Santi Gets Arsenal An Early Christmas Present

Eyebrows were raised with the latest addition to Arsenal’s coaching staff

Arsenal 2 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

1 – 0 Arteta (25 pen)
2 – 0 Arteta (64 pen)

Arsenal returned to winning ways with three points lifting them to within striking distance of the top four. The manner of the penalty that was awarded in the first half has overshadowed performances which deserve more recognition. So let’s deal with Santi-gate, take the elephant out of the room.

I hope that the groundsman will be suitably chastised, allowing that daisy to grow on the pitch could have led to a serious injury. Luckily, although it brought down Santi Cazorla, he was able to continue with his involvement in the match.

Football supporters are a curious breed. We like to be holier-than-thou about perceptions and realities of cheating, diving and anything untoward. Arsenal fans can be a little touchy on this subject, the hounding of Pires and Co years ago under the guise of media campaigns that wanted football to be cleaned up, left nerves raw. As much as the criticism of Gareth Bale is driven by being a Tottenham player, there is a sense of revenge, of wanting to return the derision previously received.

And on this occasion, I am not going to chastise Cazorla. Why should I? Two wrongs don’t make a right and so forth. I will continue to disapprove of the actions of opponents in winning dubious penalties, freekicks and I will continue to shrug my shoulders when Arsenal players do the same. Yep, I am a hypocrite.

So to the match. Arsenal started the brighter of the two sides, Gervinho had as good an opening as you could wish for but dragged his shot wide of the target. Cazorla fared little better – albeit more stylishly – ten minutes later whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain and the luckless Gervinho could not force their way through the massed ranks of the Albion defence. Brunt sent a warning to the home side shortly before the opening goal was scored. Mikel Arteta deserves credit for taking the responsibility having missed against Fulham. No mistake from the Spaniard.

Arsenal took heart from the spot-kick with the impressive Wilshere prompting the hosts, scurrying and scuttling with crisp tackles and passes, seemingly indefatigable. The hard work was paying off with (half) chances being created and whilst this was taking place, signs that luck is changing perhaps when the officials spotted the infringement which caused Per Mertesacker to handle in the penalty area.

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wilshere combined well before and after the interval but still Arsenal could not breakthrough. There was some inevitability perhaps with the second coming from the penalty spot. Arteta once more, growing confidence perhaps? With the backdrop of Cazorla, critics felt emboldened enough to claim that Oxlade-Chamberlain had committed a foul during the build-up. The same critics who berate Michel Platini and Arsène for trying to turn football into non-contact sport.

And contact there certainly was when Olsson challenged Giroud, sending the Frenchman into Albion defenders. Quite why it escalated is beyond me but fair play to Giroud for standing up for himself. Olsson was niggling all afternoon, Jack Wilshere squaring up to his kneecaps at one point, niggles airbrushed out of the post-match criticism rather like plucky little West Brom’s theatrics but we won’t mention them either.

In keeping with his erratic performance in Greece, Gervinho missed with header and shot in the second half before making way for Tomas Rosicky for the final ten minutes or so. Peculiarly Lukas Podolski emerged from the bench, strange given that he had been reported as having a hamstring injury. It offered support to the theory that Wenger is not entirely trusting all of his squad, surely Arshavin could have taken the German’s place? A strange turn of events. The Ivorian was at his usual infuriating best, sliding crosses in, scuffing shots wide and producing air shots when it seemed easier to do otherwise.

Post-match, the legendary reticence of the manager to admit to seeing anything resurfaced but to be fair, you would not expect him to do anything less. More importantly, he noted that the squad had not hidden from their previous poor performances,

we were a bit nervous. I think that showed in the way we took our chances. But you could feel that we were ready for a fight and we knew we absolutely had to win this game. We did it and somewhere, with top-level sportsmen, when you have to win, you win. To deal with the nerves and be serious and resolute, that is what we have shown today.

I understand where he is coming from but as much as there is a danger in reading too much into defeats, there is too much eagerness to declare the poor form is over. Neither extreme is true. Arsenal have problems which have not gone away but they are being addressed. It is too soon to declare them solved and an upward curve embarked upon. A few more wins and perhaps that might be more readily believed.

