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We Shall Overcome

We Shall Overcome

It was a pretty frustrating game all in all wasn't it? West Ham had a game plan which they executed to perfection, while we never really looked like we had the answers. In the concourse prior to the game I was mildly surprised to see that the self proclaimed 'academy club' had gone with five men in midfield. But a team replaces only Sheringham with Bowyer for one reason and we knew we'd be in for a tough game.

We started brightly enough, with some intricate passing and Tommy Gunn really should have done better with an early shot after a wonderful move. But something that is becoming increasingly concerning is that if we don't score in the first twenty minutes, the players heads appear to drop. Bowyer and Reo Coker restricted space and didn't allow Rosicky and Fabregas any room. Hleb's magnetic dribbling was key as he was able to create space, the only problem was that our lone striker was completely disinterested in making any runs or receiving the ball. Henry made some strong comments with regard to our home support this week, and I entirely concur with his sentiments, but this is a two way street. Not for the first time this season, his effort was attrocious. I understand as a lone striker his role is altered and that he was heavily marked. But there are things you see inside a stadium that a television camera cannot do justice to. Henry sauntered about the pitch with no interest in his team and wantonly gave away possession. I have taken a fair bit of flak in recent weeks for saying this, but I bear no vendetta, I call it as I see it and Henry's output was far below standard yesterday. I'm afraid he is doing little to assuage my suspicion that he does not turn up when the chips are down. Given his current poor form, I really do think it may be an idea to take him out of the side for the Liverpool game, if only to shake him up. I don't know Henry as a person, I don't know if he reacts to a verbal volley or an arm around the shoulder, but Wenger has to motivate him again, because he looks happy to play on reputation at the moment. Please prove me wrong Thierry.

It was not the greatest or most fluid performance, but I do not think we deserved to lose. What you do have to say is fair play to West Ham, they intended to frustrate and work hard, which they did magnificently. I think Arsenal settled on a point in the latter stages, and West Ham sensed that and threw on two strikers and jumped at the jugular. Overall, the two Arsenal players with the most credit were the centre halves, Toure and Gallas were magnificent, not only with their telepathic defending (Toure could surely challenge the land speed record), but with their cajoling. Another noticeable element was fatigue in Gilberto Silva. For 70 minutes he was excellent, picking up those loose balls in midfield. But in the last twenty minutes his legs deserted him and our midfield lost the plot as a result.

Now, there were a few incidents that are hogging the headlines. Firstly, Spector should have been sent off. It did not satisfy Math of the Day 2's agenda to show the incident, but a studs up lunge is a red card. There seems to be this notion that a tackle has to be two footed to yield red, when you think that Clichy suffered the same punishment for jumping for a header, there has to be a fundamental problem with the rules. The second incident was the coin throwing. I think it's important people know that the guilty party was allowed by West Ham stewards and police to watch the whole game. Not one steward or copper even pretended to patrol the area where the article was launched from. At half time I asked a policeman if he was being punished retrospectively, 'dunno.' I then asked if it was not a safety issue that someone who is prepared to launch objects onto the pitch is still in the stadium, 'dunno.' It's fun to learn!

The other thing to say is that there is not a man, woman, child or Spud who would deny we should have had a penalty. Now I was at the other end of the ground, with goalposts and Robert Green's arse blocking my view and I could tell it was a penalty. Two big clues for you Mr. Styles. Firstly, the ball did not change direction. This means the defender did not play the ball, therefore it is a foul. If Mr. Styles does not know this, you have to question why he is a Premiership official. The second clue was the collective intake of breath from the Bobby Moore Stand, who fell silent in deference to an impending whistle.

Of course it was the row between Wenger and Pardew that has attracted the most attention. I did not see Pardew's celebration at the time but I saw the ensuing melee and I've never seen Wenger so visibly upset. Having seen it back, I think both managers over reacted. Pardew's celebration was antagonistic towards Wenger and his unsporting triumphalism in Wenger's face was seriously uncalled for. But Wenger's refusal to shake hands was equally unsatisfactory. What happens in the game, stays in the game, and I know Wenger has history with Pardew, but I think you should always shake hands, I don't want to here any of this cultural, or English nonsense, it is a SPORTING convention which transcends all such barriers. Wenger correctly sought the moral high ground when Jol and Mourinho would not execute the courtesy last season and Wenger is deserving of the same castigation. Similarly, not speaking to the press just projected an image of a bad loser and I don't like that. I paid £40 to watch the game and was stood yards away from the West Ham fans, so when Harewood scored I was subjected to a lot more provocation than Wenger, but you take it on the chin and keep your cool. If myself and other Arsenal fans around me can react in that manner, our manager should be capable. Sheringham goaded Fabregas at the final whistle, which Cesc should not have reacted to. Teddy is a great footballer, but a piece of human garbage, he always has been. A part of me rejoices in the fact that Cesc cares so much. But the smart reaction from Cesc would be to lock that away and remember it when West Ham come to the Grove.

