Reviewing the Birmingham controversy, looking ahead to Shakhtar

The AFCB’s newest writer, Andrew Luck, already gave his view from the stands of Arsenal’s important 2-1 win over Blackburn, so it would be redundant for me to run through the whole match again.

Instead, I would simply like to give my thoughts on the important points from the contest, focusing on the controversial moments and individual player performances before turning the attention to the return of Eduardo on Tuesday night.

On the performance against Birmingham…
It was hardly a great performance but with Manchester United and Chelsea both failing to win, all that mattered was we got the points. The team looked more dangerous on the break than it has in recent weeks but this all too often came to naught when the 18-yard-box came into play. But full credit has to be given to the team for forcing their way back into the contest after falling behind for the third game in a row.

On the first goal…
It was disappointing to go behind but Nikola Zigic’s header was a beauty. A complaint could be aimed at Johan Djourou and Gael Clichy for failing to force any body contact but at the end of the day a 6’8 striker is always going to cause problems in the air and he left Lukasz Fabianski with absolutely no chance here.

Nasri sends yet another goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot

On the penalty…
Despite Scott Dann’s blatantly untrue claims that there was no contact with Marouane Chamakh, I didn’t think it was a penalty. In saying that it looked on first viewing to be nailed-on despite Chamakh’s exaggerated tumble, so you can certainly understand the referee’s decision. Samir Nasri’s penalty was once again well-taken – the more astute of you out there will surely be aware that he has scored four from four from the spot in his Arsenal career, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way on every occasion. A better penalty-taker than Cesc? Quite possibly.

On the second goal…
Jack Wilshere’s role in the goal was immense and Chamakh’s finish was one of a player in form. I get the feeling that Stephen Carr was scared to challenge the Moroccan after the first-half penalty but even so, Chamakh still had a lot to do to stick it in the net.

On our unwillingness to shoot…
I am one of the staunchest defenders of the fact that we shoot enough – most goals from outside the box last season, anyone? – and certainly much more often than the “Shoot!” brigade think we do, but I have to admit we seemed reluctant to have a go yesterday. Abou Diaby was probably the worst culprit but on the plus-side, if he can get his decision-making right to capitalise on his stunning ability to move the ball forward pace, we will gain another valuable attacking dimension.

On Wilshere’s red card…
An absolutely correct decision and great to see both player and manager admit and accept that after the game. Even though there was nowhere near enough force in the tackle to break a player’s leg, it was mistimed and reckless from a player that will be sorely missed over the next three games.

On the other “violent” incidents…
I thought the referee was spot on to book Emmanuel Eboue for his scissor tackle despite winning the ball. Never a red though. Nasri was a little lucky to avoid a sending off for sticking his knee into a Birmingham player, but a yellow was probably the right call. Meanwhile Roger Johnson got away with a dangerous bit of aerial play, leading with the elbow into Chamakh’s head just after our equaliser. A definite booking there, in my opinion.

On Birmingham’s reaction to Wilshere and Chamakh…
Alex McLeish was quick to make comparisons between Wilshere’s red and that of Martin Taylor’s but in truth they were not comparable because of the huge variance in force. Likewise, Dann’s blatant dishonesty in saying he never touched Chamakh essentially stripped him of any merit in claiming that Chamakh dived. On an afternoon where they created very little aside from their goal despite Arsenal’s relative weakness, their post-game comments reeked of sour grapes.

On the individual performances of our players…
Chamakh’s brilliant start to his Arsenal career continued as he had a hand in both goals. Diaby and Wilshere starred in the middle, Sebastien Squillaci enjoyed a strong return to form after the Chelsea troubles and Fabianski put in his third assured performance in a row. Seeing Eboue and Song kiss him after an impressive late catch summed up how things are going for him at the moment.

On the team for Tuesday…
It will be largely the same players available. It’s hard to know who will be rotated and whether or not any of the returning players will get game-time. One thing seems sure though: Wilshere will play 90 minutes with no football at the weekend waiting for him.

On the need for a good result…
With two wins under our belt a third here would go a long way towards us topping the group. Anything less than three may hand initiative to Shakhtar Donetsk, a team that has the ability to punish us at home and realistically threaten to edge us at the top.

On the return of Eduardo…
It will be a special moment. He’s bound to get a wonderful reception from a supporter base that will never forget him. On an interesting note it will be interesting to see how Eduardo is physically challenged by his old teammates.

More tomorrow.


