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Gunners' Get Teenage Kicks

Guten arben mine Gooneronie, it`s a wonderful time to be a Gooner just now isn`t it? With the Gunners` looking down contemptuously from the top of both of their respective leagues, it was with an even more composed air than usual that I made my way Groveward last night. Carling Cup matches have been a source of great enjoyment for some years now. I must confess that in Wenger`s early years in office, I found them to be a gruelling chore, a tick in a box, just another brick in the wall. But as Wenger has painstakingly crafted a youth system that is the envy of world football, it has become an absolute pleasure to watch our stars of the not too distant future strut their stuff. It has struck me in recent seasons, particularly on last season`s mesmerising run to the final, just how easily the players can slot into the system of play adopted by the first team, last night was certainly no exception, as Denilson performed a passable Fabregas impression, Diarra looked like Vieira having been shrunk in the washing machine and Alex Song bore a passing resemblance to Kolo Toure at the back.

Another great source of enjoyment for league cup matches is the difference in atmosphere, it provides a chance for those who are unable to get along and watch the Gunners` regularly a chance to sample the match day occasion, so the crowd mimics the team with its enthusiasm for the occasion. Taking my seat I was surprised to see that none of the other season ticket holders in my row had taken advantage of the cheap prices, because these kids are very worth watching. They might have taken the opportunity to sit in other areas of the ground, but I somehow suspect some apathy from season ticket holders on these occasions. (Not when we get to the final though you understand, suddenly it`s all very different)! I was most enraptured that we had been awarded a home tie, not just because of my own petulance for undergoing the arduous long journeys endured on last season`s run, but because these lads deserve 60,000 people coming to watch them.

The young Gunners` took some time to fully acclimatise to the occasion, and Lukasz Fabianski was forced into a fine save, beating out Obefami Martins header, as he beat Senderos to N`Zogbia`s pinpoint cross. But the Arsenal wheels began to lubricate, with Denilson assuming the role of playmaker, while Diarra was the catalyst for attack, twisting and turning Smith so many times it`s a wonder he didn`t rupture his spleen. Denilson played an intelligent ball down the left touchline, which the athletic Armand Traore (sans knuckleduster) whipped in a delightful cross, which Niklas Bendtner got underneath and headed over. It would foreshadow the game`s pivotal moment. This appeared to buoy the youngsters and imbue them with purpose. Emmanuel Eboue`s low strike was clawed away by Given. Theo Walcott picked up the ball centrally and ran at the Newcastle backline, only to get his feet in a muddle and drag his shot wide.

Arsenal appeared more at ease with their decision making in the second half as they went for the jugular. Wonderful interplay between Bendtner and Eboue in the box saw space open up for the Ivorian, but time appeared to stand still as Steven Taylor threw himself at Eboue`s goalbound strike with a terrific block. The momentum was very much with the home side, as Bendtner continued to link up Arsenal`s play, his boots and shirt apparently hand crafted from some form of Teflon, as the ball never seemed to escape his control at any point during the match. Eboue continued to cause havoc, marauding down the right, he barged his way into the box, Taylor`s challenge momentarily denied him, but the ball ricocheted into the path of Theo Walcott who could only fire his shot straight at Shay Given. From the resulting corner, Eduardo ghosted in from nowhere to head goalward, but Charles N`Zogbia headed it off the line. Arsenal continued to press with the Barcodes very much penned in, their parochial support looking on in silent stupor, as Theo Walcott`s deflected left wing cross pawed out from under the crossbar by Given. That odious **** Allardyce withdrew the utterly useless Ameobi, opting to slot Emre into midfield, relying on his precise passing to feed Martins pace upfront. Fortunately for Arsenal. Alex Song was constantly on the case, winning every header, reading every pass and winning every challenge. I`ve had a lot to say about Song on these pages since the demonstrative treatment he has received from others on the blogosphere, culminating in the disgraceful booing last season. The source of my frustration with this is not just because I think Song looks a handy player, but because he has started just one home match prior to last night in Arsenal`s colours, meaning that most Gooners had never actually seen him play in the flesh. Now I like arseblogger`s column and read it every day, but I had to admit to feeling a little smugness as he was forced to insist that he had heard Song had played well, but had not actually seen the game himself.

