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The Post-Christmas Hangover….

This year we got to enjoy Boxing Day without an Arsenal fixture, thanks to the 24-hour strike by union workers shut the London Underground down, and had a knock-on effect on London surface and national rail traffic. So prior to Christmas, our club announced that our home fixture with Wolves would be pushed back 24 hours. An extra day of rest, which would hopefully translate into a good performance and three points…

Certainly, the opportunity was there. Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool all dropped points, the latter two at home. While City remain well off our radar for the time being, we came into today with an opportunity to leapfrog Chelsea and put some distance between us and Liverpool.

The official site ran a piece quoting Arsene as saying that Ju’s “adaptation” time is over and he now has to step up and show his quality. Seeing that he – once again – was not on the bench today, I am not sure just where and when he will be afforded his opportunity. If it won’t arrive until Chamakh departs for the African Cup of Nations next month, then there was no point to the article. Who knows…Perhaps Chamakh’s psyche is so fragile that Arsene is loath to even use Ju until the former is unavailable for selection. Anything resembling that speaks more to Chamakh’s unsuitability for our club than anything else.

There was also a piece quoting Arsene saying OC would be “ready to play” in 2012. He was on the bench but did not make it on the pitch…

Prior to the holiday weekend, Arsene also discussed Robin and his pursuit of the calendar year goal scoring record, suggesting the record is secondary (which I agree with) to team results and implying that our captain may rest one of these two (QPR upcoming) home fixtures, and stressing that other players need to be rested.

As it was, Robin did start, JD returned to the side at right back, Theo missed out due to illness (did he eat something on Christmas that did not agree with him?) and Ramsey rested for Rosicky. Benny was the direct beneficiary of Theo’s misfortune, taking his place.

We lined up Szczesny, TV, Mert, Kos, JD, Arteta, Song, Rosicky, Benny, Robin and Gerv. Al, Miquel, Coq, Ramsey, OC, Arsh, and Chamakh made the bench.

Wolves are a side we have done well against – both here and at Molineaux – in recent seasons, and we got ourselves in the scoreboard fairly early. Wolves threatened briefly before Rosicky picked Benny out. The latter bisected the Wolves defence with a great pass to Gerv, who decked Hennessey, and slotted home between a pair of defenders. Eight minutes in, a goal from someone other than Robin – a great start, and surely a platform for us to surge into fourth and perhaps improve our goal difference…

Sadly, that was not to be…

With 15 minutes gone, we should have doubled the lead, Gerv turning provider, but Robin shot wide. Robin then tried to chip Hennessey but Ward got back to head the ball out for a corner. Just past the half hour, we had another great opportunity, as Robin picked Henry’s pocket and played to Rosicky in. With room and time for a shot, he opted to pass – one of several instances where we should have instead shot – to Arteta, who had his attempted shot blocked. Robin then took the shot himself in our next attack, but Hennessey got down and tipped the ball around the post…

Wolves had not yet had a shot on goal, so perhaps it was inevitable that they would make their first – and only – shot on goal count.

The equalizer was more about our inability to deal with the set piece: we couldn’t clear a corner, Wolves played the ball to Hunt, whose deflected shot found Fletcher and he headed in from close range. Unfortunately, an inattentive Song played Fletcher onside, so the goal stood and we were back to square one…

We tried for an immediate response, Rosicky turning and shooting, but too close to Hennessey. Jarvis had given JD an uncomfortable afternoon, and Wolves had a good passage of play through him right before halftime, but didn’t create anything. Robin worked his way into the Wolves area right at the end of the two minutes extra time, but the move broke down and we went into the break level.

We kicked the second half off with no changes to either side. That changed within a couple of minutes, however, as Zubar apparently did his knee after colliding with Gerv. He tried to carry on, couldn’t and Stearman had to replace him five minutes in. On 57 minutes, we Kos’ cross clearly struck Berra’s arm. Referee Atwell awarded a corner instead of a penalty, and TV was booked for dissent.

Gerv then went on a great run with the ball, bringing into the box, but instead of shooting when he had the chance, he passed to Song, who was crowded out. At this point, we dominated play, but continued over-think and over-pass the ball…It was starting to resemble us at our ineffectual worst of last season’s run-in…

Arsene made his first change with 25 minutes remaining, Arsh replacing Benny, who I thought didn’t have that bad of a game. Henry then fouled Gerv to concede a free-kick in a good position. Robin took it and curled the ball towards the top corner, but Hennessey just tipped it over the bar at full stretch.

