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Schizophrenic Arsenal Gun Down Toffees

So it was back to business with the cancerous international scene on hiatus until February or March or whenever it is. After an underwhelming 1 point from 6 prior to the unnecessary break, this was simply a must win game. The break had come at a price with Djourou, Gallas, Bendtner and Sagna all injured. Wenger surprised everyone by moving Alex Song to the unfamiliar role of right back, a move that would prove costly in the opening minutes, whilst Eboue stayed on the right flank. The rest of the team really picked itself. Everton were a little more devious on the other hand, had reported injuries to Osman and Neville which did not prevent them from playing a part.

It would take nine minutes for the mood inside the Grove to sink from sanguine to scabrous. Leon Osman was allowed time in central midfield to spray the ball out to Steven Pienaar. Pienaar was left in acres of space by Song on the left, Denilson had not tracked the run from Osman in the box and the Merseyside native had time to slot the ball past Almunia. Had Pienaar wanted, he might even have slipped the ball centrally to Yakubu, as Silvestre allowed him to stand unattended in front of an open net. Denilson and Song being asked to play unnatural roles will come at this kind of cost for the short term future. The Gunners needed a response and it was forthcoming on fifteen minutes, Fabregas flighted a beautiful long ball to van Persie, with Adebayor cutting a scarsely interested figure, van Persie was left to play the target man and he chested Cesc's ball down brilliantly, shielded away from Lescott, but Howard spread himself excellently to make a sprawling block. But Arsenal's cotton candy defending was still creating a frisson of terror, Leon Osman was once again allowed to waltz through the centre of the park unchallenged, and was afforded time to hit a thirty yard effort goalwards, which Silvestre deflected wide.

Arsenal decided to simply try and outscore Everton with scant regard for stopping them. Alex Song swung an inviting cross to the backpost, which was headed back by Fabregas to Nasri, but Jagielka just nicked the ball away from him at the crucial moment. The Dutchman was carrying our most potent threat. His strike partner was the diametric inversion, a pathetic dive from Adebayor followed for which he was rightly booked. He then decided to whinge to the referee indignantly when his attempt at cheating had been so blatant as to be despicable. Ade did not celebrate any of the goals and trudged off the pitch the second the final whistle went, that sort of posturing is no good for team spirit and as vital as he is to our side, somebody needs to tell him to grow up. Quickly. Everton nearly extended ther lead after some more schizophrenic defending. Eboue lamentably turned his back and swithced off as Baines collected a short corner unchallenged and swung a flighted ball to the back post, Almunia demonstrated his lack of faith in his back four by clutching wildly for the ball, Lescott connected with the header and thankfully Clichy was on the line to clear the goalbound effort. At half time the air was thick with frustration, Eboue and Nasri were not carrying much threat and our defending was amateur, Silvestre enduring a very shaky first half and Toure showing he is simply not captaincy material because of his lack of ability to compose his troops. Walcott arrived into the fray for the injured Kolo, Almunia took the armband when I think Fabregas might have been a more fitting candidate.

Three minutes into the second half, the scores were level. Everton half cleared a Fabregas corner, Silvestre toe ended the ball into the path of Samir Nasri and the Frenchman hit a low, fulminating drive through the crowd and into the net. There was only ever going to one winner from here on in, Everton's heads had well and truly dropped as the pressure on the ball from Everton's players was non existent. Fabregas and Eboue linked up beautifully on the right, Eboue cut back a swift low cross which van Persie skied with his right foot. A couple of flashpoints poorly handled by Peter Walton created an indignant atmosphere. Firstly, when Clichy's left wing cross saw van Persie clearly manhandled in the area by Jagielka. Then a minute later, Feillani and Denilson exchanged robust but fair challenges, before Hibbert leapt in with a rash challenge worthy of a yellow card. Clichy expressed his displeasure and Hibbert raised hands, clutching Clichy by the throat. The rules of the game clearly state that a raised hand is an automatic red card, together with the challenge from behind, there was no doubting that Hibbert should have been sent off. That he wasn't is a clear indication that Walton is not aware of the legislative intricacies of the game and scarsely able to apply them. Moyes withdrew Hibbert shortly after, presumably out of embarrassment.