It looked as though the match was headed for extra time, until Armand tRaore received a Diaby pass on the left, floated in a beauty of a cross which Bendtner positively powered home with his head from six yards. It was a brilliantly placed, firm header and an emphatic way to open the scoring. Well deserved for Bendtner too There was a scare seconds later, as Emre split the Arsenal defence with a slide rule pass which found Martins, he skipped past Fabianski and prodded the ball agonisingly towards the net, only for Philippe Senderos to scramble back and clear it off the line. It was a big redemption for Phil, who had looked very unsure of himself throughout the game. The Gunners` wrapped up the result with a typical panache, Abou Diaby shifted away from two Newcastle challenges on the by-line and pushed the ball back to Denilson, who cracked a fantastic first time strike, cutting across the ball in textbook fashion, whipping into the top corner. It was a fitting end to an exceptional performance. These youngsters have swept aside yet more Premiership opposition and comfortably so. What was particularly pleasing to see was the chemistry in the side, Diarra was the perfect foil for Denilson, Bendtner and Eduardo linked up excellently on occasion, particularly at one point in the second half, playing a series of one twos before Eduardo volleyed wide. Hoyte and Eboue`s link up play was worthy of commendation and the Traore-Clichy axis looks to genuflect that of Clichy-Cole. I really hope that we get another home draw in the next round, as these kids really deserve to play in front of another 60,000 crowd. The tannoy knowingly blared out the Undertones` 'Teenage Kicks` at the final whistle, a poignant reminder that we had witnessed a team predominantly made up of teenagers. But given the huge trouble with the underground post match, only the Jam`s 'Going Underground` would have been more appropriate.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday September 26 2007

Time: 12:35PM

Your Comments

I absolutely love it. Only problem is I could not watch it in TV in India and hence have been forced to follow text commentry. And to think I DID buy a ticket to watch it live in Ashburton groove :(. it is a great stadium and amazingly good pitch. Hopefully I will get to see many matches there.
These are not Wenger Kids, they are "Wonder Kids" :)
Smells like teen spirit to me. What is a little scary is that our first team are barely out of their teens themselves. Good to hear someone singing Songs of praise. We just need to work on big Phils confidence then.
Wenger kids, wonder kids, same thing! They were magnificent, great write up of the game by the way. Traore gave something different down the left and looked menacing, we made the Newcastle first team look like amatuers, great stuff from the young guns.
good write up mate. Anyone else think this team should play in the FA Cup as well? Unless it's Chelski, ManU or Scousers, I think they should play - give the first teamers a rest on a regular basis as Cesc can't play every PL, CL and FAC game.
consumed by a fire, the magpies..
Think you'll see a bit of a mixture for FA Cup matches. Pretty gutted i didn't go now, hope the crowd enjoyed it. Only seen the goals but i must confess, it does greatly concern me that Swiss Tony's performances aint been up to scratch this season.
It annoys me that this game didn't appear to be on TV anywhere in the world when it was clearly the plum tie of the third round, while Chelsea and Hull get a showing on Sky Sports (and a delayed showing on Setanta here in North America). Frankly the lack of Arsenal games on TV this season overall has been ridiculous.
Yeah it would've been nice Shinboi, but Mousers can point to their 4-2 scoreline....
Good right up LD and as Amos already said, in a way, it is scary that the team that beat newcastles average age is 20 but the team that started against Derbys average age was still only 23.
Ozi Gooner
From the short highlight clips I've seen (with sound) the atmosphere seemed great- cheap tickets that aren't compulsory for season ticket holders means a lot of people get to see a few games, and they were vocal in their appreciation. One thing though, LD- I don't think 'the Traore-Clichy axis looks to genuflect that of Clichy-Cole' as I really don't see those two getting down on their knees and worshipping Cole and, erm, Clichy (who would be himself in one case and he seems quite humble actually).
Cashley gets down on his knees and er 'worships' a fair few players apparently...