By now, the pressure on the Wolves defence and keeper was almost non-stop, with Hennessey saving a point-blank Mert header, with Rosicky then shooting wide…

With 20 minutes remaining, Song and Fletcher squared up. The former was booked, and Arsene replaced him with Ramsey soon after.

Five minutes later, Wolves were down to ten men, after Atwell showed Milijas a straight red for a challenge on Arteta. Honestly, I thought the Wolves player was unlucky to be sent off here – if it were an Arsenal player for the same challenge, I would be furious…

As it was, we couldn’t really make the extra man count.

The final 15 regulation and 6 extra minutes were a one way procession to the Wolves goal. Robin had a handful of good chances – including a one-on-one – but Hennessey denied him each time and when we did beat Hennessey, Arsh hit the post instead of the net.

Arsene made his final change with 5 regulation minutes left, Chamakh replacing JD. While Arsh looked improved for the second consecutive appearance (albeit without making a telling impact), all we got from Chamakh was more of the same. His only contribution was to take Robin out when both players collided going for a header – fortunately, our Captain was able to continue.

At this point, if Ju cannot give us more than Chamakh does, perhaps we should just release him from his contract…

After a great save to deny TV, Hennessey was then booked for time-wasting during the stoppage time but Atwell didn’t add any extra time on, and blew the whistle just after six minutes. And so we allowed a golden opportunity to slip through our fingers…

We started the day in fifth and finish it in fifth. Five seems to be a relevant number, as that is also the amount of points Wolves have now picked up away from home. They have more or less been road kill away from Molineaux – and not particularly good there, either – making our failure to win today look that much worse…

At the same time, it has to be mentioned that we are not the only side this happened to. For Wayne Hennessey, read David Stockdale, the Fulham keeper who frustrated Chelsea in a very similar manner at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day. Add frustrating draws for Man City and Liverpool against opponents they also would expect to beat fairly comfortably.

Other than Spurs (who won 2-0 at Carrow Road in the late kickoff) and Man United (who once again saw Wigan roll over and hand them three points on a platter), none of the top six had a good round of fixtures.

So it is best to get this one out of our system and look to take it out on QPR on New Year’s Eve day.

If Arsene is thinking about making wholesale changes there, I would urge him to reconsider. For now, I think we will have to start our strongest available side, try to rack up some goals early and perhaps put ourselves in a situation where three players can get partial breaks through substitutions.

I don’t think we can afford to put ourselves in a position to drop more points, after what happened yesterday.

The thing that continues to worry me is that lack of impact our subs have been making. Benny’s goal at Villa Park is the first decisive contribution I can remember for a while. Before that, Robin had to rescue us as a sub, when Arsene had intended to rest him.

Normally, Arsene mechanically brings on the usual suspects (Arsh and Chamakh) at seemingly pre-determined intervals and it rarely makes a difference.  Yesterday it certainly did not. As long as we continue to persist with these two players as first subs, I think the more difficult it will be for us to come back in games…

This wasn’t a good result but we have a chance to make up for it on Saturday. Looking at the frustration on many of our players’ faces, I expect a response versus QPR.

If this isn’t motivation enough, then hopefully the prospect of settling some accounts with a certain Joseph Anthony Barton will do the trick…

We owe him, and not just a little bit…

Written by Oliver

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112 comments on “The Post-Christmas Hangover….

  1. Moaning all….

  2. Morning all, good write again oliver…

    If Wenger settles for the squad we currently have and doesn’t add a couple of new faces next month, I honestly don’t see us making the top four.

    The Chavs will strenghten their side next month, as will the Totts and if we don’t, we are going to get left behind.

    Why oh why does he persist with Chamakh and AA from the bench….

  3. Moaning Lee, and I think we will be ;)

    Did you have a good day at The Ems, apart from watching Hennesey stop everything we threw at him….

  4. I know there’s a lot of football left to play but it feels like we are vying with the chavs for fourth spot….and they will strengthen in Jan, will we?

  5. I don’t think we will Lee, Wenger will just use the players like Ryo, Park and Ox….

    We have money left from the summer, if he doesn’t spend it and get rid of Chamakh and AA he is a stubborn fool!

    And watch Arry spend, he’s after Samba!

  6. Cahill going to the chavs and samba to swampies…lets hope vertonghen to us then!!
    Saturday the ox has gotta feature….

