Woeful Arsenal grab draw + a new look for the blog

Arsenal battled extremely hard overnight to come from a goal down and snatch a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Carling-Cup semi final against Tottenham. The away side deservedly took the lead through a Jermaine Jenas tap-in on 37 minutes and dominated the match for long periods before Arsenal struck back with ten minutes to go when Theo Walcott fortuitously scored with his hand.

Although Arsene Wenger will have been delighted with his side’s ability to avoid defeat despite a poor display he will be less happy with fresh injuries to newly-returned Robin van Persie as well as the centre-back pairing of Johan Djourou and Philippe Senderos. The former two were taken off at half-time with respective muscle and groin while the latter sustained minor knee-ligament damage despite completing 90 minutes.

Walcott scores with his armAs expected, it was a fairly youthful side which started the match with only Gilbero Silva providing any real experience. Lukasz Fabianski started in goals behind Djourou, Senderos, Justin Hoyte and Armand Traore to complete an extremely youthful defensive line. The two Brazilians Gilberto and Denilson were paired in the centre of the pitch flanked by Abou Diaby on the left and Theo Walcott on the right while Nicklas Bendtner started alongside van Persie up front.

Despite controlling the opening half-hour Arsenal only created one clear-cut chance when Bendtner’s flying header was well-saved by Tottenham’s new number one Radek Cerny. On the other hand the away side carved out numerous opportunities for Steed Malbranque and Dimitar Berbatov among others before Robbie Keane played Jenas in for the game’s opening goal. In truth it was a lax piece of defending by both Djourou and Senderos, the former failing to clear with his header and latter caught horribly flat-footed. Wenger will not have been pleased and neither should he. I know I wasn’t.

At half-time Djourou (who in my eyes was very disappointing despite his William Gallas-esque haircut) and van Persie (the best player on the pitch for Arsenal in the first half) were substituted for Bacary Sagna and the red-hot Eduardo da Silva. The change forced a little tweak at the back with Hoyte moving into the middle to partner Senderos and Sagna slotting in to his usual position on the right.

Tottenham made more chances at the start of the half and should have scored at least one more goal while their tails were up. But as is so often the case against Arsenal they didn’t and were made to pay for it when Eduardo slipped Walcott in and his attempted shot went into the back of the net with a little bit of assistance from both Young-Pyo Lee and his hand. When I first saw the replay after celebrating the goal I really had to laugh – how that ball went in without Walcott getting caught I will never quite know.

Even after the goal Tottenham looked the most likely team to win it and almost did so when substitute Jermain Defoe was played in by Aaron Lennon but he miscued horribly. As Arseblogger pointed out, it was the least he deserved for sporting one of the worst haircuts in football history and the game finished at 1-1.

I’m worried about DenilsonMatch analysis 

A 1-1 draw was certainly not the worst result in the world considering how poorly Arsenal played and how well Tottenham performed. The draw keeps the young side in with a great chance to make the final, although if they play like that again then they quite simply won’t be going to Cardiff.

As is typical in a side that underperforms there were a number of individuals who did not play well but for me the one that stuck out like a sore thumb was Denilson. He was slow on the ball, his passing was sloppy and he added none of the verve or creativity to the midfield that is so desperately required in the absence of Mathieu Flamini and Cesc Fabregas.

Way back in pre-season I spoke about my worries about Denilson and pointed out that he looked a little off the pace in comparison to the other players in the squad. Six months later and a number of distinctively average performances later and I feel that his situation has not improved one bit. There’s no doubt that the Brazilian has time on his side and it would be foolish to write him off as a player but I have serious doubts about his ability to assert himself on a football game.

The other major worry to come out of the game was of course the injuries to van Persie, Senderos and Djourou. With Kolo Toure away on international duty for up to six weeks it was important to have one of the two centre-backs available to play alongside William Gallas at the back. To lose one puts some strain on Wenger’s resources but to lose both is very worrying indeed. I don’t think either Gilberto or Sagna is the answer, as has been suggested, so maybe it’s time for Justin Hoyte’s perseverence to be rewarded. He did well in the second half and in all honesty looks more comfortable in the centre of defence than he has ever looked at right-back.

