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Arsenal Are Finished

That's right folks, Arsenal are clearly a side in irreversible decline. Wenger has never had a masterplan since the losses of Vieira, Edu, Campbell, Bergkamp and Pires. Arsene clearly had no idea what he was doing and had no plan in place for building another great side, he should have been sacked long ago. The make up of our squad is laughable, Baptista is clearly not good enough and we should have kept Reyes, Aliadiere cannot cut it at this level and Alex Song, who has played for us a massive five times now, is a joke.

Of course sarcasm can be delightful, but my main feeling from last night is one of smug satisfaction. For the last twelve months we have been told that we are a team in decline, the over reliance on average youngsters was merely a move to massage Wenger's ego and the tiny Totts were going to supercede us as the force in North London. Of course the more intelligent/rational/patient/faithful amongst us have been quietly committed to Wenger's vision. Chelsea's massive inherited wealth has turned the Premiership upside down, and we have had to adjust as a result. There has simply been no point in spending massive amounts of money on 'proven' big names (egos) since 2003. If we spend £100,000,000 on new players in a summer, what do you think Chelsea are going to do? Spend £200,000,000 that's what (and probably snafoo several of our targets in the process). The only long term strategy for competing with Chelsea has been to take a leaf out of Fergie's book a la 1995. Mould a team of talented individual youngsters together in order to build a side that grows in composite harmony.

Unfortunately, some supporters just have not been able to see the bigger picture. Players are a disposable entity to a club like Chelsea at the moment, exemplified by their current shotgun policy to the purchase and sale of players. We are not in a position to do this, so the only way to survive (especially whilst securing the costs for a new stadium) has been to do something they will not. Who better to instigate the masterplan than Wenger? I apologise if I have turned a 6-3 victory at Anfield into a bitter rant, but over the last months myself, the editor and many of you that contribute richly to this forum have been called 'apologists' and dubbed 'the rose tinted brigade' by impatient fans who know only how to demand success now, now, now. Just yesterday, somebody came onto this forum and called Julio Baptista 'a joke.' A contributor to another blog implored 'This is Baptista's last chance to impress' IN HIS FIFTH GAME?! Alexandre Song was booed off the pitch against Fulham, his third league start in an Arsenal shirt. Recently at Sheffield United, desperate away fans screamed 'shooot', at Jeremie Aliadiere, when he obliged and missed from an impossible angle, he was met with a torrent of abuse. Last night was vindication, and the aforementioned supporters will hopefully begin to see some sense.

I am not going to bother with a blow by blow match report, the ensuing head whirling excitement and sleep deprivation have discombobulated my brain to the point that I can not even recall the chronology of the goals! But what I can affirm is that this was a performance of some magnitude. Nevermind Benitez's slack team selection and the Reds insipid display, a team containing six teenagers went to fortress Anfield and absolutely blew the home side away. A side containing Steven Gerrard, Craig Bellamy, Luis Garcia, Sami Hyypia- all bar one Champions League winners. Yet the likes of 18 year old Denilson, 19 year old Alex Song, 17 year old Armand Traore, 19 year old Johan Djourou, 19 year old Cesc Fabregas and 18 17 year old Theo Walcott not only dug in and outmuscled Pool, they comprehensively outplayed them with a footballing masterclass. Fabregas, as ever, was the hub of it all, dictating the pace of the game. Slowing it down and speeding it up as and when he saw fit. Alex Song, having dominated a game at Everton away (which sadly, most of the people who criticise him never saw), produced a display of grit, robbing the likes of Garcia and Gerrard of possession on their forward surges. He also passed the ball wonderfully, as did Denilson, who continues to impress with his harmonious mix of intelligent ball retention and never say die resolve. The three central midfielders were so composed in possession, never worrying about the likes of Gerrad snapping at their heels, they just knew where to play the ball before they had even received it.

Armand Traore produced a performance which belied his years and Justin Hoyte appeared to relish the role of older statesman (at 22!) foiling the forward advances of Aurelio and Garcia with a positional savy that I did not know he possessed. Djourou and Toure were excellent, intercepting passes to the forwards and Djourou managed to match the electric Bellamy for pace. The there were the front trio, or the triple entente. Walcott looked in and out, but as Pool came out in search of goals, his pace was effective on the break. Aliadiere produced a display worthy of his considerable talent. I think he has lacked confidence of late, but he fed ravenously on a Liverpool defence that appeared genetically predisposed to his pace, and made the once monumental Hyypia look vitiate. The fact that he finished the match with a goal, three assits and won an ill fated penalty informs you of his effect on the game. I will reiterate that I think Jeremie has a future at Arsenal, I hope this display is the catalyst for some blistering form, he is certainly capable.

