Phew! Nikki owed us that!

We are on our way to Wembley for the League Cup final, our first final since the inaugural 2006-7 Emirates season. As pleased as I am, I am probably more relieved at than anything else at this moment. Despite dominating from virtually the off, we labored and made heavy work. At the hour mark, I started to seriously think Ipswich would make the first leg goal stand up and we would be left wondering what might have been. Fortunately, Bendtner finally made the breakthrough a minute later, and Ipswich’s resolve collapsed. Two more goals and 30 minutes later, it was job done, as our team successfully overturned a first-leg 1-0 deficit to win 3-1 aggregate.

Much of the talk in the hours leading up to the match was regarding who Arsene would name in the starting eleven. We knew to expect changes, as he had all but said there would be some rotation, hinting that Robin would be rested. In the end there were three changes: Denilson, Bendtner and Arshavin all starting, in place of Song, Samir and Theo. When I first saw the lineup, I was not particularly thrilled – the stakes were much, much higher than most recent matches, with a Cup final on the line, and I felt that our strongest available team should at least start the match in hopes of overturning the 1-0 first leg deficit early. A healthy early lead would perhaps allow second half changes, giving some of the starters the benefit of an early night’s work. If mass changes really needed to be made, I think the Sunday FA Cup Fourth Round tie versus Huddersfield Town would be the match to do it. But, as it is not my decision, we just had to hope for the best. And, not for the first time, events showed just why it shouldn’t be my decision…

So our starting eleven lined up as Szczesny, Clichy, Koscielny, Djourou, Sagna, Jack, Denilson, Cesc, Bendtner, Robin, and Arshavin. On paper, still a formidable squad, but with lingering questions about the form of a few of these players. Ipswich, as expected, set up to defend. Almost immediately, Leadbitter tried to chip Szczesny, but sent the ball over the top. We built slowly, and gradually started to get a head of steam. Our first shot came roughly five minutes in, but Robin put the ball wide.

The first incident came on 10 minutes, where Cesc went down in the area after contact by McAuley – slight contact which looked embellished. Not a penalty from what I saw, but probably should have been a yellow for our Captain instead. But Halsey – who I thought did a poor overall job handling this match – did nothing. Just a couple of minutes later, Szczesny and Sagna collided while trying to get to McAuley’s header (which went over the top). The former was able to continue after a couple of minutes treatment, but the latter was not, so Arsene was forced into a very early substitution, with Eboue coming on.

Just one of many......

We resumed where we left off, and patiently built – unlike the tie at Portman Road, we took shots on goal, both Cesc and Robin trying their luck and forcing Fulop to save. In quick succession, Robin hit the bar with a header, and then Cesc was clearly taken down as he moved into the box. The Ipswich players went in hard and often on our Captain, undoubtedly wanting to introduce him to rugby tackling. No bookings were issued, but Cesc kept with the task at hand. The final fifteen minutes of the half feature more patient Arsenal buildup, stout Ipswich defending, a few shots (all taken by us), and no goal. 45 minutes down, still no Arsenal goals, and 45 minutes left to prevent Ipswich from knocking us out at this next-to-last hurdle.

No changes were made at the half – not that I expected any. We worked hard, created some chances, but were unable to unlock Ipswich’s defense. At halftime, it looked to me as though Robin needed someone else up front with him, either Theo or Samir, but no change was forthcoming. Ipswich started the second half brightly, winning a corner almost immediately. O’Dea then fired across the face of our goal. We regained control after about five minutes, and we forced a couple of corners, which came to nothing.

An hour gone, and just as it seemed as though we would never score, Bendtner came to our rescue with a quite brilliant goal. Jack sent a wonderful ball long down the left to Bendtner. He instantly controlled the ball with his right foot, swept it inside Edwards with his left, and made space for a low shot into Fulop’s right hand corner – FINALLY!! Exactly sixty minutes and seven seconds elapsed when the ball nestled in the net. Cue celebrations and palpable relief around the Ems. Jewell made a change on 63 minutes, sending an attacker (Scotland) on for an attacker (Priskin, who scored Ipswich’s first leg goal). It didn’t matter – Ipswich’s resistance was broken by Bendtner’s goal – much as the Eto’o goal broke ours in Paris, 2006.

Just over a minute later, we took control of the tie. Arshavin sent an excellent curling corner in from the left, Koscielny meeting it just ahead of Fulop with a firm header into the left corner of the net. This put us 2-1 up on aggregate and in control of the tie. To Ipswich’s credit, they came out of their shell, forcing a corner of Djourou, which came to naught. Then Scotland had a sniff of goal, but fired straight at Szczesny. With sixteen minutes remaining, Jewell made his final chance, bringing O’Connor on for Healy.

Just before that final change, we witnessed another strange moment from Halsey – as Cesc started a move towards the Ipswich goal, Halsey called him back and ordered a drop ball. Cesc was clearly irritated, but responded in the best possible way, killing the tie off with 13 minutes remaining. Denilson played a fine pass to Cesc, who took it across the halfway line, picked out Arshavin’s overlapping run on the left. Arshavin cut inside, bringing the defender with him, then turned back outside, and fed Cesc, who nutmegged Fulop to finish the tie. Our Captain immediately ran over to our bench, jumped into Song’s arms, celebrating with him, Samir and Theo, as the players now knew we were in the final.