’til Tomorrow

388 thoughts on “Santi Gets Arsenal An Early Christmas Present

  1. Poodle, yep!

    Some very encouraging signs yesterday, the defending and the one touch passing was excellent.

    Looking forward to the rest of the season!


  2. “Not a single player from Arsenal’s current squad would have walked into either teams in the Manchester derby.”

    Absolute bollocks.
    Santi or Jack inst better than Cleverly?
    Per or TV isnt better than Jonny Evans?
    Arteta isint beter than Barry?
    Fuck off Ateeb you dimwit.

  3. I think Valencia is the best right winger in the PL

    Ox watch and learn – watch how AV is constantly involved, constantly effective – very intelligent footballer

    I am jealous

  4. Sanga is a shoe in.
    But we are going to cash in on him so he might end up in Manchester .
    But as he would not get in either team perhaps we might keep him ,Eh Ateeb?

  5. Wilshere, Sagna and Theo? Perhaps. Maybe that’s why the latter two have more chance of moving away from Arsenal.

  6. I would also recommend every young Arsenal footballer studies Mario Balotelli very carefully

    And reflect that even with a great talent a footballer can be a total waste of space

    Contributed as much to Citeh this season as Carlos did from his golf course last season

  7. @Ateeb at 8:35 pm

    So, the economic difficulties we hear and read about are not real. You must be sitting very pretty wherever you may be. I’m not. But then you can cyber-joust till the cows come home. It’s just fun, costs you nothing. I doubt very much that you have any inkling of running a massive business like a premier league football club. And it is a business, it has to be whether you like it or not, and if is isn’t a successful business it will NEVER have a chance of winning the trophies you and I covet.

  8. It is not only about players but continuity. United don’t have a better center mid on their team than Rosicky or Diaby, I don’t even think Silva is as good as Rosicky.

  9. Georki,

    Stop making stuff up. Every club has had to deal with money flowing into football. As far as facts go, Arsenal has chosen to sell their best players and register a negative ‘net spend’ on player trading in the last few years. On top of that, let’s not forget that we do spend a lot of money, or to be more precise, waste a lot of money, on average players who are on our really high wage bill, that clearly doesn’t reflect the quality of the squad. Frankly speaking the club is so cheap, it decided to sell the most lethal striker and embark upon another transition year, rather than keeping him for a year and going on a title challenge. If Arsenal is a business, it’s built on faulty grounds that requires us to sell our best players to ‘sustain’ ourselves. Which is a lie, given that we’re making profits every year.

  10. Yawn Paul,

    Rosicky and Diaby? Carrick is a better player than both of them combined, for the very fact that he plays football and has played his part in a title winning team for a few years. The latter two only exists on the register in the medical room. Fact!

  11. @Ateeb at 9:03 pm

    If I could make up the economic crisis I would be earning loads of wonga as part of the european commission or Goldman Sachs. But I will now not bother with you if your measure of the quality of a player is that he must have won things first. So, van Persie isn’t as good as Carrick, not yet anyway…how simplistic can someone be…I’m off….

  12. To be fair I don’t know how I would feel about a player who said he was off to join Spuds but decided not to cos we paid him £200k a week +

    Well actually I do

  13. RVP was one of our most injured players, Fact. But, I thought he was the best player at Arsenal even when Cesc was with the squad, did you? I thought he would be one of the best in the world if he could stay fit.

    Rosicky and Diaby are injured a lot (like your hero RVP) but if you think Carrick is better than either one, you know nothing about football, you are a first class at bitching though.

  14. “Rosicky and Diaby are injured a lot (like your hero RVP) but if you think Carrick is better than either one, you know nothing about football,”

    As Bob might say ,You could be on to something there Paul.

  15. Of course I would George. Only work and family commitments mean I’m unable to get Upto games for a while. Didn’t get up there last season and probably won’t this season either. It’s not you it’s me George!

  16. George, I even doubt United supporters would say that.

    I don’t know of a better set of mids in the PL than Arsenal.

  17. Barcelona still leading 2-1, but not comfortable. Valdes has been really lucky twice in the second half. Still about 20 mins to go.

