Winning with ten men / Worried about Vermaelen appeal / Barca ideal

It’s been a big weekend for the Arsenal with a terrific win over West Ham and the exciting news of drawing Barcelona in the Champions League.

I’ve been a little bit out of it over the past week so I thought I’d do some catching up today with a detailed post on my opinion of us winning with ten men, the club’s decision to appeal Thomas Vermaelen’s one-game ban and our chances of stopping Barcelona and an unbelievable Lionel Messi.


Winning with ten men

The boys win over West Ham on Saturday was terrific.

This was the third win in the last four league games that has been completed in dramatic style and under difficult circumstances. First it was Aaron Ramsey’s leg break and Cesc and Vermaelen’s late goals against Stoke, then it was Nicklas Bendtner’s crucial late winner against Hull. And now this.

We started the game superbly with Denilson scoring a beautiful goal after just 5 minutes. It was the earliest league goal we had scored this season, Bendtner linking well to allow Denilson to fire home a crisp, perfect finish into the bottom corner.

We cruised the rest of the first half but just like at Hull were pegged back by a poor penalty decision. Similar to Sol Campbell’s “foul” a week earlier, Vermaelen was unfairly punished for a perfectly legal attempt to play the ball and Guillermo Franco went down far too easily.

Under instruction from the linesman the referee who was fifty yards away awarded a penalty. Even worse, he sent Vermaelen off.

Manuel Almunia made a great stop to prevent Alessandro Diamanti from doing what he did at Upton Park. It was the second big penalty save the Spaniard has made in games that were perched at 1-0 and drastically altered the complexion of the second half by maintaining our lead.

Arsene Wenger made a number of astute tactical alterations as the game progressed and the ability of our boys to flawlessly integrate  these changes was another indication (if we needed it) of how far this team have come and how much further they can still go.

Song turned his 9/10 game into a 10/10 by flawlessly covering for Vermaelen at the back. Denilson was terrific in the centre of the pitch, building on his early goal by dominating the Song position. Abou Diaby’s powerful running from midfield added a unique attacking threat from the middle of the park. Arshavin played on the left, then up front, then the left again. Emmanuel Eboue had a marauding game from right-back, then pushed further forward to cause West Ham havoc as Bacary Sagna provided more stability off the bench.

The Arsenal team that started the game, particularly the attacking unit, was barely recognisable from the one that started it. Take into account the weather conditions and it was like we were playing a completely different game.

While West Ham almost scored when Carlton Cole hit the post, Cesc’s penalty sealed an impressive 2-0 win.

Every player deserves credit not only for their physical contributions but also because of their mental application. They boys stuck to their roles and were rewarded with a victory that keeps our title charge alive.

It would have been easy for our boys to panic with Vermaelen, our best defender, out of the game for so long. But Almunia stepped up to make a crucial intervention, the team sorted themselves out and made sure we left the game clutching three valuable points.

All in all, a very proud day to be a Gooner.

The red card appeal

I don’t believe that Thomas Vermaelen’s challenge on Guillerme Franco was penalty let alone a red card, yet I have to say I’m a little bit worried about the club’s decision to appeal this decision.

As things stand the Belgian will miss one match, this weekend’s trip to Birmingham, which will be played just four days before the huge Champions League game against Barcelona at The Emirates.

If the appeal is successful he will have that suspension wiped out however, if it is not, it may be extended to include the league game against Wolves a week later on the grounds of a frivolous appeal.

Obviously this is what I am worried about and given the incompetent and inconsistent nature of the FA’s judicial system I feel this is a valid concern.

My observation is that the club’s desire to appeal Vermaelen’s decision is less about having the Belgian available and more about being able to rest Sol Campbell against Birmingham with Barcelona around the corner.

The manager has already indicated that Campbell cannot play more than one game per week and if Vermaelen’s appeal is unsuccessful I believe it will be Alex Song and Mikael Silvestre who start the next game. If Vermaelen is cleared then the manager will have options, either one of Song or Silvestre will play there and Campbell can return to partner Vermaelen against Barcelona.

With the club already having lodged an appeal this is very much a wait-and-see situation. I pray to God that the club has made the right decision.

Barcelona: a death warrant or ideal opponents?

