Arsenal - Wide Boys Give It Large
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Wide Boys Give It Large

Last night provided everything I wanted. It was game devoid of any real excitement or tension, in fact, as an encounter it was entirely moribund. Before the game I was hoping and praying that I would be bored witless by the events and so it proved. After the nail chomping encounters against Citeh and Fulham, it was nice to be able to actually sit back and analyse a match in a most pretentious fashion. Shortly after the first goal, I actually pledged to myself to perform a kind of 'player cam' on Gilberto, constantly checking his positioning and reading of the game to properly appreciate just how good he is. It is the kind of joy that only an obsessive can understand. (A bit like sitting around all summer in your underpants, watching old Arsenal season review re runs, your own filth arranged haphazardly around you while you remonstrate wildly with the linesman for not flagging Viduka offside).

Le Boss promised a few changes and so he delivered, Abou Diaby returned to central midfield to partner Gilberto, whilst Theo Walcott and Eduardo got the full ninety minutes to weave themselves further into the Arsenal fabric. After only seven minutes the Gunners' killed the tie off. Walcott was played in by the impressive Justin Hoyte down the right (Daily Mail readers amongst you will appreciate the irony of an all English right fact, you probably won't because you'll probably be too busy picketing Lebanese restaurants, demanding that they 'stop corrupting our culture.'), Walcott sold a confident shimmy before lashing in a low cross which Tomas Rosicky attacked with poise to slide Arsenal into a 3-0 aggregate lead. The Czech's understandably muted celebration was punctuated by gesticulating an apology to the small hoard of travelling Spartans. They responded by applauding steadfastly. (Ironically, a goal he scored at Highbury for Sparta back in 2000 also drew applause from the opposing fans).

From there on in, the game died a death. Arsenal had absolutely no need to do anything other than play the game out and preserve themselves for tougher matches ahead. Walcott continued to look promising on the counter attack, running at defenders with more gusto and belief than we have seen from him previously. I just really wish he would get his head up before his final delivery. It is difficult to analyse the game beyond this point, even le Boss could not venture an attempt in his post match press conference. Arsenal could afford to play very much within themselves, Prague knew the game was up. Though they did create one chance of note towards the end of the first half. As he had done in the first leg, Jan Rezek snuck around the back of Gael Clichy, latching onto Pospech's through ball, dinked the ball over the advancing Almunia, but agonisingly wide.

The game played out in much the same fashion in the second half. That is until the triumvirate of introductions, Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor and Denilson. I must confess I was none too impressed when Cesc came on, with the tie virtually over and a psychopathic excuse for a footballer looking to exact brutal revenge, I simply could not see the point. However, Cesc's burst of energy reinvigorated the game with new life. Eduardo, who had been extremely quiet, moved out wide, Walcott, who had begun to fade on the right wing, moved upfront and Adebayor's boundless energy gave Arsenal a different dimension. Arsenal grabbed another goal. Eduardo skipped joyfully around Pospech on the left, before cutting the ball back to Cesc Fabregas. The dimunitive Spaniard took a touch before firing a low shot which squirmed under the body of Tomas Postulka. With Denilson and Adebayor all flicks and tricks, a little more joy was injected into our game. Adebayor and Denilson exchanged deft lay offs, before Densilson's right wing cross was dispatched by the flying Eduardo from inside the six yard box. It was exactly the kind of goal that we had bought him to score.

That meant that all three of Arsenal's goals came from innovative work out wide. On Saturday, Alex Hleb's wing play won us a penalty and a goal. I would suggest that the suggestion Arsenal do not produce from wide positions is something of a myth. Most of our goals last season came from good wing play. I would argue that we need more depth on the wings, but this chalk on the boots style many are proposing is not what we are screaming out for. What we have needed is more goals from our midfielders (afterall, how is a winger supposed to make Pires/ Overmarsesque contributions to the scoring charts if he is stuck out on the touchline?) So far this campaign, the midfielders are scoring freely and I hope this is a trend that continues. The final whistle sounded and Fabregas stopped to kiss the black armband he was wearing in tribute to friend and international team mate Antonio Puerte who died this week, shortly after collapsing in Sevilla's match versus Getafe. It's a sobering thought to be confronted with how fragile a thing life actually is, a 22 year old professional athlete six weeks shy of fatherhood dying of a heart attack seems an improbable scenario. An especially pertinent thought in the wake of the death of young QPR striker Ray Jones. Our condolences to both families. Hardly makes the impending closure of the transfer window worth worrying about.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 30 2007

Time: 1:18PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
fantastic stuff just realised apart from lehmanns 2 goofs we havent conceded any other goals which is wonderful stuff. ring on more goals from the midfield and more CL dollars
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30/08/2007 13:38:00

I have a confession to make and I don't have time to attend church. I left early last night.
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30/08/2007 13:50:00

LD, so you didnt answer your own question. How good is Gilberto? And also your Daily Mail, 'All Englsih Right Wing' doesn't work cos Theo and Justin are black, and that just wouldnt stand.
Ozi Gooner
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30/08/2007 14:11:00

bit controversial there Ozi..... Can't say I agree with you there.
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30/08/2007 14:34:00

That was a joke mate, calm down.
Ozi Gooner
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30/08/2007 14:40:00

I got the joke Ozi ;) and LD will probably agree I think Gilberto is the best player of his type in the world at the moment silently assasinating anyone who comes near our back four!
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30/08/2007 15:11:00

