Mixed Bag For Arsenal Stars On Match Day 1

Apologies for the delay in getting this posted.  Andy & I had a bit of a publishing mix-up.  Got it sorted & updates will be more timely going forward.


The history!  The pageantry!  The anticipation!  The crazy, vuvuzela-playing fans!  Sepp Blatter telling everyone we’re in South Africa!  Yes, the World Cup is upon us.  Thank goodness!

Match Day 1 saw several Arsenal players take center stage as Carlos Vela led Mexico against the host Bafana Bafana of South Africa early in the day, while the evening match featured the Arsenal away team, also known as the French national side, taking on a resolute Uruguayan squad.  With both tilts ending in a draw, the personal performances were somewhat of a mixed bag for the Gunners involved.


Football Gods Continue Hex On Vela

Carlos Vela is cursed.  The Football Gods have it in for Carlos.  During the Champions League they came down from their football Mount Olympus and hid his passport under the sofa.  Yesterday, in a goal-draw against South Africa, they had another giggle at his expense by stealing a goal from the young Arsenal striker.  Judging from the activity on Twitter, who knew that the keeper coming off his line, despite there still being a defender on the line, was actually the “last man”?  That sounds like a question for the sports version of Trivial Pursuit, doesn’t it?  In any event, Carlos got the start for El Tri and played 68 minutes, which I was pleased to see.  Early minutes saw much of the Mexican attack coming from the wings, with Vela little involved from his central striker role.  Vela’s first significant time on the ball, a slashing run towards the top of the box, saw him unceremoniously dumped by a stout South African defense.  On 31 minutes Vela showed some nice skill in controlling the ball just outside the box and chipping deftly over the defender to a waiting Franco, but the play came to naught as the South African keeper was up to the task.  Mexico won a corner on 37 minutes that was beautifully delivered to a left-alone Vela at the far post.  The keeper whiffed on the cross, leaving Vela only to control with his chest and put it over the line.  Alas, it was not to be as the flag had gone up and Vela was adjudged offside.  With a defender still standing on the line, the side judge ruled Vela past the keeper, as last man, and the goal was disallowed.  The Football Gods giggle…


Sagna Untested By Uruguay Attack

With Uruguay choosing to go the counterattack route for much of the first half, Sagna saw limited tests defensively down the right side.  When challenged, he did close down nicely and kept possessions from turning into threats.  Sagna did come in with a decent diagonal ball into the box mid way through the first half, but it was taken easily but the Uruguayan defense.  Just before the half he sent in a quite decent cross to Anelka in the box, but it was headed wide.  As with William Gallas, Sagna went untested for most of the match.  Without a sustained attack from the South Americans, few opportunities presented for Bacary to be involved beyond the odd shuffling off on wide play.  On 81 minutes Sagna took a knock on a red card, studs on ankle challenge from Lodiero.  He hobbled off, took a drink and returned to the pitch.

Clichy Watches From The Bench

Gael didn’t get the start for Les Bleus on Match Day 1 and saw no match time.  Sad, that.

Quality From Diaby Highlights Snoozing French Attack

Going with an offensive minded 4-5-1, Abou Diaby got the start at left central midfield.  Perhaps more than any other French player on the pitch, Diaby gave a yeoman’s performance.  Early minutes saw Diaby controlling beautifully at midfield, losing his defender with a spin move Arsenal supporters love to see, and releasing a pass to Franck Ribery who hit Govou in the box for France’s first chance on goal.  Some nice work tracking back and winning possession from Diaby on 20 minutes led to a Gourcuff boomer from 25 yards out that sailed over the Uruguayan goal.  Having the chance to lead the counter halfway through the first half, Abou showed excellent control in scything through midfield obstacles, maintaining possession far into the Uruguayan third and hitting Anelka wide right on another fruitless chance for the French.  Some really keen possessions in the first half, strong, physical and composed but no joy in helping to find the goal.  Although the match progressed without any great feats of effort by the French attack, Diaby showed some quality on the ball when given the chance but his performance grew inconsistent late on.

Quiet Night For Gallas

Gallas spent the early part of the match easily escorting balls back to Hugo Lloris in the French goal as Uruguay were unable to mount much of an offensive threat.  While he looked rather spry, I’m wondering if that late season calf injury isn’t still nagging.  The only time Uruguay seemed interested in crossing midfield was on the counter, without much effort to maintain the attack, giving Gallas a fairly quiet night on the pitch.


Have your say on Arsenal’s participation in the World Cup by leaving a comment.



  1. Andy, you know I love you mate BUT;

    I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation of offside with Vela.

    Look, I admit I need to see it again, but I’m pretty sure the rule makes no allowance for goalkeepers. They are outfield players for all intents and purposes for the offside rule.

    The offside rule states you must at best be in line with and not behind the second to last player between you and the goal (in this case it was the goalkeeper) when the ball is played.

    All of which means IF Vela was behind the Goalkeeper when the ball was played from the corner (I think he was) then he is offside as there is only one player between him and the goal as it was played.

    I am happy for you and any fellow readers, or yourself, to correct me on this if I am wrong. All I know is that common consensus on twitter was that Vela was absolutely offside and the linesman and referee got it spot on despite the difficulty of the decision.

    But hey, no matter who’s right or wrong the goal was disallowed and that’s all that matters. Once again, enjoy your European travails, love Germany because I did so, so much, and come on you Aussies in two hours time. Let’s clout the Krauts!

  2. Arrrrrrgh! Sorry Andy, assumed it was you! And don’t be offended Mike, I could be wrong about what I wrote and won’t be offended if I am. Great work mate!

  3. haha No worries, Ox. 🙂

    It’s confusing on the Vela non-goal thing. Watching the replay, Vela was past the keeper, but the defender was still on the goal line. I think this is what has/had everyone confused. But in listening to post-match commentary, it appears the ref got the call correct. So, while Vela wasn’t really put to the sword, so to speak, by the Football Gods, it at least made for interesting writing for me. haha

    As for the updates, yeah, I’ll be doing them during the WC as Andy is off traveling and doing his new Football Nomad stuff. If you’ve not already gone over there to check it out, you can find him at http://footballnomad.com/ and catch all his adventures through Europe and South Africa.

  4. White Ox is absolutely correct for the off-sides Law. The officials were spot on !
    Even one of the commentators (covering the tv broadcast got it wrong)…..

  5. after watching germany play at the world cup id like to see arsene wenger go back in for mesut oezil. he really looked the goods against australia and would really be a massive asset to our club and if fabregas does eventually go he would be a more then adequate replacement. id like to also see manuel nueur come in as he was very solid and looked commanding between the posts for germany. i know we are supposed to be in the hunt for laurent koscielny the centre back from lorient but he seems to be a project player, i do hope he turns out like vermaelin (spelling) though. id like to see wenger go for simon kjaer from palermo as i think he would start straight away but if we couldnt get him then phillepe mexes from roma, if man city can offer $15 million for him i cant see why wenger wouldnt see that as a shrewd buy as he is a class defender and spend the money on him. if emmanuel eboue is to leave as is rumoured then the money should be used to grab gregory van der weil from ajax as he is what eboue isnt a out and out defender and a very good one at that. if we can get joe cole on a free then why not! i read on here so often people whining about having no depth to our squad and he would certainlly give us that along with the above mentioned players. id only like to see eboue, eduardo, silvestre and diaby go with gallas set to leave i wouldnt want any more to leave as it wouldnt exactly add to the squad or give us more depth shedding as many as we buy also in a perfect world a out and out winger preferably left footed would be great i like diego capel from sevilla we could get him i believe for around $12-$15 million and could really be a star in our squad.

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