Football Is A Cruel Mistress

UEFA Champions League, Quarter Final, 2nd Leg
Liverpool 4 – 2 Arsenal

Liverpool win 5 – 3 on aggregate

0 – 1 Diaby (13)
1 – 1 Hyppia (30)
2 – 1 Torres (68)
2 – 2 Adebayor (83)
3 – 2 Gerrard (84 pen)
4 – 2 Babbel (90)

She is a dominatrix who shows no mercy to the frailties of man. In yesterday’s headline I ‘demanded’ a performance of Champions. What happened was a performance that encapsulated a season in ninety minutes. An opening third that blew away all before them, a rocky spell just before halfway mark, recovery of composure without being totally convincing, a brief shining beacon just as hope seemed lost, only for the fatal blow to be self-inflicted.

Sixty seconds was all that it took for a night of glory to be destroyed, a collective loss of concentration. When the game was there to be seen out quietly, the team were unable to do so. To lay the blame of elimination at the door of Kolo Toure is unfair; it was the pivotal moment of the night but this was a tie that had three such incidents that ultimately led to Arsenal’s exit. If the referee correctly pointed to the spot last night – there was contact and in this day and age, you touch your opponent with your arm, it is seven times out of ten going to be a penalty – then his peer in the first leg was equally wrong to deny Hleb and if only Nicklas Bendtner could jump a foot higher. A tie of ‘what ifs’ if ever there was one.

It had been an evening that started so promisingly. Total control of the first thirty minutes, rewarded by Abou Diaby’s goal. Receiving the ball on the left edge of the penalty area, he fed Adebayor whose cross-shot was parried by Reina and scrambled clear to Flamini. Hleb received a short pass on the right of the area and slipped the pass through to Diaby, who had drifted across the area. He completed the move with a rifling drive into the net. Forget about the criticism of Reina; this was Diaby’s moment in the sun and nothing more than Arsenal deserved.

This spell was a return to form. From the kick-off, the passing game slipped effortlessly into gear. Senderos and Gallas had control of Crouch and Torres; Toure and Eboue had Gerrard in their pocket to the extent that he was rendered ineffectual; Flamini and Fabregas were the ‘daddy’s’ of the centre, losing Alonso and Mascherano at will to free Hleb to play unhindered. Adebayor had plenty of support and was pushing onto the last man so tight that the offside’s given were marginal and quite easily have gone the other way.

Eboue in particular showed the way forward on the right, probing and matching anything that Diaby provided on the left, short of a goal. Five minutes after the goal, it seemed that Diaby and Clichy had set him up for a wild strike at goal; instead he lifted the ball over a defender, kept his shot down only to see it deflected to the safe arms of Reina. In the second, you wonder if he had gone down in the area whether the referee would have pointed to the spot minutes before Torres gave Liverpool the lead. He was castigated for shooting but looking at his body shape as he hit the ground after rounding Reina, I think he was trying to square it across goal but ran out of space.

The good spell came to an end on the half-hour mark. Almunia made a good save from a fierce cross-shot from Gerrard. At the ensuing corner, Senderos lost his bearings and Hyppia took full advantage. An undeserved equaliser had arrived. From that point on, the Arsenal boat rocked in the Anfield sea with Liverpool dominating the final quarter of an hour of the first half. With five minutes of the half remaining, a blow on Flamini’s ankle received from Gerrard led to his early departure and unsettled the team. Gilberto replaced him and in the remaining minutes, he turned back the clock with a neat pass inside to Fabregas and a good block to stop a marauding Aurelio in his tracks. At that point, the loss of Flamini seemed to be a momentary and unfazing incident on the night.

The second period started as the first ended with Liverpool on top. Despite an early good save by Almunia from Gerrard’s drive, the hosts were not creating real chances. Lots of threatening possession with Arsenal sitting back and soaking up the pressure. On the hour mark, Liverpool seemed to lose their way and long spells of Arsenal possession ensued. It did not last though. A punt upfield saw Crouch induce panic on the right-hand side of Liverpool’s defence between Gallas and Toure. For the only time in the evening, the knockdown fell to Torres who had got behind the two Arsenal defenders. Senderos tried to cover but could not get close enough to prevent the turn and shot that led to the hosts having the advantage.

Arsene responded by introducing Walcott and van Persie into the fray, withdrawing Diaby and Eboue, as the equaliser was sought. It almost arrived within ninety seconds. Hleb on the left arced a pass forward that was missed by the Liverpool defence. Adebayor beat Reina to the ball, lifted in over the Spaniard to see it drift wide. A glorious chance went begging.

It seemed not to matter though when ten minutes later Theo Walcott picked up the ball in his own half and ran eighty yards at full pelt brushing off four Liverpool challenges. Retaining his composure, he squared the ball behind the Liverpool defence where Adebayor waited to slot home. Glory days beckoned and were equally quickly snatched away.

Whatever the root of the problem is, a regular charge is of how Arsenal cannot see out a game. It is, of course, not totally true otherwise the team would not have been in the top three all season. Last night, they chose to prove the misinformation correct. Babel charged into the area and in trying to get behind the Liverpool attacker, Toure’s arm made contact. It does not take much to have a forward go down in the box at the best of times. When your team needs a goal, the urgency with which the floor seems an appealing option, hastens. Steven Gerrard was given a redemptive moment having missed his kick to allow Theo to start his run; this time the Liverpool skipper was calm and firm in his shot and the tie had swung away from Arsenal permanently. The fourth Liverpool goal was somewhat inevitable as gaps emerged, Babel outsprinting Fabregas to beat Almunia and seal the win in the dying moments.

A glorious failure it might have been but one in which the team should take belief. They showed no fear and came so close. The history books and statistics can record the events but they never truly show the reality. Arsene may rage about penalties, fuelled by a sense of injustice but injuries have cost the squad more dearly. What if Flamini had not been crocked before half-time? What if Rosicky were fit? What if RvP had not lost half a season? As I said earlier, a time of ‘what ifs’.

In 2003-04, a difficult spell was put behind the team with a 4 – 2 home win over Liverpool, a big game. In 2007-08, another big game looms at the weekend, an extra day to rest weary bones. A win at Old Trafford and the heights of 1988-89 may yet be scaled once more. Defeat and the season of promise will peter out as 1987-88 did, leaving a solid foundation for the future in its wake. A test of character for Arsene and his staff to lift the players. Last night showed the players have the mental strength but this time they need it for the full ninety minutes.

‘til Tomorrow.

93 thoughts on “Football Is A Cruel Mistress

  1. Big Al says:

    Last night was our season in microcosm. Great passing football; the opposition on the ropes with no final blow to finish them off; dodgy defending; a harrowing refereeing decision (it was like having Kuyt’s effort last week rubbed in our faces) and then Arsene rueing what might have been in an emotional post-match interview. It even had a pivotal injury to an important player.

  2. Jimmy says:

    My Liverpool supporting friends proclaimed that Liverpool’s voctory was due to Benitez being a tactical genius. I didn’t see that, did anyone else? I just don’t get why Liverpool always seem to succeed. They have loads of average players and seem to get so many breaks… I just don’t get it.