Despite having three strikers in top form to cover his absence, van Persie’s injury is also a big worry. In the last two seasons he has been so injury-prone and it really seemed like his extended recuperation would prevent any further mishaps this campaign. Alas, this has not happened and the Dutchman has another muscle problem which will most likely rule him for at least a couple more weeks. It seems he just can’t take a trick at the moment.

As for the positives from the Tottenham game, well, there weren’t really any apart from the result. Indeed, I felt that no player could really hold his head up high after the match apart from the goalkeeper (van Persie could’ve, but I suspect he was probably lying down). Aside from a worrying flap at a corner midway through the second half Fabianski was dominant in the air and kept Arsenal in the tie with a series of fine saves. Although Jens Lehmann has not yet committed terms with Borussia Dortmund, if the German does go then at least Arsenal supporters can rest a little easier knowing there is a top-notch second-choice goalkeeper waiting in wings.

He might wear different colours now, but Henry still loves ArsenalHenry loves Arsenal

Other news floating around at the moment is that Fran Merida has joined Real Sociedad on loan and that Thierry Henry has declared his desire to return to Arsenal in some form or another later down the track. The Frenchman spoke about how the club is in his blood and he just can’t get it out.

“You often return to the place that you belong and, therefore, I hope one day to be able to work with the club. I have the club in my blood – I always follow Arsenal when they play and I’m happy when they win.”

Aw, thanks Thierry. I wonder if he’d still feel the same if Arsenal beat Barcelona in the Champions League. On a more serious note, though, I don’t think anyone could argue that having Henry back at Arsenal to assist with coaching at some stage would be of great benefit to the club. As such I wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to London after he retires.

Just finally I wanted to talk a little bit about the new layout of the blog. I felt it was time for a bit of a change and I think this one is a little bit more user-friendly than the last one. Additionally, there’s actually some red colouring involved so it looks a bit more Arsenally.

It’s probably worth me pointing out that you can leave comments by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of the article and if you want to subscribe to the blog via email you can do so by filling out the form at the very top-right of the screen. Or by clicking here. Do it, you know you want to! Anyway, let me know what you think of the new look.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal-Tottenham or the new blog look by leaving a comment.



  1. I only managed to see the second half of this game after finding out no pubs were open at 640am, so had to scurry home and fire up sopcast.

    It was pretty disappointing on many levels. The injuries, positioning of players, and players who have been underperforming for quite some time.

    Diaby should be played in the central role over denilson any day of the week. He’s bigger, stonger, and has much more presence than denilson.

    Senderos was woeful again, he must be suffering a slump in form and confidence. Gilberto did little to impress.

    I’d like to see vela recalled back from loan. he can be played in the wing positions and deployed up front incase of injuries to other players.

  2. I think you are being a little harsh on Denilson. He was part of the excellent midfield at Blackburn until he got himself sent off.

    Maybe the samba combo does not work well in the Premier League – remember Edu/Gilberto was never a successful pairing when Vieira was injured.

    Will be interesting to see if Arsene goes to 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1 instead of 4-4-2 vs Brum to beef up the midfield.

    After the latest injuries I am thinking the team will be Almunia, Sagna (if fit) Hoyte Gallas Clichy Hleb Fab Flam Rosicky Eduardo Adebayor with subs of Lehmann Senderos Gilberto Bendtner Walcott

  3. tom – What were you doing looking for a pub at 6.40am you nutter! I was snuggled up in bed watching the boys play via stream, quite comfortable if I do say so myself. The point you make about Diaby is excellent – I just think that Gilberto and Denilson can’t play together in there and Diaby should be moved from the left.

    G4L – It is a bit harsh but I don’t think he was that great against Blackburn either and at the end of the day he made things difficult by getting sent off. I do think he’ll come good but he just seems a bit slow on the ball which is a worry considering how quick-minded guys like Fabregas and Flamini are. If he improves that he will improve as a player but I just get the feeling that he’ll always rely on the player next to him to force the pace of the game.

