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'If It's Football, It's Vital'


Arsenal moved into October astride the league table and in fine fettle. Late summer was being ushered out of view by early autumn, but the Gunners were looking positively evergreen. A Champions League match away at Steaua Bucharest was first up. Having already displayed the champagne football and physical attributes to win matches, Arsenal would demonstrate another facet to their swelling repertoire- playing badly and winning. For large parts of the contest in Romania, the Gunners were lacklustre, had Ghoncea kept his composure when through one on one with Almunia, the Gunners might have been staring down the barrel of defeat. Thankfully, he went all Darren Bent on our asses and fluffed his effort. Good work from Adebayor on the left, pulled back for van Persie, who fired a delicious shot into the top corner from twelve yards. Job done, smash and grab stylee. A home game with Sunderland provided the Gunners next test as they sought to remain top of the Premiership pile. Robin van Persie`s sixth minute free kick smashed the crossbar in a million pieces on its way in, causing a crazy woodwork debris storm in the Sunderland goalmouth that caused the game to be held up for several minutes, as the shards of shattered crossbar were cleared from the goal area and a new crossbar was fashioned out of bamboo sticks. As the ball whizzed its way to goal at three thousand miles an hour, Black Cats keeper Craig Gordon was heard to scream "not the faaaaace!"

Philippe Senderos put the Gunners two up shortly after, but complacency imbued our every move thereafter. Wallace pulled a goal back before half time and a Kenwyne Jones header restored parity for Sunderland. Walcott`s pull back was consummately smashed home by van Persie with seven minutes remaining. It was van Persie`s third consecutive winning goal, what a season he was sure to enjoy. Oh wait, he got injured playing for Holland immediately afterwards and was last seen being turned away from A & E on the basis that he was sucking up too much NHS resource.

After another stupid, imbecilic yet money spinning international break, Arsenal were to take on Bolton Wanderers at home. The game stayed very tight until Kolo Toure`s long range daisy cutter broke the deadlock with twenty minutes left. Tomas Rosicky`s dainty finish from Walcott`s cross sealed the points. Then came Arsenal`s coup de grace in the shape of a Champions League group match at home to Slavia Praha. If the match were a porn film, it would have starred Jessica Alba, Rhiannon and me. An early Fabregas bender set the scene as the Gunners laid waste to their Czech counterparts with some orgasmic football. An own goal followed by Theo Walcott`s first goal at the Grove saw Arsenal saunter into a three goal lead at half time. The second half would be devastating. Walcott`s very passable Thierry Henry impression gave Arsenal a fourth, before the piece du resistance. Hleb dribbled down the left, cut the ball inside to Adebayor, who shimmied past his defender before laying off to Walcott, Theo`s guiding touch saw Cesc Fabregas slide in a goal of such aesthetic beauty, that the Mona Lisa herself broke into a broad grin. The untouchable Alex Hleb bagged a sixth before Nicklas Bendtner betrayed the artistry of the evening by scoring a scrappy seventh. Perhaps that`s why he became so unpopular with his team mates? A bit like when a toddler leaves a grubby handprint over a freshly painted wall.

Liverpool at Anfield followed to give Arsenal their first 'Big Four` opponents of the season. (You have to include Liverpool in the Big Four despite the fact they haven`t challenged for the league in eons, they cry if you don`t). Gerrard`s early free kick gave the home side the lead. Almunia made a decent save from Crouch before Fabregas inexplicably missed an open goal. But he made amends on 81 minutes, Hleb`s Bergkampesque slide rule pass found Fabregas, who toe poked the ball past Reina. Bendtner decided to emulate Cesc`s initial effort by skying in front of an open goal in the last minute. The month finished with a shadow Gunners side walloping Sheffield United in the Carling Cup. A brace of cool finishes from Eduardo and a late deflected Denilson strike saw a comfortable 3-0 win. A Blades fan ran onto the pitch to throw his scarf at boss Bryan Robson, which was strange because it really wasn`t that cold. It was also the night that the first rumblings of "you need more foreigners" could be heard from the Arsenal contingent.

The Gunners piggy backed onto their early season momentum in October, again staying unbeaten for the whole month. Only some shocking finishing at Anfield prevented a 100% record and in the Slavia Praha, Arsenal had one of those "it all came together" sorts of nights that burn bright in the memory until senility burgles your senses. Hleb was accelerating his early season form, but van Persie was cut down in his prime. The team were spreading the goals though, the fact that Adebayor did not register on the score sheet in October bears testament to this. Gallas was proving the doubters wrong with his inspired captaincy and those that had written us off early season, were flame grilling their words and smearing them with condiments. Spurs were still in the relegation zone.LD.