Barely a minute later, Jack almost made it four, bringing the ball into the area, but losing it before he could get a shot away. Arsene brought Samir and Theo on for Robin and Arshavin with six minutes to go. What little sting Ipswich had was long since drawn, and we held out comfortably. There was a couple of minutes break for a pitch invader, Halsey blew his whistle after 92 minutes and change, and we were in the Carling Cup final.

As cup semi-finals go, these two legs were quite difficult and due credit must go to Ipswich Town. In the first leg, they clearly outplayed us and had a chance to make it 2-0, which would have made our task this evening that much more difficult. Even with only the solitary goal, they defended resolutely and proved a tough nut to crack – it took a very special goal for us to finally break through. If they erred anywhere tonight, it was probably not putting enough pressure on us to defend; protecting a slender lead is always a difficult ask, particularly against a side with an array of attacking options. But if they had managed to get an away goal – especially if it was before we scored – who knows what would have happened. As it was, we defended very well as a team and coped comfortably with whatever they threw at us.

No wonder he's happy......

Credit must also go to our much-maligned trio of Bendtner, Arshavin and Denilson. I was not happy they started the match, and at halftime, I thought their presence in the lineup was contributed to the areas we struggled in, as none of them played well in my view. But in the second half, they all improved significantly and each contributed to the victory. For Bendtner and Arshavin, here is hoping the goal and assists spark both of them into a run of consistent good form. Both of them have the ability to take off from here – we absolutely need them to find a rich vein of form – we have a lot of important matches coming up, and will need them to score and create goals, whether as starters or off the bench. As we have seen throughout this season, the opportunities are there. Denilson started the move leading to Cesc’s goal and I have always considered him as someone who can create more than he does. Hopefully his part in the third goal will be the first of many.

Allow me to add a quick word of praise for Comrade Eboue as well. Standing in for the suspended Sagna in the first leg, he had a torrid time, and his struggles seemed to affect the rest of the defence. Tonight, Sagna’s injury (which hopefully is not too serious and will hopefully see him back for the Everton match) forced him on after only 15 minutes. This time, however, Eboue defended well and helped out on the attack.

Finally, a well done to Arsene, who took a big gamble, resting three key players in Song, Samir and Theo. All three deputies vindicated this decision, contributing to our win, while allowing rest for the aforementioned first teamers; each of the second teamers got valuable minutes to maintain sharpness, and each contributed to (or scored) at least one goal, and all hopefully received a confidence boost. He stuck with Bendtner and Arshavin far longer than I would have, and it paid off as one of them had a hand in all three of our goals. Everything I would have done, he did not do – and events proved his decisions completely correct.

Tomorrow at St. Andrews, we will find out who our opponents will be. West Ham lead 2-1 from the first leg, but Brum have an away goal and home turf. We have played both these sides twice in the league already, and are 4-0 in these matches, scoring 9 goals, and conceding only one. In a one-off cup final, that probably will not be so relevant…Nevertheless, we will start heavy favorites against either of those sides.

It was tense and nervous for much of the time, but we got there in the end. As Arsenal supporters, would we have it any other way? We have seen how crashing out of cups has had a knock-on effect on the players, inducing slumps over the course of a handful of games. Now it is time for us to see how winning a Cup affects the players, how it instills the confidence that they can go all the way.

Our time is here, our time is now…


Written by Oliver

147 thoughts on “Phew! Nikki owed us that!

  1. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 9:15am

    morning – still smiling….

  2. Colin

    January 26, 2011 at 9:27am

    ear to ear….

  3. Colin

    January 26, 2011 at 9:27am

    morning Rico

  4. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 9:30am

    me too Coling, it’s a good morning indeed :)

  5. Colin

    January 26, 2011 at 9:36am

    c.b the icing!!

  6. Rocky Jay

    January 26, 2011 at 9:36am

    good afternoon to you all!! :-)
    good article, especially for me as i was unable to watch us last night! your words gave me the full imagination on how the play went on!
    but 1 thing i disagree with you, that baby faced Brazilian we have playing at the centre!!! I don’t know how he played last night, but there has never been a game when i have thought to myself,,”Yes..Denilson was fantastic today”
    Jusst my views!!

  7. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 9:38am

    Sure would Colin, i think something will happen before the weekend now…

    Hi RJ, denilson was ok, but he’s no Song…

  8. Colin

    January 26, 2011 at 10:12am

    There’s a lot of talk about Sakho on NN…

  9. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 10:18am

    There has always been talk about him, nothing concrete though and wenger suggested he’s looking to loan a CH…

  10. Erick

    January 26, 2011 at 10:33am

    Morning People, What a game Rico after complaining yesterday my cable came back and I enjoy the game. Jack was a Monster and what a pass to Nikky

  11. Erick

    January 26, 2011 at 10:34am

    Rocky Jay Denilson was Ok as always nothing special just did his usual bit

  12. Rocastle

    January 26, 2011 at 10:38am

    Morning. My head hurts.