That just leaves the Beast. There was an interesting debate on the forum last week, regarding whether or not le Boss would keep hold of Baptista (together with his 36.2cm biceps- that's bigger than my thigh!), I think he may have answered last night. Playing as a target man, Walcott and Aliadiere's pace provided the perfect foil to his power and presence. What makes me most positive is the nature of his goals- two tap ins following scintillating wing play, and two long range efforts. That tells you he has all the readies to be a fixture in our team. Hopefully last night will boost his confidence and present myself and Rocky with the opportunity to write big, smug 'I told you so' articles come May.

A few other points worth mentioning. Firstly, the Liverpool fans were again first class. On three separate occasions Scousers approached myself and my Gooner pal Barry and commented with sincere zest, that they hope we win a trophy this year. Large numbers of them stayed behind to applaud the young Gunners off and that is a mark of the class and esteem with which their football club is held. Vocally, I found my best form last night, if you heard the chant 'Your Season Ends Tonight' or 'Twice In A Week' over your television screens, I can verify that they were the brainchild of one Mr. Stillman. I would also like to mention that Steven Gerrard sought out Theo Walcott as he was replaced by Abou Diaby (good to have you back) and gave him an apologetic looking handshake. This was long overdue, but I applaud Gerrard for executing this courtesy. For my part, my tirades against him will evaporate from this point on. I still feel he is grossly over rated, but the malice has now been removed and I wish Steve Gerrard and Liverpool all the best in their endeavours against Barcelona (mark my words, Pool will beat them). In closing, if I could have been granted the luxury of selecting Arsenal's goalscorers last night, I would have selected Alaidiere, Song and Baptista. All have come in for harsh and ill considered criticism, and I would especially like to see the guys around me at Fulham who booed Song off the pitch, then confronted me for speaking out. WHERE ARE YA? WHERE ARE YA? If you are reading this and you were booing at Fulham, or if you were the guy next to me at Sheffield who moaned, 'The Beast is s**t, bring back Reyes', all I can ask os just how does that humble pie taste? I will be providing pictures from last night in a separate article later tonight. (One particular picture has been covertly doctored by someone seeking to smear my reputation by creating the illusion I have a pint in my hand, for shame pixel pixies). I would like to extend my thanks to Gooners in arms Barry and Bruno, who have taken some great shots from last night and given me permission to reproduce them on this site. Cheers dudes. LD.

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

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday January 10 2007

Time: 3:24PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
An impressive win indeed
Jacky B
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10/01/2007 15:28:00

Things change fast my friend. No so long ago u got beaten by Sheefield United..
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10/01/2007 15:45:00

reidy over xmas we lost once, and got 9pts out of 12, only united beat that by getting 10, chelsea got 8 and massive spurs got 4.. things do change fast indeed, november and december were irratic, now jan has started off with a flyer and can only get better.
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10/01/2007 16:04:00

A truly great game. It's becoming quite laughable that games this season that I just know we're gonna lose we end up winning and vice-versa. For me Song was fantastic last night, as were both Baptista and Aliadiere. When it comes to Ali I hope we keep hold of him, at least until the summer and as long as he can get his chance in the first team. I'm also hoping that last night is gonna be the start of the Beast's 4-goals-a-game streak that's gonna run until the end of the season haha
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10/01/2007 16:06:00

u never know what arsenal has got for u.. even a fortress like anfield is not safe for a team like liverpool.. that says it all.. and that was just our young guns.. things are changing fast at furious at arsenal.. expect a relentless charge to challenge the top of the table by the gunners.. u might find a few surprises there come the end of the season..
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10/01/2007 16:08:00

Like I said "Impressive". But you lot seem to be forgetting they played their "reserves" aswell. And we all know you've got a good second string.
Jacky B
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10/01/2007 16:11:00

Word is the Liverpool police are looking for a bunch of young tyrants from London. They wish to issue them with ASBO's as they wrecked Anfield at around 9.30pm last night. They were seen leaving the crime scence dressed in red and white hoodies whilst blaring 'good old arsenal' from a big red bus. If anyone knows of these delinquents please contact merseyside police as soon as possible, this type of behaviour is simply unacceptable.
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10/01/2007 16:17:00

Michael Jackson has asked Benitez to be his new manager. Apparently he likes the idea of being spanked at home by 11 kids.
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10/01/2007 16:20:00

I phoned Anfield last night and asked what time the game kicked off. The Scouser replied "every ten minutes".
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10/01/2007 16:21:00

I should also imagine MJ would like the idea of being taken over by DIC!
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10/01/2007 16:23:00

