It’s a mad mad mad mad season

As if to punctuate the madness of this season both Tony Adams and Phil Scolari have been sacked by their respective teams, ostensibly for failure to perform but in reality because the braying of the supporters got to their respective owners and they chose the easy way out of a complicated problem.

In Pompey’s case you could make an argument that Adams probably wasn’t ready to manage a Premiership team. He hadn’t really distinguished himself at Wycombe and even under Harry he hadn’t really done anything to show that he should be a head coach. Simply put, he needed more time before he took over a team. But worse than just being a raw recruit to the job of management, Pompey promptly pulled the rug from under his team; selling Diarra and Defoe and then cutting the purse strings before Adams could  bring in anyone of any quality. It says a lot of the man that he stuck by the team after the owner basically told him he had to perform a miracle. In fact, it may be a flaw that he stuck by that team, by sticking around he let them make him a fall guy — you gotta have more spine than that to succeed as a manager in the Premiership.

Scolari, on the other hand, simply fell prey to the insanity of Roman Abramovich. Roman Abramovich has a hard-on for Arsenal. He saw how Arsenal went from middle of the pack club to perennial league champion challengers in the 1990′s and early 2000′s and wanted to replicate that form with Chelsea. If he pulled it off, just like Arsenal, the club’s value would skyrocket, he’d have a room full of trophies, and everyone would hail him as a genius. What he failed to see is that Arsenal didn’t buy their way into that status, they took the long, hard road to the top of the heap: hard work, dedication, hunger, a stellar youth program, a tremendous scouting network, all components of Arsenal that Roman abandoned for the quick fix of simply buying a few trophies. That’s a house of cards and as the cards got older and the winds of chage blew through London it had to collapse.

I’d feel bad for Scolari if he wasn’t 173 years old and about to receive a £15m payout for the honor of being sacked. I honestly don’t know what Roman expected to happen this season. That team was built by Jose Mourinho for one purpose; to play and win English football. They are not ever going to be able to play Arsenal style football when human refuse like Lampard and Mikel are patrolling the midfield. They aren’t beautiful footballers, they are the kind of players who will grind you down and get a win. To win trophies in England you need to have some (more than one, Arsene) English national team players and you need to be able to put in one goal and shut down your opponents with stiff defense. Jose knew that and he built a team to do exactly that. Paradoxically, to win things in Europe you need to play more like Arsenal than Chelsea — OR — be like Man U and be able to play in a variety of ways.

I don’t think Roman really understood that, so, his insistence on playing “beautiful football,” like his true love Arsenal do, led him to bring in Phil Scolari. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, Phil, Gods bless him, tried his best to emulate Arsenal — right down to the horizontal-passery-ball-holdery-bullshit that is currently plaguing Arsenal. This went over like a fart in church with the Chelsea faithful: if you think Arsenal fans are shrill crybabies who are insanely demanding of their club, you should check out the Chelsea folks — they are complete lunatics.

Hey Roman and Chelsea supporters, here’s a clue, you’re not going to sack your way to a Champions League trophy. In fact, you’re going to sack your way through all the good managers and leave yourself with no one wanting to take the job. Now that the transfer window is closed, and the crazy transfer money has dried up, the only reason I can see to take the reigns at Chelsea is to get that inevitable payout when Roman fires you in 6 months.

So, I feel a lot worse for Adams in this than Scolari if for no other reason than Adams is at the start of his coaching career and Scolari is at the end. Adams’ sacking could have a much more deleterious effect on his career than Scolari’s sacking will have on his. Plus, well, it’s nice to have Arsenal’s troubles out of the papers for a few days and see the Chelsea supporters squirm under the spotlight. I mean, Avram Grant is being linked to the club again for Christ’s sake!

But with Theo coming back by the end of the month (I was hoping to see him on the 21st, but it looks more like the 28th before he’ll be ready) and Eduardo getting a run out with Croatia on Wednesday Arsenal have two players coming back into the fold just in time for Arsenal to strip Chelsea of their Champions League place and seriously question the resolve of Mr. Abramovich and his band of Chelsea-come-lately supporters. Given all that and the sudden availability of Mr. Adams, maybe Arsenal should open the door to Tony?

He could hardly make our defense any worse and as I always say “defense wins Champions League places.”

That and, irregardless.

Spuds 0-0 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and the Eboue

What were they thinking?

Quote of the Day

For the second one, I touched him. I put my leg up because he had touched me before in front of the referee and he did not say anything. He kicked me when I tried to go forward and I put my leg up. The second card is normal, I accept it. But for me the referee was not good today. It was a goal. I don’t know why he did not give it. The referee said I touched Woodgate but I did not. I know have to control myself but I did not want to let Tottenham win. I just wanted to give my best. — Emmanuel Eboue points the finger at the ref for his failings.

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: Ten-man Arsenal battled to earn a point as the north London derby against Tottenham ended goalless at White Hart Lane.

Telegraph: Tottenham fail to break down 10-man Arsenal after Emmanuel Eboue sees red.

Player Ratings

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been wanting to start putting player ratings and a man of the match feature here and this seems like as good a game as any, doesn’t it? So, without any further fan fare here are your player ratings:

1 Manuel Almunia (G) — 8.5 and MotM — Best game I’ve ever seen from the future England number one. After a shaky start where he failed to command his box, he came alive and made several important saves and cleared his lines pretty well.  More than any other player he saved Arsenal a point yesterday.

10 William Gallas (CD-L) — 7.75 — Solid at the back, cleaning up after Denilson, Toure, and Song’s mistakes.

5 Kolo Toure (CD-R) — 5.5 — Made several critical mistakes that could have resulted in goals for Spuds. When Wenger says the team is young and still learning, I wonder how he explains 28 year old Kolo Toure stabbing at the ball? That’s a fundamental defensive mistake and he did it several times.