  13. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 10:45am

    morning Erick, wasn’t to be missed so glad all worked out for you…

    spot on re denilson but in the end all was ok, great bit of interception by him though to get us the third 😉

    Eboue though, as good as a squad player he is, was it Scotland he let nip by him to take a shot?

    Morning Rocastle – been on the JD again 😉

  14. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 10:53am

    Excellent post by Oliver, thoughtfull ahd informative, morning Rico, are you a bit more optimistic today???? lol

  15. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 10:56am

    Agree about Jack, he was superb last night, gave absolutely everything, and i think Djourou is growing with every game, gets in some big big challenges.

  16. SD-London

    January 26, 2011 at 11:08am

    Nice post Oliver , i guess the win affected your writing as well it was a relaxed write up with almost painting the picture of the event without seeing the game.(I missed the game)

    Thank God we won! i was scared man phew! 😐

    I think we should lay off Denilson or Bendtner or Arshavin’s back they did the job and thats all that mattered.

    Kudos to Wenger for completely changing the team that usually plays the Carling cup. I am sure we would have won it 3times if Wenger has always fielded a strong team.

    But we benefitted from his experiments- Walcott, Wilshere,Chesney,Ramsey,JAy Thomas(playing well on loan), Gibbs just to mention a few.The future bright i guess.

    So Manure Utd has played their game in hand and won (controversially as usual) NOW game is on for the Title race.

    This is where none of us is Arsenal coach and Wenger is , we will need his wisdom to juggle the team in the coming months, we have a lot of games to play FA Cup , Carling Cup (final), Champions League(if i were Wenger i will forget that one and play safe) then Premier League which every one believes we still have a very strong chance.

    GAME ON!!

  17. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 11:18am

    Morning SD and allezkev

    I’m just happy 😉

    Echo the comments about Olivers post, it’s spot on and a great read, yet again….

  18. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 11:54am

    Got to pop off for a while, back later to mull over the game 😉

  19. Red Arse

    January 26, 2011 at 12:06pm

    Very good and comprehensive write up Oliver. :-)

    Afternoon Rico.

    Wonderful result and, of course, the lads made sure my 3:0 prediction was right! :-)

  20. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 12:42pm

    morning all…dealing with beltway traffic in pre-dawn sleet is never fun…

    now we can relax and see who we will play in the final a month from now.

    as nice as this was, we haven’t won anything yet…we still have a final to play, and i don’t expect that to be easy…

  21. SD-London

    January 26, 2011 at 12:49pm

    Oliver the final will be crazy and if you can get over here in Engerland i will suggest it will be the event of February Eh ehe eh who cares about Valentine’s day i am buying tickets to Wembley.:)

  22. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 1:16pm

    sd, i would love to come to the final – i have not attended an arsenal match since september 1996 (paddy vieira’s debut at highbury, 4-1 over sheffield weds)…sadly, i will not be able to make this particular cup final…

  23. Steve Palmer

    January 26, 2011 at 1:26pm

    Afternoon all.Nice write up Oly.
    I’m with you Oly on all your ideas, and although Arsene pulled us through, i think it could have been a lot easier. But a final is a final. Please Arsene please pick the best team for the final.
    I must admit i have never been an admirer of some of our players, but they fought hard and deserve praise well done GUNNERS

  24. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 1:36pm

    nice one oliver

    i thought denilson played well…
    ipswich were always going to park the tractor so we didnt need song..physical strength was never going to be an issue…thats why song didnt have to play
    it was all about keeping the ball and opening the gaps..our play in the middle was fantastic all night, denilson did what he normally does and against a team like ipswich you would expect him to do it, denilson isnt the best player in the world but against lower league oppo hes good enough… comfortabley…jack ran the show…
    our problems were in the final third we couldnt find our cutting edge, cesc was out of sorts and panic was setting in, the composure was leaving us but nikkis goal changed the whole thing..confidence ouzed, ipswich heads dropped, floodgates opened and we found it easier…
    im still buzzing…we havent been to wembley since 98 and havent been in a domestic final since 07..
    i hated cardiff it was shite…the good times are back…

  25. Rocastle

    January 26, 2011 at 1:47pm


    White wine…..

  26. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 2:52pm

    thanks steve and jj…i still feel that we should have started samir and song, at the minimum. with the former up front, i think we could have ended this tie before halftime. but arsene’s rotation paid off and we were able to rest samir and theo for all but eight minutes (including stoppage time), and song got a full rest, so all’s well that ends well…

    i thought denilson was poor in the first half, better in the second. i expect we will see him again against huddersfield, especially if diaby is not quite ready to go. if squillaci is not cleared for huddersfield, then i expect song to move to cb for djourou. it looks increasingly as though arsene will not go for another cb, so he will need to get a sense of how well song can do there, after not lining up in that specific position for a while, now…huddersfield is probably the only opportunity to experiment like this.

    i expect chamakh to start as well – it is time to get him going once again…

  27. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:05pm

    What’s the latest with Vermaelen, anybody got an idea when he’s due to return to training???

  28. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 3:06pm

    Afternoon all.sagna is OK.he has been discharged and in good spirits.

