Hull 0-1 Arsenal; Liveblogging the second half.

lobot

Has anyone else noticed that if you’re a football manager and you wear a headset, you’re probably a failure? At the very least a huge dork. Anyway, second half about ready to kickoff but first these messages from Free Credit Report dot com and Notorious….

Jay Simpson had another good game for W.B.A. in their rout of Boro today. I love this kid, I have to say and can’t wait for him to get a chance with the Arsenal first team. Maybe when AC Milan use the money from the Kaka sale to buy Clichy and Adebayor (that’s the rumor) Simpson will get a run out!

45′ — and we’re off!
49′ — lawl… van Persie tosses the Hull defender to the ground and gets called for a foul for his efforts.
51′ — whoa, Arsenal really putting some pressure on Hull as Adebayor has a powerful left footed shot saved. Good stuff here from all the midfielders — except Eboue!
55′ — Hull sub in a striker, huh, they’ve decided to go for the one point.
57′ — thanks for your patronage H! Inevitably, if I get on Eboue, I’ll get someone complaining about me complaining about Eboue. For those people I have made this

leave-britney-alone-guy

58′ — yeah yeah yeah, Djourou is lucky to get away with that challenge in the box (that was totally a foul).
64′ — Hull are attacking a little more, giving Arsenal more space to work and they are strating to strut a little. Unfortunately, nothing comes from it as van Persie…
65′ — craaaap. Who was marking there? God damnit, this makes me so angry.
68′ — Mendy gets a free kick by fouling both Clichy and Denilson, huh…
69′ — YOU LEAVE EBOUE ALONE is replaced with Bendtner, because what this team needs IS MORE OFFENSE
72′ — Hull earn a free kick in a good place, which we are now referring to as “Pattern 2″ if you remember.
73′ — who was it that wanted Arsenal to play 2 holding midfielders? Looks like you got your wish now that Nasri is moved to the center and Arsenal are playing a three striker system.
78′ — Ugh, Diaby with a terrible shot.
80′ — I can see the press conference now “We were in the game, up, holding the ball, and there was a real chance to score the goal and we lost concentration and didn’t apply pressure at a crucial moment. This is a young team and they will have to learn from this. They are still learning, this is a young team, they are young, we have a lot of injuries, getting Song back will be like a new signing…”
82′ — Nice shot by Nasri. He’s not Jesus, but so far he’s been our savior.
84′ — France surrenders…
84′ — By the way, have I mentioned that defense wins championships?
86′ — Ok, I take the whole “defense” thing back, after some terribly shaky defense where they are blaming each other, shrugging their shoulders, and yelling at each other, Arsenal get a counter attack where van Persie plays in a great ball which finds Bentner’s boot and he scores a goal.  OFFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!
91′ — Man, if Hull had any players worth their salt that would have been a goal. Arsenal really look shaky at the back.
93′ — poor fella, Bendtner had his shot saved by the post and on the Hull counter, Djourou marks his man properly and puts the cross out. Good spell there.

Final whistle, thank God.

Arsenal don’t move at all in the table since all the top teams won. Clearly there’s some work to be done defensively to shore this team up and ensure a top four finish. I have to say, Nasri looks like 10x the player Hleb ever was or will be. Sure he could dribble and stuff but Hleb never won Arsenal a game, Nasri won Arsenal that game. Anyway, more on all that tomorrow. We got a win and that’s all that really matters, right?

Hull v. Arsenal; Liveblogging the first half

Good morning all! I’m going to skip any introductions or media roundups because if you wanted that stuff you could follow me on Twitter. Let’s just say that Chelsea and Villa overcame tough opposition and a red card to claim 3 points so, that means 3 points here against Hull is critical.

For Arsenal, there are no changes from the lineup of last week except you could say Nasri is moved back out left. On the other side, Hull are lining up with a 4-5-1 as expected — the bus is parked in front of the goal and we should see a real stinker from the Tigers.

Kickoff any second now, COME ON YOU REDS!

The FSC folks are claiming Hull is playing a 4-4-2 but Giovanni is a midfielder not a striker. That’s a 4-5-1 if I ever saw one. Irregardless, it’s no 4-3-3 which they played at Emirates.