  7. JV would solve a few probs but as we keep saying, we need some fire power up front too and i’m not sure Henry is the answer – leaving Park out for so long is daft, and then Wenger will no doubt be expecting him to ‘step up’ – bit too much to ask….

    Ox, why didn’t he come on yestrerday, he’d the kind of player that would just shoot on sight and with power, he may just have made the difference but we’ll never know now…..

  8. I have to go off out this morning, back around lunchtime….


  9. Why wasn’t Song sent off???????

  10. Morning Gooners
    Morning Rico.
    Great post Oliver.

  11. Chamakh will soon be gone, and when he returns it’ll be too late to sell him so i expect to see our ineffective Morrocan remaining a part of our squad for the remainder of this season.

  12. Yes Song was very lucky to stay on after two aggressions. The ref. had a stinker; he failed to give pen for blatant handball, failed to send song off, and failed to book other wolves players as well.

  13. When Wenger brings on Arshavin & Chamakh, he is looking for primarily, two things, goals and the creating of goalscoring opportunities.
    Do either provide those requirements?
    And if not, when did they last provide?
    Are they effective as impact substitutes?
    And if not, then why not try something different?
    Why not give Oxo and/or Park a chance?
    Can either of them be as ineffective as Arshavin & Chamakh have been for most of the season???

  14. Morning Lee and Osi.

    Still think that Wenger is gonna re-sign TH14.
    He had a chance yesterday to scotch all those rumours, but he skillfully danced around the question.

  15. See that according to rumours that Vertonghen turned down a move to that unpronounable [ and unspellable ] Russian team.
    Increasing speculation that he’s coming to England.

  16. behind RVP I think our next best goal tally is Walcott on 4…….here lies the problem!

  17. Yeah, I think it’s a done deal AK…

  18. AK do u think Henry’s what we need? What on earth happened to Song yesterday? He needs to grow up.

  19. But nothing on the ‘wires’ concerning Gourcuff.
    I suppose that we could view that as positive?
    No news usually means that Arsenal are trying to sign ‘whoever’…

  20. Kev at the stadium, you could hear & feel the disappointment when AA was brought on!

  21. Morning Osi, Song was under par yesterday!

  22. I agree Lee.
    I guess that Wenger wants to use TH14 as an emotional boost to all us fans in case the season starts to disintegrate.

    Didn’t see the game Osi. Song should know better.
    But he can still do the odd clumsy tackle/foul.

    TH14 may not be for the future, but i think he can do a job.

  23. I’d take TH infront of AA and MC right now but it’s only a stop gap….we need a prolific goal scorer to lighten RVP’s burden and show him some intent!

  24. The ref was woeful yesterday…

  25. Well Arshavin has only himself to blame Lee.
    You can only use confidence, or lack of, as an excuse for so long.
    He isn’t a kid. He’s an experienced international footballer who captain’s his country.
    He could argue that Wenger doesn’t use him properly.
    Well ya boo, just get on with it and put in a shift like all the others not in their favourite positions.
    He’s on the bench for a reason…

  26. I suppose we cant dwell too much on the result and just hope we batter QPR on sat!

  27. If someone told you that he was the player that scored four goals for Arsenal at anfield you’d have them sectioned!!

  28. You should have heard that wanker David Pleat on the radio yesterday.
    I imagine that he was wearing a Wolves scarf.
    He took the piss outta Wenger, laughing at him waving his arms at the officials and comparing Wenger to a penguin.

    Pleat as we all should remember, was a ‘kerb-crawler’……

  29. shouldn’t he of been brassing somewhere? W@nker!

  30. Lee, tbh, i’m not confident of beating QPR, and certainly not confident of beating Fulham two days later…..

    Yesterday was a big big missed opportunity to push into the New Year on a high.

  31. I fancy a bounce back against qpr…

  32. Who works out the bloody fixtures.
    50 hours between QPR & Fulham….
    Recipe for a fatigue related injury…

  33. If our squad was good/big enough we should be able to knock those two sides over at a canter…

  34. If all our players were fit Lee….

  35. not a fit full back at our club….fuckin joke!

  36. And i bet they’ll all be fit at the same time!

  37. Why always foreign players cant we buy some Brits?

  38. For all you old codgers out there it’s Johnny Jensens 17th year anniversary on the 31st of this month and strangely enough its against QPR !
    QPR went on to beat us 3-1 at Highbury on 31.12.94 but the day will always be remembered for Jenson’s one and only goal for us, t-shirts were printed to mark the occasion, they got right up QPR supporters noses and stole their thunder.

