Category Archives: Chary

Man at the match, Chary: Rovers given a spanking by rampant Arsenal.

A Blackburn side without their two main pillars of attack and defence (Yakubu and Samba respectively) where dismantled by an Arsenal attack that were unrecognisable as the one that failed to score at Bolton earlier in the week.

Having kept an eye out for legions of spectators making their way to Ashburton Grove with bin bags and seen none the atmosphere before kick-off was subdued due to the near freezing temperature and the early kick off.

Wot no bin bags ?

Wot no bin bags ?

Your humble scribe even omitted his pre match Peroni’s as necking lager at noon didn’t feel quite right, in any case a hot drink would have been more in order to stop the teeth chattering.

The only surprises in the starting XI were the omission of Sagna (perhaps due to his comeback being managed with caution) and the continued starting of Robin, although to be fair he would have a week’s rest before the next fixture; the resting of Ramsey was less of a surprise as he had looked tired towards the end of his last few games.

Viewing from behind the clock end goal the away support seemed, like the home crowd, filled their quota to around 80% and seemed a respectable turn out especially considering their relegation battle and the supporter-Board of the club struggle.

Northern monkeys penned in

Blackburn supporters

Barely had we taken our seats then Theo rampaged towards my line of sight to the left of “Chunky” Robinson’s goal and slid in a straight forward cross which Robin ran onto and slotted in, easy as you like.

A quick fire start

A quick fire start

One nil down inside 90 seconds and the away support became even quieter.
The Blackburn midfield had offered no protection for the back line and the early attack cut through the defence with ease.

From thereon in some jolly jokesters in the Clock End decided to heckle Chunky with (in a parody of Robin’s song):

“He eats when he wants,
He eats when he waaaaants,
That Paul Robinson,
He eats when he wants……you fat bast**d”

Sitting behind him for the first half I noticed Chunky’s nervous tic of kicking his right foot against the post and looking at the sole of his boot to ensure there was no mud on his studs, before he would take a goal kick that always landed near the right touchline, level with the centre circle.

Arsenal continued to probe away at a Blackburn side that struggled to gain any meaningful possession of the ball so it was against the run of play when a rare Rovers foray up field resulted in a free kick following a Kozzer pull back on Modeste, I think it was.

Those around me muttered their expectation of an equalizer, which Pedersen duly supplied.

Now the press may have been rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of another half time booing of the home team off the pitch, but 5 or so minutes later another Theo surge down our right flank resulted in another assist for Robin and the lead was restored, much to the chagrin of the hacks ready to paint the Arsenal support as fickle and petulant.

I saw no dissent or protests of any sort, trash/bin bag related or otherwise; however with the way the game panned out perhaps that is not surprising.

While Theo did not score he was creating almost as much havoc on his wing as Oxo was on the left – the twin wing menaces were giving the Blackburn full backs an unnerving time all through the game – and two assists will have done his self-confidence wonders.

Theo shows some leg ?

Theo sets up RvP's 2nd goal

Almost straight after we had started goading the away end with “You’re not singing anymore” then Oxo crowned a stand out first half performance with a debut premier league goal after he rounded Chunky, following a Robin through ball, and showed composure beyond his years to slot the ball home.

Oxo's 1st goal celebration

Oxo's 1st goal celebration

3-1 nearing half time and Rovers already looked a shattered side although to be fair their supporters still tried to keep their spirits up with a near constant refrain of “Barmy army”

However all spirit seemed to drain from them when a few minutes after Oxo’s goal Givet was off for an early bath, as Eddy Waring may have said, for a crude lunge on Robin, one which Robin took some of the sting out of by managing to hurdle some of the flailing legs of the Frenchman.

The red card and all the yellows were fully deserved as Rovers were a fairly cynical side, giving our players a nudge whenever they were following the flight of the ball onto their head; however referee Mariner spotted most of these offences and had a fairly decent match.

Note, we were 3-1 up BEFORE the sending off so don’t believe any pony (pony and trap, crap) about the red card being a pivotal moment.

It was still an anxious wait for Robin to recover and prove there was no lasting damage done and the first half ended with the Gooner faithful very happy, if rather frozen.

The second half started with a spell of dainty possession for Blackburn, with which they produced no significant attacking intent and soon enough we increased our lead thanks to a rare long range shot from Arteta after a half clearance following one of our endless number of corners.

Theo then produced his third assist of the game to set up Oxo for his second of the game and confirmation that he had arrived – are we seeing a legend in the making? Too early to say but the possibility is mouth-watering.

A present day legend however sealed his hat trick after receiving a cross from the willing Coquelin and slotting in effortlessly for his third of the game and the cue for the Rovers fans to start drifting away at 6-1.

Those that remained did show a sense of humour in “Oleing” whenever their team could string a few passes together as Arsenal inevitably eased off in the intensity of their attacks after the 6th goal.

