The ‘golden triangle’ shines bright as Arsenal gun down Chelsea

It’s all of a sudden quite nice to be an Arsenal supporter again after two goals from Robin van Persie saw our boys come from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.

It was an incredible result given that Chelsea dominated the game in the first hour as well as taking a first-half lead through Johan Djourou’s unlucky own goal. But with the home side seemingly cruising van Persie turned the game on its head, scoring two quickfire goals to stun Chelsea and allow our team to come away with all three points.

It is undoubtedly our best result of the season – better even than the 2-1 against Manchester United – as Arsene Wenger’s side showed real grit and determination to turn an apparent lost cause into a miraculous win. The win puts us just seven points from the top (although Liverpool have a chance to widen that gap tonight), a huge disparity from the 13 points we would have been behind if the match had ended at half-time. As it is, we’re right back in the title race.

Our starting team was a strong one as Emmanuel Adebayor, Bacary Sagna and Samir Nasri all returned from injury. William Gallas partnered Johan Djourou at the back (finally!) and the pair were flanked by Gael Clichy and the aforementioned Sagna. Wenger made a smart move to partner Cesc Fabregas with the defensive-minded Alex Song in the middle, pushing Denilson out to the right as a consequence. Nasri started on the left while Adebayor was paired with van Persie up front. It was a superb team selection by the manager and the exact side that I would have picked if I was in his shoes.

Chelsea bossed most of the first half, their fullbacks Ashley Cole and particularly Jose Bosingwa able to pin back Nasri and Denilson and create havoc down the flanks. The Blues could have scored as early as the third minute when Saloman Kalou was incorrectly ruled offside while Arsenal had their first decent chance shortly after when Gallas almost poked home Petr Cech’s parry from Fabregas. Bosingwa skied a decent chance after nipping past Nasri and Clichy while Almunia held a Frank Lampard header just before the half-hour mark.

Then disaster struck as Chelsea took the lead. Almunia claimed a corner from Frank Lampard and in his hurry to get a quick counter-attack going threw the ball straight back to the opposition. Nicolas Anelka and Bosingwa exchanged passes before the Portuguese man swung in a dangerous ball and the unlucky Djourou put through his own net. It may have been the Swiss man on the scoresheet but the blame lay solely with Almunia.

Chelsea upped the tempo after scoring but despite pushing hard could not extend their lead before the break. Arsenal had a half-chance to level things when van Persie’s scuffed shot was tipped away by Cech as the pace slackened before the break. 1-0 Chelsea and in all honesty it was hard to see how we were going to get back into it.

Get back into it we did though, but not before surviving a couple of hairy moments. Djourou – who aside from his own goal was having an excellent match – snuffed out a dangerous Deco pass before Chelsea fashioned their best chance of the second half through Lampard, who fired wide from the edge of the area with Almunia floundering.

Then things changed. Adebayor – who had been struggling to get into the game – won a strong header which allowed Denilson to thread the ball through to a clearly offside van Persie. The linesman somehow missed the call however and the Dutchman showed no mercy to smash home a bullet into the top corner and draw us level.

Chelsea were clearly rattled. John Terry got away with an awful two-footed lunge on Sagna (if he wasn’t England captain it would have been red) before van Persie scored again a minute later to put us ahead. Fabregas floated a hopeful free-kick into the area, Adebayor won another important header and the Dutchman pivoted to place a lovely shot into the bottom-right corner. From being nowhere near the match we were somehow in front in the space of three crazy minutes.

I expected Chelsea to fully come at us after going behind but the onslaught never really ensued and we looked the most likely to score in the final half-hour. A crazy run by Clichy was stopped short by Bratislav Ivanonic before Denilson crossed poorly with Adebayor, van Persie and Nasri ready and waiting in the penalty area.

Bendtner replace Adebayor with ten minutes to go and laid an excellent chance on a plate for Denilson but the Brazilian’s touch was poor and Cech was able to gather. It mattered not though as Chelsea’s challenge fizzled out and our boys closed out a thrilling and surprising victory.

As I mentioned earlier, this was a truly bizarre football game. Never before have I witnessed such a sharp contrast in effort and quality in such a small space of time. The Arsenal team which lumbered through the first hour was completely unrecognisable from the energetic and aggressive team which tore Chelsea apart after drawing level. There’s no denying that we relied on a huge piece of fortune to get back into it but sometimes that’s what decides games like this and it was great to see the boys kick on and win the match.

A huge amount of credit should go to the defensive ‘golden triangle’ of Gallas, Djourou and Song. Although he put into his own net Djourou was strong and assured while Gallas put in his best performance of the season. You could see from his body language that the Frenchman enjoyed himself last night and you have to imagine that being freed from the captaincy responsibilities has relaxed him.

Then there was Song. Wow. What a performance he put in. Song was neat and tidy on the ball, strong and aggressive off it and showed excellent positional sense to make a number of important interceptions and take a lot of the defensive pressure of captain Cesc. I’ve previously suggested that Song and not Denilson should be starting every game in the middle and based on tonight’s performance I think it’s spot on. He might not have the pace of Mathieu Flamini but his mind is on defending and in the first hour against Chelsea he was the most important player on the pitch.

As with the United game the superb win over Chelsea will mean nothing unless it is backed up by good results in our next few matches. However, I feel that for the first time this season some consistency can be established if the manager persists with Djourou and Song in the side. There’s no debate that our side has lacked spine this season but with those two lads playing and Adebayor in the side we are as tall and strong and Arsenal side for some time. Long may it continue.