  39. Afternoon guys and gals……

  40. Hi rico, who’d be an arsenal supporter, soooooooo frustrating.

  41. Hi Micko, it sure is, how many shots for just one goal….

    Having been confident of us getting six points against Wolves and QPR, I now fear another draw on Saturday :(

  42. hello everyone!

    Yesterdays result made me sick! We’re supposed to be a big club. But do we have big players? at Which team would Park and Chamakh make it in the premiership? We need a prolific goalscorer, and/or a prolific winger. Wenger could have signed young in the summer but did not! Walcott in attack!

  43. Just going to quickly walk the woofa, back in a bit

  44. hello!
    spanish press today, said RVP is the target for replacing David Villa in January..
    Like I said yesterday, we were lucky for Song and Vemaelen not be sent off. The ref was woeful?
    With Chamack and 1 to 10,we couldn’t play like we played yesterday . cross and more cross. wrong. chamack must be covered by one or two central forwards and gave space free for other players shot outside/inside area at the same time we have gervinho and Arswavin in both wings.
    Finally: a) We can’t have at the same squad Rosicky and Benayoun playing. They doing the same in good and not so good things; b)we nedd a central forward c)One half a shot and one goal. Terrible! SWzesc didn’t doing any defense dring all the match.

  45. To think life would have been so much less stressful if only I had followed Brentford as a kid !

  46. JM, a cardboard cut out of David Villa would be better than Chamakh right now, I’d take a gamble on it scoring more goals.

  47. Hi JM – he was awful, not only for the sending off but for missing other very significant things, like our penalty shout…..

    RvP to Barca, now that’s an interesting one, RvP’s best buddy is there….

  48. :P Micko, surely that would have been worse …

  49. rico, wasn’t penalty.
    international news: Pavluchenko (totts) – Enzhi (Russia); Pato (Milan) – Arsenal ?; Lucas (S.Paulo)- chelsea?

  50. The handball JM??

  51. No surprise there ADK, but he’s know for fibbing ;)

  52. wasn’t “handball”. The player only protects himself.

  53. Afternoon Gooners.
    Afternoon Rico.
    Gourcuff in the summer?
    Henry in January?

  54. JM, it’s only handball if the ‘offender’ is playing ManUre.
    Was their penalty against Wigan in the box?

    Has Rooney ever been suspended as Suarez has, for all the visible abuse he comes out with???

  55. Kev, if you wanted to get rich quick imagine how much you could earn just following Rooney around with a swear box, this time next year you’d be a millionaire.

  56. Hi AK – an JV in Jan?? :)

  57. So true Mick, so true… :)

  58. Didn’t Rooney get banned for his very non pc comment to the camera

  59. Rico, JV in January would make me a very happy Gooner indeed.
    So happy that i’d actually ‘give’ Mick my Christmas marbles….
    The ones out of the cracker that is……. phew…. :?

  60. Not sure Rico, Rooney usually gets special treatment, being a Fergie boy and an England ‘star’….. :roll:

  61. If we want to kick on we need to add two players in jan…..but I’m looking forward to the transfer window AW classics! :(
    Strong rumours that Diaby return has been put back a couple of weeks due to a serious paper cut opening pressies over the festive!!
    Sagna,wilshire,jenkinson,santos and gibbs will be like new signings…. :(

  62. JV and The Yak would make me a very happy bunny……

  63. If that wasn’t so so true Lee, I’d laugh ;)

  64. JV yes the yak not so sure about (saying that he’d score goals for us) TH tho I’d be happy….. Maybe he’s gonna pay up and look good, Pato?? We can dream…..

  65. I like the Yak lee, he’s big, strong and scores for a rubbish side, just think how many he’d get for us – yesterday he would have beaten Hennesey with power alone :)

    But, if it’s Henry, so be it, he’s better than nowt ;)

  66. Every PL team below us has a striker that would score goals for us….

  67. You know, you’re probably right Rico…..let’s hope AW realises and does something about, surely the board must realise to keep RVP they need to sort his money out show some intent in the TW

  68. So why doesn’t wenger go buy one lee, why is he so hell bent on gettimng some old cheap deal from overseas…

    we need a striker who knows the PL… and we need him soon if we are to get St Totts day this season….

  69. I don’t think st totts day is going to come this season…..sadly, as after they sneaked a win against us I had a bet with a spud mate of mine, that they’d not finish above us! I’m a fcking Jonah….

