul especially ran to take a free kick after a Theo off side with unbelievable sprinting ability. The irony of the injury time that Krul built up allowing the late winner was delicious.

It was too little urgency too late from Pardew’s pretenders and when Webb finally blew up the orgasmic relief of the Arsenal gaining three vital points was shown not only by the scarves held up in all corners of the stadium but by the ferocity of the celebrations thereafter. Sights and sounds to that I’ll never forget.

The Krul-Robin flare up at the end was an amusing coup de grace in the feud between the two Dutchmen as the guilty party was left to pick the ball out of the net.

Prelude to Robin-Krul handbags

Prelude to Robin-Krul handbags

Final whistle melee

Final whistle melee

The team could to be proud of their efforts as could the supporters who have been building up better and better atmospheres for the players to thrive in as the season has gone on.

If we keep up these kinds of performances (hopefully without going a goal down first though) then the catastrophe of the summer transfer window and the subsequent poor start to the season will seem a distant memory

Justice had been done and now all that remained was to listen for the sound of choking from up the Seven Sisters Road as the happy Gooners made their way home.