  18. we’d just be sat winding eachother up all night..i reckon if someone filmed it we’d get a million hits on you tube..

    anicoll we could all put cantona masks on and kick ateeb..

  19. @Ateeb at 9:01 pm

    I had to come back on this one:

    “Every club has had to deal with money flowing into football”

    Wow! And which other club other than Man U or those bankrolled by Arab dictators or a Russian gangster have done better than Arsenal? I assure you I’m not making this up..

  20. @JonJon at 9:35 pm

    You kick Ateeb? I’m beginning to think you and he are one and the same 😉

  21. GP
    i actually do agree with much of what ateeb says..

    i just dont agree with how he speaks to ppl he once called his friends..

    hes not always been on the dark side..he switched in the summer and it was one big fuck off switch wasnt it ateeb..

    there was no warning, no minute arsene was the best and project youth was beautiful and denilson was god..

    next minute he was a cunt and everythings shit and everyones crap and all the ppl he called his friends were retards..

    you really loved rvp didnt you ateeb?

  22. Ateeb – Wenger has ‘no fucking clue’ about the economic side of running a club despite a degree in economics from Strasbourg and keeping the club in the black through selling players (which if you haven’t noticed makes his job much harder) I think there’s a strong argument to be made that because he does know about the economic side he has been frugal in the transfer market.

    As for wages I agree that our wage structure is wrong, but Podolski is paid over £100k a week and not long after complaining that he doesn’t pay high enough wages you say he pays players too much – Arshavin being one of your examples and a good one – Arshavin was hot property when we bought him, he was being courted by many big teams, so we offered him a decent wage packet to attract him to the club – if we hadn’t I’d not be surprised to see you complaining on how we missed out on Arshavin because of our refusal to pay the right wages: he’s been a mixed bag but is undoubtedly a highly talented player and most managers would have taken him if offered after those 2 or 3 seasons he had just had. The wage structure has caused obvious problems and I’d like it to change too but I can understand the logic behind it and some of the decisions that look poor in hindsight may not have been so crazy at the time.

    A lot of our profits have gone into property development, improving the training centre and facilities – we now have the kind of world class infrastructure that can sustain a top level club, it’s good work that has been done whether you rate Wenger as a manager or not and puts the club in a good position, if Wenger leaves tomorrow the new manager comes in with a great base to work off of with admittedly problems to solve in other areas too.

    You’re right, Wenger has been rubuilding the team yearly and that’s no-way to win, he knows it makes his job harder so what’s driving him to do it? Someone told me the other day that Wenger only cares about making himself look good and I asked, how does not winning a trophy for 7 years and losing his best players in a steady exodus make him look good? All these things make his job harder and if he drops out the CL spots his position will be under pressure, the further back we slip the more likely it is he gets fired – so why is he making his job harder for himself all the time? Tell me what you think is driving him to make these decisions?

  23. Zinc
    I love your posts .But asking Ateeb to think?
    Are you really that new here ?

  24. Carrick better than diaby and rosicky? Heh, that’s why I like this place, it always is good for laugh. If they were football top trumps the only higher scores he would get are for fitness and for being a gormless looking cunt.

  25. @Zinc at 10:00 pm

    Good piece Zinc. But don’t have high hopes of a reasonable reply from Ateeb.

  26. Diaby is first teamer for France.

    Rosicky is still the captain on the Czech Republic’s national eleven.

    Carrick can’t get into England’s squad.

    Carrick’s biggest fan is Adrian Durham.

    Carrick plays for ManU.

    All in all, easy choice I think.

  27. He is not a bad player per se. He can’t be, racking up so many appearances for manure. But he is functional and nowhere near as talented as the players in question.

  28. I think, over the last 5 years midfield has been the strongest area at Arsenal. Even after so many departures it’s still the case.

    At ManU, the three titles in 2006-2009 were due to strong defense and wing play. Now, when their defense has deteriorated, they are setting on a collection of super strikers. Midfield creativity is again a footnote for them.

    So, objectively not easy to compare. But the fact that Carrick is not an international player actually help him to stay fit and perform (the Red Nose leaves his players out of international football on purpose).