Yeah I recon Gilberto would probably be the best in world football at what he does right now. You can tell he is excellent at it as you never notice him unless you should. I cant believe as little as two years ago he was the 'Hleb' of the Arsenal side, its funny how our players have a habit of proving their doubters wrong.
Ozi Gooner
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30/08/2007 15:15:00

Ozi, I will answer as articulately as I know how, Gilberto is ******** quality! hatepsur, to redeem yourself you must travel to Newcastle away, Wednesday night in December, shirtless with a mackems tattoo across your chest.
Little Dutch
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30/08/2007 15:16:00

And its nice to know somebody got the joke iceman, bad taste is my trademark (especially now i wont be able to use Gooner)
Ozi Gooner
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30/08/2007 15:20:00

You gotta stop making double entendre headlines. It makes me smile when I know you lot won't have Gilberto for much longer. That captaincy thing hurt him, so he'll probably leave real soon.
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30/08/2007 15:24:00

Oooh the use of that word may have just cost you 50 pence my friend!
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30/08/2007 15:24:00

I bet it didnt hurt him as much as it hurt Fat Frank not being able to squeeze Ikea FC (chelsea) for 200k a week Kevin.
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30/08/2007 15:26:00

Kev, why are you always here? we didnt like yesterday and we dont like you today. I dont come to your job and knock the broom out of your hand so ***** off. And by the way hows Joe Cole going?
Ozi Gooner
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30/08/2007 15:27:00

R.I.P Antonio Puerta.
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30/08/2007 15:28:00

Your argument that we have width stands for matches against teams like Sparta. We lack width when we really need it. When a keeper like Kasper Schmeichel is fumbling crosses and not many are actually coming in from our wide areas. We have players out wide who come in narrow and against teams who set up stall to defend, we will struggle. Eduardo is a striker. If he's used wide, we have a serious lack of depth up front.. so yeah my opinion is that we still need a wide player. We wont get one.. but we do need one.. one of Wenger's gambles.. hope that it pays off again. And hope Puerta's soul rests in peace.. supposed to be a good player and its sad for ppl of his age to die on the pitch.
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30/08/2007 15:51:00

I thought Hoyte was outstanding. That's our third choice rightback? Talk about strength in depth...
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30/08/2007 16:11:00

LD, I'll do it, the guilt is killing me anyway. Leaving home at 5.15 a.m to go to work and then straight to the Emirates for foregone conclusion matches midweek just gets too much at times. Good win tho'. My bro' never went for once so I took the missus, qoute of the year "Are that lot in the far corner paid as like...the choir?" How I laughed at her daft innocence.
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30/08/2007 16:15:00

You're right, Schmeichel fumbled a number of crosses, but that's my point, a number of crosses went in didn't they? The issue has been getting someone on the end of them. I'd say we need another wide player for depth purposes, but this Rommedahl type everybody is suggesting isn't as needed as people believe. Hatespur, I thought the Prague fans falsetto rendition of away in a manger was very touching!
Little Dutch
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30/08/2007 16:45:00

Oh dear
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30/08/2007 16:49:00

Dein has just announced he has sold his shares to a Rusky billionaire.
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30/08/2007 16:50:00

LONDON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Former Arsenal Vice Chairman David Dein has sold his 14.5 percent stake in the UK soccer club to a firm co-owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov for 75 million pounds ($150.6 million). The announcement on Thursday by the firm Red and White Holdings Ltd puts further pressure on the board to face an eventual takeover. Red and White said it wants to increase its stake and would approach the board shortly, but has no immediate plans for a full buyout.
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30/08/2007 16:54:00

A good workout for the lads last night, nothing too taxing. The goals were well worked from the wider positions something that had been missing as of late. Need more from Diaby like to see more of him the guy has a geniune presence about him(ala Vieira). As for the Russian envolvement we shall see? DD is one hell of a sneaky MF isn`t he!! LOL.
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30/08/2007 17:12:00

David Dein is chairman of the company Red and White Holdings :D "I have always had the best interests of Arsenal at heart - I've had a love affair with the club since I was six. I firmly believe that the involvement of Red & White with a significant stake and the long-term commitment of Arsene Wenger are absolutely the best outcome for the club, fans and shareholders alike. I am delighted to have found, in Farhad Moshiri and Alisher Usmanov, individuals who share my vision for Arsenal and of where it needs to go to be the world's leading football club."
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30/08/2007 17:18:00

Yeah and now it looks as if you've got a Russian wideboy on board! And you thought Stan Kroenke was the biggest of your problems!
Report Abuse
30/08/2007 17:23:00

David Dein is the chairman of the company numpty, since when has he been Russian? Even still, he has shares not yet a board member ;)
Report Abuse
30/08/2007 17:33:00

just came in.. arsenal in group h with steaue bucharest, slavia prague and sevilla/aek athens.. sevilla would be a virtual certainity to qualify owing to their 2-0 lead from leg 1.. matches against sevilla aint gonna be a cakewalk exactly.. but yeah.. expect the arsenal to qualify into the knockout stages with relative ease.... cheers....
Report Abuse
30/08/2007 18:06:00

Damn another dodgy Greek team! I have to limit my vocalism in the local pubs in and and around Limassol (Cyprus) He he fat chance. Panathaniakos would have been worse LOL
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30/08/2007 18:18:00

At least we're not against Roma, Valencia, Werder Bremen or Barca.
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31/08/2007 05:50:00

we couldnt have been against barca.. they were in pot 1 with us..
Report Abuse
31/08/2007 15:40:00

as long as u guys realise wing play not= crosses, the argument is won! clichy can't cross for nuts!
Report Abuse
02/09/2007 05:56:00


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