Agree with you there, Shinobi. We didn't get to watch the match here in India. Instead, we had to settle for Reading vs El Pool :-(
Oh and great work LD. Pleasure reading it
I agree with michael105, I think we should look at playing this team in the F.A Cup as well, they deserve as many chances as possible and have shown that they can handle all manner of opposition. It would be great for their continued developmetn as well. For the moment, I think Bendtner is more worthy a place on the bench in league games than Theo, while Diarra and Denilson have done the unthinkable and given Fabregas and Flamini- arguably our two best players so far this season- something to think about. It goes to show that competition for places gets the best out of players and all of a sudden our squad doesn't look so small.
Little Dutch
I think the centre midfield could actually prove a worry because we have so many talented players there. Most of them are early 20's now & they won't accept just playing the odd game here & there over a long period of time. When you consider that Cesc is nearly 100% definate every week (at least in the important games) then that only leaves one space for Gilberto (who I think will leave next summer), Diaby, Diarra, Denilson & the workhorse Flamini. Yes its a great selection problem but I certainly wouldn't want to see any of those players join our rivals & yet at the same time there is no way to keep them all happy. They all want to play in the CL & the premier league.
Ashburton Gooner
I thought about the FA cup too, and I think this team WILL play for sure. Mind you, this is not the kids, these players are all first teamers and direct replacement for the A team. If we drew some easy opponents on Saturday, expect to see Merida, Gibbs and co. But this team is our FA cup team EVEN if we draw Chelsea and ManUtd. I would bet on it.
That's quite true, but they'll just have to prove themselves in the meantime and those that can't will fall by the wayside. I think you're right about Gilberto AG, and that's a shame because as a person and as a player he has been flawless the whole time he's been here. But Henry and Vieira before him have proved that sometimes it's the right time and if Diarra, Flamini, Diaby can continue to elarn from him in training and keep improving, he may be surplus to requirements. That's unfortunate because I love the guy, but such is football.
Little Dutch
It looks that way AG, but at least Wenger goes all out and uses our second string for the cups rather than rotate them to silly levels for league games. I think it only takes a single injury of a senior midfielder and then things seem a little bit thinner. That, coupled with the prospect of one leaving tells me we do not have too many, but just the right number for now.
I saw the highlites and It was a fantastic game, the kids just kept ******** NU's first team lol
At this moment Gilberto is absolutely essential to our first team. He's got experience. His positioning is second to none. He's awesome in the air. He can play at the midfield as well as centre defence. He's a great leader and lastly he's been loyal to us. I think the reasons I mentioned are enough to say that Gilberto is absolute class. We need him and right now there is no one better than him.
It sounds kinda cold on my part, but I was hoping Gilberto would leave in the summer because I believed Flamini, Diaby or Denilson could contribute over the long haul in his position this year. That's not to say they'd be as good as Siliva is in terms of defensive play, but I reckon they could all find a way to get the job done. But I suppose another year of these young players getting advice from a veteran like Gilberto isn't the worst thing in the world.
I think we certainly need him this season, things are looking great now, but we will inevitably hit a rocky patch, and Gilberto will be crucial when it happens. But I would hope the current crop of young midfielders would learn from him greatly this year, and maybe next year he will be surplus to requirements. It sounds odd given how good he is, but like I say, the sale of Henry has proved that the team is no greater than the sum of its parts.
Little Dutch
All indictations are that Arsene see's Diaby as an attacking midfielder rather than a defensive one.
kenny lunt
WouldYouBelieveIt?! in which channel di du watcj the cc game i tot it was nt being telecast india???
I don't want to see Gilberto leave either but it appears there has been some sort of fallout. He has been excluded from the last couple of squads with no explanation from Wenger, which suggests all is not well. He cannot need that much rest considering he started the season after everyone else, because of the copa america. I think Gilberto will be used mainly as a central defender this season because should he remain in midfield then the likes of Denilson are going to see themselves as 4-5 choice & therefore will want out.