I have to say again that I was absolutely thrilled with last night’s performance. We were as strong defensively as we’ve been all season and despite falling behind showed great heart to fight our way back into the match. I just get the feeling that Gallas’ demotion as captain will improve our defence while the team are far more positive with little Cesc as their leader. You could see that in Gallas’ smiles and the way that van Persie searched out the captain to celebrate the second goal.

So all in all a terrific night to be an Arsenal fan. Some more of those and we might really have something to crow about.

What do you reckon?

Have your say on Arsenal’s dramatic win over Chelsea by leaving a comment



  1. Didn’t think we would get anything up to the hour but the boys did well and we played some nice passing movements in the final half hour and hopefully rvp will stay injury free for the rest of the season and hopefully ro-sicky is bavk soon as denilson is still our weak link but he did put in some brave tackles and sagna is 1 of our best bargain basement signings as he is awesome. Don’t think we can win the league but the other 3 cups will do nicely though.

  2. I watched the game in Penang.I think for once Arsenal have cut out the intricate passing movements. This I believe allows opposing teams to close down the gunners .
    It’s play to win and boy am i happy. The trick is to watch out for teams who sit back witing for the gunners to attack. And lo and behold when the gunner attack breaks down,a long ball and bingo it’s in the gunners net. Hull played like that.
    So Arsenal better be prepared for such like minded teams.

  3. Haha, spa. The way they glossed over the John Terry challenge was disgraceful as well. Not at all unexpected of course, but disgraceful nonetheless. The way they replayed Eboue’s innocuous tackle in last season’s game again and again and again and they fail to show the England captain jumping in on a player with two feet. Ruud Gullit, mad fucker that he is, tried to say that was the kind of tackle that could break someone’s leg but the subject was changed very quickly. Terry got a yellow card so no further action can be taken and we won’t hear another thing about it.

    No mention either of Chelsea fans belting out that song about Arsene Wenger. That just made victory all the sweeter and people who sing that in a football stadium with kids of all ages are just the scum of the earth. If the FA can investigate racist chants against players, why can’t they do something about this?

    Still, there’s nothing like a bit of outrage to mix in with your morning enjoyment, is there? We’re back in the title race, folks. It’s up to us now to make sure we stay there. At this stage of the season 7 points is nothing. There’s a lot of hard work ahead but how much better does it feel this morning?

    Much. That is the answer. Much. Have a great Monday.

  4. Excellent assessment of the game.

    Like you, many of us have been hoping to see Denilson removed from the Defensive Midfield position and it finally happened. You were right about Djourou too, great pick and great performance (I wonder where Toure will fit in when he returns… )

    What a second half. What a rollercoaster season! Now let’s all hope for a little consistency, start beating the ‘small’ teams again and continue to grind out results in the big games.

    Yesterday’s game was all about pride – I feel pretty proud today.

  5. @ Filipino Dan – Hopefully Wenger sticks with Song and Djourou. We look pretty good if you add Walcott/Rosicky/Eboue on the right for a little more creativity and the team stays as is.

    I feel proud too. Very proud. We’ve turned the corner a little bit and I feel Wenger has found the best XI. Hopefully he continues to play them.

  6. @ wale – Agreed. Even I’ve just glossed over the tackle really. It was so bad. I like the way Goodplaya put it:

    “When John Terry arrived second and studs showing in a challenge with Sagna, it was possibly only the fact our right-back is hard as fuck that saved Terry a red card.”


  7. Very well played Arsenal. I thought it a deserved win given that we scored all the goals and the Rent Boys only had 2 shots on target the whole game. Chelsea looked a bit smug I thought and The Gunners looked up for it with only a lack of confidence holding them back. After an hour I still thought we could turn it around – and what do you know? Finally a bit of luck gone our way at Stamford Bridge. After that goal you could just see the belief come surging back into the players – a joy to behold – and we were the better team from then on to the final whistle and I was sure we’d net a third.
    I loved seeing Bac Sag back in the team as he’s a spark. Ade also showed what we’d been missing having a big hand, or rather head, in both goals. RVP was a total menace to society. Excellent.
    Funny – I didn’t really notice Song. Is that a good thing?
    ‘Just William’ had a funny smile on his face at the end. I wonder what was going through his tortuous mind?
    So ‘nother couple of top class players please AW and we’ll really look the part.
    In the meantime I’d like to see the team hammer Wigan to pieces next weekend.

  8. I must say in the three minutes RVP put two away I was a bit befuddled. Elated but befuddled. Fortunately I wasn’t the only one with that reaction as most of the Chelsea team seemed to have the same reaction.

    Song does lack pace I think, but he is willing to sit back and do the dirty work. He also doesn’t hesitate to close anyone down anywhere close to our goal. Which is something the side has been desperately lacking.

    Great win though, we’d better build on it. We certainly shouldn’t need to learn that lesson since after the United game and the following results.

  9. @ wale
    What song about Wenger?? (Im curious)

    I dont think Arsene found his perefect XI, do you really think Arsenal played good yesterday? Cuz Im not, I think we were VERY lucky and theres a lot to improve.

    Adebayor have to wake up (but Im fine with him cuz he come from an injury).
    The first half of Nasri was AWFUL, Bosinwa smash him.
    Denilson was maybe the worst Arsenal player, he lost a lot of balls its so obvious that his only place at Arsenal is to be Cesc´s replacement. He is not good as defensive mid or winger, so he only will play as creative midfielder.