  3. Luke says:

    YW

    A good balanced report. Now is not the time to point fingers and look for scapegoats. We carried the game to Liverpool and if the gods had been kinder, we would have been through.

    Ade did well to score, and played a major part in our first goal. To criticise him for the one he missed would be unjust.

    Hleb made one glorious assist for Diaby and made one defense splitting pass that Ade failed to capitalise. Again, criticising Hleb would be unfair.

    Senderos? If only…

    Walcott did his bit with a fantastic run to set up our second goal. Tactically, Wenger got it right to bring him on as an impact sub. If only…

    I’m gutted but my support for Arsenal continues to be unwavering.

  4. Flint McCullough says:

    Excellent , well balanced & concise. Well done YW.

    I cannot be as subjective. We have been robbed in this tie, but credit to Liverpool & their fans, who really are a 12th man.

    In truth , although we have had so much ill fortune of late, we have not been quite good enough to overcome it with a true champion’s resolve. We simply have not been able to defend like winners.

    It is so nearly there, we must keep this squad together. With the right additions & another years experience we have plenty to look forward to.

    That being the case, as Frank McLintock says ‘the best Wenger years are ahead’.

    Some disgraceful comments last night.

  5. Passenal says:

    Good effort, shame about the result. I agree that we should not turn on the team at this time. So many factors went against us, but they gave it their best. The basis of a great team is there, a bit of tweaking in the summer and we’ll be back to try again.

  6. Big Al says:

    To be honest, the worst comments last night came from just a couple of well-known lunatics. Most people were cut-up, but keeping the faith.

    This is one of the many reasons I still have hope for the future of Arsenal:

    http://101greatgoals.magnify.net/item/C8V7G29QG586F0NH

    Man, the commentator cheers me up – As Walcott makes the pass he shouts “Maradona”, and then “Allah”, “Allah” if I’m not mistaken.

  7. Flint McCullough says:

    Yes, Big Al, my comment was certainly aimed at the obvious candidates, particularly that zenophopic twat, who’s misunderstanding of football is total.

  8. mike says:

    4 games played against Liverpool this season , for all that so called superior football of Arsenals they failed to win ANY of those 4 games. So much for superior football.
    *waits for all the arsenal “yea buts” to come*

  9. Luke says:

    Mike is either Hats off who posted in goodplaya’s blog or he plagiarised something from Hats off that is so unworthy.

    Hats off Says:
    9 April 2008 at 9:03 am
    4 games played against Liverpool this season , for all that so called superior football of Arsenals they failed to win ANY of those 4 games. So much for superior football.
    *waits for all the arsenal “yea buts” to come*

  10. Swineshead says:

    A person shouldn’t have to go through so many emotions over the course of 90 minutes. Joy, disappointment, absolute ecstasy, disbelief, misery, depression.

    Blast.

  11. 1979gooner says:

    it really wasn’t a penalty,

    Babel was hardly touched and made no effort to stay on his feet,

    the argument you hear from some quarters that any contact is a penalty is rubbish,

    otherwise Eboue should have had one when clipped in the second half,

    the truth is that referees respond to diving and reward it,

    time and time again Torres won a free kick by diving, time and time again Adebayor was kicked the sh*t out of and stayed on his feet to win nothing,

    do we have to start cheating to adapt to the modern game?

    I would hope not, refs should not react to diving

  12. Flint McCullough says:

    Mike,

    Liverpool sides always have a tremendous resolve. I think most fair minded people would agree that the tie could have gone either way.

    The league table does not lie, so we shall see where the 2 teams are, at the end of the season.

    Good luck to ‘pool , I hope they win the CL now.

  13. Old Timer says:

    Football can be cruel, but having followed it all these years the rub of the green will go the other way. Great match, full of heart breaks, but the boys played with 100% effort. Our time will come, the signs are there. Well done gunners well done.

  14. Patthegooner says:

    Well Said Flint

    Honestly If I had been in the same room as those bigots last night I would probably have lost it with them

    People deal with dissapointment in different ways but being prejudice is not a way that is right. The 2 concerned both hinted that if Senderos was English he would no longer be at the Club, That is unnaceptable and actually labels Arsene Wenger a Racist. A strange statement when you look at how much he paid for a 16 Year old Theo Walcott, and that a player similar in ability to Phil in Justin Hoyte is still at the club.

    Great Report though Yogi, there was no disgrace in that performance and they should take it on to Old Trafford on Sunday. I hope Flamini is not too bad, we will need him.

  15. Vivb says:

    I thought the coverage show Toure grabbing a bit of Babel’s shirt. The frustrating thing is Gallas was covering.

    Most people follow the he’s shit he’s amazing policy with nothing in between.

    As for the Theo lobby his time will come he still needs to learn but yesterday showed his potential when he can play with the whole pitch rather than on the wing where defenders mussle him into touch.

    We’ve had bad refereeing decisions and injuries but the real issue are the critical mistakes the team has made which is probably down alot to their inexperience. For example:

    Lehman v Fulham and Blackburn 2 points dropped
    Senderos v Aston Villa OG costing 2 points
    Clichy v Birmingham failure to clear ball resulted in a penalty being given 2 points dropped.

    I haven’t mentioned the missed chances/goals

    I suspect alot of the mistakes are due to tiredness.

  16. Mickie says:

    PAT: I totally agree, I can’t believe views like that are allowed to go out in national media without a blink of the eye.

    On the radio this morning, I heard that only English players give 100% (citing Carragher as example) that’s why we didn’t get a result.

    How sad is that?

  17. Vivb says:

    100% effort ….That’s why English players are looking forward to the Euro Championships.

  18. Rev says:

    I was very upset last night, i was laying in bed with the Mrs’ having a good ol’ moan at all the bad luck and injustice we’ve had to put up with this season (what a ROMEO!)… and then she reminded me that last August / September we were all talking about this season being the final transition year. And unless i’m mistaken most of us were… we were all excited at the prospect of putting up a fight this season and really challenging for honours, but in all honesty we didn’t really think we’d make the grade, did we?
    But the improvement on last season was so obvious that it exceeded all expectations, we were playing so well at the start of the season that at times it was like watching the invincibles all over again… i think that we as fans struggled to keep our feet on the ground.
    This team WILL be great. AW needs to invest in a world class aerial defender, Senderos is a great second choice centre back but nowhere near good enough in BIG high tempo games like last night (atleast not at the moment – that said he is improving)
    If we can keep hold of Flamini (who should be given the captaincy in my opinion) all we really need is a world class winger in the ilk of say Overmars or Pires – somebody who can score goals as well as creates and assist the forwards… then, trophy wise, we might very well be in for a treat next season.
    Until then, lets stuff Man UTD and hope they & Chelsea slip up in the run in, it ain’t over til it’s over.

  19. Matt says:

    Well, Well, Well….

    I agree almost totally with your post Yogi – apart from Eboue..

    My god – the man needs to go – truly terrible again last night…

    On the whole though – i thought we played well going forward, but defended terribly.

    I think it is now clear that we do not have the necessary physical power at the back – and it is now clear we cannot play with Toure AND Gallas as Centre Halfs – we need a big, strong, imposing CH to come in the summer.

    And the depth of the squad has really hurt us this year – too many injuries with no real cover.