Ashburton Gooner
Good to see Bendtner's post-match comments too. He can appear fiery, and impatient, but he knows the score and is content to fight for his place. Quoting the interview, he said: "We have a strong squad at the moment. Adebayor has done really well against Derby. I am going to hope for my chance. Anything can happen, there will be injuries as well. If I am involved, great. If not, I will keep working hard."
I didn't watch it. The feckers didn't show the game.
Ashburton Gooner- It may mean Wenger doesn't want to risk him. There is no need to rush him back at the moment. AW has already said he fears Gilberto could burn out and hence is taking his time with him.
I would still prefer Gilberto when it comes to the big games! Flamini has been good so far and brings urgency to our game but his positioning is not the best + when he plays with Cesc our midfield lacks height. I think Cesc, Denilson and Diarra have a brighter future than Diaby, Flamini and Walcott. Was good to see an article that praises Song(well done LD) IMO he has been very harshly treated and never really given a chance, if this guy got half the opportunities afforded to Walcott then I think most peoples opinions would be different. Yet again young Theo was pretty poor and I agree with LD in that Bendtner deserves his place on the bench at the present time.
i think Gilberto will be very important in UCL matches against the more experienced teams like Madrid, Barca, Milan, cunning portugese teams. these teams seem harder to handle than newcastle (not UCL material). remember what Gilberto did to Riquelme? he can still do it now. his football brain is one of the best at Arsenal now. i say keep him for at least till the next summer. let the youngsters (especially Flamini) learn from him first.
I'm starting to get a little worried for Theo...if he continues on this bad patch it could really do him in mentally. He reportedly didn't look too hot in the last couple England U21 games either, where he's always been strong. As for Flamini, I'd he came up pretty well against Liverpool last year, and damn near got the winner at Stamford Bridge (friggin' Essien....). Still, I know what you mean...Gilberto can also step up in crucial moments.
Great write up as ever, mi' ol' dutch :)

no need to sell Gibber ust yet, as has already pointed out, his experience will still prove invauable this season... we will need all fit and able men at some point this season... »»Arsene Knows««
But Arsenal is troubled by a complete lack of depth according to so many rival supporters and sports journalists...I'm wondering how they managed to pull off that win yesterday with such scrapings of "B" team mediocre talent. (Please note that this post is littered with sarcasm).
owing to me being in india.. and not being able to see the match live on tv.. i had to contend myself with live text commentary.. i came across a live commentary by a newcastle blogger.. and the bloke was completely taken aback by the performance.. making statements like.. who are these guys.. where does he find them.. this team can even themselves win the epl.. etc.. good to see that they realized they were outplayed.. anyways.. i wish arsenal would have been allowed two teams in the epl.. would have made for more competitiveness.. and this would be one time that could challenge for top 4.. not the lesser mortals of north london.. sp*ds was it??
and yeah LD.. its always a good time to be a gooner.. not just now..
I reckon if Wenger gets another CB then Gilberto will go. He has been great cover for CB, but in midflield we have so many. One of the nicest, most modest players in the game Gilberto. It would be such a shame if he left in the summer. But it may just prove to be the time.
.....zee sports will be telecasting all cc games ...unfortunately yesterday they chose to broad cast the liverpool game..... :(
* just a lil` help to my fellow indian gunners!
is it me or is diaby *****e in the penalty box should have cut back to bendtner in the last seconds and we would of had a 3 goal scoreline and Bendtner was amazing such skill and touches for a big bloke
Diaby also good touches and control for a big guy troare also great would like to see merida on the left wing he could be very dangerous
The large selection for CM isn't a problem I think Wenger is setting it up so that the players do not gain fatigue. He isn't aiming for one trophy he wants to compete in every competition. No player can play in all 4 competitions most teams feild weaker teams in certain competitions. Denilson swapping for Fabregas doesn't weaken the side in someways it can strengther it depending on the match up. It shouldn't be a problem so long as the team gets rotated.
Good to see Song did well, I was one of the sceptics. I say "good to see", but I also couldn't actually see anything - I'll take your word for it! Shame about Senderos, but it sounds like Walcott had a few decent chances. I hope to see this team or a mix in the FA Cup.
