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

Twente Hit For Six

So our passage into the Group stages is assured again and thoughts turn to who we would like in the draw this afternoon. (Myself and Lord Lowe have taken a fancy to Kyiv due to the quality of the women!) Interestingly, given Platini`s promise to superficially address the proletarianisation of the Qualifying rounds, we look to have some Champions League virgins in our midst this year. After Saturday`s miserable defeat it was important to get at least a little bit of good feeling around the club again. Speaking with people in the Tavern pre match confirmed that most are baffled by Wenger`s current transfer activity (one comes in, four go out) and this is perhaps the first time Arsene has faced ontological evidence of mass anxiety. Certainly this is the first time I have ever really doubted him or regarded our transfer activity so fetishistically. The consensus of opinion seemed to be that Wenger`s plenipotentiary status with the board has seen him act too frugally in the face of the asset stripping of the squad. Nevertheless, a few jars of Guinness gave myself, Lord Lowe and Mark to put the world to rights on that one before a pretty low intensity match.

Cesc Fabregas was hastily ushered back into the starting line up, as Toure was given a much needed breather and Adebayor also had some bench time to reflect on an ordinary start to the season for him. Without wishing to become overly tautological, I worry about Fabregas` fitness for the season, missing pre season usually culminates in a player struggling for match fitness for a long time. Twente were shorn of their two main strikers, which pretty much put paid to any slim hopes they may have entertained of an upset, nor did they really look willing to try, settling for a damage limitation exercise, packing the midfield and trying to deny us space. After an uninspiring opening twenty minutes, Arsenal`s frontline sprung into action when van Persie played in Walcott who fired over the bar. It was a mere warning of what was to come, two minutes later, Walcott found van Persie this time, who nudged the ball left to Samir Nasri, Nas sold two defenders a beautiful dummy, shifting the ball onto his left foot before finding his effort deflected into the net. Another goal and another fine half from Samir will do wonders for his confidence. Though, much like Torres, his scoring seems to be confined too much to home games and at one end of the stadium in particular. Come on Samir; spread them out a bit, eh? In all seriousness, I`m tempted to liken his fast integration with Sagna last season, but upcoming away matches at Blackburn and Bolton will see his acclimatisation tested in earnest. Bendtner continued to impress me, though he appeared to prove my suspicion that, while his intention is always correct, special sometimes, the execution isn`t there yet. But that`s fine with me, execution can improve on the training ground, you can`t teach somebody inspiration. Unfortunately he came n for a lot of stick from the increasingly spoiled idiots that go the Grove nowadays, in the second half he was ironically cheered for completing a pass. Fortunately, he managed to shut these imbeciles up with a goal soon after.

Arsenal stepped up a gear; as Walcott, given time and space, began to crucify Edson Braafheid with his pace, latching onto Denilson`s ball into the right channel, before clipping the ball back for van Persie. Unbelievably with all the time in the world afforded him, van Persie`s trajectory was off and he curled wide. Had he had less time to think about his finish, he surely would have scored. Delicacy and poise can be excellent servants, but lousy masters when allowed to govern a player`s brain. Seven minutes into the second half and Arsenal killed the tie. The ball looped up in the right hand side of the penalty area, Bendtner controlled it beautifully, before steering a shot goalwards, Mihaylov beat it out as far as William Gallas who bundled home his second goal of the tie. Twente had well and truly given up the ghost and Arsenal were allowed to embellish the score line further with a youthful tarnish, Bendtner and Walcott played a deft one two, before Walcott ran through on goal and stroked it into the corner of the net with consummate aplomb. He was fortunate that he did score with Eboue standing in front of an open goal to his right. With the likes of Eboue cracking out the party tricks, the Gunners were in cruise control and the back four were innocent bystanders. The most convoluted goal in history added yet more sheen to the score in injury time. Adebayor played Denilson into the area, who backheeled the ball to Bendtner in the six yard area, Nicky B decided that was quite enough farting about in the area thank you and lashed home from close range. A comfortable evening which allowed us to get our shooting boots back on and build some much needed confidence. But this result doesn`t begin to paper over the cracks in our squad; there are harder challenges to come than this this season. We left the ground aware that Luckypool had gone into extra time, as we made our way to Finsbury Park tube station, we ducked our head into just about every pub en route, settling in the Twelve Pins in anticipation of a penalty shoot out. But of course the Scousers lucked out again before I even had the chance to finish urinating. How do they do it?LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday August 28 2008