    To be fair – we have done well to get as far as we have with so many players playing out of position.

    Arsene needs to spend in the summer – i hope he realises!

    And lets hope he now plays Theo for the remaining games – the kid is going to be electric.

    Strangely, i feel a sense of relief at our season now being over – the frustration of having an outside chance of everything is gone.

  20. Lincoln says:

    Great post YW. Exactly what I saw.

    I agree with the Rev and previous YW posts that we have overachieved. Of course ‘we was robbed’ by the ref.. but we should take confidence from this match.

    As much as Arsene, Arsenal and the fans want to win the Champions League we’d have had to beat Chelsea and (probably)ManUnited to do it. Not really what you’d call a “European” competition. Do we really want to risk two extra games this season with Chelsea and ManUre? I’d almost rather we wrapped up 3rd place, gave it our best and when it become mathematically impossible put out the kids.

  21. gazzap says:

    I still absolutely floored this morning. I cant raise myself to do anything.
    the sense of injustice is so great, as wenger says. how many more times are we going to feel like this before we win a trophy?
    I cant beleive the amount of bad luck we have had since Birmingham away. Did we upset the football Gods by playing a weakened team at OT? Our season broke with Eduardo’s leg.
    There was the dodgy pen against Clichy in that game, the disallowed goal againt Boro, as well as the dodgy free-kick that led to their goal, then John Terry decides not to give us the possession back after we kicked it out for a phantom Joe Cole injury that led directly to their goal, then the penalty we should have had when Kuyt pulled down Hleb, then the penalty we should have had when Carragher pulled down Fabregas, and now the dive by Babel to ‘win’ their team a pen.

    That ref was always going to give it. he was that sort of ref. I really felt if Eboue had gone down earlier he also would have had the penalty. the ref was giving a free-kick every time a player went to ground regardless of whether it was a foul. Arsenal should have wised up to that fact early on.
    What Babel did is cheating. lets not let him off the hook just because refs buy it. It was Babel who looked for the contact, he made sure there was a minimal contact so he could hit the ground with his arms flying everywhere.

    aside from the result, I was very proud of the players last night, as I have been all season. they deserve a lot of credit.

  22. Big Al says:

    Jayman – That looks to me like Al Jazeera Sport. I spent some time in the UAE at the start of this year – I often had to put the TV on mute when the game was in Arabic. The commentators are so excitable and it does absolutely no good for my nerves.

  23. lc says:

    I can’t really fault anyone for the performance they all put in. But it’s clear, we need another CB, as tall as Senderos with pace and agression. We need another striker, goal posher(I would advise Huntelaar).
    But I can’t really understand the bad luck we are running into at the moment! It’s strange. May be AW needs to include more home grown lads in the first team to kick out this bad luck. It’s just my personal feeling about it.
    Next sunday, I would like to see Song instead of Gilberto in the squad.
    Well done lads; whatever happen for the remaining games, you really did well. I hope AW takes note of the damage the lack of spending did to us. Can Adebayor stop his goal ‘over- celebration’ we don’t seem to recover from and seem to concede goals just after scoring, please?

  24. Luke says:

    Ic. I don’t think over-celebration is the cause for conceding straight away. In fact, deliberate over celebration could help us win the mind game provided we remain focussed from the kick-off when the game is re-started. Can you imagine how irritated the opposing team could become if they are made to wait for us to finish our goal celebrations?

  25. don the gooner says:

    Dont blame the ref he didn”t pick Senderdross and Eboue.

    Senderdross plays o.k against poor sides but in the top games he is usless.Eboue is just a joke.

    The likes of Cesc and Ade are burnt out they needed a mid season break but the back up players are not good enough to allow them a res

    Wengers failure to spend money on top quality players has ultimatly cost us dear.Some of the players are not as good as he thinks they are.Unless we buy big in the summer we will be in the same position next season

  26. KLVon says:

    Hard to pen something when you are hot under the collar. I was gutted, like so many other Arsenal fans. Gutted for the Club, for the players, for AW and for every other true Arsenal supporter.

    But the truth is, we are short. Short of fit players, short of a depth, plain short in the height department, and short on luck. That is why this season we come short in the trophies department.

    I recall the times when we can call upon Pires, Overmars, and Bergkamp in the last 30 minutes and we changed the game. The last few months of this season is like the entire last season – lots of possession but not much penetration, hence draws with Aston V, Birmingham, Wigan, Boro.

    Last night, mind you, despite the result, I was not totally disappointed with the OVERALL performance of the team. It was predictable as it was the same pattern for the last few weeks. Typically, some played great, while others did not. And predictably, we had a penalty against. It was predictable cos we are playing at Anfield. Didn’t anyone tell Toure that? It was a pen waiting to be given, and for us to shoot ourselves in both feet? For the length of the whole season, I am not blaming Toure, just like I did not blame Clichy for the Birmingham pen. They both played with commitment from Aug to now. It is just that we, as a team, did not play smart. You can see the Liverpool players played smart, falling over for freekicks and of course, for the penalty. Why didn’t we talk about it at halftime? We did not alert each other, that’s the problem.

    I hope AW will buy a big striker, a big CB, and a big GK. I mean big physically. Our team is shorn of big fellahs. AW designs the team for speed and technique. That’s why his players are small and short. But we are not playing rugby league. We do not need a team of players of the same size and skills. We need big SOBs who can kick the ball hard upfield when we are defending in the last minute. We also need big SOBs who can shoulder budge our opponents’ CBs at corners and freekicks. That way, we can create fear in our opponents. Presently, they only fear us when we are passing around. Break up our passing, and we cant win.

    So we are still in a transition, eh? If we have that mentality, we will still be in transition come April 2009, 2010, 2011. So come on AW, think again. Be generous and spend big for once. Show the world we can attract the Ronaldos, the Torres, the Ballacks. No point in telling the world how close we came to signing them. Afterall, big spenders attract big time players. So far, we are the miser, and misers become feeder clubs, not buying clubs.

  27. Steve says:

    I think Cesc tugged at Babel’s shirt just outside the box before Toure bumped into him. Therefore it was a freekick not a pen. The ref only has 1 quick glimpse so it was not easy for him. The one on Hleb was different, it was right under the ref’s nose.

    We were very good in spells last night but lacked full concentration for the 90 mins.

  28. Luke says:

    Our first goal was a beauty in its creation and final execution. I don’t agree that we were all possession and no penetration last night like we were the few games before. The endeavour and performance was one fitting for the biggest match of the season.

  29. lc says:

    Luke, on the contrary, it affects team concentration; and even ref against you for deliberately wanting to waste time. In reverse psychology, I would say that it’s can bring to your side bad luck.

  30. pity says:

    KLvon
    well put. i couldnt have agreed more if i wanted to.
    im feeling really sad for the arsenal players right now.

    they played so hard over a course of 7-8 months but to get nothing in the end (CL,PL, FA CUP, carling) will be disappointing for them. however, they have played some of the most beautiful footbal i have ever seen for a team that consists of teenagers.
    though some may say, BEAUTIFUL FOOTBALL does not equals GOALS, i beg to differ.

    next season, i will be looking forward to see how wenger will strengthen his squad further more and enable them to reach newer heights.