  10. I agree with most of what has been said above, particularly the fact that John Terry seems to have license to commit those sort of tackles with a degree of impunity. The fact that Sky always overlook it is also a travesty. But what got me most about yesterday was that sick chanting yet again. It all started at Spurs and has spread like some imbecilic virus and I could clearly hear it on the TV . A friend who went to the game said it was truly sickening. But let’s not expect Chelsea as a club to do anything about it. Like Spurs, their management, in doing nothing, actually condone it. It is to this end that I have written to the FA this morning calling for action. I believe that the Police could get involved as it is most likely a public order offence. If you screamed that at someone in the street I believe you would be arrested, so why not at a football match. If you feel as sickened as I do I would sincerely urge you to write to the FA, by letter of e-mail, complaining and asking them to take action. I cannot imagine what Arsene’s wife and young daughter must feel when they near that chant. So, Arsenal fans, let’s try and do something about it. Many thanks.

  11. Well, i saw it coming. This was a great win for us, it was more important than the ManU game and im very happy with the win. Song, Clichy, Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, thats the best defensive combination we’ve had this season so far. I think Wenger found the team that will keep us going until January, all we need now is Eduardo, Rosicky and Walcott, then we will be unstopable. I loved Clichy’s little run, he almost looked like Maradona. It wasn’t the best performance, but we won, that’s the only thing that counts. I didnt like seeing the # 5 next to our name on the table, hopefully we never find ourselves in that position again. UP THE ARSENAL!

  12. I hope West Ham upset Liverpool tonight, GO WEST HAM!… BTW I heard rumours that Eduardo will be on the bench tomorow for the game against Burnley, im not sure if they are true or not. Do you know anything about that SF?

  13. Hey SF….top read again…We certainly showed some true grit and came out with a great win but we were pretty poor for some long spells of the game.

    Any speculation on comings and goings next month??

    Ade’s gone for sure!!

  14. Watched the highlights of the Arsenal v Chelsea game last night and although Scolari is 100% correct to be a bit peeved that Van Persie’s goal stood, I find it a bit short sighted to blame the ref for the result. I notice he, nor the MOTD pundits for that matter, mentioned the horrific tackle comitted by John Terry which he amazingly only saw yellow for. The tackle was a potential leg-breaker and it’s these sorts of challenges that need to be removed from the game. There was absolutely no intent to play the ball as he’d over run it, the only thing going through his mind was to introduce the Arsenal full-back to his 12 studs.

    When are the FA going to have the balls and stand up to retrospectively banning players for these sorts of challenges? A couple of weeks ago it was Chris Morgan, this week it’s John Terry and the message being sent out isn’t good. I’m amazed more has not already been made of it but is that because he’s the current England captain?

  15. I have not seen Arsenal get as lucky as yesterday for a long time ! … For a change, the decisions went to our side and though we created few clearcut chances ,we won ,which is hard to believe ! … But who cares, Chelsea and Manu have won titles undeservingly ! …
    I so much wish liverpool hadnt beaten chelsea so that we would have ended their home unbeaten record !

  16. chavs could gave been down to 9. Terry should have gone and Ivanovic actually could have got 3 yellows but somehow the ref only gave him 1.

  17. great like to comment on something that was said by scolari..the referees tried to hand arsenal the game by their decisions,to keep them in the league..first of all why would they not want arsenal to struggle everyone was having a field day ridiculing arsenals management..second about the van persie goal noone in chelsea even appealed everyone thought bosingwa had played robin onside so it was an honest mistake..third they had 2 shots on goal how could you claim to win a match in which you play like that..anyway it kinda good that terry wasn’t sent off otherwise the media would have been speakin scolari’s language and we would get even lesser support from the referees

  18. @ oldtimer.

    You said you didn’t notice song and wondered if that wsa a good thing.

    Well they always say the best defensive midfielders just do their thing; nothing fancy – if you don’t notice them then they are doing their job well.

    It may be a little premature, but wouldn’t it be great if Song could fill that huge DM gap?! Really make it his own, like Flamini did last season. It’s either that or we’ll need Wenger to buy in Jan. And that is unlikely knowing him!

  19. @Wale, it would be nicer if you could try referencing your sources of information you know…

    Anyway, good to get the win in spite of our deficiences

  20. The fight between Arsenal and Chelsea was too much competitive. I enjoyed this match. Arsenal beat Chelsea by 2-1. After a long time, football fans could enjoy a nail biting football match between them. Robin van Persie led his team after scoring two goals. This performance helped Arsenal to get 3 points. However, I am big fan of Arsenal. I hope my favorite team will take top spot in the Premier League point table. I also hope that Chelsea should come back in the competition with some more wins in the round robin league. Can Arsenal continue their performance in the next game?

  21. Im glad to see Song finally getting some credit for his hard work. I know it doesnt seem like he does much in games, but he does more then what some people think. Bravo Song!

    This game doesnt mean anything. We beat Man U also, and after that we didnt do shit. Its not Man U and Chelsea we are having trouble with, its teams like Fulham, Hull, Stoke, etc. No one can say we are back in the title race, until the boys can put together some wins against teams like Wigan whom we have next. That game will show more about the team then the game against Chelsea.

  22. Latest news: Arsene Wenger signed a Eljero Elia from FC Twente today for £6m today, he will offician join the club next month. He is a 21 year old Dutch U21 player. I’ve never seen him play. Does anyone know how good he is?

  23. I watched Elia play in the UEFA cup this year against Man City. He was by far Twente’s most dynamic player and was head and shoulders above the rest of the team on that day. Very good dribbling, pace agility and athleticism. He put in two goals in a 3-2 loss.

    Assuming that game was a decent representation of his play he’s a solid pick up. At the least he’ll force Nik and Vela to continue to get better.