  29. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 3:10pm

    Allezkev vermy is due back in training anytime now as he needed 2 weeks after surgery to heal.Aw then said he needed 4 weeks of fitness training which puts his comeback to late February.

  30. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 3:12pm

    still a ways away as i understand. last week he was going to get surgery done, then arsene said it would be a procedure.

    arsene has said he may be back for barcelona – that is less than a month away, i cannot see it myself. even if he somehow comes back now, how long will it take him to get back to match fitness? barca is not exactly the ideal fixture for a cb to make his return after five months out…

    i think the “optimistic” speculation is cover for arsene deciding not to buy a cb. he can say he is happy with the options in the squad and that tv will be back soon regardless. and when tv does not come back soon, he has suffered another “setback”…

    i am beginning to think we won’t see him this season. if he does return, i cannot see him being match fit and ready to start until april at the earliest. and this is if he is cleared to return in the next few weeks.

  31. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:13pm

    Cheers KTR, a fresh pair of legs just as the season becomes a tad crucial, almost like a new signing.

  32. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:15pm

    Blimey Oliver, you sure know how to cheer someone up, lol

  33. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:16pm

    Great post btw

  34. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 3:16pm

    is he that close? i thought he was still a ways away…

  35. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 3:18pm

    William hill have put up 66/1 odds of Andy Gray becoming a linesman…

  36. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 3:20pm

    kev, i think k has got a better handle on the tv issue than i do, so i would go with his info, not mine…

  37. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:20pm

    Well i remember seeing Jimmy Hill running the line at Highbury, so who knows???

  38. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 3:21pm

    Yes he is oliver.Aw said that last week and thats why he isn’t in a hurry to buy.

  39. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 3:23pm

    Great post by the way oliver but we have come to expect such high standards from you.

  40. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:24pm

    No probs Olly, i’m just larking about. Been buzzing since last night. Getting the same vibes i had back in 1987 before the Littlewoods Cup, as it was. Had the feeling our names ‘on it’ since we did over the Spuds

  41. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:28pm

    Wonder what our ticket allocation is for the final?

  42. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 3:30pm

    fantastic news about bac attack..i was really worried hes my fave at the minute i didnt want to say anything last night but fingers and toes were crossed…
    i dont have a clue about TV kev..wenger reckons back in training soon and back fit 6 weeks..i think he said that last week so…who knows..

    we could change the whole team sunday olly..
    hudds are 2-3 tiers down, it wont be a risk playing the likes of nik and den and maybe lansbury??
    would have loved to have seen a few more young guns but eastmond jet coq are all on loan now..
    maybe vela might play???

  43. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 3:30pm

    Oliver the problem with vermaelen was that the ‘tendon strands’ in his achilles were in contact with each other.each time Tv tried to run the friction would cause him to feel lots of pain.the procedure involved removing one of those ‘strands’ to alleviate the problem.since they are numerous removal of one has no side effect and thats why Aw is optimistic.after he heals its only a matter of regaining fitness.

  44. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:35pm

    Hi JJ. Lansbury has gone back to Norwich, i think. But i agree re: team, it’s a tricky balancing act with Everton only 2 days afterwards

  45. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 3:35pm

    soz boys should have refreshed before typing

  46. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 3:36pm

    Boo, afternoon all, internet probs again for me, darn annoying….

  47. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 3:36pm

    In the PL Rvp has had a goal/assist in the league every 62 minutes,the highest in the league.walcott is second with 75 minutes and berbatov 3rd with 81 minutes.AA and cesc are 11th and 12th at 110 minutes…

  48. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:38pm

    Yeah great news about Sagna, he’s been on fire this season. But Eboue did well when he came on…

  49. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 3:45pm

    didnt know that kev
    just shows how strong the squad is now
    not long ago we would be blooding those guys in the cups..
    now we can use the squad players we have so many and we can keep the first team fresh for the battle for the title..its becoming a tag team now.
    arsenal v the mancs and refs
    but weve done it before we can do it again…
    those home defeats v wbrom and barcodes are biting us at the minute but theres plenty of time left…

  50. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 3:48pm

    yeah ktr i read that too
    wenger said the ‘procedure’ was to remove a tendon that ppl dont need and some ppl arent born with..or something like that..
    this tendon was constantly inflamed giving TV they took it out..
    i guess we wont know until he starts running again and putting pressure on the area

  51. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:51pm

    Yeah JJ, i get sick of the papers going on about who Arsenal are going to sell, for God’s sake, we’ve just got a strong squad that can finally compete and allow AW to rotate and those press mugs are trying to flog our players. Not that i take any notice of those ‘know-nothings’ but it just gets on my wick.

  52. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 3:52pm

    Hi jj.lets hope Tv has had enough setbacks.we need him back asap.

  53. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 3:54pm

    eboue did well
    was sick of mark not so bright saying eboues decisions were all wrong in a couple of instances where he dribbled round his player instead of getting rid of the ball..
    but eboue got away from his man both times..1st time he beat his man and the ball went up to clichy in the space..2nd time he beat his man and then won a free kick..
    i have to admit was was shouting ‘just fucking clear it’ when he started doing the step overs lol but after i was saying ‘well done’
    bright was just gutted last night it was funny

  54. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:54pm

    KTR, if AW can keep RVP fit for the rest of the season, then we really have a great chance in the EPL

  55. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 3:56pm

    Bright is still sore over 1993

  56. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 4:03pm

    Fabregas was very hungry last saw the relief when he lets win some trophies.