For fellow exiles, foreign fans, and others trying to catch our various matches, try and get feeds from "super sport 3" based in Africa, their coverage of arsenal is generally top notch, and if they don't have the game live, it'll often be shown later...I'm not in Africa, but for some bizzare reason get African cable in my home here in Thailand, and the football coverage is much better than the star sports/espn equivilent on Thai cable (big brother Africa's a laugh too....)
To top it off it seems ManU's second string has lost to Coventry (0-2) :)
at old trafford..****s.. thats the difference between the arsenal and the man poos....
I just got to see the match highlights and there was one more attempt on goal in the very last min(after Denilson's blinder) when Nic got to the end of a long ball and twisted around a hapless defender and made a neat pass to Diaby who could have made a goal happen if he had passed it back to Nickey. Somehow I feel Diaby is playing a little selfishly, but it would be a good thing in certain types of players who can lift the team when everything is going against them (Vierra or Keane).
Great to see that we yet again scored those type of goals that we rarely score in the previous seasons. A headed goal from cross & another magnificent long range. Our variety now also includes cutting long ball from the middle, free kicks & corner. No more merely trying to tread through balls in front of a congested two-layer defence. We used to have great forward who could not head (Henry, Bergkamp, Kanu). Now all of our forwards are strong in the air, a very pleasant improvement.
I think that's a little harsh on Diaby, in fact, he passed up a great chance to shoot against Spuds a few weeks back and was taken off minutes later. He was also invo0lved in setting up both goals last night. The point about United tonight is valid, Fergie cannot develop kids, the 'golden generation' was all brought through by Kidd, Fergie's brought through nobody since he left. Wenger has that market well and truly cornered. The point about our variety upfront is very valid, Bendtner and Adebayor are brilliant in the air and very strong, van Persie is well capable of a wonder goal, and Eduardo has a penchant for a tap in, we look to have very good variety upfront, which will imrpove further when Anelka arrives in January :-)
Little Dutch
KaoTek, you must be getting the South African SS3, they still get lots of games, the rest of Africa (apart from Nigeria, I think) is on SS3-B, which shows more french league than premier. It's tough times, man!
You really think there's a chance of Anelka, LD? I don't see it, Wenger would have bought him in the summer if he felt he was needed. Now that all are strikers are proving themselves, why bring in a character like that? About United: Nani & Anderson alone cost 34mil, which is more than our first team. Wenger is really the special one in club football. And now it turns out we got Diarra for only 2 million - genius!!!
Ld, don't keep highlighting how wonderful things are for us at the moment. I'm hoping we can get through to May before everyone realises what we are already fully aware of:)
Good call hatespur!
kenny lunt
I still don't think our defence is good enough. Its a very difficult one because individually I cannot think of better players. Sagna (outstanding), Toure (superb) & Clichy (also outstanding & getting better all the time), however we never look solid & we do give away too many chances. I think unless Gallas can get himself properly fit & remain that way then a new top class central defender is needed. Personally I would've liked to see Djourou get that chance because clearly Senderos isn't upto it. The guy has had plenty of chances & just like Titus Bramble he continually makes mistakes.
Ashburton Gooner
I think that's a bit harsh, but i agree with the sentiment. He didn't look up to it against Kanoute for a while before we took the game to them either, it pains me to say it, but i can't see him making it at the Grove
Great Report LD, and a great time to be a gooner!
All these good things happening and SKY having been highlighting the fact Sp*rs is a dump all morning!
I wouldnt write off Sendy just yet, though AG makes some good points. Wenger says he sees Song as more of a CB, than in mid-field, and after that solid performance against Newcastle, who can argue with that !! The 2nd half was a masterful performance against a (virtually) full strength Newcastle side. This performance (again) was no surprise to those who had the belief in this squad as a whole.
Ashburton I share your concerns about our defence it really does look shaky at times when Gallas isnt playing. Big Phil makes a mistake almost every game, sometimes he gets away with it and other times he doesnt. I would like to see Song getting a chance along side Toure he is big and powerful and has more pace than senderos.
we should be happy that manure bought Anderson. from what i have seen so far (Copa 2007 and CC vs Coventry) , he has been totally rubbish.
