Ajax 0 – 1 Arsenal Match Reaction and Transfer Talk

Good morning to ya’s.  I hope you’re all nursing suitably large hangovers today after the excesses of Saturday night.  You were probably out celebrating the fantastic winning of the LG Amsterdam Tournament weren’t you?  Or perhaps it was just because it was Saturday that you went and got smashed – we all know Sundays are boring so why not write them off with a banging hangover?  If you are a little delicate this morning, I offer my sympathies, but caveat that by saying that its totally self inflicted and you should know better, so you should.  Of course, all this talk of booze and hangovers has nothing to do with my own state this morning.  No.  Why would you think that?

Anyway, let’s do some match reactioning and stuff.  That’s why you’re really here isn’t it?

Yesterday saw Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal pick up their 2nd trophy of the summer in Amsterdam.  A late Robin Van Persie strike in the 88th minute was enough to see off the former Dutch champions.  By all accounts it was a physical game and the young man from Rotterdam was booted all over the place and even got a couple of elbows in the face for good measure in some kind of intra-Dutch racism.  I can appreciate that people from one town might not like people from another, but when a person is your colleague in the Dutch national side it does seem a bit mental to go around trying to break his legs.  Arsene Wenger seemed to think that the physicality of the Ajax team was a bit off, in particular a tackle from Heitinga that saw RVP carried off on a stretcher, saying,

“I was disappointed with the tackle on Robin van Persie but at least it looks like he is all right. I was disappointed with some of the other challenges, too. Ajax went a little overboard. It helped us to know that there would be suspensions in England if we reacted badly.”

Wenger also showed this his mean side isn’t confined to just getting lairy with Alan Pardew as he confronted Ajax manager, Ten Cate after Robin had been scythed down.  I like the new angry Wenger.  A bit of passion never did anyone any harm.  Cate thought his side had behaved appropriately and commented,

“Why should I say sorry? Arsenal have this stuff in the Premiership every week. Do they think it is easy when they come here? I actually think football in England is rougher and tougher. I have no problems with the way my players behaved.”

I think he would’ve changed his tune had an Arsenal player damaged one of his before the start of the season.  But he does have a point.  Arsenal are often accused of being a bit lightweight, and games like this will go some way to dispelling such talk and help the lads toughen up for the games against the Premier League’s cloggers.

So another good performance, and another trophy won.  This has to be one of our better pre-seasons for a while, and it’s heartening to see such a young side mix it with the big boys.  Good performances from RVP, Eduardo, Clichy, Diaby, Hleb Sagna and even Eboue leave me eagerly awaiting next week when we play Fulham.

In other news, Robin Van Persie, who is not the new Thierry Henry, is clearly being groomed as such by the media.  You can’t move for quotes and soundbites from him, and it looks like he’s going to be the man that sells papers and whatnot for the journo’s.  He does say some good things though, does Robin.  As a former ‘bad boy’ I like how he’s come out and said he was disappointed with Ljungberg’s comments upon joing The Spammers.

“If you play nine years at a club like Arsenal you can say some nice words…If you’re coming up with excuses about Thierry’s departure and about promises from the club it’s a bit weak. I was disappointed and I know a few others were as well. He had a fantastic period, he was once the best player in England, so come on and say some nice things for this club, which is fantastic.”

Back to The Boss now, and it looks like the contract negotiations are shaping up nicely.  Personally, I have never really subscribed to the theory that he’d leave.  He’s not once intimated it, and I think that if he were to go, we’d know about it long before it was made official.  He’s quite an open person, and I think that hints and that would be dropped in press conferences way before an announcement was made.  And seeing as that hasn’t happened, I don’t think there has ever been any real cause for panic.

This is funny.  Especially when you combine it with this.

In dubious transfer news, the Lassana Diarra thing is hotting up.  Chelsea assistant coach, Steve Clarke has said that they don’t want to loose him.  Especially to a rival.  If it’s just a rumour, why say anything at all?  Perhaps there is more to it?  In another link-tastic story combining moment bought to you by Gillespie Road, Valencia are alledgedly after Gilberto.  Could something be in the offing here?  I know were inundated with centre midfielders at the moment, but perhaps a one in, one out, might be on the cards?  We’ll see.

Ok, I’m done.  I’m going to see if Lewis Hamilton has decided to run Alonso off the track.