The animosity evaporated soon after, Fabregas tucked a clever ball to Adebayor in the area, the shot looked on until Adebayor was crowded out. He commendably kept his composure to ward off the attention of Hibbert, squared the ball to Fabregas, his effort was beaten out by Howard, but van Persie was on hand to head home the rebound for a well deserved goal, both for team and individual. Everton carried little attacking threat in the second half, Silvestre dealt with Yakubu much more comfortably, although the fact that Osman and Arteta were no longer pushing on to support was fortunate. van Persie was soon in the firing line again, he leapt majestically to meet Fabregas' corner, but headed over when he really ought to have scored. All the same, he seemed to be carrying the threat we were supposed to be seeing from Adebayor. There appeared to be some trouble inside the ground in the closing minutes, I am not entirely sure how it started, but all I saw were Everton fans trying to scale the barriers, but who knows what set them off. One thing I do know is that in these situations it is NEVER the Scousers' fault. It might be the ground, the other fans, the United Nations or a flying naked nun, but it is NEVER the fault of the Scousers. Arsenal wrapped up the result in injury time, Walcott found space intelligently on the right, played in substitute Abou Diaby on the byline and carried on his run, Diaby cleverly cut the ball back to the onrushing Walcott who lashed home a fine, low finish. He was duly serenaded as an Englishman at Arsenal, he made a big difference in the second half too. Not only did he allow us to be more penetrating, but Eboue carried much more threat as a right back than as a right winger.

We deserved the victory in the end, the second half performance was a vast improvement, but I cannot help feeling it was largely due to Everton's resistance to attack. Yakubu cut an isolated figure which made him much easier for Silvestre to deal with. Pienaar and Osman all but disappeared and Feillani's influence diminished. Going forward we were a much more impressive prospect, Nasri was more influential coming in off the flanks, Fabregas was allowed to pull the strings more and van Persie was a persistent threat throuhgout the game. Walcott pushed onto the shoulder of Leighton Baines and played as an auxillary third striker. However, our defending leaves an awful lot to be desired, we lack any sort of sang froid back there and panic is etched over everybody's features whenever we lose possession. It becomes like basketball at times, whenever the opposition have the ball, we don't have anyone to break up the play, so we simply have to rely on outscoring our opponents. It will work more often than not given the strength of our attack, but if we are to seriously challenge for big honours, we have to be more resilient when we don't have the ball.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday October 19 2008

Time: 11:57AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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A really good and nicely balanced report Tim. At half time I really couldn't see us turning it around but the early goal in the 2nd half seemed to lift everyone. Had the Everton goal come 9 minutes from the end rather than 9 minutes from the start I wonder whether we would have had the urgency to get anything out of this game. I am not a great fan of music videos but the one accompanying the 'Wonder of You' match theme played before kick off really adds something to the cheesy tune. Could have played it at half time too - that's when the mood really needed lifting.
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19/10/2008 12:13:00

Even at the start, the decision to play Eboue at right-mid and Song at right-back seemed strange. Why does Arsene do that? You could see that Song just wasn't comfortable there. I'd even have played Toure at right-back and Song at centre-back if he really wanted to play Eboue. Also, did anyone notice that Eboue for long periods wasn't in the right-mid area? He was found playing centrally up or on the left. Last season we looked a stable team where everyone knew what they were doing. This season we look like a team trying to find itself - or in transition you could say.
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19/10/2008 12:21:00

I think Almunia has been an unsung hero since the beginning of the season. His performance has vastly improved although may still not be a world class goalkeeper. I was particularly impressed with his distribution, one which almost lead to a goal. His distribution betters Lehmann's by miles.
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19/10/2008 12:51:00

I'm not sure whether I felt we could turn it around or not. I would always, always back us to score and I didn't feel we'd lose the game, but I didn't have the confidence Everton wouldn't score again. Thankfully, they didn't really try to. I've noticed that montage the last couple of games, the pictures of Cesc celebrating the goal at Anfield were particularly moving. It's unfortunate Spurs weren't playing, usually their half time score lifts everybody in the ground.
Little Dutch
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19/10/2008 12:55:00

Thanks for the report. I wasn't worried at half-time because we did create chances in the first half but just couldn't convert them. Ade was definitely having an off day and RVP's shooting boots are still not fully functioning, even though he still manages to snaffle the odd goal here and there.
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19/10/2008 15:25:00

Some pretty unsavoury incidents from the gooners above the Everton support yesterday, throwing objects and coins at them is a proper ****s trick, theres young kids and women in the crowd, security dragged out protesting blues and nearly triggered a full scale barney. Totally unnecessary - leave that caveman *****tery to the animals down the road.
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19/10/2008 15:35:00

the goal by nasri is the type of goal we've been missing. A shot in a flash, unexpected by the goal keeper. Am sure hleb would have passed that ball instead of shooting
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19/10/2008 16:59:00

the spuddies make the weekend perfect again. can't wait for the NLD now..
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19/10/2008 18:24:00