I honestly believe that drawing Barcelona was the best possible outcome for our boys.

Barcelona are the best team in Europe and currently have the best player in the world in the best form of his career but there are so many things that make this a great draw for Arsenal.

One, nobody expects us to win and that puts us in an excellent psychological position.

Two, they play the sort of football that will allow us to play our sort of football. There may well be goals in both legs and that may suit our leaky defence more than a tie that ends 2-1 on aggregate.

Three, it will be a bloody awesome game for the supporters.

Four, if you’re going to get a really good side you may as well get them now. Losing to them gives your team time to recover and continue competing for the league with an uncluttered fixture list.

Meanwhile winning would provide an intense confidence boost as well as promoting a “it’s our season” mentality around the club. After all, what’s the point in beating Bordeaux now if we are just going to lose to Barcelona in the next round?

Five, we avoid Manchester United until the final.

Six, we get to watch (a very worried) Thierry Henry play again.


Have your say on the West Ham victory, Vermaelen’s appeal or Barcelona in Europe by leaving a comment.



  1. Those in the know, say the failed appeal will not result into an added game ban as it was not a violent conduct category foul! You may wish to confirm with the FA Rules, perhaps

  2. You are confusing the FA frivolous appeal system, which applies to violent conduct charges only (see Rio Ferdinand earlier this season before the Man City CC game).

    If the appeal is turned down today, Vermaelen still has a 1 match ban, so of course it makes sense for the club to appeal. Rather have him miss 0 games than 1.

  3. to me its a bit too dramatic getting a win against these smaller clubs. i feel that our strikers need to step up their game. we should be winning comfortable against these smaller clubs, but its just not happening. makes me worried about the games ahead against tottenham and man city. any body watched the interview with tierry henry about the arsenal vs barca game? one cant help to feel sory for our brother.he refuses to play against arsenal straight out and one can understand why. in the interview he says that he doesnt even wanna think about it.

  4. I like the decision to appeal. I would rather have Vermaelen at Birmingham than home to Wolves if I had to choose. The possibility of having him for both is just icing on the cake. Arsene should start Verm and Silvestre with Sol on the bench this Saturday to rest him for the Barca match.

  5. The FA appeal board can turn down Arsenal. I think they will do better to monitor the performances of match officials. They shd check why penalties are not give n if it clear cut.
    I know that some refs give spot kicks for the slightest touch in the box. Some don’t give one even if the player is hauled to the ground.There are many examples of this and the FA shd take action against refs of the latter type.
    Action shd be taken asap against these type of refs otherwise this penalty not give scenario will drag on.

  6. Why is the Chelsea Football Club’s squad so ancient? This appears to be because various spendthrift managers shelled out loads of money for players at their peak with no regard for their long-term contracts or re-sale value. Replacing these dinosaurs without the use of Abramovich’s dollars, roubles or goodwill has now become quite an issue for a club whose squad, in the main, now park their zimmer frames alongside their Bentleys. So have Chelsea blown it totally or will those creaking bones make it to the end of the season now they’ve exited Europe’s biggest stage and dropped yet another couple of points?

    As Inter showed in the Champions League, one bunch of really old gits are quite capable of knocking over another bunch of old gits. Especially when they’ve a more street-wise manager than Chelsea’s. In all honesty the Chelsea-Inter Champions League match was like watching two has-been heavyweights slug it out when both were clearly well past their sell-by dates. Plenty of experience on show but just a few flashes of inspiration from Inter were enough to see off the flash London wannabes.

    Their match with Rovers showed us little or no football, but by the end of the game we saw one bunch of diving hoofers trying to out do the other bunch and delightfully the Chavs dropped two more points. They have now blagged a rather pitiful 7 from 15 in their last five league games. Rovers rattled their zimmer frames and hung on. Chelsea’s fabulously cultured, expensive and experienced squad of internationals showed us just how much class and how many millions it takes to hoof it down the middle in the vain hope that the 32 year-old Dogsbreath might latch onto something. He didn’t. For much of the game I was wondering what the hell Steve Bennett would do or give next, in a match where about half a dozen cards for diving wouldn’t have been too many at all.

