Be proud of the Arsenal (2-1 defeat to Man Ure)

I was a bad loser. Maybe I’ve mellowed a lot, maybe I’m more interested in the bigger picture as most people would tell you. And it does work wonders –  I’m really proud to be a supporter of the Gunners today because they took the fight to Man Ure. After all, Man Ure was expected to win but the Arsenal did take the lead against them and drew first blood.

You see, the Arsenal had been at the back of the most torrid time since February. It was like as if the Chinese New Year was most unkind to them; we’ve lost Eduardo da Silva; saw a mildly comfortable 5-point lead now taken over by a massive 9 points at the top of the table; couldn’t better Liverpool twice at the Emirates and eventually losing to them at Anfield; lost at Chelscunts for what looked like 2 offside Dog-ba goals; lost Mathieu Flamini for up to 3 weeks now; Adebayor experiencing a goal drought; Bacary Sagna also joined the crock list at the most inopportune moment (not that injuries are a good excuse in the first place with the perceived small squad); William Gallas getting stick from his own teammates for his unorthodox geeing up style and more. It couldn’t come any worse for the Gunners.

I was telling cousin E (another Arsenal supporter) last weekend that at the rate the team is faring, they’d be consigned to performing damage control and limitation. I’d tell you – playing at Anfield and hearing all that crap about it being a veritable fortress is shite cos their stadium is still too tiny to make the rafters boom; the real deal would be at Old Trafford aka the Theater of Wet Dreams with its 75,000 + capacity. For the record, the Arsenal did a double over Man Ure in the 2006/2007 season whereas they only beat us once this season.

In case you think I’m yakking and trying to defend the team because they lost – you can see that Arsehole Ferguson was most relieved at the opportunistic Hargreaves goal. Even the Man Ure fans themselves know how close it was – Rio Ferdinand nearly gifted an own goal but for Van der Sar’s quick reflexes (good news for Holland, I hope); Gael Clichy came close to scoring his first Arsenal goal but for Van der Sar again. Nicklas Bendtner came on and nearly scored two wonderful headers (the first off a Fabregas lob; the second off a setpiece) and who else but for Edwin van der Sar again. I’m not insulting Dutch heroes here – I love it that Dutch players are doing fantastically well and I think that Ferguson damn well know that he should be grateful for the Dutch custodian to save his arse in this game. If you thought that Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez or even Wayne Rooney could do something – forget it. All their goals were made from setpieces. The Arsenal’s was from open play.

So what did it matter?

Here are the ratings:

1. Jens Lehmann – I don’t reckon that he should be blamed for the 2 goals. Blame William Gallas or someone else – but he had a solid game and doesn’t appear to be rattled by the Wet Dreams crowd. Stay, Herr Lehmann. – 6.5/10

10. William Gallas – Stuck out his hand and earned Man Ure a penalty. Some may feel aggrieved with the decision but it was a 50/50 sort of thing where the referee had to make up his mind real quick. Seriously, he was a top, fabulous defender for the Chelscunts but he has been real shit for us. He’s a gifted centreback – make no mistake but his own mistakes are sure costly. Otherwise, he had little wrong in the game, marking out Ronaldo and headed cornerkicks with some authority.  – 6/10

17. Alexandre Song – man, I really thought he was like his crap uncle Rigobert. He played in central defence like a natural and sure made Senderos feel inferior for all the good reasons. He was slightly caught out on occasion but he did his centreback duties with a convincing display. I can’t say that he’d be like this good for the rest of his time with the Arsenal but the signs are sure good. – 6.5/10

5. Kolo Toure – Wenger could sure give him a good break – this Ivorian looked out of sorts and is exhausted. Maybe now that the team is settling for 3rd place or at best, a 2nd, he could earn his well-deserved R&R. In the match, he doesn’t look good at all at rightback. We need Sagna back and quick. – 5/10