  31. Gooner4Life says:

    After a stonking performance by the team and a show of Theo’s immense potential it was sad to go out like that particularly with that penalty. Liverpool certainly are gr8 purveyors of the dark arts (Torres,Gerrard,Kuyt,Masch, Carragher, Babel – have all got away with shocking decisons all season).The footballing gods deserted us yesterday, Fatigue, injuries to key players, defensive frailties all conspired to serve Liverpool victory.

    All the same Arsenal rewarded us with a pulsating performance in phases of how football should be played. We r getting better every year and learning new things about ourselves n a glimpse of where we can be. Our day will come and our quality and potential will pay off very soon.

  32. solgooner says:

    2 weeks ago I said that Senderos is fine till he loses concentration, he did it twice last night and lppol scored, hes been a loyal servant, but I think its time he went and we got a CB who can rotate with Gallas and Toure, lets see how Song does on Sunday, of course hes had little match experience since hes recovered from injury, and it puzzles me why hes had so few chances. whereas Ebuoe gets chance after chance, and always makes a bad pass or shot at the crucial time.

  33. Ole Gunner says:

    The Arsene needs to spend chorus is back on. Get a grip folks.

    Arsene will spends, and has bought a lot of players in the last 3 years. He’ll keep doing so. But he won’t waste money. So go suck a lemon.

    I don’t care if you spent £900 m, but if you can’t hold on to a lead you get in the 94th min of the CL 1/4 finals at Anfield. Barnsley might have held on to that lead.

    What the hell is going on with us this season?

  34. KMC says:

    Luck, good or bad, can only be a small part of a game but the timing of it can effect the entire result. It’s not something you can legislate for nor is it a skill that can be practiced but it can be more devastating than anything move developed on the training ground.

    So we had the wrong referees on the wrong nights, switch their games round and we’d probably be through. Then again we might of missed our pen anyway so you can only go so far with this feeling agrieved thing.

    Lehman was unlucky against Barcelona but then Eboue dived for the free kick that got us our goal, let’s also not forget just how much luck we went through away to Villareal.

    Let’s stop bemoaning our luck and instead look at the positives our “youngsters” have managed to conjour up these past seasons.

    We are close to being great again so now’s not the time to round on AW or the team.

  35. Passenal says:

    Ole Gunner we were not in the lead in the 94th minute or we would have won the game.

  36. nolaboyd says:

    C’mon people, I love the sense of fair play, and I know how much YW love being extra-reasonable when he’s totally gutted, but one doesn’t have to be a gunner to know that wasn’t a penalty. Kolo did not, despite what Yogi said, make contact with his arms. (Click on my name to see.)

    I am wondering whether Steve is right on the Cesc tug…tough to tell. But that doesn’t matter, as that wasn’t called. HE GAVE KOLO A YELLOW!! Not just contact, but that he PULLED him down when he was past him. Manifestly false, people. And not because of poor positioning.

    We did what we had to do to win against a confident and committed side who has a player beyond the quality of anyone we can put on the field right now. On the second goal, look at Gilberto standing there, and imagine Flamini closing him down on that turn.

    In 2008, we have been well and truly f**ked by both injuries (Sagna and Flam today, on top of Eduardo and the usual suspects) and horrible calls (especially Birmingham, which changed the course of the season, and last night). We were simply not deep enough for the first, or mentally strong enough for the second. But all teams with silverware have a little luck, and there’s been none to be found.

  37. dan says:

    soooo gutted , just wish we wouldn’t have scored, way too much of a tease. my only question as ever is eboue, why oh why. also we should have brought on bendtener not RVP, he would have been much more likely to score. as for the penalty no surprise it was given they mostly are like that. other than helb’s last week which was a far worse decison than last nights.

    overall we did as well as can be expected and had little luck yet again.

    roll on next season!!!!

  38. zicoinexile says:

    A very balanced report YW. Much more reasonable than I was prepared to be either last night or indeed today.

    I agree most with the comment above that states that some of our players aren’t as good as AW thinks they are. Step forward Mr Eboue in particular – I lost count the number of times he gave the ball away last night either by panic first time passes to no one or trying to go past a player and failing.

    We have got to spend to augment the squad if we got to get back in amongst the silverware – not suggesting 30M on a superstar – but lets buy some quality squad players.

    Finally, Theo, you came of age last night – that run was breathtaking!

  39. gris gris says:

    Terribly gutted as well but that’s football. Lots of highs and lows. To end on a low like that after the team clearly gave their all will make a lasting memory for the players. Let’s hope they use it for motivation instead of excuses.

    Passenal: all even at 2-2 gave us the lead in the tie…we were through on away goals. I’m sure that is what Ole meant.

  40. gris gris says:

    oops, just re-read Ole’s post. Passenal, you are indeed right. We were not in the lead in the 94’th minute. My mistake.

  41. gazzap says:

    if chelsea win 3 and draw 2 including their game with man u, while man u lose to us, draw to chelsea and draw one other game, then chelsea will have 85 points, man u will have 85 points and if we win all 5 games we will have 86 points.
    Clearly anything other than a win this weekend and we are out of it once and for all. our other fixtures are relatively easy.
    Even if we are not to win it, I think it shows mental toughness to finish the season as strongly as you can. I like players who can show that attitude as it tells you a lot about them.
    given man u and chelsea’s CL involvement they may still drop points. its a shame Arsenal dropped lots of silly points recently. even the Liverpool league game now looks even worse. I know wenger had his eyes on the CL but the team selection on saturday meant we threw away another 2 points. had we won there, we would still be in with a real shout. Lets not give up quite yet.

  42. dan says:

    gazzap, we have won 2 in 12, if we can turn that around to 5 in 5 that will be the greatest come back in history!!!! but hey stranger things have happened i mean eboue was picked again last night!!!!

  43. lc says:

    There’s still chance that we can do it (Gazzap), but if we can beat United on Sunday. May be the confidence we get from that win could help us get more win, Manu and Chelsea will busy with the CL.
    I would like AW to add three players to our squad for next season if Flamini stay, otherwise four:
    – Huntlaar(Ajax, striker)~£18M.
    – Affailey(Psv, attacking midfield) ~£8M.
    – Remy(lyon, striker/winger) ~10M.
    Then a tall, physical and agressive defender from eastern Europ.

    If Flamini leaves, we should go for Diarra(Real, out of favour at the moment) £18M.

  44. NYmarcus says:

    I just want to state something right now: if any so-called “Arsenal supporter” or fake “gooner” EVER comes on here to express JOY at our loss, I will come out with guns blazing. Yogi may have to ban me because I will not hold back.

    And F–K off to anyone supposed gooner who accuses our manager of ethnic bigotry against the English. Or that English players–by simple virtue of being English–are all never-say-die warriors while non-English players are all uncaring mercenaries. Liverpool had exactly TWO English players on the pitch last night. Wow, what a massive difference from our squad.

    Yogi, yours is the only blog article that I’ve read that says anything positive about Eboue last night.

    And, btw, I’ve heard from several gooners who went to the game that the renowned Anfield atmosphere was no different than at other stadiums for important games, that the Emirates was just as loud as last Wednesday (and that Anfield was just as quiet last night when the opposition scored), and that the travelling gooners sung their lungs out. There was also respectful applause at the end from a lot of the scousers.