Happy Sunday

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Round-up 04/08/07 + Arsenal vs Ajax Preview

Mornin’ all.  Hope you got a good night’s sleep and weren’t woken up a 6am by your absent flatmate’s recurrent alarm as I was.  Combine this with a mild hangover, and you’ll find the level of unhappiness I feel about being awake this morning.  I want to slip into a narcoleptic coma for the next month or so.  Man, that’d be so sweet.  But, I fear that I will have to remain awake and do stuff today, tomorrow, the next day…    Stupid stuff.  Honestly, if anyone from IKEA is reading then drop me a line – I am your new bed and chair tester.

Footballistically, there isn’t a lot going on today.  It would seem that before games the team go into hiding and methodically go through their preparations, whilst others go about churning out the same old ‘news’ as the day before.  That’s why I thought I’d do a quick preview of tonight’s game against Ajax.

Surely it’s about time I got something right with regard to team selection, and I’m sure that tonight will see a much different team to the one that beat Lazio on Thursday.  With it being the last game before the league season starts and there being a trophy at stake, I’m sure the boss will filed a strong(er) team compared to the previous match.  With Adebayor definitely out, and the boss saying that Bendtner isn’t quite ready for Premier League football, I think we’ll see Eduardo and RVP starting together.  They haven’t really played too much together so far and I get the impression (based on nothing more than my own intuition) that they are the first choice strikers for the team.  Also, I would expect Sagna and Gallas to come back into the defence.  The left back role may go to Traore and we’ll see Clichy on the wing with Eboue opposite, or Clichy will play at the back with Diaby or Rosicky in front.  I’m going to gamble on the line-up looking something like this.

  • Lehmann
  • Sagna
  • Toure
  • Gallas
  • Traore
  • Eboue
  • Fabregas
  • Diaby
  • Clichy
  • Van Persie
  • Eduardo

Of course I might be way off, but that’s what I’d like to see.  Walcott, Hleb, Denilson and Rosicky should all feature at some point too.  With the pace of the left and right sided players, we once again have a good attacking option down the flanks not seen since the days of Lauren and Freddie and Cole and Pires.  Sure, Eboue and Clichy aren’t midfielders, but they have been playing there, and have been making a good fist of it at that.

Onto Ajax then.  Runners up to PSV in the Eredivisie last term, Ajax have a point to prove.  They have a squad littered with quality players and are more than capable of gunning down Arsenal.  True, Babel has left for Merseyside after being linked with us all summer, but they still have Huntelaar, Leonardo, Stam, Heitinger, Vermaelen and Robin’s mate, Wesley Sneijder.  Comically, they also have some dreadlocked bloke called Davids, who many of you may remember being a victim of this.  The greatest tackle in history.  It should be a good game with Ajax having a tradition of attacking football that’s easy on the eye, which is obviously in stark contrast to Arsenal’s style of attacking football that’s easy on the eye.  Oh.  Right.

 News wise, there ain’t a lot going on.  There might be some bits floating around later, but they’re likely to be like the bits you find floating in a dodgy pint, rather than the bits of meaty goodness you find in some tasty minestrone soup.  I’ll update if anything  good happens, so check back

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy the game

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Second String Does For Lazio

I’ve had a really poo day.  Work was such a chore.  I didn’t want to get up this morning, let alone be bothered to go into work and when I did finally arrive things weren’t getting any better.  I’ve decided computers are crap.  They never work when you want them to and if you’re in a bad mood and just want to potter at your workstation you can rest assured that they will go mental just to wind you up more.  I would blame Microsoft, but I use a UNIX system at work.  What the Hell; Damn you Bill Gates!  There – I feel a little better now.  It’s cathartic to slag off Gates.  I encourage you all to do it at every available opportunity.

 Enough of me and my shitty day, let’s talk football.

