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.

10 years, and counting?

For the past ten years, North London football has had a shadow cast over it by one man and four syllables: Ar-sene Wen-ger.

As their closest neighbors and traditional rivals it’s no wonder that more than any other club Tottenham have measured their team against Arsenal and their managers against Arsene Wenger. But if Arsenal remain unbeaten again tomorrow, they will equalize their longest single-team unbeaten run of 19 league matches (previously held against Chelsea and Villa). Given that dominance and that we are their yard stick, you can easily see why Tottenham have had five different managers in that time and spent almost £50m thrashing around in the transfer pool this season trying to rebuild the team that saw them reach their zenith: 5th place.

Much has been made of this dominance in the press today but no matter how much I’d love to see Thierry Henry equalize in the last minute or Bergkamp slot in off Ian Wright, or any of the great goals that Arsenal have gotten in the past, those times are over. Those teams have been blown up, the medals are hung, and both clubs go to battle on Sunday looking a shell of their former selves.

You’ll pardon me if I hear Arsene Wenger’s words about dominance and see them for what they are: a vain attempt to play mind games. The only things that count as far as Spuds are concerned is the 4-4 draw at Emirates in October and the re-signing of Robbie Keane in February. Everything else will have been a blur in the preparations for this game. They will be sipping tea from their 5-1 commemorative mugs, and slapping backs reminiscing over the 4-4 draw and how they were there the day they “beat” Arsenal.

Keane will be there too, regaling the team with his Liverpool goal against us, describing each moment in exacting technicolor detail. It was probably the highlight of his life; scoring a goal against your old rivals for your new “dream” team. The bitter taste of failure he felt every day at Liverpool certainly was assuaged by that goal and so he’ll surely be desperate to re-live that moment.

Arsenal, for their part, have not met fan expectations and (as I sit here watching Villa with a 1-0 lead over Blackburn) look set to be fully 8 points adrift of the team that should never be considered a rival. Crucial injuries have added injury to injury and despite some folks’ hope that Cesc and Rosicky might make an early return, Eduardo’s prolonged recovery after similar predictions should indicate that this team has a lot more limping along to do if they are going to finish this season with their Champions League spot intact. If Arsene’s surprise admission that he’s considering including Arshavin, who hasn’t trained a single game with Arsenal and hasn’t played competitive football in 2 months, is any indication Wenger is acutely aware of the danger and desperate to keep them in the race.

No, Arshavin’s not going to come in and rescue us tomorrow — we’re going to need the likes of van Persie, Sagna, Adebayor, and Nasri to put in a monster 90 minutes. There’s no doubt that Tottenham will be up for the match. Hell, they’re probably already planning the parade, the theme of which will be “How we saved our season and knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League.”

Let’s rain on that parade, shall we?