    But these Chelsea pensioners now beg the question, have the Chavs even got the staying power to sustain a reasonable run-in for the Premiership? Will (load of) Ballacks (33 years ancient) be prepared to knacker himself out for their cause prior to this summer’s World Cup? Can Lumphard (31) any longer shuffle forward to score as he used to? Why haven’t Hilario (34), Belletti (33) and Deco (32) all long since been put down and how much longer do their now entirely useless, to Chelsea, contracts have to run? Is Ferreira (31) just counting his money or will he get another game or two and what’s happened to Carvalho (31)?

    Can Anelka (31) be bothered or is he too saving himself for South Africa? Has Terry (30) not only lost the plot and run out of steam, despite his ability to run over Chelsea’s staff? Of their other experienced players only Malouda (29) is currently cutting the mustard so judging by his sustained effort it would appear his World Cup berth in the French squad is maybe uncertain. Cashley (29) is now taking longer to recover from injuries. Following his long-term injury Joe Cole (28) is struggling to both nail down a new contract and regain a place in the first eleven. They have Essien, a sprightly 27 year-old but with no return date and the youthful Boswingwa (27) out till the summer. While Hilario has an alleged groin strain (and we all know how that was caused), Cech is out till the end of March so here’s hoping they try and rush him back far too soon. Has time finally been called on the blue flag’s zimmerframe brigade? If it has then could the league possibly end up as a two horse race?

  7. i think birmingham is a huge huge match for us saturday and yes i know i’m stating the obvious but just starting to crap myself now that we’re down to the nitty gritty. if we can get a convincing win there and then fingers crossed a home banker against wolves the day utd play chelsea, the league table could make very interesting reading 4th April with 5 games to go. i think win those 2 and our boys will know it’s on and i’d predict Citeh and Spurs will get steamrolled. come on we’re nearly there!!!

  8. Vermalen’s sending off was a joke but I agree the appeals system is dodgey. They’re not consistent and @James Morgan has hit the nail on the head – its the refs who should be looked at? They’re either not good enough or are frightened by the reputations of Man Utd and Chelsea and give weal decisions in favour of these clubs. Then you have Howard Webb who I think must hold a season ticket at Old Trafford and Clattenberg who goes on holiday with the Liverpool team!

  9. I hear Henry sed he wont play against Arsenal…huh, thats ridiculous! Anyway, imagine a scenario where he get a clear goal-scoring chance and he intentionally squanders it…I’m so eager to watch the reaction of our players to thierry! May England prevail.

  10. Arsene find something to remove the glue that makes Messi to stick the ball with him especially when he is raging towards goal.

    I want VanPersie now.He is the only one who can threaten them with this ability to strike wherever he wants.Anyway this is not going to happen.

    Edurado should get back his clinical finishing.

    Arshavin should show if he is truly worth his weight


    Sagna Verm Sol Clichy


    Nasri(Rosicky) Fabregas

    Walcott(Eboue) Bendtner(Eduardo) Arshavin


  11. Most of this referee should be subjected to alchole and mental test b4 the game. or for the fact that arsenal plays a principle game unlike some other clubs should not make the referees take them as school boys

  12. on the ten man win – good character. shows the team has some inner steel.

    on vermalen – a bit unfortunate but we have to move on.

    on barca – i am worried

  13. the old problem with the referees, it’s all the same in every league whatever nation I guess, @Andy enjoyed! 😉 and you’re a profi in seeing the positive……… 😉
    I’m a bit more worried about the development of the two races too, of course it is exciting to be able to watch Barcelona – Arsenal, I defintely hope I can watch these two games, Henry shouldn’t be forced to play, but if he is he will score if he can no doubt, and I was shocked about my behaviour that I wished Manu and Chelsea bad things, and was happy when it hit Chelsea, damn it, it’s so bad feeling 😯 and I really were delighted when Blackburn scored, was it Blackburn? so bad feeling, shame over my head, you should never wish anybody bad things, never ever……………. 😎

  14. We should play Barcelona like this:

    Sagna Song Verm Clichy
    Eboue Fabregas
    Nasri Bendtner Arsharvin

    Both Eboue and Diaby have strengthened revently. Campell is too clumsy for Messi and Vermaelen would cover Ibrahimovic.