  4. Also, I really hope Wenger plays a 4-4-2 with Eduardo and Adebayor up front and I agree that Hoyte at centre-back could well be the answer. What a turnaround that would be.

  5. please check replay and it’s so clear walcott scored with a rebound on his chest, nowhere near his hand – this is irresponsible reporting, even if you have not watched the match!

  6. SF – running low on bandwidth, then ppl get the shits with me if it gets capped from too many streams and match dls.

  7. useroz – As far as I can tell he knocked it in with his hand. I don’t think it’s irresponsible reporting because I did watch the match and I did see it! Check out the picture on Arseblog.

    tom – Sounds like you need a better internet service my friend. Try TPG, I run through them and they’re cheap as chips – I never run out and I obviously do A LOT of downloading!

  8. For me it was a definite handball. If you get the front-one view it looks like it could be chest but one of the side-on views is absolutely conclusive. Handball. But, yes, it was a nice pass and run 🙂

  9. I watched the recording on my TV. Hit his hand. Certain.
    Moving on, it was an amateur display from senderos and djourou. In my view they dont deserve to be in this squad. I am also upset that wenger is doing nothing about it. Having got this close to the title, we cannot risk a poor central defence even if it is for 4 weeks. That is assuming no injuries to gallas and toure when he gets back. Sagna has been really tested continously and its admirable how he holds on to his fitness.
    Whether in midfield , attach or in defence, the success is largely dependent on the pairings. The pairings that dont work – RVP-Bendtner, Gilberto-Denilson, Senderos with anyone, same goes for Djourou.

  10. by the way , Congrats Fry on the new look. Could do with more red i thought on the top. But otherwise excellent !!

  11. millefiori – Some interesting points there. I agree with you about the pairings comments. But I think although Djourou played poorly if you put him alongside a more experienced defender (ie. Gallas) he’ll play a lot better. I wish I could say the same about Senderos… Thanks for the comment about the new look, the next step is to get a bit of a logo happening at the top. The wheels are definitely in motion. Have a good one mate.

  12. ur article is rubbish man, especially that part u talk about Denilson, as a creative player ur not supposed to release that ball until u see a good option or some one in a good position. but the only options available to him were the back four simply because the wingers were not giving him good options, there positioning was off thats why he got caught in possession on a number of occasions. And Diaby with that mentality of trying to dribble instead of looking up to find a team mate cant get him to play in the centre of midfield coz if he gets caught in possession the way he was, the defenders dont stand a chance to do much, but to either foul a player or concede a goal. I figure u didnt see the match man. But we did good, lets wait for shite hart lane

  13. As I said earlier, I did see the match and I still stand by what I said. The wide men also didn’t perform, I know that, but I don’t agree that Denilson got caught out because of a lack of options. I just think that he and Gilberto did not have the quickness of thought or action to make space in tight situations and that is why the midfield struggled so much. I definitely agree with the comment about Diaby and as you said, let’s wait for the return leg and hope for better.

  14. Sf your new design is nice and slick.Refreshing.Denilson stunk in this game I’ve never been so angry with a player before but he really pissed me off. Most of his passes were inaccurate he didn’t link up well with the strikers, one good through ball that gave us the goal came from Eduardo. You see Fabregas providing these type of killer passes all the time. Basically the midfield was awful they didn’t hassle the Spurs players allowed them space and time to pick us up in dangerous positions and of course a rusty Gilberto didn’t help. I don’t give a toss about whether the goal was a handball, I’ll take anything against the spuds. I was really worked up for this game, we can lose to any team but not the spuds.

  15. The point is the whole team dnt rly play well xcpt for the subs,at a point,gt tinkn if wenger wntd to lose the match.By the way,the goal was via walcotts chest n not the arm.sombody shd beg wenger to go buy a new CB OR we are so going to be fckd

  16. Denilson needs to play alongside somebody who is actually a football player and not Gilberto. If he plays alongside Cesc (as the defensive mid) he can tackle and mark. If he plays alongside Diarra or Flamini (as the attacker) he can dribble and pass well.