  24. @ Gibbs – Ive seen videos of him, and from what i’ve seen, he is very fast!! skilful and doesnt always go down if tackled which is a good thing. I feel he is like Vela and that can only be a good thing. He is 21 and very rarely are AW youthful buys bad, we know hav to hope AW buys some senior players

  25. Thanx guys, i hope he’s as good as you say. I’ll check him out on youtube and see for myself. Anyway, I think we have enough strikers now, Wenger must now get a DM and a CB. Speaking of CBs, there are other rumours that say Wenger will make a £6m bid for Fulham’s Hangeland in Jan, so if Wenger seals that deal, we’ll only have one gap to fill, and that’s the DM position.

  26. Also rumored is Twente’s youn Brazilian defender Douglas… We need mentality in the players we buy and that is most important… We need a DMF with heart, attitude, and leadership. A Flamini replacement is the most important thing at the moment, even with Song impressing…

  27. It was a good effort/performance from every player except “shocking Almunia Faulty”. One of the best performance away from home in many years and of course most important result of the season. Wenger was spot on with his formation except for Denilson, who was poor, it’s not his fault though. Special mention should go to Sagna(2 great tackles that were goal bound), Gallas(assured), Djourou(commanding except for unlucky own goal) and of course RVP. I agree with SF that Song performed well in the 2nd half although he was awful in the 1st. Overall, credit goes to the manager and all the players who gave their full effort.

    P.S. Almunia situation is worsening, CDM is must in Janaury and a strong CB should replace Gallas in the Summer.

  28. Manuel Almunia = The Cancer of the Arsenal team.

    A recap of his season errors to date (and we’re not even at the halfway stage yet).

    1) Allows a Grant Leadbitter long-range strike beat him from over 30 yards out, despite the fact that the ball comes straight at him and off the underside of the crossbar. The goalkeeping coaches (e.g. Bob Wilson) agree, that is no way a goal an international keeper worth his salt should be conceding (which is why Almunia isn’t an international). 2 points dropped.

    2) Both Stoke goals – a team notorious for its inability to score from open play – are directly the result of Almunia’s incompetence. If he comes off his line and commands his area, like Fabianski did against Wigan in the Beer Cup – then there is no way Stoke get anything. The defenders were not to blame, as Almunia was twice hesitant and even jumped out of the way for the second Stoke goal. 3 points dropped.

    3) At home to the Spuds. First of all he is beaten from 45 yards out. No goalkeeper is allowed to be beaten from that far out full-stop. Even Joe Hart of Citeh yesterday, was miles off his line but was able to sprint back and make an excellent save. You just cannot be beaten from 45 yards out when you are on your line, as the ball has too far to travel in the air before it impacts. Ridiculous. Then there was more. Unable to hold a simple back-pass by the corpulent Huddlestone, resulting in the odious bisexual One tapping in a rebound into an empty net. Another 2 points dropped (see where I’m going yet?)

    4) Aston Villa at home. Could do nothing about the Clichy own-goal but was completely 100% at fault for the Agbonlahor goal. Exhibited all the elements of what makes an atrocious goalie: first he is unable to read the game by coming out to sweep up. He had more than enough time and everyone knows that along with Walcott and Cisse, Agbonlahor is the fastest footballer in Europe. Yet he stood rooted to this line as the ball came over the top and did nothing. Then, when Agbonlahor did have a shot; it went straight through his gloves. Cannot say he cost us the points but he certainly sealed our fate.

    5) Away at Fulham. Hesitant once again and incapable of commanding his area. Gives Hagelund all the time in the world to come through and head home Fulham’s winner, despite the ball being right in his vicinity. At least 1 point dropped there (our performance scarcely merited all three)

    I will add a few more debatable ones to that. Cech, Casillas or Buffon would never have been beaten by Robinho’s chip. I know because Robinho tried that one against Reina several times when they played El Pool and it never came off. He made a nice one when they played Chelski but Cech tipped it over. Yet Almunia does not read strikers well and was beaten with consummate ease.

    Leon Osman’s goal for Everton was one he should have saved imo. There was only room for Osman to put that ball in one place, and that was Almunia’s near-post. After that Champions League final in 2006, it is unbelievable that a goalkeeper who has been given as many first-team opportunities as Almunia continues not only to look so appalling, but is incapable of understanding the significance of protecting one’s near-post.

    Everyone has had their say about where the biggest problems in the Arsenal team lie. I agree that as a unit the defence needs a Zapata. And everyone devoid of delusional outlook knows that Song is shite, full-stop.

    However if I were to point the finger at one individual who consistently harms Arsenal’s chances of success then it is Almunia. I said this two years ago: no team has Ever won the Premiership title or the Champions League with a non-international keeper in the nets. It cannot happen.

    A top goalkeeper will perhaps gain you 7-8 points per season (see Casillas, Buffon). A very good goalkeeper might win you 1 to 3 points (see Jaaskelainen’s remarkable display away to Hull). An average keeper will not win you any points but, he will not cost you any either.

    A very poor keeper will cost you points in a season (see Gomes and Almunia). Almunia needs to go asap. Until January comes and an Akinfeev or decent international-standard keeper can be bought, I reckon Fabianski should be given all the opportunities he needs.

    I agree with Wenger that there deifnitely is some ‘potential’ (there goes that word again) in various areas. But this overlooks the fact that the team often needs to compensate for Almunia. Look at that first Chelski goal yesterday: putting Djourou and the whole defence – see team – under pressure.

    It isn’t good enough and I do not feel we can win anything with this jester in goal. We have excellent players in Fabregas and Van Persie, fantastic prospects in Ramsey, Wilshere and Vela and a few decent squad players. This will all go to pot however if Almunia is permitted to remain in goal.

