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I`m a bit pushed for time today, which shouldn`t be too much of a problem because I don`t see this match report taking too long! After a couple of disappointing results, we needed a response from players and supporters against Fenerbahce. Neither responded. The Boss rung in the changes, with Almunia going down to a stomach upset (it`s getting more and more difficult to keep up with these diplomatic injuries), whilst Johan Djourou and Aaron Ramsey were awarded starting berths, both performed admirably too. I lost myself a fiver before kick off, having seen the team line ups in the pub pre match, I insisted to Lord Lowe that Djourou would line up at right back with Toure in the centre. What was that Smiths` song? Bigmouth Strikes Again. The fans were the first to disappoint, the official attendance may have been given at 60,003, but that is frankly, a wild overestimation as I think there were at least 10,000 empty seats. Countenanced with the fact that N5 has an enormous Turkish community, there were a lot of Fenerbahce sympathisers in the home end. I bet the stay aways all manage to find a way to the match on Saturday.

This gives the club serious food for thought, because if the season really does go a shape of the pear, then there`s already at least 10,000 who don`t want to turn up because of one away defeat. With the pricing structure the club have adopted for tickets, the club have put store in the most fickle of supporters to preserve their financial wellbeing. (I sit in the expensive seats and about 80% of the season ticket holders around me were not present). The ironic thing is, I bet not one of those stay aways even went to Stoke. The team started relatively positively, with the away side understandably well organised with numbers back, Fabregas clipped a sumptuous through ball to van Persie, who could not quite wrap his leg around the ball, causing him to scuff wide under close attention from Demirel. Van Persie would prove to be arch tormentor again, wriggling to the by line, pulling back a cross which Demirel palmed into the path of Nasri, but the ball became stuck under his feet and the chance drifted away. An amazing piece of defending would deny van Persie yet again, Fabregas` shot was tipped away by Demirel, van Persie latched onto the rebound from close range, but Lugano extended an elastic limb to sensationally block with the goal winking at the van Persie.

The Dutchman, keen to make amends for his weekend misdemeanour, would come closer still. Fatty Toure slid an excellent guided pass, cutting a swathe through the luminous Yellow backline; van Persie cutely turned Lugano only to lash a rising shot onto the crossbar via the fingertips of Demirel. Certain names continue to reappear in this report. But the wind left Arsenal`s sails thereafter; Nasri`s curling shot was rather theatrically beaten away by the Turkish keeper. Ramsey looked industrious on the right, often plundering in field to become involved, Djourou and Silvestre stood up to what little threat the away side could pose. But with Bendtner woefully out of sorts, the Gunners struggled to muster the cutting edge. Those that have campaigned for the dropping of Adebayor might like to rethink on the evidence of this match. The Turks should have been down to ten men early in the second half, van Persie allowed Cesc`s through ball to drift past him and his marker, clearing his way to goal, only to be cynically hacked down by Lugano. It was the absolute epitome of a professional foul, if I had to explain the professional foul to a pod person from Jupiter, I would show them that incident. The clueless referee thought it only a booking. That said, I don`t think Fenerbahce going down to ten men would have aided our cause much.

Toure curled the subsequent free kick straight at Demirel. From there on in, Arsenal pretty much gave up and settled on 0-0. Diaby briefly threatened when he headed van Persie`s free kick just over, but Fenerbahce were well settled and organised at the back, despite the twin introductions of Vela and Diaby, the Gunners could not find any spark on Bonfire night. Van Persie, until then our chief threat, completely disappeared from the match, reappearing only briefly to get himself booked for a rash tackle. Fabregas misplaced more passes than in any game I can ever remember from him, Fatty Toure looked completely and utterly shot after about 50 minutes and the Gunners didn`t have the penetration to feed the pace of Vela or the guile of van Persie. Though every time Vela got in any kind of position, he promptly wasted three seconds tossing the ball precisely onto the correct part of his left boot. There was an incident with two minutes left that summed up our antipathy, Clichy won the ball, charged forwards about forty yards only to find that not a single Arsenal player had followed him, leaving him with little choice but to meekly cut the ball back to a midfield lacking in tempo. There were positives from the night, Ramsey put in a good hour on the right, I like his exuberance and his desire to be involved. Denilson was outstanding in the holding role, winning numerous tackles before distributing the ball simply and effectively. Dare I say it, but in the last couple of matches he seems to have got the hang of keeping his game simple, which is what that position demands. Now he just needs his other midfielders to chip in and help him! Djourou and Silvestre, though seldom threatened, had solid evenings. Djourou in particular caught the eye simply because, gasp, he won headers. Convincingly. But in reality, without Adebayor, we simply do not pose a constant enough threat to opposition defences, van Persie drifts out of games for too long to put constant pressure on a backline, whilst Bendtner is still very much a rough diamond. One has to wonder how on earth we are going to trouble United on Saturday, but football ahs a very funny way of surprising you.LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday November 6 2008
Time: 10:24AM