just took another look at the highlights and from what i saw, Adebayor doesn't celebrate only the third goal. for the 1st he ran straight and picked up the ball from the net (which was a sensible thing to do since it was only 1-1) and ran straight back, while on the second he starts jogging towards RvP to congratulate him, before our no. 11 changes direction and Ade doesn't chase him any more. but neither do a few others. The negativity surrounding Adebayor is appalling tbh (nothing to do with the report LD, he did have a poor game) and I wonder how much longer is he going to put up with it. He doesn't get so much stick from opposition fans. This was his first or maybe 2nd game in which he looked really off, but considering the trip to his homeland with Air Togo, I wouldn't be surprised if he was a bit jaded. Nevertheless, no matter what happens with Arsenal and their overall performances, whether we win, draw or lose - he is continuously being scrutinized by his (our) own fans and it plainly sucks. There are some idiots and criminals still playing for their clubs in the EPL and they don't get as much grief as Adebayor does (or Eboue for that matter), and he is giving it all for the club every game. It's mad. I am not defending Adebayor, I appreciate him as much as I do Eboue, Cesc, Gibbs. and RvP - he is an Arsenal FC player and I respect him the same as I do everyone else.
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19/10/2008 22:54:00

G4L: I would have agreed with you if it was any other player then Ade. Adebayor deserves all of this and more for acting like he was as good as Henry and demanding high wages after one good season. I expect him to play almost every game amazing because that's what he thinks he is and that's what his wage rate tells me.
Youngest in Charge
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20/10/2008 03:30:00

I think that's a sad by product of the way Adebayor has acted, he put the attention onto himself of his own accord and you can't just treat people in that way and expect them to kiss your arse and call it ice cream. Usually his workrate is beyond reproach, but on Saturday it was non existent. Maybe that is due to fatigue, but if you make a big song and dance about being paid a six figure weekly sum, people who contribute towards that wage chunk are entitled to expect certain things. I don't expect him to score in every game or even play well in every game, but his effort was poor and his body language was so indiscreet, he may as well have played the game with a white flag in his hand. He also didn't celebrate Cesc's equaliser at Sunderland and trudged straight off the pitch after the game. He hasn't been booed since before the Newcastle game, but he also cannot expect his name to be sung with the same veracity it was last season, he did that to himself and has no right to complain. The dive was infinitely more embarrassing than anything I've seen from Eboue, but this is a point I've made on several occasions, 99% of Arsenal fans seem to pretend that Eboue is the only player guilty of such attrocities and when other players do it, they ignore it and claim indifference. Had Adebayor had a number 27 on his back when he did his laughable dying swan impression, there would be articles all over the web about what a disgrace he is. Hell, even when Eboue was fouled in the box and subsequently injured against Blackburn it was still called a dive, so I don't think the bad will towards Adebayor is quite at those proportions yet.
Little Dutch
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20/10/2008 08:40:00

Someone please explain what the f*** Wenger was doing playing Song at fullback? Clearly the most rediculus and ill thought out piece of managing by Wenger I can remember in terms of tactics. The referee completely missed the most obviuous penalty decision against RVP clealry a foul, clearly a penalty and how the hell did that rat faced little turd Hibbert remain on the pitch after clattering our boy then grabbing Clichy by the throat. a very frustrating game made worse by the poorness of our opponents and the frustrating stewardship of our manager, Eboue's a right back, we had no right back available, excelpt Eboue, I know, lets play a central midfielder/Centreback there who is at best slow to react! Jees Wenger, what are you doing mate? 3-1 and it feels like a defeat, don't know why, but it does!
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20/10/2008 09:01:00

LD, Eboue is the only pantimime villain at Arsenal, we all know that! Well those who sit in their armchairs and whittle on do anyway!
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20/10/2008 09:02:00

YiC, this is where I disagree with you. He deserves respect at least, and him trying his best for Arsenal should warrant at least that. Again, it is not a secret that Adebayor asked for a new contract over the summer in a way that didn't do him a lot of good, but considering the pay gap between him and some other players in the club (who have barely played a third of a season), it was only normal. It happens all the time. Roll back a year, the proceedings during summer seem to have only added fuel on fire - even when he wasn't asking for a new contract and his name was sung at the grove and away, he was never a popular figure and his critics were waiting in ambush to slaughter him at every offside or missed chance. Ditto Eboue and Alex Song for reasons of their own. A while ago LD wrote a great article about how fans have forgotten to actually watch football and make up their own minds about players and performances, and how opinions are not created but adopted without questioning. It's a sad state of affairs imo. All of the 11 players on the pitch and on the bench need the fans backing, and being an ex-sportsman, the crowd can sometimes be a massive factor in lifting a team to win.
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20/10/2008 09:05:00

LG, I agree that that was the strangest tactical decision I've witnessed from Wenger, and it clearly didn't work. Still a win is a win and it feels like one. As for the penalty for Arsenal the (inconsistent and incompetent) ref was compensating because in the build up Adebayor had fouled Hibbert (I think) and robbed him of the ball and he blew nothing. Sadly refs don't realize that two wrongs don't make a right and that every incident should be looked at from an unbiased perspective regardless of what occurred before. And Hibbert did more than enough to deserve a minimum of three bookings: poor tackle, raising his hands and dissent.
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20/10/2008 09:13:00