    He is 31 and has never been selected for international football (with good reason) and even England refuse to select him (rightly so. David James is miles superior).

    Great day yesterday, loved every minute of that game and like I said; best away day I have been to in 30 years (bar 89).

    Almunia needs to go though.

    And we all knew Arsenal could beat the bigger teams. The Wigan game will tell us more about this team than a win against a Top 4 side.

    Credit: RespectsHighbury(Gunnerblog)

  29. 135. *_Respects Highbury @ 00.34

    It appears that a player I had always fancied for Arsenal appears to be signing for Real Madrid. From what a journalist friend of mine informs me, Huntelaar will be a Real Madrid player by the end of next week.

    If true, it is further proof that managers do not have ‘to wait for the Uzbek league to go on tea-break’ before signing players. Negotiations should begin Now for Arsenal. Terms of accord and negotiation need to be initiated by Senor Gazidis.

    He should get on a plane and stop in Lisbon first and make an offer for Veloso. Next stop Moscow, throw them a few roubles (and Almunia if they’ll have him) and ask for Igor Akinfeev in exchange. Last stop Udine and throw them a nice party and ask for Zapata.

    Do that and I will sincerely believe that Arsenal will have a serious chance in Europe. All of those players are eligible for Champs League too bar Veloso. If not, we could do worse than signing De Guzman of Deportivo La Coruna as a defensive midfield option. I know Wenger rates him as he has already spoken of him.

    I repeat: this win over Chelski should not detract from the fact that serious investment is needed in this squad come January.

  30. Hey guys can we try and keep the quoting from other sources to a minimum and ensure that if you do quote you credit the sources.

    As much as possible I like to keep the opinions fresh so if you are going to quote please make sure you attach some thoughts of your own to go with it.

    Spanish Fry

  31. I agree that GK may in fact be the biggest need. A leader that can organize the back line may help our defense exponentially. It may in fact be more important then another CB with Djourou looking good alongside Gallas. Toure and Silvestre are more then capable backups (I hate seeing Toure on the bench tho…). DMF IMO is still the priority though. We need a player with energy and leadership but the trick is finding someone who is a good passer of the ball to fall into the triangle passing schemes with Fabregas and the rest of the MF (Flamini did it great last year).

  32. PS Zapata, Veloso, and Akinfeev would be a GREAT combination but I think it may be a little optimistic…

  33. Personally I’m still not overly worried about Almunia. He’s made a couple of errors this season but I don’t agree that the five mentioned above were his fault or that they cost us anywhere near the points that ‘RespectsHighbury’ has suggested.

    The Spurs result was not his fault (we were 4-2 up with one minute left remember!) and neither was he at fault for Villa nor Fulham. I don’t agree that the strike by Leadbitter should have been saved so that really only leaves the Stoke game. And even then, it’s not like he made a ‘mistake’.

    For me Almunia can only be completely accountable for the errors at Tottenham and Chelsea and even so, he did not actually cost us any points in those games.

    In short, I’m still happy to have him in the side. If we can bring someone in better then that’s great, but he’s the least of our worries.

  34. Boys,
    This caught my eye how bout yours?
    “I’ve criticised Denilson’s performances on several occasions this season, but have always tried to mitigate that with the assertion that it is not his fault that he is being exposed to regular first-team football before he is ready.

    That said, as I flicked through some statistics from the season so far, a different picture began to emerge. So far he has:

    Two goals this season – that’s double Cesc’s tally
    Four assists – which is behind only Malbranque, Berbatov, Malouda and Arteta
    11th most fouled player in the entire league, winning plenty of free-kicks
    45 tackles won – 7th highest in the league – higher than Butt, Clichy, Diarra, Kompany, Reo-Coker, Barry et al
    991 passes attempted – behind only Lampard and Mikel
    849 completed passes, behind only Mikel
    What the statistics make clear is that this is an industrious, efficient player who whilst not yet ‘World Class’ is doing remarkably well for a twenty year-old who was little more than a fringe member of the squad last season. I’ve read some calls for Denilson to be sold, but the figures above make a nonsense of such suggestions. What Denilson needs is a quality, experienced player to challenge him and force him to improve. When the Brazilian meets the required level, he would then take his place in the side. It’s common sense, and we can only hope that Arsene sees that now. Flamini had to surpass Gilberto to get his place in the side: Denilson ought to have to leap a similar hurdle to truly earn his first-team place.

    Tonight sees our fantastic Carling Cup side travel to Burnley in the competition’s Quarter-Final. The team should be extremely similar to the previous two rounds, though Mikael Silvestre will start at centre-back after being left out at the weekend (just our luck for Djourou and Gallas to both pick up knocks in the Chelsea game, eh?).

    Ahead of the game Aaron Ramsey, who certainly doesn’t lack confidence, has compared himself to Steven Gerrard – as long as his hairline doesn’t get as freakishly low as Gerrard’s (I am convinced that one day it will meet his eyebrows and his forehead will become redundant), then that’ll do just fine. Ramsey’s Carling Cup midfield partner, Mark Randall, is a doubt, so we may see a debut for Amaury Bischoff.

    Under Owen Coyle, Burnley have moved on from being long-ball merchants to develop an attractive passing game, married to the aerial power of Ade Akinbiyi, who has troubled us in past cup encounters. Let’s not forget, this is a side who went to Stamford Bridge and knocked out Chelsea. That said, their manager is showing our youngsters plenty of respect:

    “I watched their games against Sheffield United and Wigan – at one point I thought about turning it off because I couldn’t bear it any more. They are the yardstick for everyone who is aspiring to play a passing game.