Some more action in the Rovers penalty area led to what, even from my view at the opposite end of the ground, looked like a decent shout for a penalty however at 6-1 we could afford some largesse to the referee and his linesman and lineswoman.

Oxo and Kozzer were taken off so there was time for the re-introduction of another legend (and for Sagna to continue his comeback) and with the sense of theatre we expect from the great man Thierry Henry duly obliged with the 7th goal in front of his beloved North Bank.

His upward twisting, pirouetting goal celebration shows that his 228th goal for Arsenal is as cherished as his first. As he left the pitch and the sky darkened and looked ready to start sleeting at full time one could sense the NY Red Bulls player was savouring every moment he could in his second chance to play for the club he loves.

TH12 claps off the pitch

TH12 claps off the pitch

Charybdis1966

twitter @charybdis1966

Man at the match, Chary: Scrooged

A ricocheted deflection off the Wolves player who typified their approach, Hunt, at Ashburton Grove today gave Wolves a scarcely deserved point and denied Arsenal the chance to rise to fourth.

Players line up

Players line up

On a deceptively cold December afternoon all eyes were on The Arsenal to take advantage of the Siberian oligarch’s team’s concession of two points to the Michael Jackson Velodrome all-stars team on Monday.

High fives all round

Kick off huddle

Few teams have arrived at London N5 and offered so little going forward and also played such a defensive formation, generally resembling a 6-2-2.

The only Wolves player interested in attacking was Jarvis, of the flat footed, wobbly running style. Surprises in the Arsenal line up were the replacement of Ramsey with Benayoun and the absence of Walcott from the squad.

There seemed to plenty of opportunity to go through the middle of the Wolves back line and there were early chances created by the Israeli, Benayoun who was given a debut start in the Premier League, with the first of his many probing runs being curtailed by being barged off the ball by a lumpen Wolves defender – the tactic for the day was for all headers to be contested with a leading elbow as Robin and Mertesacker can attest to, with Zubar and Johnson showing a penchant for the sharpened elbows raised tactic. Being in the North Bank today meant I heard a rendition of Per’s song for the first time:

“We’ve got a big fu***ng German,
We’ve got a big fu***ng German
“We’ve got a biiiig fu***ng Geeeer-man!”

An inspired through ball from Benayoun was trapped by Gervinho who swiveled and shot after rounding Hennessey, who was to star for good and bad reasons later.

After the goal the script was for another goal to come floating Robin’s way to continue his steady march to Alan Shearer’s calendar year goal record – wrong.

A rare sortie up field by the Wolves pair of non-defenders led to a deflection off Hunt after a cross in from what looked to me an offside position. Being located by the corner flag where the North bank meets the West Stand the Wolves player who put the cross in appeared to me to be a good yard or two closer to Chesney’s goal than our back four.

Half of block four, North Bank lower tier, rose to shout offside well before the deflection. The replay of the “goal” was not shown from the view of a line across that I had, however to the naked eye and in real time it appeared off side.

The black and gold dummies that populated the south eastern corner of the stadium suddenly woke up and began celebrating their scrappy, messy, undeserved equaliser.

After this it was entirely predictable that McCarthy’s men would resort to time wasting and shows of dissent to the referee; Hunt expending most of his energy on jibber jabbering away in the referee’s ear at every Arsenal free kick to distract him from encroachment by Wolves players.

Every tackle from an Arsenal player was the cue for face clutching or floor rolling, akin to those spats seen by children having tantrums at being refused their way in supermarket aisles the world over.

The second half saw a continuation of the ill-tempered, “gamesmanship” tactics of standing on the ball at free kicks to slow Arsenal’s attacking momentum and haranguing the officials at every opportunity, not just the players but McCarthy and his assistant routinely arguing with the linos for every call that didn’t go their way.

The first action of the second half saw Zubar slide in with a cynical, late challenge on Gervinho in front of me but some justice was done as he injured himself and had to go off later – but not after holding up play with a few more bouts of rolling around on the grass to curtail Arsenal attacks with the aid of referee Atwell, who repeatedly fell for this “rope a dope” trick, hook line and sinker. You know the referee is on a wind up when he holds up play for treatment to an opposition player when the player is not even on the pitch.

Not wanting to be outdone by Zubar in this form of cheating Hunt also fell, in the style of a downed cowboy from a Sam Peckinpah movie, in the Wolves penalty area during a spell of pressure when there was corner after corner for Arsenal.

10th time lucky ? :-(

Arteta floats in another corner

Hennessey kicked the ball out of play when Hunt was felled by the invisible sniper in the Upper Tier and the looks of indignation when Arsenal, rightly, didn’t return the ball to Wolves were a picture of hypocrisy and self-righteous outrage.