    Gilberto and Walcott are seriousley hindering the team.

  17. I agree with you Goofle, that’s the problem with Denilson though. He seems to need a great player next to him to make a difference as opposed to asserting himself on the game himself. In other words, rarely does Denilson play better than his midfield partner, whatever his role.

    What do you mean about Walcott hindering the team?

  18. Design is nice although I would change colors.

    If you get rid of Bits & Pieces buttons ( NewNow and Goonernews should stay) and Meta links it would be much more professional if that means anything to you…

  19. Nice feedback, thanks guys. I have to say I’m happy with the colours at this stage – just want to get my logo up the top at some stage. Cheers though 🙂

  20. I followed the online commentary(was at work and didn’t watch it live)and watched the recorded game afterwards. Yes, it was a below par Second-string Arsenal but not as bad as media made it. We have to remember this was a reserve back 4 with a 3rd choice keeper against the joint most lethal attack in the prem! Imagine any team in the world fielding their reserves against our first team.

    SF, I think you are too harsh on Denilson. Granted he had done better in other occasions but as one reader alluded to, he didn’t have a good outlet and it was his responsibility to hold until a good opportunity arises. On the other hand it wasn’t Diaby’s responsibility and he dwelled on it too long killing some good momentum. Right now I would play Diaby in Gilberto’s pos to partner Denilson and find a LM. Back to Denilson, he is in a process of adding a new dimension into his game, Steel, and this will make him appear less silkier than he is until he comfortably integrate it in his game. His turning point I believe was Cesc’s foul on Ashley Cole and he decided to follow/emulate Cesc in the following game @ Blackburn (I see a different Denilson since that game and personally I like where he is headed).

  21. The goal we conceded.

    Djourou played very well imo. He actually cut off a lob to Keane(his man) and had to play an offside trap on him. The ball fell to Berbatov who was unmarked and if Senderos had moved 2 steps forward in an attempt to challenge Berbatov, Keane would have been offside. In the background was Hoyte CASUALLY JOGGING AND MARKING NO ONE AND MAKING NO ATTEMPT TO GET INVOLVED IN THE DEFENSE. imo since he didn’t have a man to mark, he should have drifted a few yards in to challenge Berbatov. Earlier, prior to Berbatov’s stinging shot which Fabianski saved, Djourou was harassing Keane out wide, HOYTE again, marking no one, raised his arm and continue to jog casually, did not drop in to cover the gap in the middle which was created by keane dragging Djorou wide, leaving 4 unmarked players in the middle. And Just after the goal, Djourou marked Keane wide again, and JH was effectively out of play again. If Keane was playing wide, shouldn’t it have been Hoytes charge?. Spurs saw the weakness and most of our trouble came on that side. It is normal to see Sagna on the left side of defense at times when he has no one to mark or is someone covered for him and we didn’t have that this time. Afterward you will see Theo coming back to defend on that side, then Denilson didn’t have someone to pass to most of the time. If Djourou hadn’t been injured, it would have been Hoyte out for Sagna. He might be missing@ WHL

  22. Senderdros is a waste of space, the guy simply isn’t up to it. Out of position for the goal, gifted Robbie Keane a simple chance which muffed up.

    We’ve given him 3 years now, its time to rid of him before he does a Gus Ceaser on us!

  23. arsenal are the best and maybe its going to be hard withould toure,eboue and ADEBAYOR we’ll win every team also Milan but than toure and the others are going to play

  24. its funny how people see things different, on various blogs us fans differ in respect to how certain individulas played (some say good others say bad).it depends on how you look at it.

    1)first time the defence has played together (injuries & Loan). – need time.
    2)second team against senior side. (should we have outplayed them?)
    3)The Carling cup is used to prime the youth for the Primiership, no?
    4)Many played in the FA Cup (fatigue will set in, especially with the youth).
    5)We expect a bit too much from them.
    6)I saw some beautiful stuff from our team, at least to me!

    look we need to calm down regarding these young men, they may be rich but money does not compensate for youth and inexperience (i really hope they read none of these blogs). Senderos may be slow but we have seen him play well at times so lets hope 4 the best. These are great players and trust me many a team would love to have them, so lets stop complaining all the time and encourage them. one more thing, why do we expect Arsenal to play this sublime football at all times (not practical), but when u r not on the top of your game u can scrap,fight and refuse to give up! isnt that what every single player on the team did?