First up, I’ll fill in some details about the Lazio game I left out last night.  The main thing was the performance of the team in relation to the personnel that actually played.  The line up was

  • Manuel Almunia
  • Philippe Senderos
  • Gael Clichy
  • Tomas Rosicky  46
  • Justin Hoyte
  • Johan Djourou
  • Armand Traore
  • Alexandre Song
  • Kolo Toure  72
  • Francesc Fabregas
  • Mathieu Flamini 46
  • Theo Walcott
  • Emmanuel Eboue 65
  • Nicklas Bendtner
  • Robin Van Persie 64
  • Eduardo Da Silva
  • Conspicuous by their absence, were Hleb, Gilberto (obvious why he wasn’t there though), Diaby, Adebayor, Gallas, and Sagna.  Almost inexplicably, Alex Song was chosen to partner Cesc in the centre of midfield, and managed to not get taken off when Flamini was introduced at half time.  It is therefore heartening that we got a win out of the game with the 5th and 6th choice central midfielders playing.  And that’s the crux of the matter – when we all thought that Arsene would play a strong team, keeping half an eye on the Fulham game in under 2 weeks, he pulls this selection out of his magic hat and  gets us a win.  Abra-ca-funkin-dabra.  It’s easy for people to say our squad is small and we’ll suffer if 1st XI players get injured, but last night showed that there is something to the ‘back up’ players.  Sure it wasn’t the best game you’ll ever see an Arsenal team play, but it was an Arsenal team that played out there and that’s good enough for me.  As long as I know that guys can come in and instantly get into the style of play, I’ll feel a lot more comfortable about us not signing any more players this summer.

    After the game, the boss said,

    ‘We had a very young side out against Lazio who defended very well. It is good for us to see the young players from game to game raise their belief”

    In more news based news, and further to the earlier post about  drawing Sparta Prague for the Champions League qualifier, club secretary, David Miles, has been talking to Sky Sports News

    “I think we’ll be pleased with that,” Miles told Sky Sports News.  

    “It could have been (worse) logistically and probably playing wise, so we’re going to be quietly pleased…We won’t take anything for granted and Arsene, with his network of scouts, will be doing his homework.”

    My Dad always told me to do my homework on the night it was set, and being my Dad, he wasn’t wrong.  I’m sure Arsene is wanting to go out to the training ground and play footy with the boys and then have chips for tea, but he’d do well to heed the advice of my old man.  As Miles added in the interview,

    “It is paramount that we get through to the group stage, where we have three home and away games”

    Show me the money, Milesy!

    You can read reaction to drawing Arsenal, from the Sparta coach here.

    Unfortunately Emmanuel Adebayor will miss the start of the league season with a groin problem.  Arsene said,

    “At best he will be back next week. We hope he can come back in to normal training on Tuesday and Wednesday.  But I think he will miss the start of the Premiership”

    That’ll mean more game time for Bendtner then.  Probably just what he needs.  I’m quite pleased we’ve got two quality target men vying for position in the team.  Healthy competition cannot be underestimated

    Rather a mammoth post there.  Not quite as woolly, and with less tusks than a mammoth though.  More wool and tusks next time.  Promise.

    Cheers for now.  Enjoy your Friday night

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    Arsenal 2 – 1 Lazio Match Report

    As promised, here’s a quick update.

    Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners over Lazio in the LG Amsterdam Tournament.  Goals from Niclas Bendtner and new boy, Eduardo Da Silva ensured victory for the not-red-and-whites-but-purpleish-and-blues.  Yes, this evenong saw the first showing of the third kit in action, and it looks…crap.  I really don’t like it.  As Lazio play in a really plae blue, I’m sure we could’ve worn the red and white, no problem.  But then Nike want to sell kits don’t they?

    Aside from the aesthetics of the strip, the game was quite enjoyable.  Not quite up to the standard of the Inter game, but it made for good watching nonetheless.  A fairly even first half that you wouldn’t really describe as ‘open’, had some chances for both sides, most notable of which going Lazio’s way after Big Phil lost position in the back line and played on the Italian’s striker.  Fortunately, the run made onto the ball took Pandev wider than he would’ve liked and allowed Phil time to recover, and he actually showed some decent pace to get back and put in a great block tackle after Almunia had been rounded.  Phil is a good tackler and good in the air, but he needs to sharpen up his concentration because lapses like today’s need cutting out.  Manuel was also a bit shoddy in his ‘keeping and need not have come charging out the way he did.  Still no harm done except a quickening of pulses

    Arsenal took the lead after 18 minutes through Niclas Bendtner.  The ball was played square to Cesc Fabregas, who was about 30 yards out.  He elected to shoot and unleashed a fierce strike that looked to be on target.  We shall never know if it really was, because it took a deflection off a Lazio defender and ricocheted to Bendtner.  At first glance he looked to be offside, but the linesman adjudged him to be level and allowed play to continue.  I thought Niclas could’ve taken a strike sooner, but he decided to round the ‘keeper and finished neatly from a tight angle.  Probably harder than it should’ve been, but a good finish in any case.

