Arsenal - The Men Who Fell To Earth
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The Men Who Fell To Earth

Having drawn our last three games, bookended by a disjointed team selection and performance in Praha, I was somewhat concerned that Arsenal may have lost their rhythm of late. Therefore, I was not exactly brimming with confidence upon my arrival at the Madejski Stadium. A few pints of Courage were sunk with Vital's resident dieting guru FatOldDave prior to the match, where the wise one was frustrated in his attempt to have a punt on a 3-0 victory for the Arsenal.

Reading were always going to set up to be cautious after last year's 4-0 drubbing, and were also obviously keen to avert conceding an early goal as they did in this fixture last year, the hosts were swift out of the blocks. Arsenal were allowed possession, but were met with something akin to the Maginot Line across Reading's 18 yard box. Despite the Royals' dogedness, I was unconcerned, United set up in a similar fashion (albeit with greater numbers on their counter attacks), Arsenal will always create chances. Sure enough, we made one about half way through the second half. Alex Hleb dispossessed James Harper inside Reading's half, Fabregas fed ravenously on the scaps and put Adebayor through on goal, but his attempt clipped the outside of the post when he really should have scored.

It was on a rare forray forward that Reading were finally caught just before half time. Like a sniper in the bush, waiting patiently for its pray to appear, the Gunners struck. Almunia collected a corner, bowled it out to Eboue, who raced down the right and played in Alex Hleb, the Belarussian cut the ball back, beating the advancing Hahnemann and Matty Flamini unceremoniously bundled the ball home. A goal right on half time, absolute magic. From here on in, there was only ever one winner. Reading had to abandon their defensive tendencies in search of an equaliser. But with the back four in fine fettle, it was left for Arsenal's league of playmakers to take centre stage. Hleb, Rosicky, Fabregas and Adebayor took over, playing mesmerising triangles that left Reading chasing shadows. So often crowded out in the first half, Adebayor found space a plenty to run into, and the aforementioned midfield trio were more than capable of finding him, with Eboue supporting brilliantly down the right. A second arrived soon after, and the goal was truly a work of Athenian art. In fact, there should be a brass rubbing made of Adebayor's finish and it should be hung in the Louvre. Rosicky worked the ball from the left and played the ball into Fabregas, the Spaniard's deft touch played in Adebayor in the tightest of spaces, but the Togolese talisman provided a side footed finish of nonchalant beauty. A man who has gone nearly two months without a goal really had no right to execute such a precise finish.

As the Gunners' ran amok, the supporters found some of their best form this season. Teasing Reading, whose earlier chants of 'Eng-er-land' were juxtaposed by the ice cool wit of the travelling Gooners. 'You need more foreigners' didn't sit too well with the local yokels, who were literally punching the air in anger at our national mutiny. Sensing their advantage, the Gooners' swiftly followed up with the South Paw jab, 'Have you ever seen England play like this?' With the home support baying for blood, the hammer blow was landed, 'Are you England in disguise?' We have tirelessly defended the patriation of our squad on these pages and the blogosphere over, but when it came down to it, our sense of militance and the shortcomings of the national team were perfectly encpasulated by good old terrace banter. I always smiled wryly when United fans sang, 'Argentina' in protest at the disgusting treatment David Beckham received in the wake of England's 98 World Cup exit. I think we have tired so much of being blamed for the pitfalls of a laughable football association and the most over rated collection of players since Stevie Gerrard's last cocktail party, that we have reached a similar stage of identity. I'm a huge Sex Pistols fan and a quote from John Lydon has always stuck with me, 'we managed to piss off everyone we were f*****g fed up with.' I empathised with that feeling hugely last night.

A killjoy linesman curtailed further joy, Fabregas found Rosicky on the left, who laid in a perfectly weighted pass to Adebayor, he skipped around the keeper with applomb but was incorrectly ruled offside. My mind began to wander to Sonko's foolhardy pre match assertion that he would kick Adebayor out of the game. To be fair, he didn't seem to attempt it, but there agin I'm not sure he got within five yards of Ade all night! A deserved third did arrive. Eboue played Hleb in in the channel and he walked past Hahnemann with the air of a man strolling in the park, before eventually firing into the net. Sonko nearly cleared the ball off the line, but he couldn't kick that properly either. Shame.

