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Our Season Starts Now

Our sensational start to the season continues unabated. We now go in to two mouth watering league games which will examine our title credentials. Bolton arrived in North London rudderless following the midweek sacking of Sammy Lee, and shorn of Nicolas Anelka due to injury, it was difficult to see them getting anything at the Grove. But if any side in recent history is capable of throwing a spanner in our works, it's Bolton Wanderers. With the Trotters cut adrift in the relegation zone, their gameplan was only ever going to be one of containment. We also saw a return of some of Bolton's strong arm tactics made legendary by that odious cretin Allardyce. Having not seen any highlughts yet, it is difficult to take too accusatory a tone, but for my money McCann might have seen red for a studs up lunge on Sagna. Joey O'Brien appeared to go in two footed on Matty Flamini, whilst Ivan Campo earned his title as the fat Robbie Savage with his play acting and general buffoonery. This culminated in him reigniting an old feud with Abou Diaby (whose challenge on Campo in the 2006 Fourth Round cup tie left the afro coiffured idiot with a broken foot).

As is increasingly the case in the Premier League, the lunacy of an incompetent official vindicated Bolton's misplaced aggression. Riley's constant refusal to exert any authority on the match was as frustrating as it was laughable. For my money, this clown should have been put out to pasture instead of Graham Poll. Poll was often the centre of controversy, which he often courted himself, but he had the ability to be a decent ref at times. Riley simply does not understand the rules of football and carries himself with all the conviction of a Gordon Brown election promise. Predictably, Bolton got numbers back behind the ball and made life difficult for Arsenal in the first half, they were organised and committed, leaving chances at a premium in a drab first half. Midway through the first period, the brilliant Alex Hleb danced his way past Joey O'Brien on the byline and dragged the ball back for Adebayor, but his goalbound effort was blocked by Abdoulaye Meite. Arsenal's only other opportunity of note was forged on the left again, this time Eduardo dinked a delightful cross towards Adebayor, but with little power on the cross, the Togolese forward could not generate sufficient power or direction and his header limped wide. Eduardo had a quiet game, which in understandable, his movement looks very good and he is obviously a lively player. However, there seemed to be a lack of understanding with Ade, whose ability to take the ball down and redistribute is economically had the crowd gasping all day.

Despite the quiet nature of the first forty five minutes, I never doubted an Arsenal victory. Kevin Davies looked isolated upfront, with Diouf spending more time being an argumentative little sh*t than supporting his striker. Consequently, Gallas and Toure had an easy day at the office, Willy looked a little cumbersome on his return from injury, which is to be expected. But I've the feeling that Anelka's pace might have left him floundering. As it was Davies impotent flick ons did not cause any hearts to flutter. Wenger changed things around at the interval, moving Eduardo out to the wing, leaving Hleb to weave his magic in a more central position. A glorious chance went begging almost instantly, as Hleb once again caused havoc for the weary Bolton defenders, Fabregas played in Eboue on the right, but the Ivorian smashed the ball into orbit when a more composed finish would have seen us assume the lead. The Gunners' stepped it up a gear, and when Rosicky and Walcott arrived from the bench to replace the ineffective duo of Eboue and Eduardo, Arsenal, aided by Hleb's mesmeric ability on the ball, looked more dangerous. The goal duly arrived just after the hour mark. A foul by Campo on the edge of the area gave Arsenal a free kick. Kolo Toure wound up his right peg and delivered a daisy cutter which travelled through a ball sized gap amongst the plethora of bodies in the box and beat Jaaskelainen low in the corner. Seldom has Ashburton seen a more popular or well received goal. Not only have Toure's performances been stellar as ever, but after the heartbreak of seeing his thirty yard exorset against Sunderland crash the post, you felt that mother karma had restored balance to the universe. The words, 'I've been saying for ages that one day one of those would go in,' were heard to reverberate from every set of lips in the stadium.

The result was never in doubt from that point, as Walcott terrorised Bolton with his pace. Shortky after the goal, he took the ball with vigour and confidence on the halfway line, and showed Gardner a clean pair of heels, but his cutback came to nothing. There was a notable change in the way he ran with the ball, gone were the nerves that have so often seemed to permeate him with the ball at his feet. It's been a frustrating education at times, because Theo is lightning wuick and ou het the impression that, in a similar fashion to Marc Overmars, he does not require a great deal of technique because he has the requisite pace to simply push the ball and bound after it. His assist for van Persie against Sunderland seems to have been the filip he needed. It was his direct approach that led to Arsenal's second. Hleb knocked a searching pass to Walcott on the right, he bamboozled Gardner on the touchline and delivered a low cross which Tomas Rosicky delightfully dinked past the keeper. The acclaim was all Walcott's from fans and players alike. The goal was also testament to the fact that Arsenal are spreading the goals around nicely, with the mdifield contributing richly as well as the defenders now getting in on the act. It was damage limitation then for Wanderers, with Davies dropping ever deeper, only to find the buffer of Mathieu Flamini who convincingly won his aerial battles with old elbows.