It’s clear Wolves were not demonstrating the Corinthian spirit of sport in any way today and none of their team enhanced their sporting reputations although we did witness yet another visiting goalie have the game of his life as per-freaking usual; however he was rightly booked for timewasting so in that respect he kept in with the team ethic of the day.

Referee Atwell didn’t help himself by allowing numerous displays of dissent from the Wolves and, as we can guess, when a ref lets the opposition bully him around the first sign of dissent from an Arsenal player and a yellow is flashed; Vermaelen for the standard “first offence Arsenal yellow” we have come to know so well.

Similarly when Atwell lost control of the game, Wolves changed their mind about who was to be substituted and Hunt hadn’t even gotten off the pitch and his replacement was on and the throw in ordered to be taken, Wenger’s waved his arms in frustration so Atwell made a big show of going over to him to tell him off. Pity he didn’t do that when McCarthy and his assistant were routinely abusing the lino for giving throw ins to Arsenal even from balls bouncing straight off Wolves defenders and out of play.

Wenger threw on more attackers, Arshavin and Chamakh after he replaced the tiring Israeli skipper with Ramsey with Arshavin looking skill full and tracking back to snuff out any rare counter attack from McCarthy’s rag tag mob – he still has the ability to worry any defence and with an upturn in form/effort he can be a vital squad member.

Chamakh’s only contribution seemed to be banging heads with Robin and causing a sharp intake of breath all around the stadium at the sight of Robin prone on the floor; it’s hard to know how to solve a problem like Chamakh.

As we approach the half way stage of the season Arsenal will need maximum effort and luck with injuries from hereon in.

Keep the faith everyone.

Charybdis1966

Man at the match, Chary: Party poopers banished

The pre match 125 year centenary celebrations were among the usual talking points before a game that saw the Arsenal in line for a top four spot for the first time this season.

With the choice of Arsenal legends for the three commemorative statues around Ashburton Grove now already known (Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry) I made my way to my seat on a crisp but clear December afternoon after having looked at two of the three legends preserved in iron.

Having been a product of Essex in the early seventies also I have a particularly empathy with TA06 and coincidentally we were also born in the same year. A lot of us can also relate to the personal demons he battled during his time with us. He stood arms outstretched in the “Would you believe it” moment after he scored the fourth goal to seal the League title in our second double winning season in May 1998.

Would you believe it !

Would you believe it !

My seat being at the western corner flag at the Clock End(with the away fans at the opposite corner) of record goal scorers statue was at the opposite end of the stadium to Tony Adams, who was fittingly stationed outside the North Bank. It was clear that the majority of the fans around the TA06 statue were old school Arsenal while those around Thierry Henry were more international fans.

I love scoring against Tottenham

I love scoring against Tottenham

This being because the appeal of Arsenal as an international known team was cemented with the likes of talents such as Thierry, Dennis, Bobby and others. As we now all know Arsenal picked another iconic moment to immortalise with Thierry’s statue, namely the memorable goal against the Spuds with the equally memorable celebration.

I defy anyone to look at that statue and not have a lump in their throat while they remember the emotions of that match – I’m not surprised Thierry was moved the way he was on Friday at the unveiling.

Sadly I couldn’t locate Herbert Chapman’s statue in time as the pre match build up was in full swing, but I’ll aim to seek it out next time, Chapman being the manager who paved the way with the first of our 13 League titles.

A long list of Arsenal greats were being led out as I took my seat, the whole event being compered by celebrity, but certainly die hard, gooner Tom Watt.

Legends Guard of honour

Legends Guard of honour

It was gratifying to see that George Graham’s presence in the legends line up signified the Arsenal hierarchy had forgiven the circumstances of his departure similarly David O’Leary who, in his Leeds managerial days, would regularly lambast Arsenal; O’Leary’s greying sideburns visible even from my seat.

Others I heard being announced were Parlour, Pires (extra cheer), Morrow and another hero of the nineties Ian Wright, Wright Wright who is still loved by the supporters.

Unsurprisingly the biggest cheer was for Thierry when he was introduced.

Thierry on the big screen

Thierry on the big screen

And even more unsurprisingly the chants of “Sign him up, sign him, sign him up” were there to remind us of our anxiety at the prospect of Robin being unavailable for any period of time.

A nod towards our clubs heritage were the cannons pitch side, a reminder of lucky we are to have them as a symbol, rather than, say, a stringy chicken sitting on a netball.

Royal Artillery Canon

Royal Artillery Canon

With the festivities almost over the team were led on, with Red Action and North Bank sections being supplied with red and white cards to spell out “125”.

Red Action 125

Red Action 125

As the teams were being read out I noticed how our number 8 got a respectful cheer from the Everton fans, no rancour at his departure detected there and later on in the game when Arteta went over to take in front of the away fans he applauded them back.