The Gunners' attacked at will, with Hleb and Fabregas once again chief architects, I've a feeling Cesc's fifth booking of the season may have been slighlty premeditated with a home fixture against Wigan on the horizon. Diarra came on and showed some nice touches, suggesting that he could plug that gap. But with the clock running down the away side took their foot off the pedal, and blotted their copybook with a sloppy goal. Murty's cross from the right should have been headed out to saftey by Eboue, but he kept the ball alive by heading it up into the air, Fae sprung to head the ball onto the post, Hunt hooked it goalwards and the ball ricocheted off of Gallas and Nicky Shorey prodded into an open goal. Shorey had earlier gone close hitting the post with a free kick, but in reality this was a very one sided contest. Having been frustrated in an attempt to bet on 3-0, Dave might have been the only Gooner who breathed a sigh of relief! I must also relay another anecdote about a wedding party that attended the match in the Arsenal enclosure, bride and groom decked out in their wedding finery. The Reading fans found this most amusing, with a volley of inquisitive chants about the bride's weight and sexual preferences. Not to be outdone, the blushing bride responded by revealing her breasts in riposte. How many brides can say that on their wedding day, that three thousand men simultaneoulsy accused her of over indulging in anal sex before revealing her norks for all to see? That's the Arsenal for you, class all the way through the club.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday November 13 2007

Time: 1:35PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Hey LD, I don't know how many pints FOD forced down your neck before the game (going by by own (great) experiences it will have been a lot) but Adebayor hit the post in the first three minutes!!! Great performance by the team, and by the fans by the sounds of it. I reckon it will certainly have set a bench mark for other games where the rival fans try and mock our transfer policy. Awesome stuff both off and on the field!!!
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13/11/2007 13:45:00

Three mins?! I reckon it was because I had to ***** so badly that the first half seemed to last for about three hours!
Little Dutch
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13/11/2007 13:47:00

Lol. A great performance. I thought, Reading had the two banks of four working rather well for most of the first half, and I thought we were going to end up frustrated, but credit to our boys, we kept on plugging away. I still think Hleb should have had a shot for our first goal though, we were lucky the Flamster was able to bundle the ball home.
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13/11/2007 14:04:00

it certainly wasn't second half anyway! also Ade set up Hleb to set up Flam. it wasn't Eboue as you say. I think Eboue was involved earlier in the move. But good report and great to hear about the chants etc.
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13/11/2007 14:07:00

fair play on another good win yesterday!
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13/11/2007 14:20:00

And we scored in this one eh SJ ;)
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13/11/2007 14:23:00

"the blushing bride responded by revealing her breasts in riposte." - Any pictures LD? lol.. Good win, I too was a bit anxious pre-game because we'd drawn the last 3 games. Before each game I have players who I'd like to see score, Hleb, Adebayor and Flamster were all on my list along with Rosicky and Clichy. I'm still waiting for Clichy's first goal and will be muchos pleaseod for him when he does. Good writeup
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13/11/2007 14:25:00

Good performance, to be honest we should've scored at least 5 (although we DID score 4 and the linesman muffed it). We look awesome when we attack with our style of play but there is still the odd occasion where we look for that one more pass than is necessary when a shot would've been the best option.
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13/11/2007 14:31:00

Reading seemed too terrified to play for most of the game. You can't blame them for parking the bus and in all fairness to them they didn't try to kick us but it was the most one sided event I can remember and didn't make for much of a spectacle. Cesc attempted to make almost as many good passes on his own (101) as the whole 5 man Reading midfield (including 2 subs) managed collectively (132).
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13/11/2007 14:50:00

lol smokiejack! if I thought for one minute you had our interests at heart and not just trying to rack up a thousand points to win that Wii!!, first half was pure chess grand master style feeling out the opponent, it must have been torture for Reading fans - kinda like being locked in a room with a cobra and wondering when? it was blatantly apparent that when the first goal occurred those floodgates would bang wide open and it was so, revving the red and white engine we forgot about second and third and wheel spun straight into fourth gear, spurs fan Dave Kitson remarked today "For a T*ttenham fan to say this is blasphemy but you hope that a team who play as well as Arsenal win something - they are the best team on the planet"
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13/11/2007 15:14:00

One thing smokiejack didn't figure out, is that, if you write several small posts, they start to value less. : - )---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------. :p
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13/11/2007 15:20:00