1′ — Corner to Hull — a lucky escape for the Arsenal
2′ — raise a pint for me Matt!
3′ — they are calling for a yellow on Clichy, uhhh, right, that’s a yellow. Arsenal look really shaky to start they need to get their heads in the game.
7′ — Adebayor wastes a good chance deep in the Hull box. He’s really struggling at the moment, and we really need him to come on.
11′ — Ok, Hull has settled into the shape that they will keep for the rest of the game, I told you it’s a 4-5-1.
13′ — Ade drops deep and traipses through the Hull midfield, earns a free kick which is deflected for a corner.
14′ — DIABY WITH A TACKLE A++++ WOULD WATCH AGAIN!!!
17′ — Adebayor drops deep into the Arsenal half to claim the ball, makes a good run, passes to Eboue, who passes the ball to Hull. This has happened at least three times now, so we will call this “Pattern 1″ from here on out.
20′ — Giovanni to take a free kick from a stupid foul this has happened three times now so we will call this “pattern 2.”
23′ — Arsenal have lots of possession and move the ball side to side with aplomb. Maybe we could get Hull to set up a goal on the side line?
26′ — uhhhh, they are blaming Djourou for some shaky stuff at the back, but that was all Aluminum’s fault for me.
28′ — HOLY CRAP! van Persie’s rocket is pushed off the crossbar by the Hull keeper. That was a hell of a shot and great save to the Hull keeper. Arsenal are putting a ton of pressure on Hull right now.
30′ — Adebayor scores!  Woo hoo! That will get him off the snide. What do you want to bet he scores a hat-trick today? The fans are singing the Adebayor song.
36′ — Eboue with a wide open shot and elects to take it with the outside of his boot, it was such a poor shot that it knocked out satellite out for a few seconds. I have no clue where these guys are calling this from, Matt.
41′ — Yawn… come on Arsenal, let’s get a second. This Hull team looks like utter crap. How did we lose to these guys?
44′ — Man, Hull can’t even string together two passes. It’s almost as if their entire game plan was to play a 4-5-1 and counter attack, now that they are down a goal, they don’t know what to do. Arsenal too don’t seem to know what to do with the lead, should they hang on or get more or just kind of play around?

Well, kickers, we have a lead going in to the second half despite some rather lacklustre play on both ends of the pitch. That said, I’d rather win a boring 1-0 game than a 3-2 heart attack inducing game. Anyway, check out the second half over here.

Hull v. Arsenal preview and Wenger's Transfer Targets

Good morning kickers, I have the day off and the whole family had a good sleep in. So that’s why the late blog.

Anyway, Wenger ran the gamut today, talking about transfers, rumors, Kaka, and erm, who is that team we play tomorrow? Oh yeah, Hull City, god, they suck don’t they? This should be an easy game, like playing Stoke, or Fulham, it’s almost like having a game in hand, right?

Am I forgetting something?

Anyway, here are the highlights of Wenger’s exclusive pre-match interview.

Defensive Balance Helps Them Grind Out Wins

I believe that as long as you keep a good defensive balance, and don’t concede a goal… you have always a chance, since you have so much possession, to score one.

This pretty much sums up Arsene Wenger’s footballing philosophy over the last two years: keep the ball and eventually you’ll score. He talks about “defensive balance” but when you watch the games and see Clichy and Sagna effectively providing the only attacking width on the team, “defensive balance” is a lie. Well, maybe not a lie, but at least it’s a Wengerism. I think when he says “defensive balance” it means “Clichy and Sagna are free to go forward and as long as we have one or two players who stay near the half-way line, the team is balanced.”

The problem is that the team isn’t balanced and Wenger doesn’t even see it. He’s asked about the possession stats against Bolton and he admits that Arsenal’s 77% possession was a record for them. Morever, Arsenal had 680 some passes in that game, most of which were sideways.

This is a function, Wenger says, of the fact that teams who feel insecure about their league position are trying to secure their place in the table and do so at all costs. Wenger says that right now you’re going to see a lot of these 1-0 wins for the top four teams against lesser opponents until March when things start to “open up a bit.”

There’s a real logic here in that last bit, I’ll admit, but only if some separation starts to happen at the bottom of the table. If the whole table stays bunched up like it is then this same 10-men-behind-the-ball (the Aston Villa playing style) tactic will continue to prevail.

None of which changes the basic argument that all Gooners have been having for the last year: should we shore up defense or offense.