lets look on the bright side! since we can't really break teams down, man utd might be more adventurous. although them being adventurous = our backline being ripped to shreds....
06/11/2008 10:28:00
Interesting point about the crowd dropping by 10,000. I guess the ticket exchange scheme isn't working and the club needs to find a better way of allowing other fans to attend. Having said that, the transport situation on a weeknight match is challenging and has something to do with too I'm sure. I think we're there for the taking by United and Fergie will tell his men to go for the jugular. At least they had a tough, physical game at Celtic though which may have an impact.
06/11/2008 10:55:00
Charlie Nicholas, who as most will know is an Arsenal fan through and through, was on Sky last night as a pundit alongside Ruud Gullit and Graeme Souness. Charlie was saying that although the Club say that Arsene has 30m to spend, he doesn't think that's true and Arsene is having to play a juggling game by trying to keep Arsenal in the top 4. He also said he doesn't feel that Arsene is particularly enjoying having to do this. Souness actually said that if Arsenal could add 3 top-class players to this squad then noone could touch us, which is pretty much what we all think.
06/11/2008 11:01:00
I don't buy the crap about transport problems at all, we played Tottenham last Wednesday and it didn't seem to bother people so much. When we played Milan and Liverpool midweek last season, it didn't bother people so much. People can find a way and if they can't, as you point out, give their tickets to somebody who isn't so ***** scared of queuing for the tube that they can't be arsed to support their team because we lost one sodding game.
Little Dutch
06/11/2008 11:05:00
LD - I read on another blog that some of our fans booed the team off again at full-time - is that true? If it is, I am getting more angry at our so-called supporters than the players or manager and frankly they can stay away and sod off cos we don't need them.
06/11/2008 11:07:00
It's a matter of public record that there is £30m cash there. However, with the recent property crash, there is uncertainty over the Highbury House development. The fact is, most buyers have only put a 10% deposit down and in the current climate, a lot of people would be prepared to take the 10% hit and invest elsewhere, deeming it a wiser option than plunging in the other 90% in what is no longer a lucrative market. Maybe the board has told him to be frugal there, maybe that's why we couldn't match Liverpool's valuation of Alonso.
Little Dutch
06/11/2008 11:09:00
There were a few jeers, but they weren't sustained or malicious. I think the team threw in the towel for the last half an hour and that frustrated a lot of people. But at least those people turned up, that's a start.
Little Dutch
06/11/2008 11:12:00
Don't you find Wenger's constant whingeing getting embarrassing about all decisions and referees being against Arsenal? If he doesn't like the physical nature of English football, he should bugger off back to France to manage a team there. He's a clever guy, but he's got to stop making all the excuses
06/11/2008 11:21:00
no. wenger is sticking up against the **** state that english football is in but nobody seems bothered as long as they can watch people getting kicked.
06/11/2008 11:25:00
I'm not sure that I would say we were 10,000 down more like 5,000. Yes, were was a few boos, but some people will boo just cause it the fashion at the moment?! The game was quite frustrating to watch last night, but I wouldn't swop the chance to see The Arsenal, as I certainly would not like to be one of the many people who will never get to see their beloved team actually play with their own eyes! Come on Arsenal!!!
06/11/2008 11:35:00
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