G4L - Saturday, Adepaymemore wlaked round the pitch giving his best impression of not giving a toss about the team. Something which has characterised his whole ethic this season. He has played over 10 games and performed in 2 of them, he has worked hard in about 3 of them and has been thoroughly bloody awful thus far this season. The sooner Brendtner is given a run in the team ahead of him the better as far as I and many at he game on Saturday were concerned. He has brough this whole situation upon himself with his dispicable actions during the close season, whoreing himself around and now he will get the treatment his tasteless actions deserved.
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20/10/2008 09:14:00

I didn't see Hibbert arguing, whihch makes it even worse mate. He's a scabby little toad eh! And makes trhe referee's lack of action even more pathtic and pityful tbh!
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20/10/2008 09:15:00

Where abouts in the ground were the morons who were throwing stuff at the Everton fans. Wether they are likeable bunch or not, that isn't the Arsenal way and I would be more than happy to see everyone one of the coin throwers banned for life. We don't need scum like that reperesenting us. Makes us seem as bad as the swamp dwellers up the 7 sisters road.
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20/10/2008 09:29:00

G4L - Adebayor was well on his way to becoming a popular figure at the Grove, what are you on about saying this time last year he was unpopular?! He deserves eff all, i'll cheer when he scores a goal for Arsenal, but that's it. He held the club the ransom in the summer, which was perpetuated by the overseas clubs saying 'we'll pay you xx amount' then not coming up with the reddies to buy him. He's acted like a ***** and deserves to be treated like one. Score 3 league goals this year, and that hat trick at Blackburn was the worst hat trick i've ever seen, he was poor that day as well! But maybe that's besides the point...he's a typical footballer who'll never be proper Arsenal.
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20/10/2008 10:19:00

Nice Read Tim, I think you summed up the match very well. imo Ade needs to sort out his ways, why isn't he celebrating the goals with the other players. Hope he sort it out quickly as we have alot of hard matches coming up and we need all our players playing for each other.
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20/10/2008 10:43:00

Hackneyval, Adepaymemore only ever plays for one thing, himself. Regardless of assists, he's a selfish, self centred person cares for nothing other than his wallett! Agree about the goal celebrations, although its a minor thing it does affect peoples perceptions of him.
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20/10/2008 11:03:00

Ade's 2nd half performance against Everton was markedly better than the 1st half but that goes for others too. He is going through a poor spell at the moment and he probably knows it. He doesn't believe he is as good as he thought he was and that loss of confidence is betrayed in his body language. I don't think it is arrogance, selfishness or laziness just a lack of belief. He knows he should be scoring and contributing more. The fact that he isn't seems to weigh heavily on him.
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20/10/2008 13:26:00

I dont think its an attitude problem with Ade either. Just an off-day. I'm sure we said the exact same thing about RvP 2 games back, and look at him now. Criticism of a poor performance is justified, although attributing that to his pre-season comments is over the top. As for RvP, his finishing needs to improve. He skied a couple of decent chances wide, and on another day, we would have paid a higher price. Denilson needs to be used as a backup for Cesc, everyone can see by now that they dont really work together, and the sooner he brings in Song regularly as DM, the better IMO. As for the defence, nothing new needs to be said, its the same failing and I think there's more than a personnel problem in defence, as we havent looked composed when we have played Djourou, Gallas, Toure, Song or Silvestre, in various combinations. There needs to be a change in the mindset, coaching methods, mental toughness, something. I cant put my finger on the real problem, but I've seen enough to say that it ain't a personnel issue.
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20/10/2008 15:12:00

Our attack, defence and Midfield are not up to scratch and that is why we won;t win anything major this season, it is dissapointing, but the facts speak for themselves. Man Utd, Chelski and Liverpool all have a strength in those areas that we are lacking and it has been proved that the scousers, chavs and mancs all can win when playing poorly, we lose or atleast drop points. I think this season is the first where Wenger's lack of spending has caused damage to the team and it has become obvious so early on, to us supporters atleast.
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20/10/2008 16:13:00

I think we can compete and certainly beat one or two of those teams, but in the long run i think we will fall just short of them.
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20/10/2008 16:15:00

I think it is harsh to say our attack is not up to scratch. RVP 6 in 10, Ade 6 in 11, Nasri 3 in 6, Bentdner 4 in 4 starts. With Eduardo to return aswell and Vela scoring a hatrick in his one start, id say the attack was ok. RVP has come back froma long term injury and is improving every game, Bentdner has looked much sharper and Ade has yet to hit top form. I agree with The Central midfield and Central defense being weak though. Almunia has been good but i dont think he is world class
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21/10/2008 16:21:00


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