    Great team with great Character!

  25. darren, I don’t agree with you on u’r comments about Senderos.
    He has a few things to iron out, but he is generally good. He was pretty much where he was supposed to be although he didn’t marshal the offside trap properly(if at all). remember he had 3 players to contend with at that point, cover Keane(was close and ahead of Djourou, Berbatov (unmarked) and Jenas(running towards goal). That was 3 against 2 with hoyte and Gilberto (could have tracked back with Jenas) awol. But this was a long lob intended for Keane cut out by Djourou and it caught our midfield still up. imo Diaby played as a DM out of position, as you could see he was getting back and should Keane delayed his cross a bit he could have been in a pos to defend. It will be unfair to blame our guys for the goal. BTW Hoyte was great at CM where he didn’t have to go forward. imo he just lacked the juice to go forward, track back and have some left in the tank.

  26. to put things in perspective(strikers only) (Berbatov[14] + Keane[13]) = 27 goals, Defoe = 8 (totaling 35 goals this season)
    (Bendtner[5]+Van Persie[7])= 12 goals. Our best of the bunch Eduardo = 11 started on the bench. We totaled 24 goals. Against a defense that hardly plays(except JD) and none of the 3 scored. Good outing imo.

  27. We were lucky. The abuse of Sol Campbell or some such thing has left a karmic curse on the Spuds when they play us. However, I am with Taygoon in at least giving some credit to the Spuds for their excellent offensive play and their goal. Berbatov was brilliant all night, coming deep for the ball and then releasing runners up the field when the midfield came to close him down.

  28. There is definitely a positive to take out of this game; at least none of our players had a hairstyle as dicky as Jermaine Defoe.

    On a more serious note though I’m definitely not crucifying the youngsters on their performance. These are my main points:

    (1) I was unhappy with the concession of the goal; Djourou’s header was weak and Senderos was not prepared for it to come back like he should’ve been. It really was like a knife through butter and I don’t feel that this was a result of the defence only playing together for the first time.

    (2) Denilson’s progress has me a little worried. I know he’s young but I just don’t think he has improved this season. If, as TayGoon suggests, his improvements have come in areas like his aggression and application (which is very possible) I haven’t yet noticed it. Either way, I don’t doubt he will be a good player for the club I just worry that he’ll never be a dominant force in the middle of the park and will rely on better players to pull him along. At the moment Gilberto is not in the form to do that and I think Denilson is being found out a little bit.

    (3) Positives were Fabianski and Hoyte. Some people have said Fabianski looked shaky but I never got that feeling. He was quick off his line, strong blocking shots and dominant in the air (apart from the one flap). Hoyte, once he moved into central defence, had a good game. I can see a future there for him.

    That’s about it. I’m confident that Arsenal can lift at White Hart Lane and win the match. I have great faith in the youngsters and even if they fail I would be proud of their achievements thus far.

  29. SF, we all agree(me thinks), that an outstanding Flamster made/allowed the Fab to be Fab/put the “bolous” after Fab. Similarly, a good DM will make a devine out of Denilson(I know, I know, It doesn’t quite work but I couldn’t resist). At the moment, Denilson does not have his “Flamster”, and such he is human after all. Give him atleast 3 more games, the force tells me he will have gotten comfy with his steel by then, and watch in amazement how really good the guy is. Give him his very own Flamster, it is a wonderful time to be a gooner. me no thinks it is a case of relying on better players to pull him along, but rather the one of better players doing their jobs allowing him to do his.

    I watched the clip posted here and I realized Jenas ran PAST Gilberto to score. Flamster wouldnt have that.

    WHL, doesnt it stand for “Whiney Hurt-lane”?!?!?!?

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