I’m saying both. What say you?

Nasri in the Hole

He [Nasri] is a player who likes to go left, right, and is very versatile… and has a lot of invention, with the ball. [But also] Samir is incredibly quick, because he is as well very good on the ball. So, he uses more the second aspect of his game than the first one. His runs off the ball can be deadly, but he likes so much to come to the ball that he doesn’t use his pace to go in behind the defenders. We are trying to balance his game.

I think we all sort of knew the first thing about Samir, but I haven’t seen any evidence of this super pace that Wenger claims. Worse too is that Arsenal are in desperate need of runs off the ball, and getting in behind defenses.  So, in the hole or not, Arsenal need Nasri to start balancing his game without the ball.

Irregardless, I like Nasri in the hole: which sounds really gross.

Bring on the Vela

Most people who watched the Bolton game credited Vela with changing the game and of course, the big question, then, is “Since Nasri plays in the middle, Diaby is shite, and Vela is a game changer, why doesn’t Vela play more?”

Wenger says that he was reticent to use Vela early in the season because he felt Vela wasn’t physically ready for the rigors of an EPL match. He’s ready now to start using him more because he feels like the player has come along greatly. I got the sense that we’ll see more Vela over the next few months, both out of necessity and because Wenger sees him growing and becoming a man, or as he puts it “a different animal.”

Transfers

The big question on everyone’s mind is who are Arsenal going to buy? With the second question being, how close are we to signing Andrei Arshavin?

To the second question, Arsene flat out said, he isn’t talking about it and we are not close to signing Arshavin. Arsenal are in negotiations with Zenit but that is all.

I firmly believe that Arsenal’s only hope for signing Arshavin lies in Man City landing Kaka. Because if City don’t land Kaka, they will certainly look elsewhere for a playmaker and Arshavin is pretty much the best option out there. There is no way that Arsenal could outbid City nor could we come close to satisfying Arshavin’s wage request so they would win that contest every time: Champions League football be damned.

Fortunately, the Kaka deal looks more and more likely, despite the protestations of the player. The transfer fee is reportedly up to £108m which no club could realistically turn down. That amount of money would buy a whole new team of decent talent, pay off 1/3 of a new stadium, and basically ensure top flight survival for several years.

Throw in that the player is supposedly being offered £100m in wages (60% of which would go to him, after taxes) over 5 years and really, this is an irresistible offer isn’t it?

That leaves us with Arshavin, and the boss says that “nothing has fallen through and we are very positive” which I’m taking to mean that the racist assholes at Zenit are stringing us along until they can get a better offer. If nothing better comes along, then on the last day of the transfer market, Arsenal will… maybe get the player. Maybe they’ll just have him killed or whatever they do in Russia. Wenger as much as admitted that this deal will probably happen on the last day.

Arsene did admit that he’s in for other targets but flatly denied that we are in for Hangelaand and Bullard from Fulham and Diakate from Lazio. YAY, three more targets we can put to bed!

Who will play against Hull?

Wenger ruled out Gallas and Silvestre due to injury and there is a test today for the others — basically the test is for Song, who is like a new signing if he comes back.

Eduardo scored a hat trick in a closed door practice but Wenger is not ready to throw him back into a game quite yet.  He’ll play on Tuesday in a reserves game and Wenger will assess the situation then. I may have been off on my assessment that Eduardo will return in February and we might see a cameo against Cardiff at the earliest and if not, then Everton almost certainly.

As for the tactics that Hull might employ Wenger sees a Hull side that came in to Arsenal and played a 4-3-3 but who have lost a ton of confidence and are starting to crack. Given Phil Brown’s dust-up with Kinnear the other day, I have to agree that the pressure seems to be getting to them and so I fully expect Hull to play a 9-1-1.

It’s funny, but you know who Phil Brown reminds me of? Alan Pardew. Hull City’s form right now reminds me of the form West Ham suffered late in that season as well. If you remember that 2006/07 season, though, Arsenal were beaten at home by West Ham 1-0 after they had been beaten earlier in the season and were looking for revenge.

It will take massive concentration to avoid that kind of slip again tomorrow.

Conclusion

Late kickoff tomorrow and the game is on Fox, so I’m going to be doing the liveblogging thing. This means no early blog here tomorrow, but join me here at 9:15 PST for comments and general fun. See you then.