Time: 12:44PM

Your Comments

When Song came on I just watched him closely, his movement and energy off the ball was so much like Flamini, he definitely has a presence on the pitch now and makes it a lot harder for the opposition. Very pleasantly surprised.
Professor Calculus
I've always liked the boy, but I didn't realise until Saturday and yesterday how strong he was in the tackle. His positional play has always been astounding for a lad his age, this is what I mean when I've been saying that those who've seen him in the CC away games rate him highly. For once, sending a player on international duty (African Nations and Olympics) seems to have done us a good turn as his confidence has grown away from some of our idiot fans. Though given the stick Bendtner got last night, it doesn't seem to be a lesson we've learned........
Little Dutch
I think Cesc's lack of preseason is to some extent much the same for the rest of the team. Not quite entirely joined up yet. Bendtners clever invention but less so execution, RvPs slightly wayward accuracy, Ade on two thirds power. The whole team, rather than any specific individual seems about 20% off the pace. Just not entirely match fit or if fit then not match sharp. It may take a few games yet for the fluency to be up to the level but you could see positive signs in yesterdays game.
Amos.
The problem with the Song thing is that I think he would be much better than Xabi Alonso or De Guzman or whoever we are going to sign because he is such a good player. But I still want another player. If we are to play Song as first choice, De Guzman would be a great signing because he is able to do every role in the midfield and can be brilliant backup. But I fear that Denilson is still first choice DM. I hope we do sign somebody, but if Song - Fabregas was tested, we would have a very, very good partnership on our hands. As for Theorick Walberg, this match showed why he should be a winger.
Tom14
I don't understand the Bendtner bit - why did some in the crowd boo him? Ok he's not sharp, but he worked for the team and, like you guys said, had some pretty good ideas, just not well executed enough for us to see the intended end product. RvP's a strange one, he was brilliant for Holland just a week ago. But although his accuracy's still off, he was much better than against Fulham. I'd also like to mention Denilson, who took part in both attack and defence (not much work to do there, granted), again, an improvement on Fulham. Overall our guys looked like we're a team again - as opposed to just 11 individuals we saw at Fulham - and a team with something to prove. Like Amos said, I believe the fluency will come even closer to our best. One step in the right direction.
Lou the Gunneress
On Denilson, he is only good in a defined role. If he plays alongside an attacking midfielder (Cesc) and he knows he is there to defend, he plays well. When he plays alongside a defensive midfielder (Song) he attacks and plays well. But alongside Eboue, he does not know what he is supposed to do and plays poorly in both departments. I rate him, but he is not good enough to be first choice just like Diaby, Ramsey and Eboue
Tom14
It was also annoying to see people boo Eboue coming on. He is still an Arsenal player, and one of the most liked players amongst the arsenal team.
paul_ownz
As well as being one of our better performers so far this season!
Little Dutch
Eboue's been our star man! He did well yesterday, but why stay on the ground throwing yourself about when your TEAM are attacking? Just because you feel justified in your claim for a foul. Bendter's a strange one, i know you rate him LD after talking about him always being involved in goals, which is hard to argue with - but he just never seems to play that well for us.
shewore
"how do they do it"? One of the great football mysteries of our time. I think some scouser somewhere long ago made a pact with the devil -- still hasn't helped them win the league yet tho! Kills me to say it but the scousers really put our home fans to shame. It's disgraceful, how are these kids going to develop their confidence and skills with such a home crowd on their back? Every team needs a squad player like Eboue, it's just his conduct that needs adjusting sometimes. Glad to hear you support Bendtner for what he was trying to create, even tho the execution was off. That'll come with time. Some people just don't understand how to judge a player for what he brings to the team. Denilson played better than at Fulham (tho that's not too difficult) but I agree he can't be our first choice to partner Cesc (yet).
jaelle
at the beginning of the match denilson lost the ball/gave it away twice,and you could hear groans of discontent,but he stayed composed and had a very good game,i think my only criticism of him was that when he had that shot on goal he should have gone across the keeper,on the other hand fabregas miss placed a couple of passes or lost the ball early on and no-one seemed bothered.