    I went to bed last night with these thoughts, and had a very restless night’s sleep:

    I was prepared for us to lose but it’s difficult to accept losing to a team that was not better than us. We made defensive mistakes but so did they. The difference was that in the first leg they got away with a blatant foul in the penalty area that should’ve given us a good chance to score another goal, while in the 2nd leg they were awarded a very soft penalty. In other words, the difference was in the officiating. I’m not one to blame failure solely on officiating, injuries, etc. Yes we’ve had bad luck, bad decisions, too many injuries. But the manager could’ve made better decisions that would’ve mitigated the affect of at least some of those factors. But when we play as well as we did and concede as many goals as the opposition and then lose only because of two ref decisions, it’s very hard to take.

    However, in the cold light of day I accept that after our brilliant second goal (Theo!!!!), we let Pool back into the game. With only a few minutes left to the game, we let them back in. That was our fault.

    We can’t let this get to us—there’s a lot to be proud of with this team so stretched and exhausted and dealing with injuries, constantly dismissed in the media. We provided the best games in the CL this season for neutrals to watch, v. Liverpool and Milan (not to mention games in the earlier rounds). We have to see the rest of the season out with our heads held high.

  45. gazzap says:

    dan, yeah I know 5 in 5 does seem somewhat unlikely. I didn’t say it was likely, just that it was possible. getting a win at OT will be harder than winning the other 4 games. if we can do the business this w/e then i will beleive.
    to be fair, if we play like we did last night in patches then we can beat them. but we said that after Milan and look what happened at Wigan!
    at least Vidic is out so you never know – we are certainly due some luck at some stage.

  46. Marcus says:

    I love to hear peoples optimism, however I am sitting in the camp that our season is now over!

    A devestating prospect but we have a long time now to look back and reflect. What went wrong? One argument I hope we can all agree on is exhaustion. We are simply too tired to compete. We have run out of steam and it is not actually anyones fault except the managers. We have taken a squad too young, inexperienced and ultimately too small into a season, tried to fight on all fronts and it has been a massive failure.

    We needed to strengthen at the begining last summer, when every Arsenal fan in the country was crying out for a winger. Here we are again and a year on the same chat is surfacing!

    However I will defend our team in many ways last night, we were fantastic and despite my reservations I thought we played well. We just burnt out, then realised what was at stake and perked up again through adreneline! We were shattered though, thats why we faded mid way through the game. Bad decsions from the officials have hurt us here but we have too many weakness to blame that entirely. Of course Wenger is not going to come out and blame anyone else except the officials, but he seriousy needs to sort it out.

    I have faith in Wenger, I believe he has made some key mistakes this season however the progression of some players has redeemed him Ade, Sagna, Flam, Theo has shown how good our man is at picking up youth and nurturing it if we are still in our ”transition” then progress is being made, however, his personal master plan of creating a youth team is not the best interest to his club and the fans.

    It is not ”Wenger FC” it is ”Arsenal FC” and I think he has let us down by furfiling a personal ambition within the freedom our club gives him.

    Now I am NOT one and could NEVER be one of those calling for Wengers head. I love the guy, he is the greatest manager we have ever had and what he has done to our club is amazing! Lets not forget that.

    He does however need to address the current problem and the board might have to prod him to actually spend some money to bring in some experienced and proven players, he does need to ditch his youth scheme, I am not concerned where they are from as long as they are strong, proffessional and of a standard that Arsenal should have, currently some of our players are below that standard but I am not going into that now!

    I dont think I will be quiet so calm about the situation in a years time if we have been thrashed by our arch rivals in domestic cups, thrown away a title and then lost the CL quarters to a team build around two players.

    Wenger must do something about this! He owes it to the club and his fans. We have given him everything he wants and now he must deliver..

  47. simon says:

    Painful as it is i remember going out last year and wenger throwing on an unfit out of sorts Henry to rescue the game, last night it was van persie is you needed an indication that the squad is too small seeing him running out with both legs strapped was evidence enough. walcott is not the answer Edoue played very well and his passing complements our style Walcott has played well at times but most of the time he is easily marshalled by a street wise defender he is one dimensional but will progress, we need to by some expernce cos wenger excuses have now been the same for 3 years “we lacked a little bit of experence” weell do something about it Arsene

  48. dan says:

    NY, for the first 25 minutes we were fantastic, but after that liverpool were better and were the team that looked most likely to score, our goal came out of nothing. i think it is unrealistic to say that they were not better last night, like we were better than them last week. over the two legs it was very close and clearly the penalty decsions were the deciding factors, more importantly last weeks as last nights are given the majority of times. the frustration with last nights is completely compounded by last weeks decision which in reality have nothing to do with one another. it was awful defending by toure who shouldn’t be playing full back, a man of his experiance should know better than trying to make that tackle.

  49. dan says:

    marcus, very eloquent indeed!!!! the only thing to add is wenger can not be given forever to get it right, he has to do it this summer. if we are in the same position next summer then it is time to move on. what is ironic is that last summer he talked about lack of experiance and here we are him saying the same things again.

  50. ps7 says:

    Who drove over the black cat? Sell him immediately! If only it was funny, bad luck, bad decisions and bad injuries, I feel so sorry for the players that have given everything. I think my overall reaction was that of sadness.

    However, having watched the last 15 mins again can you imagine the outcry if one of our players had dived to win the game, imagine if Babel was Eboue, we would be slaughtered in the press. Liverpool are supposedly great victors in a great game- not cheats, forgotten is the diving of Torres in the first game and Babel in this. I would not like to think how the press would cover Man Utd being defeated by a penalty such as the one given to Babel.

    Still this is Arsenal, we are all paranoid, but the team gave everything last night and I think over the 2 legs Arsenal were the better team. It’s a small comfort.

  51. Yogi's Warrior says:

    Marcus @1.49pm

    Eboue’s performance last night was the same as the rest of the team. Decent for the first thirty minutes, average for the rest of the time he was on the pitch.

    The trouble is that once people get an idea in their heads about players, it takes an awful lot to change it.

    YW

  52. Luke says:

    To borrow a headline read elsewhere, a good tagline start to next season with would be “Next season begins today.” So let’s go for 5/5 beginning this Sunday. You won’t know what you can achieve with this attitude.

  53. solgooner says:

    Marcus you are right some players have improved, but other have gone back especially, Ebuoe, Djouru, Traore, and Senderos who just hasnt learnt to concentrate, PLUS we have two injury prone players in RVP and Rosicky. so let us all hope that we do make the changes to strengthen the squad, and get rid of the rubbish.

    The first 25 minutes of last night will always be remembered.

  54. don the gooner says:

    Marcus spot on. The truth is the board are shit scared of Wenger. A club the size of Arsenal with our income should be attracting world stars not signing 15 year olds and hoping they come good one day.We need proven experienced players who wont crack in the home straight.But Wenger is too stubborn he is now set in his ways that youth is best.And there is no one strong enough at the club to tell him he needs to change his ways

    This team lacks an Adams,a Keown a Vieira.They have a soft unbelly.I think Arsene should bring in a new number 2 what does Pat rice do?