I also forgot to mention Almunia in my last post. I've always liked him and last night reaffirmed that he's still worth having as a back up. Also Jacky, on paper I'd say there was a big difference in their team to ours when you're talking about first team players. Other than Cesc and Toure the rest are our second string (Hell Ali is only just our 4th choice striker!!!).
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10/01/2007 16:26:00

And let us not forget the quality of players they had on the bench to come into the game. All seasoned internationals. It was a superb performance. Spurs haven't won at Anfield in consecutive decades, let alone consecutive games.
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10/01/2007 16:31:00

since when is bellamy, gerrard, carragher, garcia, alonso, hypia, warnock, aurelio reserves ? we had 3 players last night that are first teamers.. and i had alot of people saying to me yesterday " yeah your kids are good, but they won't geta result at anfield ! "
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10/01/2007 16:32:00

What was with the Garcia/Carragher substitution tho? Baffling!
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10/01/2007 16:33:00

i know iceman, you would of thought he'd bring on crouch, thats what they said on sky... i mean, you don't defend a 6-3 loss, you might aswell go for it/
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10/01/2007 16:39:00

Yeah Puregold's post was what my post would've been if I'd been bothered to do my research!!! So there!!! Haha
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10/01/2007 16:40:00

Probably worried about us getting double figures. LD, how many tickets will we get for the Lane? Should be more than usual being the cup. I was there in '87 when we had the whole end. I've never seen a ground empty that quickly in my life. Beautiful memories.
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10/01/2007 16:42:00

Anyone doubting the potential of this team should note we have won at Old Trafford, Anfield twice and come very close to winning at the Bodge with a huge injury list. You expect inconsistency from youngsters, that only goes with experience. In two years we are going to have a team full of 21-24 year olds with immense experience.
Little Dutch
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10/01/2007 16:42:00

And the decline will continue! lol
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10/01/2007 16:46:00

nice article, cant wait for the pictures, shame about there 2 boys getting injured though, pretty rough luck, awsome display yet again from the kids !!
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10/01/2007 16:52:00

I couldn't agree more with you Tim. I've been making the same arguments as you over on the Teamtalk website. It's tiring to hear all the moaners. Last night was sweet vindication. Aliadiere, Song, and the Beast all proved why Arsene is a bloody footballing genius, a Mozart or Beethoven. All Gooners should appreciate what we have got and not slag off the Boss or the youngsters. Chelsea's days as the dominant prem power are numbered.
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10/01/2007 16:55:00

LD, no apologies needed for the rant. it feels good to be proved right. first it was with adebayor, and now these 3. i feel especially good for song and i hope this is the 1st of many good games for him.
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10/01/2007 17:00:00

We should in theory get an increased allocation, but I suppose the police will have the final say on that. I'd feel more comfortable if there were 5,000 of us there, it slightly narrows the chances of getting my head kicked in. On your point prits, I find it ironic that so many people are eating himble pie about Adebayor, yet slate Baptista in the same breathe. Wenger is a genius and I want the world to know it.
Little Dutch
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10/01/2007 17:04:00

I found it hard that people were already getting on the beast's back. personally I have always rated aliadiere so I really enjoyed seeing him do that last night. when ali came on against charlton the other night, the arsenal crowd didn't even cheer. bloody scandalous.
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10/01/2007 17:12:00

LD i'm guilty as charged...had no faith at all in baptista...happy to the proven wrong. Wenger Knows
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10/01/2007 17:15:00

LD, ironic indeed. and in the same long breath, they will also probably say that arsene knows best :). not everyone makes sense. the thing is, its been proven time after time that players take time to adjust, and yet players are slated as soon as they come in.
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10/01/2007 17:23:00

I loved that headline. I wonder how many Spuds saw that and were prepared to agree...
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10/01/2007 17:48:00

Oh and did anyone watch Sky Sports last night after the game? Jamie Redknapp looked he was going to knock out Merson yesterday. The other guy said something about Liverpool beating Barcelona in February and Mersey chuckled. Redders looked like he was gonna go ballistic! It was quality.
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10/01/2007 17:59:00

I hope there is more to come from Aliadiere. He has a little bit of every top striker in Arsenal. He has the delicate first touch of van Persie, the pace and the eye for assist of Henry and the ability to knock down long ball and hold on to it until others arrive like Adebayor. Essentially, he is a team player and very mobile, not some one-dimensional fox in the box. He is also not intimated by physical challenge. Maybe that is why Wenger said he is ahead of Strokes and Lupoli. We would do well keeping him. As for the team selection last night, I thought I was watching Arsenal of the old. We have traded the redundant flair and excessive passing with the more physical and direct approach. Great to see Denilson, Song and Diaby flying in the tackles. They reminded me of the Petit / Vieira / Parlour era.
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10/01/2007 18:03:00