It was not the greatest performance but there is no need for over reaction. The problem with football supporters is that we are so involved that we lose perspective. When we were winning five matches in a row, I was always cautious because this side is new and still getting to know each other. I believe I said after the Reading match that we would probobly have to endure a frustrating result or two and this was certainly one. But we move on, the team learn a little about each other, gather strength and go into the next game. But Arsene should really come out and make some sort of conciliatory statement, because Pardew has apologised and Wenger should be big enough to do so. Henry demanded more from the fans last week, now it is us who demand more from him. The fact that he did not come over and acknowledge the travelling support was confirmation that his head was not in the game. If you didn't want to play Thierry, tell the manger before the game, don't put in insipid performances and leave younger team mates to lose their heads while you have a natter with Teddy. Captain and manager owe apologies to those of us that paid £40 to watch the game. Bloody November.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Monday November 6 2006
Time: 1:22PM


what an article mate, your talented. I have many of the same thoughts especially involving henry, you could just see in the tunnel at the start he wasnt in the mood as he hasnt been from the word go this season, sharing a drink with the opposition captain, theres being freindly but thats a bit too much. He didnt even run, couldnt be bothered to get back onside on many occasions, im starting to wonder just becuase he showed arsenal loyalty he thinks he can put in what ever performance he likes??, please thierry get back to your old self. Fabregas looked asleep all game and never was aware to challenges coming in from behind, and hlebs distriution was awful. Rosicky was awsome again but wastleful in front of goal. Teddy sheringham is a 40 yr old man, and hes winding up a teenage kid, i mean really. But all that comotion after the game just made us look like sore losers, and im hoping to heara statement from wenger soon, i also think dropping henry for the liverpool game wont be such a bad idea, he wasnt in the team for hamburg or old trafford!
06/11/2006 13:53:00
You make a good point about Cesc, several times he was ponderous in possession, I think Myles Palmer wrote a decent article about Henry on ANR. Captains are not supposed to be nice guys, Vieira and Adams would have been prepared to take flak for their team. I think in general TH's character is not suited, that's just his genetics.
Little Dutch
06/11/2006 14:07:00
Myles can go and jump off a cliff. Or at least, the next bandwagon.
06/11/2006 14:17:00
We seem to be having the same problems over and over again, all be it interspersed with some good performances. Cesc didn't get into the game at all yesterday. Now I realise that he wasn't allowed much time on the ball as they closed him down well and very quickly, but surely we need another few options for situations just like this. Henry as captain doesn't make sense now, but unfortunately he'll never have the captaincy taken off of him. Toure's fast becoming one of the best CBs in the universe!!!
06/11/2006 14:56:00
it will be intersting to see what happens about the coin throwing. Nowt, probably. Sheringham has less class then dogmuck, as a person. My west ham mate tried to dispute the penalty, saying spector got the faintest of touches on the bal - utter tosh, the wafting of a fart would have diverted the ball's trajectory more... »»Arsene Knows««
06/11/2006 16:03:00
A very long but well thought out articles. Suprisingly objective as well.
06/11/2006 17:05:00
LD, one of your best efforts! A less than great day for both of us, but glad that you and Rocky try to keep things in perspective, it's something that has been lost in our part of town recently. But let's look at the bright side, MU won't be able to maintain their current pace forever, will they?
06/11/2006 17:31:00
I watched the game on tele and was really frustrated to see us concede that goal... Was Flamini fouled in the build up? I guess that's what Wenger thought.. and I didn't see the bit after the goal was scored, but surely Pardew must've said something to provocate a reaction of such magnitude from Wenger. I think Wenger was very much angry and it was an 'in the moment' thing to not shake Pardew's hand. He still hasn't come out and spoken about it! On the Henry issue, you are absolutely correct. He has looked a shadow of himself this season and I'm lost for reasons as to why that is. Yesterday, he seemed un-committed and unwilling to get into the box and really did dampen a lot of our attacking moves...
06/11/2006 17:38:00
Westl, United have the desire, but not the squad. They've flattered to deceive before, an injury to Saha/ Rooney, or to Scholes/ Carrick and they're ******.
Little Dutch
06/11/2006 19:20:00
Whilst Hleb was clearly fouled by Spector, unfortunately Gallas committed the same offence on Bowyer in the Arsenal penalty area, and ultimately TWO non awards cancel each other out. Enough has been said about the spat .. as a Spurs fan I admire Wenger as a great manager, but there is a growing trend of unsportsmanlike conduct coming from him ... like his continued comments on last years Champions Lge final .. you don't get all the decisions your own way but there is little point in continuing to go over old ground. Based on the way Brendtner is playing, he may be worthy of a recall as you need to get somebody who can just get the odd 'ugly' goal or two
06/11/2006 19:40:00
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