  55. solgooner says:

    Yogo how can you compare Ebuoe with for example Clichy, or Hleb, Ebuoe held on 2 occasion when there were 2 players wide open, thats the way he is, he will never change.

  56. Yogi's Warrior says:

    nolaboyd

    Toure did touch Babel; whatever we may feel about it, continental referees are less tolerant than their English counterparts of this sort of thing.

    YW

  57. Rev says:

    How can you say Djouru & Traore have gone backwards? They haven’t been given a chance!

  58. Rev says:

    Don… i see what you’re saying but i think you’re forgetting what Arsene is trying to achieve at Arsenal. He wants a philosephy of football running through the entire club, from the youth team to the seniours, to the ladies… a style of football that we are in love with, a breeding ground for young talent to come through the ranks and become great Arsenal players…
    This to me is an extremely exciting prospect. What a legacy to leave at a club when you retire!?
    What’s more, the stupid money in the game at the moment will not be in it for ever…
    Arsene, and Arsenal are doing what very other clubs are doing at the moment – that is, running within its means…
    Is it worth putting the future of Arsenal FC in jeopardy for the sake of winning a few trophies in the short term?

  59. Old Timer says:

    nolaboyd, why did you have to put that peice in? It was like reliving a nightmare. You are 100% correct Kolo did not obstruct or put his arms anywhere near Babel. I said from the very first time they put Kolo at RB he was out of position and tis the same again. Eboue should have been playing there with Theo in his place. Eboue stood up last night and did not fall over, if he had we would have been given a penalty; like YW said give a dog a bad name and it will stick. He has in the past done some stupid things but i for one still think he has a lot to offer. As gaz said we still have a chance to win 5 out of 5, lets hope we do.

  60. lc says:

    Simon, I agree with you on Eboue. He is constantly on any Arsenal blog, the meal of the day; but one thing I saw in him is that when he is in the squad, no matter what position he is playing in, our slic passing is amazing. Shame that he can’t concentrate well as he gets closer to the penalty area.
    In my opinion, Aw has mad a wrong substitution: i was expecting Senderos to come off, as he never managed to keep Crouch quiet. Then, bring Eboue to RB and Walcott to RW and bring Diaby in middle as Gilberto was just a waste of space. But AW brought on an unfit RVP, and apart from Walcott’s SOLO, we were just like a destroyed army camp. Liverpool could have even score more goals.

  61. Yogi's Warrior says:

    lc

    Disagree about Gilberto; he did nothing wrong last night. Arsene was never going to replace Senderos other than to go with three at the back and bring on Bendtner.

    As for keeping Crouch quiet, he only created one chance when Senderos was nowhere near him. Unfortunately PS was nowhere near Torres either…

    YW

  62. lc says:

    Yogi,
    Gilberto didn’t do much, apart from staying just in front of the back-4, making us play with five defenders, inviting liverpool to play constantly in our box.
    Song would have done better; even Eboue in that position would have been a good thing. Gilberto was too scare to do anything ambitious; he can’t even make any forward run. How is that any good?

  63. NYmarcus says:

    From the lips of Steven Gerrard:

    “Gerrard said Liverpool were lucky to book a semi-final tie against Chelsea for the third time in four years.
    “Arsenal are a fantastic team. They passed us off the pitch but we stayed together,” he said. “We never lacked belief and in the end we came through.
    “It was a fantastic team performance but it would be difficult to say the best team won.”

  64. solgooner says:

    Diably in CM is still OK, but he is wasted as a winger,
    Yogi Gibberto didnt play badly last night but he has lost some speed and sharpness.

    If fate was with us we would beat MANU, Chelsea, would beat Manu,,Everton would beat Chelsea, and MANU would draw at Wigan. and we would win all of our games, Song, and other fringe players would play an important part and Theo would play like he did last night with Sagna back at RB

  65. foln16 says:

    what i’ve been unable to understand is why, with Sagna injured, Arsene doesn’t put Eboue at right back (where he played, and played well, last season) and keep Toure paired with Gallas in center.

  66. solgooner says:

    Ic I have been saying for weeks give Song a chance, but Gilberto is like Ebuoe always chosen first.

  67. DaveyB says:

    Lots of quality posts today, together with the usual quality writing from YW – certainly the best Arsenal blog writer I know. 2 things of course help the contributions:
    1) A bit of time’ passed since last night – straight after a game like that is not the best time for well-reasoned, objective analysis ;-). I know I wasn’t exactly in an objective mood last night!
    2) The absence of 2 people today.

    A couple of observations from last night, also to regular comments from people here:

    i) It’s great to see Theo’s promised start to be fulfilled. But I don’t see much doubt that Arsene’s reluctant to start him (on the right at least) because of his lack of defensive ability – a wide midfielder’s role is not JUST about what he does when we’ve got the ball. Was it coincidence that Babel was going down our right for the dodgy pen.

    ii) That people don’t accept that Eboue does a good job generally defensively from right midfield is a mystery to me. As Yogi’s written, I felt he actually played pretty well going forward too yesterday – as someone else commented, his one touch passing is generally very good & helps us make space. Think he’s just an instant scapegoat these days – though his play-acting antics don’t help to make him popular, that’s for sure!

    iii) Gilberto did Ok yesterday – he’s not suddenly become a dreadful player. But what we need, and what Flamini gives us, is the ability to put the other team under pressure when they’ve got the ball. We lost this ability too much when Pat left, Flamini gives it to us again and we NEED it!

  68. Matt says:

    I thought Gilberto played quite well when he came on…

    But i cant agree with you on Eboue Yogi – i dont think he is being made a scapegoat – i just think he is not very good!

  69. gazzap says:

    Yogi, go watch it again in slow motion. you will see that Toure made no contact with Babel. Babel’s movement makes it looks like he is pulled round. that is all acting. there is no holding from Toure at all.
    when you watch it from one side you think, oh toure must have got hold of him on the other side. then you watch it from the other angle and again you think, He must have got hold of him on the other side. Then you remember, No I looked at the other side and he didn’t get hold of him.
    Babel’s acting is first class. it looks for all the world a penalty and that Toure has pulled him down. thats why I do not blame the ref whatsoever, even I would have given it at the time.
    Cesc did touch Babels hand outside the box. I dont know whether or not that was what Babel was responding to but it certainly was not enough to pull him down and the ref booked Toure so the touch by Cesc was not part of it.

    Babel’s movement was like that of an actor in a film when they are hit except they are not really hit, they just jerk their head like they’ve been hit. they way he threw his body round with arms everywhere, was 100% convincing.

  70. gazzap says:

    Eboue is a right back and Senderos is a liability against pace. been saying that for months and it will always be true as much as wenger wants Eboue to be a winger – he just aint.

  71. Paul N says:

    I agree with NYmarcus and Nolabyd,

    for those who are saying that we are too short and lack experienced players, i have a question for u! Does liverpool lack experienced players or a big squad? hell no!! but we were with them all the way and if not for crazy calls we would be in the semis. If the shoe was on the other foot where we were getting the calls in our favor we would not be crying about not having enough talented experienced players. Why does some of us want to put the blame solely on the manager and the players and let the refs off the hook i do not know. It is the job of the refs to get the decisions right!!! and if not whats the point. We also were good enough up until the bogus call against Clichy!!
    If we are so poor why do we find ourselves in the situations where we are vying for silverware?
    Look i too think Wenger made mistakes, the defense shaky and all the other crap along with a long list of injuries but isnt it confusing given all of this and our inexperience we are here debating the difference that many calls would have and have made? That means we were good enough to be in all these matches where shady calls were the difference and not better teams!