Player of the Month: Aliaksandr Hleb.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday May 15 2008

Time: 1:45PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
It's interesting how Walcott's name keeps popping up in the key moments.....despite playing a bit-part role. The 7th goal scored by Bendtner wasn't all that scrappy. It came about from a beautiful backheel by Eboue. (Yes. Eboue.) The description of RvP's freekick had me in stitches.... Great read!!
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15/05/2008 14:23:00

Nice write ups, LD. Please feel free to stop writing them when you get up to mid Feb/March '08.
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15/05/2008 16:23:00

I second that...
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15/05/2008 16:28:00

Hehe but we´ve seen from the weekly 20 questions series that LD will keep writing what he likes despite what some of us say. He´d just say "Stop reading by all means" or sth like that. :D
Lou the Gunneress
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15/05/2008 16:38:00

Allow me this little diversion - did and one watch the UEFA finals yesterday. Arshavin is a real prospect.
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15/05/2008 16:40:00

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15/05/2008 16:41:00

Yeah agreed 100%!
Lou the Gunneress
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15/05/2008 16:49:00

number14, yes I did, I've been following the UEFA cup tournament since the group stages. I was just upset about who wound up in the final. You had a choice between the most dreadful, negative, uncreative, uninspiring anti-football imaginable and an adventurous, exciting Russian team whose manager confessed to the press this week that he can't buy black players because the fans won't like it. Charming. There are lots of black players in the Russian league but not Zenit--there's no way a black player can ever be accepted by the fans. So I was glad to see the absolutely horrible football of Rangers lose (I rarely see a team that is so consistently and utterly incapable of creating ANYTHING) but I couldn't cheer on Zenit either. As to Arshavin....a fantastic prospect, he's now on the radar of all the big clubs. He's tough, dynamic and creative. We could certainly use him.
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15/05/2008 16:49:00

Yep Jaelle - to be "cagey" is one thing, to sit back the whole 90 mins is another, to sit back the whole 90 mins and did nothing but fouling (apart from the keeper´s good saves) was yet another altogether. Hard to criticise Rangers for being defensive, but come on, it´s a cup final wasn´t it! :/
Lou the Gunneress
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15/05/2008 16:52:00

Wow..A MANAGER ACTUALLY SAID THAT???? Really dont have anything to say to that. Rangers should be ashamed of themselves - the most silly finals display i have ever witnessed.
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15/05/2008 17:01:00

number14, yes he did say that, it was reported all over the football press this week. Here's one report from the Independent:; "Zenit is the only major club in Russia with no black players. 'I would be happy to sign anyone but the fans don't like black players,' Mr Advocaat was quoted as saying previously. 'I don't understand how they could pay so much attention to skin colour. For me, there's no difference between white, black or red. But the fans are the most important thing Zenit have. That's why, in future, I have to ask them outright how they'll react if we sign a dark-skinned player. If the fans don't agree with me, I won't do it. I won't buy a player who won't be accepted by the fans.'" He later tried to back out of his comments but they were recorded so he can't deny what he said. Lou, exactly. I understand the need for defensive football in these cup tournaments, it's how we got to the CL final in 2006. But there's defensive and there's CONSISTENT anti-football in which you create almost nothing at all, you rely completely on fouling, you're incapable of scoring, you just wait for pens. Zenit have no Messis or Eto'o or Dinhos and they have a strong defense but they're very capable of passing the ball and creating chances. And scoring!
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15/05/2008 17:14:00

LD great writeup as usual...keep up the good work. To be honest, I have put this season behind me - the highs and the lows of it. I can only hope we iron out the weaknesses and attain the lofty height we all know is within grasp. Pity tho, it sgoing to be a long long summer...who is coming/going...tell u what tho, we could do with Arshavin and Barry/Yaya to start with.
Report Abuse
15/05/2008 17:15:00

Arshavin on his future:
Lou the Gunneress
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15/05/2008 17:30:00

I didn´t watch Zenit earlier in the tournament and I must admit that I was surprised to see how they passed the ball around and created chance after chance. Rangers got what they deserved. I didn´t know about the Zenit coach´s comments before, but they way they played made me want them to win the trophy (opposite can be said about Rangers too). In that English bar in Barcelona last night, I could tell Zenit won over a few other neutrals like me and a few neutral Brits were disappointed with Rangers too...
Lou the Gunneress
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15/05/2008 17:44:00

Martin Samuel over at the Times has an excellent piece condemning Zenit manager Dick Advocaat's refusal to tackle the Zenit bigots (he seems perfectly comfortable just going along with the no-black-players policy): / oh and Diarra's been trashing Arsene again to the press--he seems to have a personal grudge against Arsene.
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15/05/2008 17:50:00

free phone 0800 51 51 51
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15/05/2008 20:50:00

looking forward to january personally
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16/05/2008 00:40:00

123spurs, tried calling, but its wrong number!!..this number is for deluded and jealous spuds that needs mental help to get out of Arsenal shadow !!!!!
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16/05/2008 07:04:00

123...or 5-1 or whatever u call yourself - you are simply pathetic...end of.
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16/05/2008 08:12:00

Just a question. If arsenal do the double over Spurs next year and win a major trophy, will you still hang on to your 5-1 carling cup victory over Arsenals second string team?
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16/05/2008 09:29:00

Zenit are a disgrace to the world of football. Advocaat should show the courage of his convictions, not bottle it in the face of the idiots.
Report Abuse
16/05/2008 09:39:00

Don´t worry Paul, they´ll still find a way to say stupid things here year after year, no matter what we win or not win. Small-minded people have their own small-minded things to do. If it´s so beyond your comprehension that you had to ask, you´re quite probably a normal human being.
Lou the Gunneress
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16/05/2008 09:51:00

its hilarious how they forget about the other two meetings they had with us in the league this season and the 9 years before it! must be fun living that far away from reality!
Report Abuse
16/05/2008 10:01:00

it was a joke like some banter fun like......u obvious have no sense of humour, plus times are changing an ye can smell it
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18/05/2008 22:11:00


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