    @ Arsene, please leave Eduardo far away from the Emirates.

  15. I have rated Torres as the best striker in the world for some, before he went to Liverpool and before his goals helped Spain to win the European Championships. Didier Drogba probably has a wider range of influence and can make some of his own goals, whereas Torres needs service, but Drogba is repugnantly and unpalatably unedifying whereas Torres is admirably and honourably grounded. Torres would fit Arsenal beautifully.

    Torres is a magnificent finisher, on his favoured right foot and with his head. He is a little wilder with his left foot, but still often scores with it. Torres knows exactly what he is doing and executes goals with calm assured technique. He is somewhat impotent in a team that cannot find him, which is why he has suffered when fit at Liverpool this season because they are so ordinary and offer paltry service.

    At Arsenal, Torres could become practically obese on the goalscoring chances we could gorge him with. But obviously Arsenal signing Torres is a total no-go, as Liverpool wouldn’t sell him and we couldn’t afford him, especially not during a World Cup summer. Or maybe the idea does have some wings.

    Torres comes from an Atletico Madrid background, with no desire to play for Real Madrid or, it would seem, for Barcelona. He could have joined either club when he left Atletico, as so many Spaniards do, but showed his principled and independent nature by choosing to leave Spain and move to England to join Liverpool.

    Torres has reiterated several times that he is very happy at Liverpool and has no desire to leave. That assertion was made before Liverpool made a mess of this season’s Champions League campaign and before Liverpool looked likely to miss qualification for next season’s competition. A top-level world-class talent will not want to miss out on the Champions League.

    If Liverpool cannot match that opportunity, it would be understood why Torres may have to reconsider his club. Liverpool would have no choice but to sell him, for football reasons nevermind the financially problems they would face without Champions League action, or quite possibly Europa League action either.

    So once the concept of Torres leaving Liverpool becomes viable, where would he go? I cannot really see him in Italy. He might fancy it but he could be clattered mercilessly and Italian football is not as attacking as English football so it may feel pedestrian in comparison. The Premier League is a drug to many players. Having already left Spain for England, I think Torres would only be likely to return to Spain or stay in England, where he is enjoying his football.

    We have already seen that Torres has not yet shown a desire to join Real Madrid or Barcelona. That could change of course, as many things do when official bids come in – speculation is meaningless, bids mean everything – so that leaves England. As a man who seems to recognise the palatable from the unpalatable, I could not see Torres being interested in Manchester United and frankly Chelsea are less desirable.

    Arsenal on the other hand is a real football club, playing entertaining football, with cultured players that believe in staying faithful to their ideals. That doesn’t always do us a favour but one favour it could do is to attract Torres to the club. Torres would be a mouth-watering target for Cesc Fabregas’s passes and for our endless array of attacking midfielders, who often don’t know when to end moves. What a formidable goalscoring target Torres would be for our passing game, which often doesn’t know when to end. Torres joining would surely end the fears of Fabregas leaving and Arsenal would finally land the awesome striker to make us strong and credible for the major prizes.

    It all sounds good so far, right? So how do we afford him? This is probably the main obstacle. He cost Liverpool a good £20-25m. He has since won the European Championships and should star at this summer’s World Cup. So could he have a £30m+ price tag, if available? Maybe, maybe not. You can have a big price tag if there is a host of possible suitors, as that then opens a bidding war, but the cost comes down if the destinations decrease.

    If it does become viable to prise Torres from Liverpool this summer, we’ve already seen that the Spanish clubs might be turned down and that Italy is not the great pull it once was. With United and Chelsea probably not pleasant to Fernando’s taste, that leaves Arsenal. We could be the one destination that would interest Torres and which he admires.

    If Liverpool accept that they have to sell Torres and it becomes apparent that Torres wants to join Arsenal, then the asking price has to fall. Arsenal may not like to spend money, they may not like to sign players ahead of youngsters, but Fernando Torres is a class A world-class striker, pure gold. At least one club will try to prise Torres from Liverpool this summer – and it is definitely plausible for Arsenal to sign him.