The Gunners' could have had a third, when Fabregas flighted ball set Adebayor through on goal. He attempted to round Jaaskelainen but over ran the ball, with Walcott screaming for it in the centre, Adebayor lost his footing and the chance had gone begging. It was good to see Walcott scream for the ball with some aggresssion, all too often he has looked a little timid in the presence of his team mates, happily his shyness does not appear to be inhibiting him any longer. Gael Clichy found time to dance through a bevy of Bolton players, only to be bundled over in the box by Meite for an absolute stonewall penalty, which Riley predictably waved away with that nauseatingly dismissive smirk. Funny how Rooney's brush with thin air three years ago was so marvellously detected by that utter clown Riley. Never had the chant 'you don't know what you're doing' been more apt. The final whistle sounded to a chrous of 'we are top of the league' as the crowd dispersed themselves into avrious drinking establishments to watch the rugby. (I have to say, England were robbed by a very bad decision. I guess it shows that even video evidence cannot always remove the sh*t from people's eyes). With a trip to Anfield and a visit from ManUre on the horizon, our season begins now.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday October 21 2007

Time: 2:01PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Good old Arsenal fans. Still as whiny and bitter as ever.
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21/10/2007 14:08:00

Good old Arsenal. Still top of the league as ever.
Little Dutch
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21/10/2007 14:12:00

RMc, eh?
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21/10/2007 14:20:00

I expect a win vs United! Liverpool would accept a draw.
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21/10/2007 14:21:00

Walcott was great. Took them a while to settle because Bolton harried them, and hammered them, so much. But when they did, they looked great. Roll on pool!
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21/10/2007 14:26:00

We need RVP back as soon as possible. I don't think Ade is playing well enough at the moment and Eduardo needs more time to gel with the team, there is no question about his ability just needs more time.
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21/10/2007 14:37:00

Another match we would have drawn or lost last year, 1st half was frustrating with Riley was at his incompetant best, and the orcs reverting to their negative cynical brand of football.... So chuffed that Kolo scored, if anyone deserved a goal it is him... Great result in the end, and would like to big up the brazilian Gooners who i was watching the match with you know who you are ;-)
Report Abuse
21/10/2007 14:42:00

I agree with regards to Eduardo, but I thought Adebayor was excellent yesterday. He gave us an outlet and causes so many problems, not least because his ball control has improved about 300% in the last few months. The problem yesterday was more to do with the chemistry between Eduardo and Ade. Next week I'd play Hleb in the hole behind Adebayor.
Little Dutch
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21/10/2007 14:43:00

I vote to play Hleb behind Ade too, preferably 4-5-1 against pool & mu.
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21/10/2007 14:51:00

lol @RMc
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21/10/2007 15:03:00

Theo needs to be used as an pure striker in the carling cup against a weaker team like sheffield. Its obivious dat in previous teams his pace was used to unlock undefences NOT skills as such. Wenger in many ways is probably the first to attempt to teach him ALL the required skills to be a world beater. The high expection is unfair, because in many ways he is behind in development. The dividends are now starting to be paid. The intellect is there, it will take time but he is really starting to hone those skills. Helb was excellent yesterday. I cant believe dat in many cases other team supporters regard he as woeful, i have heard truly terrible opionions of him - describing him as in the worse players of the season! Even on respectable and good podcasts such as okeydokeyfootball. The madness of it all
arsenal viperr
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21/10/2007 15:18:00

i think Eduardo was very poor. i really can't remember a single thing that he did well yesterday. hope that he will change my view very soon, especially now that RvP is injured.
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21/10/2007 16:19:00

Does RMC understand the irony of him going onto another fans forum and bitching about how those fans are always bitching and bitter? Clown.
Professor Calculus
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21/10/2007 16:24:00

Forgot to say Hleb was Motm for me...
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21/10/2007 18:21:00

England weren't robbed, it wasnt a try! Bokke!!
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21/10/2007 19:20:00

Yeah man! Habana for president!!! And Wenger for king!
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21/10/2007 19:51:00

would love to see what bendtner can do.. have this funny feeling he would have got a couple yesterday as pointed out by mcgooner already.. we have to agree the bloke is more clinical.. hope he comes on as a sub against loserfool and gets helps us stay at the summit of the league.. good preformance.. the change in the team is clearly showing.. and our subs are beginning to make some serious impact.. loserfool scoreline anoyone?? watched the merseyside derby.. and i dont think i was worried about anything in particular the way pool played.. we can win that one.. whatsay??
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21/10/2007 20:19:00

Eduardo wasn't that bad. He played a good ball which Ade failed to make better use of with his head, after he had done some good work on the left. I don't think he is pacy enough for the wing and he struggled a bit there. He didn't get into the game as much as he could have, but had good passing contribution and wasn't as woeful as people are suggesting. Woeful is a word reserved for Eboue. I suppose he's just returning to match fitness so cut him some slack but he didn't perform well enough yesterday.
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21/10/2007 20:28:00