For some bizzare reason WBA V Coventry was on my telly last night so I missed the match.....I was reduced to updating f365s minute by minute match updates.....Thanks for the brilliant match report LD, they consistently make me sentimental and home sick.....
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13/11/2007 15:55:00

the fantastic but disallowed second goal started from Almunia and was a textbook super fast counterattack, Martin Tyler sounded very upset with the ref. Although that was frustrating, along with the Reading goal that annoyed our goal difference, this was a good game to have some bad luck in as it didn't cost us. And Cesc's holding onto the opponent's arm to earn his yellow seemed completely intentional - a clean slate for Cesc and a chance for Diaby or Denilson or one of 2-3 other players given a chance to start against Wigan. Good result all round going into the final gosh-darn international break for a while (i hope).
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13/11/2007 17:09:00

Sorry Rocky, Only managed to get a couple of Courage Best's down the boy. In my eyes I still owe him a smooth Guinness or two. Thanks again Dutch, and thanks for a great report. I forgot about the wedding party. They should have been the focal point!
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13/11/2007 17:52:00

Nikolaijinss, "lol smokiejack! if I thought for one minute you had our interests at heart and not just trying to rack up a thousand points to win that Wii!!, first half was pure chess grand master style feeling out the opponent, it must have been torture for Reading fans - kinda like being locked in a room with a cobra and wondering when? it was blatantly apparent that when the first goal occurred those floodgates would bang wide open and it was so, revving the red and white engine we forgot about second and third and wheel spun straight into fourth gear, spurs fan Dave Kitson remarked today "For a T*ttenham fan to say this is blasphemy but you hope that a team who play as well as Arsenal win something - they are the best team on the planet" , but if I copy in loads of tosh, it should help right? :)))
Blue is the colour
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13/11/2007 19:35:00

To quote Reading's Dave Kitson: "It is unbelievably difficult playing against them (Arsenal) and, to be honest, there wasn't a lot we could have done," said Kitson. "They are without doubt the best footballing team on the planet right now. It's absolutely phenomenal stuff. Trying to get near (Cesc) Fábregas, (Aleksandr) Hleb, (Tomas) Rosicky, it's a tough ask. The thing that amazes you most is they are not just passing to each other. They are passing so that the next person can run on to the ball and, by then, his mind is already made up with what he is going to do next. It is unbelievable. "It's interesting to compare them with Manchester United or Chelsea. What I would say about Arsenal is they are not reliant on one, two, three or even four people. They all kind of chip in even though, against us, they didn't really use their full-backs, simply because they didn't need to. I thought they had another couple of gears to go. It will be close at the end of the season between the three of them but even for a Tottenham fan like me - and to say this is blasphemy - you hope that a team who play as well as Arsenal win something. Their approach is just magic."
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13/11/2007 19:36:00

Good game btw, congrats. :)
Blue is the colour
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13/11/2007 19:36:00

I could copy the entire 56,685,452 pages from the encyclopedia of tosh Blue and still not come close to your formidable toshtitude Blue, but you're right it was a good game - no nasty spectacular overhead bicycle kick 90th min equalisers either - which is always a plus :)
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13/11/2007 19:49:00

top report LD! I missed the majority of the game last night, a chop-socky class puts paid to any monday night footy action pretty much, but got home in time for the last 20 mins. No mention on the radio of the (not-so) blushing bride, alas. I salute you for embellisheing a great recounting of the game with a splendid anecdote :)

Watching the goals on t'internet afterwards, Ade's goal was wondrful to watch, the movement and first time passing great to see, but Helb's dragback for me spoke volumes of the way the guy is playing this season.

And my fave moment of the match? After Flamini scored, he and Tommy did a bit of a waltz, before the Flamster ended up on the floor, Tommy then running behind him and booting hm up the Arse, smiling broadly. Great stuff!
»»Arsene Knows««
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13/11/2007 20:31:00

Yeah Wingers, this team seems to bring new celebrations, some of it quite funny / strange. But as long as they are celebrating, eh. Pleasing performance, and a job well done. Never looked like losing that game. I'm happy for Hleb, coz he needs to be scoring the odd goal to keep his confidence high, and its never a good idea for a striker to go too many games without scoring, so it was good for Ade too.
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14/11/2007 16:36:00

As much as I love watching Arsenal play do you not think you are milking all this praise a bit? lol
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16/11/2007 11:59:00

Just like we 'milked' all that criticism over the summer, deano ;). The media does go overboard, all this 'football from another planet' is premature, especially if the team doesnt win anything. But things are looking good, and excuse us while we bask in the warm afterglow of yet another Arsenal win.
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16/11/2007 12:12:00


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