  29. To be fair, I think the point was that he is usually fit enough to play.

    Crap player but, Arsene did want to sign him once upon a time.

  30. “Arsene did want to sign him once upon a time.”
    Really? According to the press we have been interested in everyone.

  31. Mr Bob, well it is a dumb point because of Ateebs initial point that no current Arsenal players could get into either Manchester club. There are loads of players who have been healthier than Ateebs god too but I bet he will not be saying that most ate better.

    I think this is a good example of how you enable Ateeb. What he said was utter rubbish.

  32. That is true. I am not a Carrick fan, but I suppose my point is he is probably better than we give him credit for. If he were as crap as we make out Ferguson would not play him.

  33. i think we did actually nearly sign carrick
    the year vieira decided he was leaving and he was on the plane to madrid and dein offered him double bubble last minute and he got back off the plane and stayed..

    only for wenger to kick him out the year after coz he reckoned he couldnt play with cesc?? mmm

    but we pulled out of the carrick deal and he went to spurs??

    some shit like that..

  34. And I would add to that, that sometimes a value to his team may be more than the the technical prowess of a player.

  35. He is not crap.Like you say Andy .He simply cant be.
    But he is not in the class of Diaby or Rosicky

  36. Carrick is a good player no doubt. But better then diaby or way. Saying that if I could choose who to have out of Carrick and diaby I’d have Carrick just for him being able to play more then 3 games.

  37. Duke, we have enough players on the roster who people obviously don’t rate. I would take the risk with Diaby.

  38. But they could not get him out until his contract expired JJ
    That would be Arsene’s fault if he was an Arsenal player .

  39. Dont worry Duke I have pointed out his stupidity again .
    Not surprised you missed the flaw though.

  40. yeah duke i feel all dirty…
    why we all talking about utd..?

    who started the utd spunkathon tonight?

    we all getting a touch of the santos’ or what??

  41. Why doesn’t/ hasn’t wenger loaned out diaby ..then free up a space for someone who can contribute to the good cause.

  42. they didnt offer him a new contract after new contract george

    hargreaves had one contract..he spent most of it crocked, it never got renewed..bye bye..

    if hed have been with us he’d be in his 7th year and a hailed as a new signing every time he put the crutches in the cupboard..

  43. Who takes an injured players on loan Duke ?
    I didn’t see Hargreaves out on loan.
    Is stupidity catching? If so move away from JJ .For your own good.

  44. He got a play per play contract at City
    And did not play .I could have given him that

  45. Er I dunno George, it might be because he will break down after 3 games…..and if he doesn’t by some miracle and is cured then we take him back. Bloody el George sometimes I just don’t know with you, I know you northerners are slow………

  46. Evening Houston, 6.35pm local time and time to hit the bars. It might end up messy this evening, knackered after a flight and beer mode is on. To be fair though, it might all fizzle out if Budweiser is the only brew we can find. Don’t let us down…

  47. I see the Eagle has landed in Houston. Yogi, if you do find a decent bar that actually shows some footie, let me know as The Girlfriend and I should be driving through there in a few weeks. We will probably be there on or around the weekend of Jan 12-13th, in other words just in time for the game against City. Personally I would much rather go to Austin but I think The Girlfriend has some friend in Houston she wants to catch up with. I will just have to remember to not wear my NY Yankees baseball caps, not the most liked team in Texas 🙂

  48. After the Bradford game on Tuesday, we have a run of five games that, if all goes to plan, should give us a nice return in points. And if it does not, then let the panic begin in earnest, as the 3 games following are easily the toughest 3 in a row we will play all season. In the league anyways. A bit of vengeance thrown in against Swansea when we meet in the FA Cup should add some spice to the New Year.

    TH14 is supposedly coming back again, with the Swansea game being pencilled in as the date for his return. Not quite sure how I feel about him coming back to be honest. No doubting his talent, even at this stage in his career, yet I would much rather see a real signing in Huntelaar or the like.

  49. next 5 games are really crucial as irishgray says.

    i hope we get zaha, fellaini or gustavo or m’villa in jan window.

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