  57. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 4:03pm

    rvp hit the woodwork again last night
    not only does he shoot for the corners he heads for the corners too 😉

  58. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 4:08pm

    cesc was hungry
    you could tell but he was trying too hard he wasnt as composed as he normally is you could see he wanted it too much..
    yeah when he scored the celebration said it all..
    to be fiar when all the goals went in the celebrations showed how much everyone wanted it..even the subs got involved..
    we wanted it last night…

  59. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 4:11pm

    thanks for the update…i think arsene is taking another risk here – this injury of tv’s seems to have flummoxed everyone for the better part of 3-4 months, so i am not as confident as arsene that everything will now go according to plan…bringing in someone as cover, just in case things go wrong, is not going to kill us…

    jj, i don’t think we should necessarily change everyone for the huddersfield tie. our first goal should always be to win the tie and ultimately every competition we are involved in. huddersfield represents our best opportunity to rest certain players who have not gotten recent breaks – jd and perhaps cesc. but we should still have a strong side around those who come in. how about chamakh to start and hopefully get back on track. two from vela (if not yet loaned), samir and theo to partner. denilson, jack, possibly samir in cesc’s role, gibbs, eboue, kos, and song in for jd (assuming squillaci is not yet fit).

    if squil is fit, then put song back into the side, drop denilson for this one. or, if samir is one of the three up front, keep song and denilson (which i don’t prefer) along with jack.

    a lot of our depth is leaving on loan – jet, eastmond, and probably vela. they are getting needed minutes elsewhere, but we will be a bit lighter on options, esp. in midfield. the other guys have to get minutes somewhere, though, so it is a balancing act, to say the least.

    bottom line for me is that winning sunday’s match is the most important thing, followed by responsibly rotating.

  60. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 4:13pm

    mark bright….hahahaha…perhaps he also holds a grudge that arsenal did not buy from palace together with wrighty…

  61. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 4:20pm

    We got Rosicky to come into the mix and Diaby will hopefully be fit soon.

  62. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 4:25pm

    Oliver, i think ( or hope ) that AW learnt his lesson from too many changes following the 1st leg at Portman Road. With some rotation and sensible substitutions AW can keep the lads fresh and avoid fatigue related injuries.

  63. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 4:29pm

    kev, i agree. i think it was actually the wigan match at dw where he made a full eight changes. that was too many in my mind, and i also felt it was unnecessary. rotating certain positions is always necessary, but it should be done with a view to maintaining a certain level of consistency – that is difficult to do through wholesale changes to the side.

    i forgot about diaby – if he is fit, i would start him against huddersfield, probably alongside jack and denilson.

  64. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 4:30pm

    hi oliver, diaby is back for this weekend…

  65. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 4:34pm

    Fair point Oliver. I tend to think that it’s the defence that you rotate the least.

  66. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 4:37pm

    i just hope the tendon they took out isnt the reason why he leaps like a salmon..
    his hang time is shit hot he stays up there for ages i hope that tendon is nothing to do with the extra spring hes got…

    i agree olly i still think we are a player short..but im not with the majority of a CB…i think we need another ‘song’ type player..a strong midfielder who can do a defensive job…that way we dont need a CB..
    we still have 4 with song and backup it makes 5 and if song needs to drop back we dont have to rely on denilson or diaby..who are forward thinking players not defenders…

  67. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 4:37pm

    hi rico…kev, i think defence needs the most continuity at the moment – but i also think we have to rest jd at some point. probably kos shortly afterwards. if squillaci is fit, no problem. but if he is not ready, then i think this is the fixture to put song at cb for jd…i don’t think we will get a better opportunity in the near future.

  68. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 4:39pm

    jj, i thought you were happy with denilson?

  69. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 4:39pm

    I suspect Olly, that you’re a big fan of Nasri ( as we all are ). Well he reminds me a lot of Bobby Pires 2001-02, in as much as the influence he’s having on the team. Back then AW didn’t give Bobby enough of a breather and he suffered that terrible injury vs Newcastle ( i believe ), so with in mind, maybe Aw is just looking after him?

  70. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 4:40pm

    JJ, Red Bull!!!

  71. Will

    January 26, 2011 at 4:42pm

    Just a quick question. How many shots did we have and how many on target?

  72. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 4:43pm

    my team for sunday


    strong enough for a home game v a second league side
    and all the big boys are rested for everton..a whole week off…

  73. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 4:45pm

    will, i think it was something like 18 total and six or seven on target…

    yep, i am a big samir fan…

  74. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 4:45pm

    olly i was happy with him last night against lower league oppo but i wouldnt have him anywhere near the PL team..

  75. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 4:46pm

    ricolicious 😉

  76. Will

    January 26, 2011 at 5:01pm

    Just too keep out feet on the ground. Bottom of the championship side, is 6 out of 18 shots on target good enough?