  70. I’m really worried about getting fourth too…..the chavs will spend at H. A. RRODS whilstwe’ll be sniffing around LIDL’S out of date section.. :(

  71. I hope I’m wrong big time……

  72. Sadly Lee, I happen to think you will be right :(

  73. Trouble is, with a board that consider 4th a trophy, where’s the ambition? RVP will do the Frank Bough, surely they can see that?
    I wonder sometimes……

  74. Exactly Lee, we have a weak board, a manager who isn’t ruthless enough and a club who think 4th is a trophy, well, the way things are going we wont even get the ‘club trophy’….

  75. I’m off for the day guys…

    Catch you all tomorrow…

    Nighty and stay safe….

  76. Me too Rico, I’m watching the old firm game….see how Bartley fairs!!

  77. Hello guys and chicks of the Gunners faith.

    Hope you all are ok and doing fine.

    Just two predictions……..AW will buy Podolski, and second AK will join HH in a few seconds.

  78. Evening Gooners and kif int DG

  79. Just you and me buddy :D

  80. DG, it’s Emmerdale time on ITV1 +1 ;)

  81. There he is I told you so. :lol:

    Hope that AW buys Podolski now to make me a prophet. ;)

    I am fine AK. Just tired a lot.

    Still a bit angry that we dropped two precious points yesterday. Can I punch Song???? his lackadaisical attitude in springing the offside trap helped Wolves get a draw. And I still cannot fathom out why Arsh and Chamack (though I like the latter) are played when the Ox and Park do not. It pisses me off.

  82. I was at pa yesterday, that is why I was not on HH.

    What is Emmerdale time mate??? a soap opera???

  83. I’m watching the old firm
    devil, who is HH and AK ?

  84. I asked you because I do not watch TV a lot except for football, orchestras and cartoons (with my Manu’).

  85. Hi JM.

    HH is Highbury house mate.

    AK is AllezKev. ;)

  86. JM…. :D
    HH…. Highbury House.
    AK…. me….. ;)

  87. A soap?
    Oh yes, Rico is a bit of a soapaholic… :lol:

  88. I see that Bartley is playing at centre-half.

  89. Ohh I see

    I am allergic to soap operas. cannot fathom out what they see in them. But then, everyone has his hobbies.

    So old buddy….can you see Scrooge throwing some loose millions around and buying seasoned world class turkeys, or just get a couple of old ones who will only make a good broth but not a fine Christmas dish???? :lol:

  90. DG all i’ve seen from yesterdays game is the goals.
    Gervinho’s was a well constructed move.
    Fletcher’s equaliser was a fluke.

  91. How is he playing??? Tbh I am not watching TV today, I should thank my lucky stars I am on HH seeing I am knackered off. And tomorrow is another long hard day, although I enjoy it immensely.

    BDW did you have a good Christmas eve and Day mate???

  92. DG we need a fresh face or two, to give us all a boost.

    But will Gazides part with his money?
    Can he even do a deal without letting drag up to the 31st?

  93. Very good Christmas mate, had all the family around.

    Looking forward to New Year.

  94. It was us against Hennesy. Pa said that we were unfortunate,,,,but as I told him……why does it keep happening?? I mean, ok we can get a game where we do not score, but the rest?? Manure and shitty will definately hammer wolves. Why cant we learn to be ruthless???

  95. ok, Rangers scored one goal.. fortunately 0-0 :-)
    so, now Arsenal only play for be, at least 3th and be ahead totts (very difficult because they are very strong,confident,united and a balance team).

  96. I’m offski lads, gotta job to do.
    See ya DG/JM

  97. devil, hve you seen yesterday match?

  98. I am off mates. Goodnight all

  99. Why did we have to surround the ref to get their player sent off. If you look at the tackle there was nothing wrong with it! What does that say about our team??? Who tells tham to play that way? Wish ti would revert back to whan Adams, Keogh, Brady et al played, much better and indeed sporting!

  100. Morning – NTG, they all do it and our club is no exception, it’s an ‘ugly’ side of the game…

    New Post up

  101. Hya rico
    it’s refreshing to see that not all the fans support the way that football is unfortunately heading. Don’t you think that our proud history and heritage within UK football should be chersihed more than what it appears to be by those players, who I can only call merceneries to the game, are currently doing. we should be setting examples and playing the game properly, as it is meant to be. It’s probably because I’m an old fart, and can remember sportsmanship within the game, that it rankles me more than what it appears to the other so called fans! It would be nice to see an article on sportsmanship within the blog!

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