    Pandev was obviously miffed at being denied a goal earlier in the half, equalised after 40 minutes.  The ball was only half cleared to the edge of the box, and in returning it back in, the Lazio player looked to have pulled Eduardo’s shirt sending him to the ground.  As Pandev neatly slotted the ball home, the Arsenal players were aggrieved that a freekick was not awarded to them instead of a Lazio goal.  1-1 at half time.

    The second half saw The Gunners assert themselves more on the game and the free flowing attacking football was more prominent, but it was from a Tomas Rosicky corner that Eduardo rose to head home to make the score 2-1 and bag the Croatia striker a goal on competitive debut.  Hoyte hit the post late on, but the score remained the same and Arsenal claim 5 points from the game (3 for the win +2 bonus points for the goals).

    I’ll leave it there or I’ll have nothing to write tomorrow!

    Have a good rest of the evening

    Fancy a Quickie?

    Right, seeing as I’ve only just this minute got on the computer after sorting out bills and my barnet, I thought I’d do a quick post before tonight’s game, and then update after it.  Agreeable?  Well, that’s what’s going to happen, so if you don’t like getting two posts in a day, then you are very hard to please.

    Ok, the news in briefs (it’s quite hot now and I’m home alone, so I’m enjoying minimal apparel se soir) is that;

    Eduardo’s got his work permit.  Chin up Chelsea and yer man Alex.  Not only has the boy Da Silva actually managed to get into the country, but now he’s entitled to work here too.  And not just as a builder. plumber or car washer.  No, he’s actually going to play professional football.

     The squad has been announced for the LG Amsterdam Tournament and contains a surprise selection of no surprises.  There’s no Gibbs or Garry or any of the other kids pushing for a place in the first team.  Perhaps Arsene read the blog last night and decided to take on board my suggestion of fielding as strong a team as possible.  I like to think so anyway.  Seriously though, there are only 2 pre-season games to go, so against opposition in the class of Lazio and Ajax an opportunity to fine tune and balance the side for Fulham on the 11th should not go begging.  Happily, Theo, Ade, Rosicky and Djourou are all included.

    Robin Van Persie has been bigging up his buddy, Wesley Sneijder saying, “He is like an Arsenal player”.  Cue Sneijder to Arsenal rumours on TribalFootball.  He’s also said he likes the pretty triangles and stylish play that come from playing at Arsenal.

    “Only a few teams in Europe play the way Arsenal play. Personally, I will always go for a team where I would, for example, earn less money but the team plays fantastic, rather than go to a team where you can earn lots of money and win every week, 1-0, 2-0, and play a defensive style.”

    A slight dig at the chavs there, I think you’ll agree.  And why not?  I’ve been a fan of Robin’s for quite some time, but since the spotlight was turned on him with the departure of Thierry, his stock with me has risen considerably.  He’s talking the talk and walking the walk.  And a very cool, defender flummoxing walk it is too.  He reckons he’s not Thierry’s replacement, and to be fair he aint, but he is the man we’re looking to to carry on where he left off last season and score the majority of our goals.  At 23 and with a few Premier League seasons under his belt, he’s no rookie so it’s time for him to come out from the shadows cast by our former gallic “talisman” and get his goal on.  Personally, I don’t think he’ll find it too hard.

    Right, kick-off approaches.  I will aim to do a quick round-up post match, and do a more in depth one tomorrow.  I believe the game is on Sky Sports 1 and obviously ATVO, but I think there’s some audio streams kicking around too.

    Enjoy the game

    UPDATE: 03/08/07 TribalFootball have inndeed started running stories about Van Persie wanting Wesley Sneijder at Arsenal.  They’re so predictably stupid it’s not even funny.  If you see the stories listed, don’t give them the satisfaction of clicking through or we’ll end up with more of their crap sloshing about the net.