    God Bless!

  72. lc says:

    About Diaby:I think AW is wasting a fantastic second or support striker on the wing. I desagree with those who constantly believe that he(diaby) can make a good CM. I don’t think so. He is not a center midfield, as he is not a one touch player, nor a kick pressing player like Flamini; he holds on the ball too much and could put the defense in trouble. However, he is highly skillful and has got the shooting drive of a natural striker. Confidence in playing constantly there would help him achieve that.

  73. solgooner says:

    Gazzap we agree Senderos is a liability, but Ebuoe defensively is light years behind Sagna who has been sorely missed. If we lost Clichy we only have Gallas as cover because Traore just isnt capable and needs to go on loan. A lot of our so called academy youngsters have not made the grade, Hoyte, Traore, Djouru, etc Or is it because of lack of playing time?

  74. Marc says:

    Anyone wanting to out Wenger is mad. Look at the position the club is in, not just on the pitch but off as well. We haven’t had the money to spend for a few years because of the stadium. Now that the revenue is coming in yes we need to strengthen. Liverpool we spend £40 million in the summer again and claim that this is going to be there year. They have been saying that for how many years now?

    It’s disapointing but hopefully we’ll bring in some new players during the summer to strengthen / suplement the squad and next year we can do better.

  75. Ole Gunner says:

    Senderos might not be the finished good yet, and God knows he was poor yesterday, but are Arsenal fans so fickle?

    Didn’t he step in and do a very good job when Toure was away…even keeping clean sheets in important games? Did I dream that happened?

  76. Victor Meldrew says:

    Most supporters thought the squad was lightweight at the start of the season. Combinations of CB, CM and wingers were the common choice. Then the team punched above its weight for threequarters of the season defying these deficiencies. Now the call for these players is back. One thing you can rely on is that our rivals will be strengthening their squads for the start of next season. So maybe a pivotal moment in AW’s tenure does he stick or twist, invest in new players or trust his philosophy of youth development. Football isn’t ice dancing, no points for style or technique it’s cruel and winning is all that counts. I wish him the best all eyes are certainly focused on him from here on in.

  77. jamie says:

    Well. it’s a relief to read these posts, positive! There’s little to add really, but I’ll have a go. Apart from Jens and Gilberto (age), the only player who should be moved on is Senderos. I think we’d all agree that we need to sign players but we also need to be patient with others. Ferguson has stated that the problem with young players is a lack of consistency. Their progress is uneven. Eboue is learning a new position but does need to improve significantly next season. Senderos is at his optimum level and it ain’t good enough

    Finally, would just like to reiterate something Yogi stated in his piece. Champions need to overcome adversity. The luck and decisions have been shit but you can’t wallow in yout own self pity. That’s why other fans and jounalists give us a hard time. We didn’t have enough to overcome this adversity. A wise man learns from his mistakes.

    Cech, Cudicini, Vidic, Ferdinand. Who knows?

  78. NYmarcus says:

    Just saw this post on another blog, wonder why you guys think of it:

    “A question worth asking is whether Wenger would have fielded Diarra in the second half of the season had he played.

    The point is that there’s a good chance that Wenger would not have rotated even if he had had the options to do so. The success of the current team was down to a happy coincidence of Hleb, Fabregas and Flamini along with the more expected development of other players.

    Early on Wenger was very reluctant to disrupt the starting line-up as these three central players started to build a unique understanding. Because that success was a surprise, and because it was so central to the team’s play, Wenger was fearful that any disruption would lead to it’s breakdown.

    It was this perceived fragility that essentially put a choke hold on any possibility for rotation while our season geared up over autumn and early winter. However in the new year a rapid series of severe injuries and stifling draws resulted in a crucial decision.

    Wenger was faced with a choice. In trying to sustain our lead he could either try and stick it out with his ascendant 1st XI, or he could gamble on bringing in younger, untried squad players to reinforce the team. In hindsight it was a fascinating choice with no good options.

    Because his 1st XI had developed principally from younger, untried squad players, it would have been entirely reasonable to rotate among other similar players.

    But because his 1st XI had emerged by accident, rather than design, and because the emergence had been heavily dependent on the [I]development[/I] of those players. It was never going to be as simple as a series of like-for-like swaps.

    So the choice boiled down to this. On the one hand a tried and tested but severely weakened 1st XI that developed unexpectedly, and on the other hand a series of players who would need to develop and adapt in a similarly rapid and “unexpected” matter.

    The season had been a success up until that point thanks to a happy accident, to rotate would have been contingent on the expectation of another happy accident and consequently a massive gamble. In hindsight it is easy to see why Wenger chose not to rotate. It would have been a massive gamble that was inimical to the club’s table topping form. Maybe that’s the mark of a great manager: a man who is prepared to take those gambles even when they are way out in front.

    The main point I’m trying to make is that the current team’s specific development and style has inhibited rotation to the extent that Wenger may not have rotated even if he had suitable players. Diarra’s exit was a symptom of this state of affairs more than a contributing factor.

    Maybe this is illustrative of why Wenger will never buy big. Because he attempts to construct such a unique team and style of play, he can never really find like-for-like replacements in the market place. It is worrying, but as Arsenal fans we just have to hope that the next batch of youngsters (Gilbert, Merida, Vela, Djorou, Denilson etc…) will step up and that Wenger might find a few more gems in the market to back them up.

    Anyway I hope that this rather long winded analysis proves to be entirely wrong and this 1st XI will somehow win the league.”

  79. solgooner says:

    Marcus, Gilbert was terrible when he went on loan and we had to take him back, Djouru was very inconsistent at Birmingham, Merida is improving but where could we play him when he returns? Vela is the only one who will contend for a place as soon as he settles in, he and Walcott would provide a speedy attacking force.

  80. solgooner says:

    Ole Senderos is only good against slow strikers, and hes had his chance now he should go to Italy or a mid table club.

  81. Howard says:

    I think its time for Arsene to move Senderos on. He’s failed his exams and after causing so much pain in so many games for us, he has to move.

    In his book, Adams said Arsene suggested to make Senderos the captain of the team? Arsene thought he had a new Tony Adams in the making.
    He was fooled, its time for Arsene to accept his mistake in Senderos and let him move on.

    He’s just not fit to be a substantive CB for us, he’ll just destroy the Arsenal for us. Eboue needs to move too, so is Rosicky who’s talented but will never be regularly available, while Traore should be sent on loan.

    Arsene needs to restructure the team to accommodate a new CB, a traditional striker and a winger.

  82. Paulie Walnuts says:

    The team sent out last night did us proud despite the result. However, there are certainly questions Arsene has to answer about the future of some of the side & hopefully he will do that at the end of the season. The ability to defend collectively is our achilles heel & individual mistakes & inexperience compound that. Even if Ade had equalised in the 90th minute I wouldn`t have put money on us hanging on. In boxing terms this team has a glass jaw & we may have to be more pragmatic in order to win things.