Liverpool were super lucky to get away with a win yesterday.. hopefully we can go to Anfield and get a result. They've not been playing well and I'd like to see Wenger use a 4-5-1 against them as well... when was the last time we beat Pool in the EPL at Anfield?
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21/10/2007 20:42:00

as long as we play our own game,and dont get sucker punched by another dive in the box by saint gerrard,we should smash liverhoof next week
fran merida
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21/10/2007 20:43:00

this is the perfect time to be coming up against our nearest opponents, top with a game in hand. it is they who must win to gain ground on us. 4 points would be very satisfying over the two games, 6 points would be invaluable.
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21/10/2007 20:56:00

if Hleb is to play behind Adebayor, i'd like to see Walcott play on the right, and Gilberto come in for Flamini. i'm the biggest fan of the Flamster, but i think he needs a little breather and we need Gilberto's experience in the next two matches. i would also love to see Bendtner play some part against Liverpool, and start against United, because he will give us the additional physical power and presence in the attack. and we shouldn't worry too much about the strikers scoring, as long as Ade, Bendtner and Eduardo play well, the goals will come from somewhere or the other..
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21/10/2007 21:30:00

hey hey didnt watch the game but i put a tenner on toure scoring first 33/1 were the odds drinks on me LOL
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22/10/2007 01:00:00

Englan weren't robbed, that was never a try. Everton were robbed. Gerard becomes more of a cheat every week and not only did he dive but he managed to throw himself into the box from a good two feet outside it to earn an absoloute bull***** penanlty. I used to have a lot of respect for him but in the last two seasons that has all disappeared. As for the Liverpool game, I recon the 4-5-1 sound slike a good idea. Hleb behind Ade with Gilberto and Cesc in the middle and Theo and Tommy out wide.
Ozi Gooner
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22/10/2007 01:42:00

agree with ozi on a few points there: everton WAS robbed, not only gerrard but carragher is a bloody cheat as well. lescott should hvae got a penalty. i also agree with the 4-5-1, hleb and ade, but should stick with flam and use bert as a sub. theo and tommy are perfect wingers for us. i think bendtner should not play in these big games, we need continuity with our current team. another reason to keep jens on ice and use almunia instead.
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22/10/2007 02:43:00

I would like to see a 4-5-1 too. Fabregas behind Adebayor with Rosicky and Hleb as the wide boys. Gilberto and Flamini in the center. But i do get the feeling Wenger will keep the same team. I really don't like seeing Eboue on the right wing. He has no creativity IMO.
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22/10/2007 02:55:00

Rafa implied that Lescott dived. lol
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22/10/2007 04:50:00

Good report as always LD. I didnt catch the game this weekend. I did see the goals though, and I'm pleased for Toure. His celebration was a joy to watch :).
Report Abuse
22/10/2007 05:23:00

We've given ourselves a perfect platform with this start to the season. We've played more home games than our rivals so far so, as we are all aware, there are stern tests coming up away from home. Did anyone notice that, with Flamini replacing Gilberto and Almunia likewise with Lehmann, it's now virtually a brand new team we have, with the only survivor being Toure?
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22/10/2007 10:37:00

nice dig
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22/10/2007 11:01:00

I'm looking forward to the Anfield visit, will be the first proper test, should be a test for me aswell, I'm in with the scousers ;-( Nice write up LD!
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22/10/2007 12:39:00

how the hell can you say gerrard dived when he stirt was being pulled. yeah i agree that everton should have had a penalty but these things happen and they find away a of leveling themsleves out over the season but when you think of the chelski penalty against us we deserved some luck. i cant wait for the weekend it is going to be a great match. have to say cesc has been by far the best midfielder in the prem so far this season. henry leaving you was probably the best thing that has happened to you for a while
Report Abuse
22/10/2007 12:49:00

withthe xception of eduardo,the team for liver...should remain unchanged
Report Abuse
22/10/2007 15:00:00

gerrard's shirt was pulled backwards, How did he end up falling forward?
Report Abuse
22/10/2007 15:23:00

if you look properly you would see that his shirt was being pulled and right at the end of it his leg got clipped which made him go forward
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22/10/2007 21:59:00

I thought it was a penalty, but Gerrard went down very easily. Lescott got completely robbed of a penalty (LOL @ Benitez sayingit was a dive), and Kuyt might've gotten a red from another ref for the two footed tackle that barely missed Neville (too bad he didn't connect, would've killed two birds with one stone). Anyway the Gooners were fantastic in the second half, my boy Theo has really come on assuming the impact sub role he had last season. I wouldn't mind keeping him in that position for the next month or so, as he can really change the game. Would love to see him start up front in the Carling Cup games though, playing behind Bendetar.
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23/10/2007 14:46:00


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