Have your say on Birmingham or Donetsk by leaving a comment.



  1. The BBC are reporting Fabregas is in the squad for Donetsk; with Jack out at the weekend this could be a well-timed return to fitness by the Spaniard. Some concern over continued absence of Vermaelen (Achilles) and Koscielny (back) with Sagna still doubtful with a dodgy thigh.

  2. The British announcer on Fox Soccer Channel was railing against Chamakh for his “dive” until halftime. That got annoying.

  3. Oh yeah, the announcer said something along the lines that his new haircut looks like Ronaldos, so he may have possibly inherited some of his attributes (the negative ones).

  4. I like the kid, but it’s true that Chamakh is a diver. Even if there’s a fault he fall and gesture like an Italian.

  5. Omg, the announcers for the game on foxsports here in Oz (I think it was Trevor Brooking) would not shut up about ‘the dive’. The consistent aurul niggling was driving me nuts.

  6. He clearly caught Chamakh’s foot, all of a sudden cats wanna get salty when its in the box. Just because he probably could have stumbled on doesn’t change a thing, if it’s 60 yards out from the box no one gives a.rat’s ass. Chamakh is slow as molasses, but I’m starting to see what people see that are big on him. He won’t lose a spot to Bendtner, I can’t see it. The question is who’s gonna get the hot urine treatment in all of this.

    Also I noticed a lot of people annoyed with a lot of the commentating (yes Trevor Brooking) as was I. Arsenal seemed on the verge of getting a lot of things started with Wilshire, Nasri and Abou Diaby…spot on Andrew on him as well. Nasri could have definitely tapped that thing a couple of times. But I would rather have those three any day as opposed to an easily scoutable thumper like City’s Johnson. Desperation has broken down what egos were in the way and unselfishness and ruthless hunger are well timed dance. Also do you see Walcott coming back slowly or does he give him a full go?

  7. I was watching the match in TX with FSC. I reckon the commentator was Trevor Francis. At the early half he will not be biased against Arsenal although he was Birmingham City long time ago. He was one of the worst commentators amongst Sky Sports. The only one really I respect in Sky Sports is Martin Taylor. Warren Barton from FSC said there was definitely a contact and penalty but the score line should be 0-1?? So what he tried to say?

  8. a boring game by our standards, i wonder why we are so reluctant to shoot at goal or counter attack when we have the chance to do so. we can never beat the big teams with this kind of performance. jack’s red card is well deserved and for me it will give him a much needed rest, remember he’s a teenager lets not over use him. does fab really need to play against donetsk? there’s a big game against man city lets keep an eye on that. cant wait for him (fab) to be back in the squad so alex song can go back to doing what he’s best at- protecting the back four…..

  9. As usual Arsenal is still allowing cheap goal.But the players had to try many attempts to score a goal in Birmingham’s goal area.Gunners need sharp shooters from forwards & midfielders.Thy are playing fancy football without winning goals.Every win might lead to championship trophy missing for six years.Tomorrow or When?

  10. Fsc announcers used term:”overelaborating” which pretty well covers the side to side, walk it onto the net approach we so often fall into. It is always harder to put it into the net than it looks, though, and We should be happy. Gooners forever

  11. The commentators pissed me off so much, kept going on about the dive and though i agree it probably wasnt a penalty and it was a bit of a dive, the defnder was on the ground, never going to get anywehere near the ball and stuck a foot out so it was stupid.

    Also im not one of the shoot from long range crowd but it did get a bit ridiculous when we would get to the box so easy but just no one even looked like shooting, except Rosinsky late on

  12. Having a former player and manager of the opposition hardly made for fair and unbiased opinion. The commentator also seemed to have an agenda as well.

  13. The commentry on Fox sports in oz was so anti arsenal – It really ruined the game and wonderful comeback by the team. It’s good to see the depth in the squad and players stepping up against a team we could have potentially drawn against.

  14. The announcing was so atrocious I just found this page from a yahoo search on “Chamakh dive announcers fox”. Had to see if there was anyone as angry as I.

    1. I’m a ref, so I have some insight on these things. It is shocking how little announcers know about the rules. Chamakh was tripped. They were looking at the WRONG LEG for contact, one leg was clearly made contact with. And it was a lunge at Chamakh, not at the ball. Easy penalty to give. No “controversy” at all.

    2. The other foul on Chamakh where they Birm guy’s arm went straight into his head. Another obvious foul.

    And the FSC idiots went on and on about it…. outrageous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.