22. Gael Clichy – really came of age this season. With Bacary Sagna on the right and he on the left, Kolo Toure and William Gallas were made to work a little less harder as all the running was done by these 2 wingbacks. He almost scored his first goal for the club but I’m sure that he will in the end. – 7/10

19. Gilberto Silva – I’d be sorry to see him go at the end of the season, to be honest. I’m neither his biggest fan nor his most vociferous critic and neither do I subscribe to the ‘when he’s good, you can’t see it; but when he plays bad, it’s damn obvious’ theory. In the match, he had the midfield covered sufficiently well, limiting Carlos Tevez and had Michael Carrick in his pocket. He appeared to do well on the left side of the centre midfield especially with Gael Clichy sweeping up whatever Bert could not cope with. – 7/10

4. Francesc Fabregas – Did ok in midfield but struggled to keep up with the pace of Ronaldo and Tevez. His distribution was also rather patchy but I did like the way he scooped the ball for Nicklas Bendtner for the goal attempt. I’d like to think that all he needed was a well-deserved break. – 6.5/10

13. Aliaksandr Hleb – I know that I’ve been critical of this Belorussian for quite some time but I think that he doesn’t appear to have problems with aggravated situations or those big matches where lesser players would have been driven to distraction. He did what he could and I’m generally happy that he chased down lost causes and had reasonably good delivery to the other players. More of the same, Hleb, if you’re not enjoying gelato in Italy during the summer. – 8/10

27. Emmanuel Eboue – how I’ve grown to dislike this number. When the official’s substitution board lights up these digits and replaced with number 32 (Theo Walcott, in case you’re wondering) you can bet that my mood suddenly improves. It’s not that he’s lazy – it’s just that he doesn’t even have a decent footballing brain. He can run all over the pitch but he just doesn’t convince the fans that he’s pure Arsenal pedigree, be it in defence or supporting the attack. I’d think that Toure shouldn’t have played rightback when it should have been Eboue’s. That said, take a look at his famous part-time acting skills on the pitch to see how lowly he can degrade himself to. Get out of the club this summer and fast. – 4.5/10

11. Robin van Persie – I’m a fan of Dutch players as I’ve said and I think that I’ve mentioned before that RvP is one of my first-choice players. His early season form contributed well and laid some foundation for the team now. It could’ve been worse without his goals and other contribution. However, in this match, he was quite an ordinary player who just didn’t find the right sort of inspiration to let his football do the talking. He did probe the Man Ure defence on occasion but I didn’t think that he did enough. A disappointing game. – 5/10.

25. Emmanuel Adebayor – just because he’s the unofficial chief striker now doesn’t mean that the fans should start heaping unnecessary pressure on his back. For me, he has improved by great leaps this season and I’m sure that he could be better next season. Sure, he may still miss the odd sitters or 2, but I still can’t fault him for trying hard. Just get off his back for the moment and give him another season. – 6.5/10

==Substitutes==

26. Nicklas Bendtner – has made fans irate at his first touch and ball control but his aerial threats today almost worked a treat when it mattered. I think that he’s a supersub – the one who could come off the bench at the right moment and do the right things to win the match. He didn’t win it for the Arsenal today, but he was a whole lot better than Van Persie. – 7/10

32. Theo Walcott – I believe that he tried real hard to impress Wenger for a long run in the first team but he was probably a little overzealous with his dribbling skills. He ran into dead-ends most of the time and was suppressed by an admittedly good Patrice Evra. Slow down and take your time – you’ve just made Eboue look like Remi Garde. – 5/10.

31. Justin Hoyte – really enjoyed the kick on Ronaldo near the corner flag towards the end of the match and picked up a yellow card. He should’ve kicked the Portuguese eggtart a little harder for more Ferguson fury and high-blood pressure attacks. I’m deducting points for this aspect. – 6/10.

As an aside, the Arsenal also picked up a whopping 6 yellow cards in the match. To blame the referee(s) again  for any unhelpful decisions against the Arsenal would be superfluous.


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