22 Gaël Clichy (LB) — 6.5 — Vastly frustrating player.  His ability to get forward is crucial to providing width on this Arsenal team, but he’s a major gamble at the back. Got skinned time and again by Lennon and Modric. The only reason he rates higher than Toure is that he made a crucial tackle on Modric that certainly saved a goal.

3 Bacary Sagna (RB) — 8 — Sagna, solid as a rock.

17 Alexandre Song Billong (CM-L) — 7 — Tale of two halves. At the start, he looked his normal “who cares?” self out there and was caught jogging back defensively several times. Then, after Eboue was sent off he really did a good job putting a physical stamp on the midfield and at times looked Palacios’ equal if not his better. This is the second time that he’s played on a 10 man Arsenal team and put in a good performance — are we missing something or does he just have two gears? And if he does have a second gear then why doesn’t he use it more often?

15 Denilson (CM-R) — 5.75 — Horrible game, overshadowed only by the fact that Eboue was sent off. Outplayed consistently by Palacios and several times failed to mark a man on defense, at least one time which should have resulted in a goal for Tottenham. One of the worst games I’ve seen from him.

8 Samir Nasri (LM) — 6 — Did he actually play?

27 Emmanuel Eboue (RM) — Golden Turd — A performance so bad that it actually disintegrated the fabric of space/time. If you’re still supporting Eboue after that performance, well then you’re a retard too. I’m as Arsenal as anyone and I understand the whole “support the team” thing, but being an Arsenal supporter is more than just blind loyalty. Arsenal stands for something and Eboue is the antithesis of everything that Arsenal stands for; he’s a cheat, he’s a liar, he’s a blamer, he’s a fake, and he’s a diver. If that weren’t enough, he’s also clearly mental. Even in his mea culpa he refuses to take responsibility for his actions and blames the ref. Yes, the ref was a joke, so fucking what? So, you get to kick Modric? I’d say he’s lost the plot but I don’t think he was ever on the plot.

11 Robin Van Persie (CF-L) — 7 — Put in a ton of hard work as the lone striker after Eboue lost his mind.

25 Emmanuel Adebayor (CF-R) — 6.5 — Hard to give a man bad marks if he’s stretchered off.

Subs

Nicklas Bendtner for Emmanuel Adebayor (39) — 6 — Not really his fault because he had to play midfield after Eboue was sent off.

Kieran Gibbs for Gaël Clichy (87) — NR — Didn’t play enought to get a rating.

The Good

Second consecutive clean sheet, 11 matches without a loss, 10 years wiuthout a loss to Spurs, and a tough fight back while down to 10 men for 50+ minutes. I’m proud of them for not just securing the point but for nearly nipping all three.

The Bad

I’m tired of watching former Arsenal central midfielders come in an boss the middle of the park. I’m also tired of talking about it. Congrats Wilson, you had a great game.

The Eboue

I really wish that the manager didn’t have to go up in front of the English press and defend his team, but Eboue made sure that was always going to be the case. The apoplectic reaction from the British press to Wenger’s statement that “he didn’t see it” was always going to happen and I almost wonder if Wenger didn’t do it on purpose: in order to draw some of the criticism off the team and on to him.

Eboue for his part must now live in infamy. There was a remarkable article about how after the booing incident he ran home, took the phone off the hook, and cried into his pillow until his three friends on the team (Ade, Toure, and Sagna) came over to his house to console him. It’s a remarkable admission by a professional athlete that really, the pressure of playing for Arsenal had gotten to him. As if to underline that point he went and cracked yesterday. In that moment of madness, he vindicated the boo boys and destroyed the faith that Wenger placed in him after the booing incident. After yesterday’s performance I will be utterly surprised if we ever see him in an Arsenal shirt again.

Conclusion

Eboue’s madness is both liberating and limiting. It’s limiting because Arshavin can’t possibly be ready to start a game, Vela clearly cannot cope with the physical demands of the EPL yet, and Denilson is not a wing player so choices are between an unfit player, a small player, and a slow player. Moreover, Arshavin is ineligible to play against Cardiff because he wasn’t on the roster for the first match. He’s also unable to play against Roma because he’s cup tied. So, like I’ve said, he’ll be getting his debut against Sunderland on the 21st, probably as a sub, and if I know Arsene, Andrey will get his first full start against Fulham on the 28th. So, it’s limiting because without Eboue and with all the reasons why Arshavin can’t play we’re going to see a lot of Denilson on the right wing.

That said, in some way, Eboue’s actions are liberating. Unless the boss has completely lost his marbles then he cannot play Eboue and that means that someone else must get the start on the right wing. Right? So, it’s liberating if only because this just bumps Vela up a bit in the pecking order or maybe Eduardo gets some time out there. I dunno, I just know that someone, anyone will get the start over Eboue from here on.

Right, well, we’ve got a whole week off from football with the next game falling on President’s day (Monday the 16th) and the boss clearly has his work cut out for him. Adebayor is out for three weeks, Eboue is out for the next match at the very least, and we’ve got all these “like a new signings” coming back into the squad.

Time to get down to business and never mind catching Villa, we have to catch Chelsea. Ultimately, I can think of no better end to this nightmare year than to claim 4th place from Chelsea and have them go into the tail-spin that everyone has been predicting for Arsenal for 4 years. Because unlike Arsenal, they do not have a sustainable team, fanbase, or even management and thus are actually vulnerable to serious turmoil should they miss the Champions League.

Come on you Gunners, do one over those Chelsea c*nts.