The match started with Arsenal as usual attacking the Clock End and Everton, as befits a team schooled by Moyes, compact and solid with minimal forward intent with the only forward player who caught my eye being Coleman. Seamus Coleman did seem to have some attacking ability and the Evertonians are right to rate him so highly, however Phil Neville continued to prove why we hate him with his constant niggling of our midfielders, Ramsey in particular, and his constant niggling in the ear of the other villain of the peace, the referee Howard Webb.

Ramsey had another “almost there” type of performance in midfield, with one swivel-turn-chip in the Everton penalty area being all most Bergkamp-esque.

An innocuous nudge by Arteta on the quarter hour mark – which was on an Everton player just outside his own penalty area- earned him a yellow for his first challenge and just to prove Fergie’s rent boy (as the Clock end shouted at Webb) has no concept of consistency then failed to give a yellow for a trip on Theo by Baines as he was about to run through on goal.

Shades of Lee Mason in the same fixture last season sprang to mind in terms of anti-Arsenal incompetent or biased refereeing.

The linesman were also very quick to cooperate with the Everton offside trap as Theo and Gervinho were repeatedly called off side, however the officials were consistent in calling them either way.

Having been shown the yellow Arteta seemed to be a little subdued thereafter and he had a quieter than normal game – no matter, I think he is a vital player for us and one we were fortunate to acquire.

Arsenals superiority began to show with a succession of corners, some taken by Robin and others by Arteta.

Robin taking a corner

Robin taking a corner

The New Jersey born Howard had to be on top form for the various corners that rained in on him and as the half drew to a close one sensed the Everton goal had a charmed life as the Arsenals approach play was decent although Theo and Gervinho’s finishing wayward. Robin had few chances and he seemed to be predominantly carving out opportunities for others.

Waiting for Arsenal corner

Waiting for Arsenal corner

Half time approached and there was only a minor murmuring of concern amongst the by now frozen gooners –chances were being opened and the goal seemed inevitable.

During the interval a final historic presentation was made on the pitch of Nottingham Forest FC, the team that donated the Arsenal (then known as Dial Square FC) their first red and white kit.

Notts Forest half time presentation

Notts Forest half time presentation

The second half saw Everton begin to slow the play as for them a nil nil draw was a sizeable achievement against the arsenal, the Garden State native being the most guilty of time wasting, taking an eternity to take goal kicks.
Moyes stood on the edge – or slightly outside – the technical area pretty much the whole match, even having to step back to allow the lino to get past so often was he guilty of encroaching.

The Moe Szyslak look alike provided much of the touch line entertainment, for example when Cahill’s boot came off when a free kick was awarded to Arsenal(I think for off side) Cahill’s hissy fit involved him hurling the boot that had come off in Moyes direction; much hilarity ensued.

My suggestion of “Stamp on his foot!” while Cahill’s left boot was off and he continued playing was not taken up by the Arsenal defenders, can’t imagine why.

As the crowd were bracing themselves for a sustained spell of pressure at the Everton goal at the North bank end out of nowhere I saw Song loft a forward pass over Robin’s right shoulder – like the rest of the stadium Tim Howard assumed Robin would take a touch, then shoot.

The volley and net ripple that followed in an instant (with an almost audible gasp) took us all by surprise – a reminder of another two feet in the air volley by Robin, the one against Charlton Athletic from a cross by Eboue.

After that the Everton team seemed to have been given electric shock therapy as the transformation in the speed of goal kicks/throw ins/free kicks being taken was astonishing, again I can’t imagine why.

After the goal Vermaelen was taken off after an earlier collision to be replaced by Miquel who was, understandably, nowhere near as solid as the Belgian had been. I watched him for a five minute spell and I counted five interventions by him, two were solid clearances, one was a good through ball, one miskick into touch and one pass intercepted by an Everton forward.

Before Vermaelen’s injury Arshavin was being readied to come on, presumably to replace Robin, however Gervinho (who had a fairly good game) was replaced by Rosicky as Thomas came off instead.

Two late Everton subs included a Valbuena sized dwarf who was marked by Mertesacker – the worry there being that he would run through the big Germans legs.

There were two late alarms and two shots fizzed towards me behind the Arsenal goal and the crowd whistled for the full time whistle to be blown by Webb, who to be fair had temporarily forgotten his Arsenal hating-ManUre loving tendencies and had a marginally better second half.

At full time Mertesacker made a point of clapping the Clock End, he – like Arteta – seem to be loving the fact they are playing for a big club with a noble tradition. We’ll need him when we come up against the troglodytes of Stoke, Bolton and the like.

Final Whistle

Final Whistle

What seemed like me to be a scuffle between Chesney and Robin as the players went off was actually Chesney’s bowing down to Robin’s left foot – the producer of that moment of magic that gave us the three points to put us into fourth.