Ashburton Gooner, if i were Senderos and i knew u compared me with Bramble, i would feel insulted
Senderos would be superb if he plays for teams like chelski where there is more protection from the midfield. He is our best player in terms of defending aerial challenges & his interception is good when we defend deeply. The problem is he is slow for our tempo. It is a selection dilema on whether to leave him out because our team is too lightweight. My hunch is Diaby is more suited to play in CM & I am sure a lot of you would agree but he was slotted in to add height to the team. Say our first choice defence consists of Clichy, Toure, Gallas & Sagna, the average height is only 5'10! Our midfield, Rosicky, Fabregas, Flamini, Hleb -average 5'9! Even most of our reserves are quite small size, likes of Walcott, Denilson, Diarra, Eboue, Eduardo etc. I am concern teams like mancs, pool & chelski that are quite good with setpieces could take advantage of our glaring size handicap
I mean Diaby was slotted in as a left winger...
I can see people's concerns about Phil, but I still feel he's worth sticking with, call it a hunch. But what I saw from him in the 04/05 season (11 consecutive clean sheets for club and country) and in the run to the CL Final, I feel he's got real talent. But starting last year with an injury did him no good and I think it's lack of confidence more than anything. He's not the quickest, but neither was Adams or Baresi, neither is Terry, Gallas is no slouch but certainly not lightning. It's positional sense that gets them by and that inevitably comes with experience, I think Senderos has enough in his locker to become a great defender. There's an old saying that good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement.
Little Dutch
I think the height issue is given more importance than it should. For all that shakiness in defence, we still kept the clean sheet against Newcastle, and few other sides. Its a fair point that the defence was not flawless, but its not a huge area of concern for me.
Yeah, people forget just how good he was during the CL run...I believe it's the main reason why Wenger still has a lot of faith in him. That said I think Dujorou is a bit further ahead at this point, which is why I was surprised that he went on loan instead of Sendaros. But as we like to say, Wenger knows.
any chance that we can get Micah Richards? he is an Arsenal fan, and English..
I don't see anything good about Senderos at all. People keep saying he is good in the air but he isn't. The only time he wins balls in the air is if there are no opposition players around him. Drogba does him everytime, Martins out jumped him, Davies out jumps him. He gets sent off regularly because of poor positioning & lack of pace. He has played a lot of games now & he is at an age where he should be much further advanced than he is. Maybe its the lack of defensive training at Arsenal that has done for him but you can't keep making excuses for him. Gunner1981 is correct Senderos makes a mistake in nearly every match. He has probably 1 faultless game in every 20 & because Arsenal are an attack minded team he does cost us goals. The CL run was 2 years ago, he can't live off that forever. Nordveit is a little young but supposedly a superb talent so maybe him & Djourou could share that position when Gallas is out.
Ashburton Gooner
Wenger will make them the mighty fine players that they are supposed to be. Something, Mourinho inspite of his good record has failed to with numerous players, Sinclair, Arjen Robben, Shaun Wright Phillips, Kalou, Ben Sahar, Huth either these players never got a chance, or they didnt develop enough. Probably because of plysical style of play with little or no creativity invloved. Btw if Mourinho's approach was a result oriented one, what do you call Wneger's approach when you rip teams with 4 goals at times. And developing young players is a result as well. Mikel was the only young player to develop under Mourinho, to a certain extent only that is. However, Mourinho did develop players like Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Carvalho, Essien. But Wenger has Dennis Bergkamp, Kneown, Tony Adams, Lee Dixon (and these three defenders were old like the Ac Milan defense but they continued longer then they were supposed credit due to Wenger, Kneown accepted this as well).
afri-gooner yeah, it may well be the SA SS3 though a fellow gooner who'd spent a year in Kenya said it's the same......dunno maybe it differs from country to country???? All I know is I'm happy as a pig in the proverbial....nearly every game is shown, and the pundits p!$$ on their british counterparts (and don't get me started on the muppets on espn/star!)

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