  77. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 5:08pm

    how many of those shots hit the tractor they had parked in front of their goal all game…

  78. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 5:09pm

    Apparantly, AW has granted Huddersfield permission to play Afobe this Sunday!!! Risky?

  79. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 5:09pm

    Yo jj – you left vela out 😉

  80. Will

    January 26, 2011 at 5:11pm

    JJ, top class, internationals such as we have, should be experienced enough and clever enough to unlock those types of defences.

  81. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 5:13pm

    ugh…we’re going to get heavy snow tonight…

  82. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 5:16pm

    will, it is still an improvement on the dross we offered up at portman road – until our late flurry, i think we had only a single shot on goal that evening.

    six shots, three goals is actually a pretty good conversion rate…even if we didn’t shoot enough, i thought we were more direct and threatening than in the first leg.

  83. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 5:22pm

    oliver – snow… not so good

    jj, you behave 😉

  84. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 5:23pm

    beltway was bad this morning, it shall be even worse this evening…

  85. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 5:24pm

    nikkis goal – well, firstly i don’t know where it came from, if he could produce that control and finish more often, he’d be a world class striker…. 😉

    but, what a ball from the young jack….

  86. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 5:24pm

    Lardy has signed for Real Madrid then, on loan…..

  87. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 5:26pm

    i want us to smash 10 every game as well, will
    but regardless of our shots, if we keep scoring 3 every game its going to make it hard for anyone to beat us..

    could be true kev, he let watt play for leeds so it wouldnt suprise me..
    i guess we dont know if its a risk until sunday…
    personally i wouldnt allow it, watt played a blinder at the just raises a players game automatically..they want to show what they can do…

  88. Will

    January 26, 2011 at 5:28pm

    3 out of 6 good, 3 out of 18?

  89. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 5:29pm

    loan with a view to perm..18 i think..

    when higuin comes back that means benzemas third choice…


    summer move for benzema somewhere i reckon..

  90. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 5:34pm

    Benzema…. yeah, i like him. Rico, how do you multitask???

  91. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 5:37pm

    but i bet about 5 of them were shots that hit the defenders will…once a player shoots its classed as a shot…if it goes wide, hits a defender, or the keeper saves they all count…
    when teams pack the box its like shooting with 8 GK’s stood in front of you…

    its not like we are shooting into an open net all the time…

    just like denilson stats can be deceptive….

  92. Will

    January 26, 2011 at 5:37pm

    I am not trying to be a Duddly downer but to me, it is pointless having 70% poss and 18 shots of only a third are going to hit the target.

  93. Red Arse

    January 26, 2011 at 5:39pm

    Oi Will,

    Those three shots made my 3:0 prediction come true. :-)

  94. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 5:41pm

    allezkev – it’s a woman thing, we can multitask 😉 right now i have the back off of my laptop trying to clean the fan :)

    it probably won’t work anymore…

  95. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 5:44pm

    you are thinking as a striker will,
    i dont see you as negative or having a pop.. (boom boom 😉 )

    we all want more goals it makes it easier to watch and relax but it doesnt help when so many of our best chances fall to the on rushing mids…

    cesc and denilsons worm burners do my head in…

    if it falls to robin its getting pinged and thats what we need to do sometimes..

    teams park the bus so fucking bang it…deflections lead to goals just ask fat frank… but a worm burner aint going to deflect anywhere…

  96. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 5:45pm

    That’s the problem Rico, i’m only a bloke. Trying to do the dinner and this, help…. Gotta go, a pan boiling over, see ya later, lol.

  97. oliver

    January 26, 2011 at 5:49pm

    two hours before kickoff in the other semi…who are you going for tonight?

    i think brum will win. i am going for 1-0 (goal from the penalty spot), with a 2-2 aggregate and the away goal at upton park proving decisive.

  98. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 5:59pm

    later kev, its all about staying calm 😉

  99. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 6:00pm

    That’s a tough one oliver – something makes me think Brum, but west ham are just starting to settle and brum must be low after that battering at the weekend….

  100. Will

    January 26, 2011 at 6:02pm

    You are right JJ, I made it a point of pride that every shot I took made the keeper work. I was mortified if from 30 yards in, I could not hit the target.

    I would spend hours (and I mean hours) a day over the field from my house, shooting at the goal the school left up.

    I am sure the people whose houses backed onto the field thought I was some billy no mates as I would shoot, walk to the ball, place it again and shoot, walk to the ball etc etc.

    Surely highly paid people who’s only job is to kick a ball an hit the damn target more often.

  101. agirlagunner

    January 26, 2011 at 6:03pm

    Boo, rico! Laptop problems again. Maybe a cooling pad would help? Here, that costs next to nothing. oliver, this is one of your best yet. :)

    Soooo thrilled we’re going to Wembley!