  16. sometimes I get complexes reading some comments, you begin to doubt if you can post unprofessional emotional comments, sigh………. but I won’t stop it :p:

  17. It’s just one match for the Verminator, folks.

    If it turns out that Gallas isn’t injured, i’ll not be happy.

  18. A bit early to think about Barca, Kosi, but when I do think about, I wonder if we shouldn’t just let Eboue man mark Messi. I know Arsene won’t do that. Playing to the opposition is not his style. So, I expect we will try to push Barca on the back foot and they, in turn, will try to play keep away and look to Messi on counters.

  19. Don’t worry this season is for us..we will win the league with 4 points difference and also send barca out and take the champions league….this is the time we have been waiting and working for..plan your celebration ahead!!!!

  20. the appeal got dismissed…. i dont know what the FA is on… but that was not even a foul….. so i say to the FA….. These nuts!

  21. @simon rose

    You are not just cool because you can copy and paste someone elses work

  22. Thanks for the post. we have character to win the league and even the champions league if we approach the game similar to the one we knocked out AC Milan at least we avoid Man u untill the final.

    I am most worried about Arshavin’s utterances that we cannot win the league because we didn’t sign ” enough” players. this is unacceptable coz it has the potential of lowering the players morale I hope Arsene Wenger adresses this. U can fin the story in the sun.

  23. @Sammy Mooner: Ancelloti told his ageing stars at the start of the season this was probably their last opportunity to win the Champs League. Well, they blew the chance. Expect a fire sale at the bridge this summer. However, for a team that didn’t place much emphasis on youth development the new recruits will still be mercenaries, only marginally younger.

    @Simon Rose: Torres in the Arsenal red would be orgasmic, but would le Prof bite at the tantalising prospect? I will gladly join a supporters’ effort to see it happen.

  24. I’m very much looking forward to the Barca game, very optimistic on that one:

    Firstly, to date, the only side I remember attacking Barca relentlessly this season has been the Galacticos, and they managed to keep them on the back foot for most of the game, even though Barca ended up winning the game. Basically, my point is that mostly teams end up loosing to Barca because they give them too much respect, the opposition’s always worried about Barca’s attack, instead of concentrating on their own, after all the best form of defence is attack, and that is all that The Arsenal can do.
    I’m not entirely convinced by the Barca back four, and with our creativity in the final 3rd, we’ll definitely come away with something.

    The second leg should be an epic game, probably go down in history as one of the greatest games ever, from a neutrals perspective

  25. Arsene should play Song & Sol for the trip to Birmingham. On Tuesday Verm can pair with Song.
    Some reports say Gallas might make it to the Tuesday game.
    It’s all confusing at the moment!!

  26. I fully agree with the article re:Barca. Teams which play that kind of football will allow Arsenal to play our kind of football and we all know (especialy Porto) that we can be ruthless in that. However, two issues with the Barca game which worry me, Barca’s ability to defend very very high up the pitch (that is how they destroyed the Mancs last season) and their counter-attacking. The first one is manageable since we keep the ball much better than the Mancs); however, the second is problematic for us since our game revolves arround commiting too many players in attack, with poor defending mentality and an exposed defense. That is how we lost against manchester and chelsea !!!!!!! Nevertheless, if we win playing well at the Emirates (i.e. dominating) then anything can happen in the second game. We need Cesc in form, Arshavin firing and motivated, Eboue at right back, Walcott at his best, Diaby’s performance will be key and Song has to be in denfense (Sol can not cope with the speed that I regularly see of the Barca attack). Do not think that Gallas will be fit for either match.

  27. I don’t think that merely being underdogs is a hidden benefit in this case. In fact, i think there is no way this draw with barcelona could be good.

  28. It is good that young Guns will face Spanish giant Barca from one week time now therefore, it is going to be entertaining football so long as both teams play the entertaining soccer in the world of football.
    As a gunner, am very happy for that drawing against Barca so that we should go and revenge against the incident of champions league final which we lost to them in the stadium de France 2006.
    On the other hand, I would like to advice Nasri, Fabregas, Rosicky and Arshavin among other young Guns by winning over the Barca in order to show the world that Arsenal is not easy team in English league.

  29. Excellent ideas. Faith must be kept. Torres would be an exceptional buy and could have been a coup if reyes had played ball. Central defenders are needed.

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