    “Four or five of that team will reach the very highest level. I am not talking about good international players, I mean beyond that. Ramsey is unbelievable. At 16, the world is Wilshere’s oyster.

    “The maturity they show is way beyond their years. I played with people for 15 years who were still not experienced in the game. These kids have that. The relationship they have with one another in terms of interchange of passing and movement is exceptional.”

    High praise indeed. I just hope we live up to our billing.

    Gunnerblog has been nominated for Best Football Blog Community of 2008 by Soccerlens, which is nice of them. Feel free to vote, – as it’s a “Community” award it’s far more about you than about me, so thanks.

    I have a feeling tonight could be a really good game. Let’s hope the kids get the result and see us through to the semis.

  35. Good writing from Gunnerblog. Do not agree that Almunia is a cancer of this team or is a biggest concern. What I believe is with Almunia we have no chance to anything ever. I have said this million times in this blog and given the record of none international goalie never won a premier league title or CL title, we have to believe a class goalkeeper is always important for a winning team. In the class of goalies, world-class, good and below-par, our so-called No.1 lies on the latter class(below par or poor whatever). Wenger needs to realise that we can win nothing with Almunia in goal.
    Still our main problem is lack of experience and quality. I hope Eduardo and Rosiscky can return soon who can help this team to reach to a next level with an addition of world-class CDM.

    Our main concerns are in an order:

    1. Inexperience, lack of overall quality and lack of motivation when playing smaller teams.
    2. CDM
    3. Goalie
    4. Consistent performance at the back and upfront.

  36. Agree with Hartwick89:

    Although I do not rate Denilson much, but he has potential to be a good player for Arsenal in few years. His class is above Song or Diaby. Arsenal fans are criticizing him because he has been asked to do the job of Flamini who was our best player last season. Those Stats show he has done even better than Cesc in the middle park but he is also a culprit in the decline of Cesc form. In this case, we have to criticize Wenger, not Denilson.

  37. Can’t bring myself to fault Wenger for this bunch or lack there of…He has provided the foundations for these boys now the rest is up to them. Ade has said so much in his assesment of this years crop. What it comes down to is the lack of focus in the lower half matches. Watch it…some boys from reserves are plotting the path.

  38. MoMoney is right, Denilson is not a DMF, he cant tackle, and really he’s too afraid to tackle anyways, he looks very scared when players pressure him which explains why his passing is shit under pressure. He would be an ok back up to Cesc in a few years but nothing more. He’s not what is needed. Song is better fit for the DMF because hes not a coward in the tackles.

  39. Talk stats all you want but being able to turn a game on it’s head like rvp did on the weekend means far more to me than the stats.
    Do we have any statistics on how many shots Denilson has wasted by blasting the ball into the upper tier when he is no where near the skill of nasri, fabregas and rvp who can hit a 30 yard shot in? Also he has played every game (I think) and didn’t do much in the summer where as fab won the euro cup, diaby and co have all been injured so that’s why he’s had a good run in but give me ramseys stats and I’m sure for the age difference I would rather have him in as by the time he’s denilson’s age he will be 5 times the player ol d boy is.
    I’ll be up at 6.45 watching the (real boys) play as this must be the season they win the cup and ol sivestre is in the team as djorou is now rightfully classed as a 1st team player now.

  40. Reading a little about him and I think Udinese’s Zapata would be an IMMENSE signing if it could be pulled off… 22 years old, commanding in the air with great leadership and mentality… Perfect addition at CB.

    As for DMF I am still not so sure what the answer is. I have not seen a ton of Miguel Veloso but does he have the heart. desire to work endlessly like Flamini did? I know he has the skills but I am not sure if he is right for us.

    Weren’t we interested in Inler as well? Could be an option…

    Diego Lopez from Villareal is turning heads and looked really good against Man Utd…

    I have Zapata on my mind all of a sudden

  41. Personally I hate seeing any of our players go however bad they are. It’s like, once they’ve pulled the Arsenal shirt on they’ve already passed the test – whatever that is. But we have to accept that we have one or two players who aren’t good enough – not yet anyway – and replace them. The Great Man has always been quick enough to ‘let go’ any of the Brits in the team whom he didn’t rate – so he’s got to be as ruthless with the others.
    For me, as most of you also seem to be saying, it’s Song, Denilson, Diaby. I feel sorriest for Denilson because he really tries hard but he’s all over the shop. Maybe he can come back after a period of ‘maturing’.
    You often don’t know what you’ve missing until it’s arrived – can you imagine if we had two real top class players where Song and Denilson were on Sunday? What a difference that would make to the whole team? And it’s not as if we can’t have them. We have the cash.
    The rest of the squad I don’t have a problem with as i think they will also improve with the upgrading of the defense / midfield.
    I don’t agree at all with the Almunia-bashing from Gunnerblog. He’s made some terrific saves this season – and he saved a penalty against Villa, which at the time kept it 0-0. Is David Seaman world class enough for you? Do you really want me to mention that Nayim goal from the halfway line? All keepers make mistakes and as they always say, you notice keepers more.

    PS – I’m proud of the fact that The Great Man has built this team up without just going out with a cheque book and a shopping trolly like the other wankers. But we’re tantalisingly close now to having a team that can actually win something. I don’t want to wait til Wilshire’s balls drop!