    Lazio Preview And Other Assorted Musings

    Hello dear readers.  What a glorious day it has been.  And what better way to spend it than stuck inside on a training course all day?  Ordinarily this wouldn’t bother me too much, but when the weather’s nice I do like the option of being able to take a longer lunch and whatnot, but this is made impossible by the time constraints of training days.  It would’ve been cool if it was one of those assault course, raft building, walking over hot coals type thingys…but it wasn’t.  New IT systems don’t have a necessity for you to go splashing around with your workmates on a lake in the New Forest.  Shame.  Brainiac has learned me good that computer monitors make good floatation devices, so I’m sure there was scope for some kind of aquatic fun to be had.  Or we could’ve set fire to the IT kit and walked over the embers.  Scratch that – just setting fire to it would’ve been fun.

    Pyromaniacal tendencies aside, there is some blogging to be done, and blog I shall.

    Tomorrow sees our first game of the Amsterdam Tournament, against the mighty legion of Rome.  No, not Caesar and his minions (or even AC Roma), but Lazio.  Arsenal have enjoyed relative success against Italian clubs in recent years – since 1970 our record reads like this, P28 W10 D8 L5  And included in these stats are the Cup Winner’s Cup win over Parma, the 2-0 against Lazio, the 5-1 mauling of Inter at the San Siro and most recently, the Fabregas inspired drubbing of Juve at Highbury.  Happy, happy, times.

    So what can we expect to see from Arsenal tomorrow?  To be honest, I don’t really know.  Le Boss hasn’t done his press conference yet, no doubt preferring to drill the players thoroughly today and tomorrow before doing so.  So it is left up to me to use my considerable powers of telepathy to read his mind.  Bare with me….Oh.  It would seem The Daily Mail has beaten me to the punch and made up divined that Arsene is confident Tomas Rosicky will play some part in the tournament.  Good work wannabe-broadsheet-but-really- a-crap-tabloid fellas.  Seriously though, I would expect that he would play some part, but it’s probably too soon to expect that Lazio will be his comeback.  After all, he wasn’t match fit to begin with, so a lay off (however short) won’t help him get up to speed for the start of he season let alone a game tomorrow night.

    Eduardo is also unlikely to feature as his work permit appeal hearing is tomorrow.  However (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong), he played in Austria because it was abroad (i.e. not in England, for you non-geographers) so he doesn’t/shouldn’t need a permit to play in the ‘Dam Tournament.  Whether he needs to actually attend the hearing I don’t know, but if he does then it is very unlikely he’ll feature in the game.

    Johan Djourou is also still recovering from a knock/heat exhaustion , as is Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott, so until we hear otherwise from the gaffer, it’s safe to assume they will be rested until 100% fit again.  That leaves us with the same options we had for the Emirates Cup.  Personally I think it’s time to step it up a notch and start fielding teams that are likely to play in the league.  Oh wait, we can’t as a load of first teamers are out.  But I’d like to see less of Gibbs, Flamini and Traore (who I rate, btw), in favour of more established players.  I would also like to echo the sentiment of GilbrtoSilver of Gunnerblog.com, who reckons Hleb is a poo winger, but decent central attacking midfielder (actually, I said that too already, didn’t I?).  He relishes that position and we see the best of him when he plays there.

    Something I thought I knew, but didn’t because it was only a rumour at the time but now has been confirmed, is that we have signed young Frenchman, Gilles Sunu.  Apparently, chief scout, The Grimster, recommended him to the boss.  Probably as they share the same first name.  Oh yeah, “Ché” is big on first names – that’s why we were going to sign Arsene Oka for £20million before someone pointed out that he’s shit*.  Still the DoF position is still going…

    Also revealed today is that we’ve signed Kyle Bartley.  I know – I don’t either.  But someone out there does and told Arseblog, who I’m now linking to so that he doesn’t get the arse with me for nicking his story…even though I have.  Cheers Arseblogger – nice to have you back.

    Finally, Irish Arsenal legend, Liam Brady talks here about the experience he expects his young charges to gain in the Champions Youth Cup.  With the likes of Fran Merida, Jay Simpson, Nacer Barazite and Vincent van den Berg all likely to play a significant part in matches against quality players from some of the best clubs in the world, he’s not wrong.  Here’s hoping that it provides a good stepping stone for the talented youngsters in the Arsenal youth set up.  I’m a huge fan of Merida, and whilst not a true winger (more a centre midfielder actually, but hey), he can play a wide position that could solve our problems on the flanks in a year or two.

     Hopefully that delicious arsey goodness has satisfied your craving.  Until next time

    *This is not true in any way.  Only an idiot would believe it.  Hello tabloid hacks :o)