As someone who goes to reserve games even away ones sometimes,i know what are future is going to be like,and i have always had faith in aliadiere,and i believed you should give any player at least a year of first team football to prove himself
fran merida
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10/01/2007 18:06:00

also only a self destructive idiot boos a player
fran merida
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10/01/2007 18:07:00

Anyone who goes to the reserves would know what an accomplished holding midfielder Song is and by playing him alongside Gilberto at Fulham Le boss did him no favours...Aliadierre has prosperred this season in the carling cup playing alongside Adebayor and similarly starred last night next to the Beast where he has someone with size to link up with...
Anon 1
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10/01/2007 18:29:00

Anyone reckon the Beast eats Spuds?
Anon 1
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10/01/2007 18:30:00

Great article, upon arriving from Madrid the anticipation of seeing the Beastie Boy was pretty high, after being kept out for what seemed an eternity due to le profs feeling he was not match fit when he did finally come on everyone imaginined he would be genius from the get go, and obviously this was really never gonna happen. If this is the product of playing five or so games roll on 10! Proud of all the boys last night, and respect to all the Scousers across the boards who've come to us with messages of good luck, total credit to their club - and the feelings mutual - now go bang some in against Barca!
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10/01/2007 18:42:00

I tell you what guys, last nights result was awesome! I am really looking forward to Sats game because it will be a clash of two teams high on confidence and playing good football. Your lot are a joy to behold when on song. At least we at Rovers don't look as bad as Pool do after last night. We gave you a game and got punished for it. I really hope we give you a game on Sat but get some reward. I was very pleased to see Julio Ceaser open his account for the season, in some style may I add. Looking forward to Sats game!
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10/01/2007 20:51:00

While Blackburn do have the ability to play football 'properly' thses days I think that Huges will send Rovers out to do what most teams do to us away from home....take the player and the ball will come! I hope I'm wrong because when you came to Ashburton you played some blinding football but I'm afraid I cant see it. May the best team win!
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11/01/2007 01:34:00

When the cries around the ground were shoot shoot shoot and the stupid loud speaker was telling people where the trains were, like ld i seem to remember saying this team will hammer sides (or words to that effect) have faith in the Boss. How fantastic it is too see as other true suporters can see we have the greatest team of the future. We have class in every department, but in caution perhaps we need another goal keeper. Go you gunners. I can hardly wait for Bolton who are thugs at last getting noses rubbed in super class football, and as for the nellies who live down the lane, toilet paper will be in big demand, because they will be sh...... themselves.
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11/01/2007 02:23:00

I coulda scored six against that defence, and i am hardly the future of Football. Like i said previously, you have every right to be excited about a positive future and a great result - just don't expect all those lads to become first team regulars cos they wont.
Jacky B
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11/01/2007 09:08:00

If Aliadere, the Beast and Song can do that against the spuds, then I will hold my head in shame, choke on my own words and eat my hat. Until then, it's probably worth pointing out that that was probably the worst defensive display from the scousers since we beat them there 5-1 in 1952 and Ben Marsden got a hat-trick! Yes, there were some massive displays from our lads but in fairness they were given yards more space to play with than normal.
Gooner for 59 years
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11/01/2007 10:44:00

I don't think that last comment is at all fair. Pool were harrying and closing down initially, but it we weren't given real space until we were 3-1 up. Point taken about defending. But they young players also deservedly beat Everton and West Brom away. The problem is those games weren't televised, so only a few of us saw it. (Hence the reason Song gets so much flack, people have never seen him play, but decide that because gunnerblog says he's crap that that is the case). These youngsters have been away in every round at tough opposition (who played full strength sides) and deserved to win every time, that points to something special.
Little Dutch
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11/01/2007 11:19:00

gooner for 59 years, I think I also qualify for that title as I was 5 in 1948 when my dad took me to see Arsenal, I remember the dark days when I used to read the paper on Saturday and hope we would stay up in the first divi which we did. I remember the lucky arsenal tag we received from around the grounds. If we had had, players with the potential which we have in our first team and young players of the ability we have in our second string in those days then my Dad would not have been forever telling me about the Chapman days and this Arsenal team were not fit to tie the Chapman teams boots up. I really believe we have the team of the future and what’s more it’s our team.
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11/01/2007 13:04:00

poor defence or not, it still needed some good finishing and we finished well, especially ali's 1st goal. good point, LD. these are kids who've won away from home and no one has done us any favours in the process.
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11/01/2007 14:48:00


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