  83. Aman says:

    Well said gunner4life:

    “I sure didnt have a choice, but I am glad I was born an Arenal supporter”

    short on words…just quotes.

    nice blogging YW, and nice posts G4E, really gr88 being a gooner. No more posts from me this season….bit tensed on wat mite be the outcome of no trophies on players staying leaving…hope it doesnt fall apart.

    F.U.C.K the glory hunters
    F.U.C.K the money spinners
    F.U.C.K the refs

    YES it was a gamble,
    YES we failed at the last hurdle,
    YES we r the best if refs let us play.
    YES one day we shall learn to play without the ref.
    But YES we will be back….and one day I WILL go to the EMIRATES with a voice of a thousand Kops

    I luv the team I chose to support just over 2 years ago…..I would continue to do that for ever.

    Just have one apprehension I hope it doesnt fall apart from here on…fab, flamini and GILBERTO plzzzzzzzzz stay.

    GUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN ON 4 EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  84. dukeGoonem says:

    wenger knew our problems at the back and he solved it by bringing in bacary.

    I would not swap our backline of sagna toure gallas n clichy with anyone, we have the two best fb’s in the league.

    he just has a problem when this gets broken due to injury but we are not in the position to have a top class defender waiting on the bench untill we get injuries to our 1st choice backline!!

    it was a case of to many cooks last night. should have just stuck eboue at rb. balance was a bit off in the end.

    this team is special. you can see something happening with this team , they are getting closer!! just hope certain players stay.

    A win against man u and its back on!!!

  85. Kelsey Skirton says:

    After the initial disappointment at the outcome of last night’s roller-coaster, I find that I am left feeling proud of my team for the way they played for most of the game.

    We won over more neutrals last night, you can be sure.

    The errors were borne of inexperience rather than lack of skill or commitment.

    Senderos is not my favourite player and he was at fault for the Hyppia and Torres goals. Also, he has a permanent puzzled expression which annoys me!

    But if Arsene decides to persist with him, then who am I to tell him he is wrong?

    He has gathered together and nurtured the current squad – I certainly couldn’t have done it. He has given me a brand new type of football these last ten years, that I had never witnessed in the previous thirty.

    At it’s best, Wengerball takes the breath away. So carry on please, Arsene, and the trophies will surely follow the numerous ones you have secured since your arrival.

    I want Arsenal to win in style. That last FA cup final victory over ManUre left me completely flat.

    And well done to all the bloggers here today for the positive thoughts expressed and to YW for always “setting the scene” in a thoughtful, balanced way.

  86. Jayman says:

    thanks Big Al, i think i will enjoy that commentary

  87. Gooner4Life says:

    I think this fantasy of having stronger players blinds us to what Arsenal FC have actually achieved this year.Have we forgotten the gloom of TH14 leaving, Ian Wright predicting Liverpool will win the Premiership, the takeover speculation n boardroom battles, being predicted to finish outside the top 4!!!!Crazy things happen in football and we can always be wiser after the event. Liverpool seem to be the Kings of lucky. Remember they beat a Milan Team who looked like the were 10 years ahead of Liverpool in Player strength>Where milan Crap or seriously unlucky.Greece won Euro 2004 defending for their lives and scoring goa;s from set peices. Chelsea were played of the pitch by Boro but still came of 1-0 victors but the result doesnt tell tbe whole story.There are no guarantees in football sometimes you need bit of luck.

    I agree that our squad has been flogged 2 death lyk a donkey and every player looks lyk thy need a rest.But I have been impressed with the improvement in all the players in the team. I dont think there is any reason to be dejected. !If our squad was that bad why would there be only 6 points between the top 3. Where would we be if RVP,Rosicky, Eduardo, Sagna, Diaby, n others had been fit all season. Furthermore ther are no cast Iron guarantee that we would have gained more points had we bought Kaka, Ribery or Babel or that they wouldnt be injured at this stage of the season.

    I think it is unfair to criticise Hoyte n Traore who were both brought into very crucial games without any previous run ins n expected to perfom like premiership regulars in highly charged matches. Ive seen Traore in the Reserve games (Lower level I know) n beleive me he is untapped genius n a nightmare waiting to be unleasehed onto the premiership.Like Theo he is work in progress but has had far less opportuinities. Similarly Song. We have lost form but still only lost 2 games all season n recovered a point from a lot of games to salvage draws. If there is a god up there maybe he will also deal us the slice of luck that we need at OT.

  88. jamie says:

    Phil, thank you.
    That article brought tears to my eyes. Danny Blanchflower said, “football isn’t about winning and losing, it’s about glory”. For those of us with long memories, Wenger’s time has been truly glorious. It will be a very sad day when he does go, and I hope it’s not for a long time. I’d rather be a romantic than a pragmatist. Romance and winning are not mutually exclusive

  89. Malaysiangunner says:

    His all

    I have not posted for long time as I was a sad nervous wreck looking at our season going down the tube in the last few weeks

    YW your blogs have been consistently excellent.

    For all who do not think we need a bigger and better squad just look at the Manures. Sir Red Nose can afford to rest players of quality like Tevez/Hargreaves/Nani/Anderson/Carrick/Rooney/Ronaldo/Park at various times and still come out winners. Ditto for Chel$ki. We simply can not. Once Cesc or Flamini is either off form or tired we are either drawing when we should be winning and losing when we should be drawing. Of course there is no guarantees whn we buy a few more and they may not get injured or off form but over th course of the season a few more fresher and more experience players would have made all the difference.
    We ran out of steam in the last 12 games with injuries and fatigue. Our passing game demands that every player is razor sharp. You could see that they were able to do that for 25 minutes in our last game but then they fell flat.
    We were so call unlucky but if we had made our chances count in the home game we need not count on luck.
    We have pushed the envelope as far as we could with the players we have and they were magnificent.
    AW needs to re examing his policy a bit. Our brand of one touch passing and pass and move game needs a much bigger and fitter squad.

    That said it is not all over yet. The players need to pick themselves up and play one more magnificent game against the Manures at OT, if nothing else to prove a point that our first eleven is by no way inferior to theirs.

    Up The Arse !!! Up The Arse !!! Up The Arse!!!

  90. Paul N says:

    Arsenal do not play depending on the refs but no team will be able to play without refs decisions having outcomes in matches. Its funny how we as Arsenal fans have bought into what the media has said about us and we are laying blame in the wrong areas. Our defense was not good but honestly we most probably would have scored as much as Lpool take away the false penalty.
    What we want is for our team to score five goals a match and not let the opposition score any so the REFS decisions cannot affect the outcome, now that is naive and illogical and will never happen!!!
    Look if u get a penalty for touching someone we would have penaltiles in every match, the only thing that penalty call has done is make football look silly as these calls are based on nothing but the tendencies of the ref. Calls in matches especially penalties need to have some type of standard for calling them and not just based on the descretion of the ref (thats stupid).
    Come on dudes the recent demise of Arsenal is down to the refs much more than any selection Wenger has made, lack of talent, injuries, strength of squad! to me at least!!

    God Bless!!

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