fran merida
Can we please stop comparing our home matches to Anfield, it really is boring. Wait til they move to a corporate bowl, exactly the same thing will happen. And Jaelle, i'm hazarding a guess, but i assume you weren't at the Emirates AND Anfield last night to contrast and compare?
shewore
RVP and Manu Eboue I really think are extremely talented. RVP, obviously due to his great technique, skill and footballing brain, and Eboue I do actually think that if he can get his act fully together for 90 minutes would be a great force for us. He has skill, pace and a surprisingly good sense of movement when it comes to attacking. His runs off the ball tend to be more subtle, but he does link up play well. I just fear that nobody will find a way to get Manu to express his talent. There is also clearly something wrong with RVP. He has his magic moments still, but he has never managed to sustain form, largely due to injury. Now, having come back he doesn't seem to be able to find himself in space on the field.
ArsenalRob
Despite what they report Jaelle, i have been to Anfield on 5 or 6 occasions and the fans are not great at all. They sing for 2 mins at the begining when you never walk alone is played, and then cheer when they score. Other than that they are as quiet as any other home fans. I have said it once and will say it again, the real noise always comes from the away fans.
paul_ownz
And some guy on football 365 wrote in and said. "Where Was The Anfield Roar? I sat and watched that rubbish last night and other than the utter rubbish football Pool were playing the other thing that struck me was the complete lack off noise coming from the pool fans. For the full 120 minutes the 3000 Liege fans made far more noise than the rest of Anfield! Where was the famous Anfield Roar? Best supporters in the world my arse! " Just to emphasise my point.
paul_ownz
Don't believe the hype. Who's the ITV commentator? Last night after extra time 'if there is a footballing deity he's a Liverpool fan' he also sung Torres' name at the euros, the way the media bend over backwards to please the scousers sickens me.
shewore
Just wanted to give a (dis)honourary mention to Alan Hansen. "Theo lacked compusre" yadayada at half time. Then after that goal and at full time, Gary Lineker didn't forget to have a dig at him lol. Again, where has our licence fee gone?!
Lou the Gunneress
Fair enuf shewore, I'm going by fan reports. I know the the famed Anfield effect is highly overrated (been there a few times, the scousers can be just as quiet and fickle as other supporters). I just know that I've never heard as many complaints about home support as I've heard about the Grove. Highbury became almost a second home to me when I lived in London, it wasn't always ideal there, but I don't remember ever witnessing or hearing of the kinds of things I've been hearing about the Emirates crowd. I'll see it for myself for the first time this season at least twice, I just hope I go on good days. All I could hear yesterday was the crowd at both stadiums yesterday on my online connection on the same site, admittedly not at all much to go by. Still, I could clearly hear the scousers loudly supporting their team even tho they were playing poorly while I didn't hear much at all from our crowd.
jaelle
Also there's the microphone effect, ITV place theirs all at the Kop, and bearing in mind we were pretty much through and it wasn't a tense 0-0 (yawn) thriller...
shewore
fernabahce,porto.....and ?????
fran merida
and dinamo kiev
fran merida
That was a disgrace! Cech, Terry and Lampard? What the *****?
Tom14
Want to add my support to Bendtner. He has looked slightly off recently but his attitude and hunger are evident in his body language and he knuckles down even when things (like many of his passes!) aren't working out. His kind of positive aggression is, dare I say it, something Theo could learn from.
Andy-bayor
"During the draw, Uefa handed out its European Club Player of the Year awards, with beaten finalists Chelsea dominating the voting. Petr Cech was voted goalkeeper of the year, John Terry won defender of the year and Frank Lampard won midfielder of the year for the Blues while Cristiano Ronaldo predictably picked up the award for forward of the year." Is this a joke??? Cronaldo's a midfielder. Cech's award--a bit debatable since he hasn't been at his best and Casillas did a superb job at Real last season. But ok, no big deal. But Terry -- "defender of the year"???? Lampard -- "midfielder of the year"???? What planet are these people on??? If they were going to award it to a defender in England, surely Vidic deserved it far more than Terry.
jaelle
I enjoyed the match after we started to score goals, we still need to get some shooting boots for RvP,as that miss was unbelievable. But seeing four goals in one game was truly good sight, after the Fulham result.
hackneyval
 

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