  42. I havnt got much to say anymore about who is bad and good in the squad.What I know is:Arsenal havent succeeded yet to show their real game untill now for which we have the ability to accomplish and we cant afford to loose anymore, 6 defeats is the limit for a 1er league Champ.And 2 draws the maximum we can have, depending on the win and losses of the other 3 or 4(Aston villa) big teams(Excludin mancity with kaka next year).The match agst the blues were not the only must win game, ALL the FUTURE Games will be all a must win.I totaly agree with you SF about Song’s game agst Chelski, He was great!!.But was only greater than he used to.At the moment He is not great enough to confront the 1er lig games.We need a Fully reliable CDM if we want to get the 1er lig cup.Song can be a very very strong CDM, beleive me after 3 to 5 games, he will be good enough to do that Job.But look at all the future fixtures: Wigan is the only weak team that we will play, after that we will play all the tough teams.Look at Westham agst Liverpool yestday, they never gave up, they kept on trying to establish their attack eventhou they were alwys under pressure and they were at Anfield.We can no longer underestimate the smaller teams in the lig as they dont accept the concept of the big four anymore.Ofcourse they might have lack of quality on attack or big names in front but they all have the willing to fight, especially in mdfld area where the cause of our 5 defeats lays.Everybody can blame Almunia or the fullbacks but I personnaly think that its not their fault at all.You could always make mistake when the pressure is too much on you.How many times now we have scored an OG?coz of the huge pressure on the fullback!!!.There is not enough pressure against the opponent team from the mdflld area which can disturb their attack line up, They just go with ease thru the mdfld, and here they are comftable to threat.Any team could score agst us, How do you think such a poor attacking team as stoke city could score agast arsenal????Denilson shoud have never been on that CDM post but becoz his attackin quality is soo good thats why AW alwys put him on the pitch.AW only played Song for few games thats why he cant still get to improve, He shud have been played regularely.Ofcourse Song is gud and I personnaly beleive that the boy was born to be a defender exactly like his uncle who I strongly beleive Song has taken as model,and he can improve but he needs more time and games to play to improve.He is just not the right guy for the current situation, and beleive me there’s alot of option there, like Djourou, Gibbs or Hoytte.The best for me on that job has been always Gael Clichy especially when Toure is back.I dont think we need to sign any more players.This team is good as it is if we have a strong CDM.Why balme Almunia on that goal agst Chelski??He was trying to launch a quick attack from Nasri, as the team were so much on pressure.And I totly agree with him because Football dont have Time out policy like in basketball where you can stop the rythm of the opponent team and relaunch a new game again!!!The only way to solve that in football is to try to relaunch a quick attack asap to show to the opponent that you can also threat them and you have the quality to accomplish that.If you watch the match replay, you will see that we were half-side underpressure for 12mn or more durin the 1st half.The GAME STATISTICS will show you that WE NEVER WON THE BATTLE OF THE MDFLD @ Stamfrd bridge last sunday.It was God who gave us that win, nothing more.Ther must be somthin to be done otherways we will sink again.Go on GUNNERS, SHOW TO THE WORLD THAT YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST.

  43. I think Given would be a good keeper, how many times he has saved Newcastle, I mean his performace v Chelski was amazing, with a better defence, he can be amazing, although Akinfeev is equally talented, he would cost bout 4 or 5 times as much as Given. CBs like Zapata, Milito or Pepe. DMFs like Yaya Toure (which apparently we have sealed the deal for 6 mil), Gattuso or bring back Flamini.

  44. Same story day-in-day-out,let us in one voice say it loud so that it can echo to every stake holder of ARSENAL FC, we need 3 world class signing come Jan. where we were told that there is cash to bring in new legs, why keep the cash? we know we have a fantastic squard, but too much will will not be bad for the game. Wenger should wear some glasses that will make him see the right players to bring in. Cos in him (WENGER) we trust.

  45. havent you guys seen AW talking all the time about the economic crisis?? AW isnt only a great coach but also hold a master degree on economics.He isnt blind at all, that might be the reason why he couldnt really focus on the game during those last few month of the credit crunch because he knows exactly how the crisis may affect the Football business.He quoted “….Nobody knows what can happen in the world in the next 12 months….football isnt an island which could be excluded from that….”, Wenger wont go for a player worth more than 10Mpds.Ofcourse there are some evolutive players (Not bad players)but we also have a strong squad from which we can play around with position wise.CDM is the main PBM and we have a lot of option in that area, Almunia is fair enough to b there but if we can get a good deal Why not??? Why do you think the club would take a new chief executive in charge? a guy who mastered the art of buying playrs from the MLS.

  46. WE DO NOT NEED TO SIGN ANY MORE PLAYERS, Except if the injury pbm will persist within the squad like last year.The team is fine, and even if they wont make it this year they will be the youngest double winner (PL,CL) next year.These guys are legends, it has already started with FAB-ULOUS Captaincy.

  47. WAHOO!! We have to get up early to see a live game but it was worth it. We all gathered at one house for the first half and were not in the best of moods. The play of our beloved Gooners has not been exactly sparkling of late. Until the second half of the game we all thought we were going to have another miserable weekend. However, we decided to change venues for the second half and went to our favourite coffee shop. It must have made the difference. It was either that or a stirring team talk at half time because we saw a team who were getting more passes through and more assured defense come out to play. Djourou’s unlucky own goal, Almunia should have called him off, sloppy passing, and a shaky defense, had not been taken advantage of by chelsea. Now it was the mighty Gunners turn. Yes, Robin’s first goal was offside, but it was brilliantly taken. Then the second goal really rocked chelsea. Their confidence was gone and they played without their usual urgency and assurance.
    The ref had a terrible game for both sides. He was one of those, ‘I like to be the centre of attention’ guys. He should be better at calling games if he wants to be like that. Nuff said about him.
    All in all, a truly emotional roller coaster ride which only EPL can deliver. Other leagues have great teams but the style of play leaves you flat. I am proud to be a Gooner.