  102. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 6:11pm

    hahahaah will…
    i must admit i smashed a few windows in my younger mum was sick of forking got so bad the council game round and put about 100 no ball games signs up….think my mum was the one who rang them 😉
    i guess we where spoiled by wrighty and henry
    thing is when wrighty played is that we were the team that parked the bus and then hoof it forward to him to take the defenders on and ping it
    henry could dribble for fun..once in a life time player…would work out the defence weakness and just go passed them one by one…
    teams stopped trying to play us along time ago..just put all their players in their box and hope we cant get through…
    we dont have henry anymore…makes it harder, even if torres played in this team i dont think he would make a difference…would defo on the counter, but we dont play on the counter we press the oppo back… not even torres would find it easy.. not when youve got the whole of the oppo stood on their goaline…
    so wenger employs a false nine in robin to open them up, keep the ball, draw the defenders out and play it through to everyone whos rushing in…just so happens that the majority of the time they are mids rushing in and they like to place it…aint gonna work all the time cos the other half of the team are still stood there..
    needs to be banged…
    perfect example is cesc had a chance last night…near post hit in low and point..aint gunna beat the keeper like that at near post.. (unless its almunia)
    put you foot through it…into the roof or make the keepers fingers sting…take his gloves off
    AA is the best at this but hes forgotton how…

  103. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 6:12pm

    Boo agag, it’s me that needs a cooling pad :( :(

  104. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 6:14pm

    Last showed something very important to us fans – cesc fabregas was so so desperate for us to get to wembley – yes he fluffed a few lines but the look on his face showed how hurt he was, he may go one day, but he sure as heck loves Arsenal…..

  105. Will

    January 26, 2011 at 6:14pm

    I have been saying we need to hit harder shots for ages. I am not saying blast it and lose direction but hit it harder than a damn back-pass.

    I think what Torres would give us is a presence in the box, someone who knows how to create a yard out of two feet.

    Imagine Wrighty or Henry in this team.

  106. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 6:15pm

    i mulled over this last night
    a london derby would make a final more spicey..more atmosphere..
    but brum have miles to come from would be like an away game..
    we dont have to travel anywhere
    be like the home advantage…
    so i want brum…
    whether they’ll do it or not is another matter…

  107. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 6:24pm

    JJ Barca are CL favourites.would you give up the CC if it would lead to us beating barca?

  108. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 6:24pm

    dont think wrighty would work…
    we dont play to what wrightys strengths were..although if we were winning and the team were coming out it could do
    but henry..hell yeah…

  109. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 6:27pm

    False 9s and 4-6-0 is future of football jj.

  110. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 6:29pm

    KT, i wouldn’t….

  111. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 6:30pm

    Koscielny and walcott i feel will be our key players against barca.

  112. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 6:31pm

    Should we win at Wembley and secure the Carling Cup we have silverware…

    With it will come the abuse from the turds down the road about how it’s not an important trophy…

    However, what they need to remember is we beat them 4-1 with an under strength side to get there 😉

  113. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 6:34pm

    ktr that a good question
    at the start of the of said yes..
    but no…not now..dont give up any final…
    and even if we beat barca we still have another three top euro teams to beat…not guarenteed..
    lets go all out for CC and worry about barca when they come…

  114. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 6:38pm

    fuck the turds
    it wasnt an important trophy when they won it cos they are shit and they tarnished it..
    we make the CC look good again and now we are in the final it will gain a world wide audience 😉

    shit=shite.. 😉

    as my ol granpappy used to cant polish a turd… 😉

  115. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 6:43pm

    i agree with the kos comment especially ktr

    the game will be a ding dong between two passing sides..
    kozz comes midfield alot to win the ball it will help close down barca although if it goes wrong it leaves huge gaps
    saying that barca will leave huge gaps and they dont like theos one does…
    we have just as much as a chance as they do we just need a fit first team..

  116. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 6:44pm

    I want the CL so bad…maybe more than Aw!

  117. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 6:53pm

    JJ you and i are like twins…exactly my point.vermaelen was roasted by barca last year as he got sucked out easily by messi as a false 9.ibra’s goals and messi 3rd and 4th goals at camp nou.kos on the other hand i feel is our best ground defender and doesn’t get sucked in as much.he is immense in one on ones which may come in handy.let song shield the defence and we’ll be fine.

  118. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 6:53pm

    jj :)

    KT, trust me, that’s the one wenger really wants… but i think he has now realised that he has sacrificed winning other trophies in his quest to do so….

    now, he just wants to win every trophy we have a chance in and right now that is all four…

  119. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 6:56pm

    I totally disagree with both you and jj KT…

    Every one of the eleven who face Barca are equally important – if anyone doesn’t play to their full, it will break down the side…

    Yes, certain players have a role to play but this current starting eleven has become one unit, if one play breaks down it will weaken….

    It’s been such a long time since eleven players have become one……

  120. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 7:04pm

    sagna is also on fire ktr
    the return of the ox
    they wont have any joy on that right flank
    defensively or offensively theo and bac will tear it up
    kozz ground work will make it harder for messi, with song and jD staying back… as well as extra cover from bac attack they wont find it as easy as before..nasri and theo and rvp on form…
    jack revelation in the middle..cesc will have the game of his life..the goals will come
    we can do wont be a nil nil..unless both teams are shit in front of goal…they’ll be a few goals but i think we can outscore them..
    3-2 at our place and 2-2 at theirs…

  121. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 7:06pm

    Rico we aren’t devaluing the other players but we are just highlighting critical duels that may swing the match in our favour.