  48. @ Radads RSA; I agree with you on not needing players to be effective, although I would add that if we find a good player, we can always use them.

    The problem is that I don’t see anyone of the names brandied here that would help improve the team. As it is the team is capable of, and has beaten the “top-world-class-full-of-quality-with-immense-DEPTH-and-very-rich clubs-the-“only”-title-contenders-European champions-and-their runners-up, (i could go on but it is pointless beyond this point) of this world in Man U and Chelsea. HOW IN THE WORLD COULD THEY BE INFERIOR?!?!?!?? On a straight matchup they have come out on top. Lets get some perspective.

    Reading most of the comments here I am left a bit speechless. It is OK to have opinions that differs from the rest of the world, but it would be a tad more helpful and fun if a bit of originality is injected in our assertions. For instance, Myself and Spanish Fry have been disagreeing on a whole range of issues since I started commenting here last year in defence of the then under fire,not-good-enough, sell-him-now Eduardo. but I have always enjoyed and appreciated SF’s opinions since he explains in detail why he holds such an opinion albeight sometimes in “pseudo-original” thoughts. I use “pseudo-original” here because most, if not all of the things we are going to talk about here have, in some form, been said or implied by others somewhere if you look hard enough, and I do fall in the same “pseudo-original” cattegory(just wanted to make that clear).

    Let’s not summarize and regugitate what others have said somewhere and what we heard from pundits and some “sports journalists”. There is a reason that these people are not managing any club, let alone one of the stature of Arsenal.

    Just my opinion, don’t mean to encroach on SF’s fine work.

    Keep it up SF.

  49. There is a great post on another blog discussing how we are now the only team in the top 4 that can afford to buy… Wenger knows what he is doing and he is the complete modern day manager… If I am allowed to post from other places Ill do it but I dont want to break any rules…

  50. so after watching the highlights, and reading the news, scolari wants a bloody apology over the first goal, has someone not informed him that it came of cashley cole’s foot? Because surely it’s not offside adter that…

  51. Didnt see this happening? Bendtner cant even play well v Championship side, he had 4 good chances and put NONE away, Vela and Merida both had chances and we could have won. Thats the cup, and I feel the Carling Cup was our strongest way of getting a trophy.

  52. Ah well, it wasn’t a bad performance. We created a few of chances, but we didn’t take them. A hat-trick was on the table for Bendtner, but he missed. We clearly missed Song and Djourou at the back. But i cant say im angry at them, they certainly didn’t embarrass themselves. These are a bunch of kids, they’ll learn from this game. They are a special crop, and they will bring us success in the future, if they stick together. I hope they’ll have better luck next time.

  53. Well if Bendtner cant score in the CC he is completely useless. I think this pretty much confirms 4 years with no trophies. The league is not realistic, we cannot lose another game if we are to win the league and we cannt go the rest of the season undefeated. We dont have a good enough squad to compete in the CL. At home we’re ok but once we face one of the bigger clubs, say Barca we’ll be out. And the FA is the next.. most realistic chance we have at something.

    @ Gibbs – “These are a bunch of kids, they’ll learn from this game”

    Wener might be mad you took his trademark line.

  54. @ Demetrio
    Hehe, i don’t recall hearing that comment from Wenger. Anyway, i think your being too negative mate. The Young Guns played well today, they created enough chances to win the game but they failed to take them, and that’s what cost us the game.

    I think we are good enough to win the CL and the FA cup and the EPL(there is still a possibility) this season. I would gladly welcome a challange from Barca, Real Madrid or Inter b/c i know we can beat them anywhere. We don’t need a new DM or a CB, i am sure that we can win trophies with the team we have. I know i’m gonna be critisized for that.

  55. In footballing terms we didn’t play that bad as result speaks today. Burnley didn’t win the game but we lost the game ourselves with bad finishings. Bentdner with 4 chances, Vela with 2, Merida and Randall one each. With 8 clear chances we scored none. Bentdner and Silvestre who were supposed to be seniors in their respective fields disappointed me than other younger players. Bentdner was awful but still I think he has talent to come good in few years. Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere are the only players that has ability to make to a big stage from today’s team. Carling cup was one of the acquirable target for us but it’s not gonna happen now. I am not too worried about todays game like Fulham, Hull, Stoke….. from first-teamers.

    With an addition of a quality goalie and a CDM we have a chance to win CL or FA cup. I believe we were out of league chances after City game. Manc win or Chelski win cannot make us title contenders again. To win a league, consistency is very important which cannot be expected from our team.

    To say Barca will murder us if we meet them in CL is not justified. Never knows how will be the form and injury situation of both teams by then. If you take Messi out of Barca team, they are almost toothless. I watched Getafe vs Barca(without Messi) few weeks earlier when Getafe easily earned a point against them.

    New/Quality Goalie ?
    Sagna Gallas Djourou Clichy
    Nasri ?CDM Cesc Rosiscky/Walcott
    Ade RVP

    With two new quality additions and given injury-free situation, we can challenge anyone, even Barca or Inter.

  56. Yea on any given day anything can happen but Barca is far and away the best team in the world right now and the only team where I would go into the matchup a bit pessimistic…

  57. Wow, one silverware gone to AW’s idiotcy. Wonder when the Board will wake up. Has the 9ja syndrome of Godfatherism caught up with Arsenal? How can we be toying with the psyche. This thing has to stop!!!

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