  122. Steve Palmer

    January 26, 2011 at 7:09pm

    Evening all,
    Still got my doubts about Czezcney, has anyone else got reservations about him or is it just me

  123. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 7:16pm

    KT, oops by me there then

    we just need to be burying any chances we get, if we faff around in front of goal we have no chance….

  124. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 7:17pm

    Hi Steve – apart from his kicking, i have little doubt, he’s going to world class….

  125. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 7:18pm

    evening steve..
    only doubts are his experience..
    he steam trained sagna last night due to inexperience..he didnt need to come we had about 6 players waiting for it
    but hes our best natural keeper, he will learn from that hopefully..and almunia and fab make those same mistakes still now…
    JD and kozz are playing well but i maintain the theory that GK’s and CB’S work together..the clean sheets are gaining momentum and czezszsazszszszccney is the man between the sticks…
    he ouzes confidence..he bigs up his players on twitter and rubbishes the oppo…he has presence the other two dont have..
    fab didnt do much wrong in his time in the sticks but if ches keeps clean sheets how can we now drop him??

  126. Steve Palmer

    January 26, 2011 at 7:22pm

    Hi rico & JJ
    I’ll take your word for now, but i’ll keep an eye on him, he hasnt rung my bell yet, any news about Flappy

  127. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 7:24pm

    dont matter about his kicking rico..
    almunia kicking was awesome but he couldnt keep for toffee..
    we got 10 outplayers to do the ‘kicking’

    keepers wear gloves for a reason..
    dont let the kicking thing snowball and everyone jump on the bandwagon about it and put anyone off about his overall ability.. i know you wont rico 😉 you loved him when most, me included had never seen him play

    we have CB’S who can play ball all he needs to do is roll it out he was doing this last night…

  128. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 7:28pm

    Hi steve.fabby should be back after the Huddersfield tie.

  129. Steve Palmer

    January 26, 2011 at 7:30pm

    Thanks KT

  130. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 7:35pm

    jj – his kicking could land in the poop but the rest, i’m with you, he’s still very young for a keeper but his presence is big and strong – his athletcism is something that fab nor almunia seem to have and i love his ‘arrogance’…

    Steve, i think we are lucky to finally have two keepers who are playing well, but right now i cannot see how chesney could be dropped… we are winning and we can’t change a winning format… especially at the back and i think that finally our defence trust the man behind them….

  131. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 7:37pm

    Richard Keys has now gone…. resigned 😆

  132. Steve Palmer

    January 26, 2011 at 7:42pm

    Just the liverpool loudmouth now then

  133. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 7:44pm

    keys had no choice
    gray was his best bud
    they both were as bad as eachother…keys would have looked more of a tosser than what he already is if he would have let his mate take the rap and he would have carried on..

  134. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 7:45pm

    Gotta go guys and gals…

    See you all tomorrow….

    😆 Steve, you can’t mean Jamie….

  135. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 7:47pm

    If we had conceded the goals the mancs did last night we wouldn’t hear the end of it.we have only conceded 1 more in the PL despite playing inexperienced and new kos,new squid and JD who was 9 months out.this without our best CB and not forgetting Al’s flaps.we are yet to concede a PL goal in 2011.

  136. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 7:51pm

    exactley ktr
    and they have the wonderful the all knowing all defending vidic

    half the shit we hear from the media is a myth…they just cant let go of their theorys even though the league table and the goals for and against proove them wrong….

    we are improving.. we are getting better…no matter what they like to believe…and weve done it without spending the millions everyone else has spent on their squads…and its that what pisses them off..

  137. K-TR7

    January 26, 2011 at 8:01pm

    The cries for new CBs to replace our current crop are growing fainter by the week same applies to gks.they now say we lack a winning mentality.when we win that CC what else will they say next?…they’ll probably devalue our achievement.

  138. rico

    January 26, 2011 at 8:18pm

    Hammers 1-0 up, corker by Cole….

  139. JonJon

    January 26, 2011 at 8:31pm

    once we win something ktr they’ll hush up..
    its the only way

    the last few clubs to win the CC have been the so called ‘big clubs’
    utd, chelsea, spurs..
    they cant say fuck all if we win it cos theyve spent the last few years saying fergie was a genious for winning it when they were going thru a transitional period..jose was a hero for winning it cos it made his team winners

    if they devalue it it just makes them look sillier than what they already are

  140. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 10:25pm

    That’s it, Arsenal vs Birmingham.
    My take on the goalkeeper, Szczesny seems to give the defenders in front of him more confidence.

  141. Will

    January 26, 2011 at 10:25pm

    Brum it is then.

  142. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 10:38pm

    We’re being linked to that Croatian kid again, Sime Vrsaljko, right-back.

  143. Will

    January 26, 2011 at 10:48pm

    Do we need one?

  144. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 10:56pm

    Well, after Eboue we’re a bit short in that department.

  145. allezkev

    January 26, 2011 at 10:58pm

    That’s why we’ve had Eastmond, Coquelin and now Boateng playing out of position in the Stiffs.

  146. rico

    January 27, 2011 at 9:15am

    morning – new post up

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