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Feeling the Burn

In the wake of Sunday`s win at Stamford Bridge, I was inundated with text messages from people exclaiming how fortunate I had been to be present. My stock response to this kind of assertion is usually that nobody ever tells me how lucky I am to witness aberrations at Stoke and in Manchester. Well, nobody`s told me I was lucky to be present last evening either! Having left my office in London a touch before midday, the weather was crisp but reasonably mild for a December`s day, but reports suggested sub zero temperatures and a fine dusting of snow in Lancashire. Our coach driver was informed of problems abound on the M11 whilst some of us speculated as to whether the match would be called off a la Anfield two years ago. However, the journey North was problem free and precipitation free. In fact, the only time we saw any snow was when we turned off the motorway into the sloping hills of Burnley, where a carpet of snow blanketed the ground underfoot.

Seating was unreserved in the David Fishwick Stand, so most of us huddled together like penguins centrally behind the goal, a fine array of headwear was on offer and the sound of gloved hands thumping together was apparent whenever applause broke out. The home fans were packed to the rafters, which had not been the case in January in the F.A. Cup. Perhaps the locals scented the blood of our younger charges, perhaps they thought they were more worth watching than the more senior side? What was clear was that this would be a different challenge for our insouciant youths than that posed by Sheffield United and Wigan. Mikael Silvestre was bought into the centre of defence to offset the inexperience of Rodgers. Unfortunately, both players played like panicky teenagers. In Rodgers case, that is forgivable, but Silvestre was woeful and if Wenger was looking for a steadying hand to steer the ship, then Silvestre let him down woefully. Firstly, his defending wasn`t up to much, in possession he panicked like an adolescent and contrived to either play his young midfielders into trouble or just thump the ball aimlessly down field. Johan Djourou must have been looking on the bright side last night.

Burnley pressed Arsenal in possession early on, but in Caldwell and Carlisle they did not possess the quickest centre halves, in pressing the game the home defence played a high line which the Gunners looked to exploit. Randall attempted a through ball to Bendtner which had Jensen scurrying off his line, before Bendtner did trundle his way through on goal from Ramey`s pass, only to be blocked by the imposing figure of Brian Jensen. Sixty seconds later, Nicklas` poor finish was punished in full. McCann and Eagles combined on the left to work an angle past the prone Kieran Gibbs, Eagles sent in a low cross which Fabianski sprawled to palm away, but with Silvestre not covering his front post, the ball trickled to the feet of Kevin McDonald who was tasked with stroking Burnley into a sixth minute lead. The youngsters` response was positive; Randall`s high ball was flicked on deftly by Vela for Bendtner, who again smuggled his way into the box only to fire straight at Jensen`s legs again. If the boy has first team aspirations, he is going to have to be more clinical than that. In the F.A. Cup tie in January, Eduardo was given a similar chance after five minutes. I don`t need to tell you he buried it. (Though he did uncharacteristically miss one later in the game). Fran Merida drew a brief intake of breath, visible as it was in the biting December air, when he brilliantly juggled the ball on the edge of the area, swivelled and volleyed straight at Jensen. Palms were once again warmed to the sound of applause.

Burnley got on top of the game after that, with chances squandered, the home side did not play such a high line and squeezed Arsenal even more in midfield. Eagles and Blake began to give Arsenal`s backline food for thought, with Rodgers looking nervy and Silvestre hardly helping. Eagles again worked an angle between Silvestre and Gibbs but the on form Patersen found his shot saved by Fabianski`s feet. But Arsenal squirmed their way back into the reckoning, Ramsey found Bendtner with his back to goal, the Dane produced a nonchalant flick into the path of Randall who careered clear of the Clarets defence, only to find his truly struck shot beaten out by Jensen again. (Bendtner attempted that back heel flick 3,189 times thereafter, it didn`t come off again). Minutes before half time, Bendtner played Vela through again, he cut across Caldwell, showing excellent body strength, but having expended so much energy swatting Caldwell like a troublesome fly, his finish was weak and Jensen was out smartly to deny Arsenal for the umpteenth time. Half time and you felt there was plenty to play for, the attacking approach of both teams were combustible elements providing warmth for chattering teeth on the terraces. It was a very watchable game.

The away side redoubled their determination at the beginning of the second half; Fran Merida performed a delightful jinking run from the left, slaloming between four Burnley defenders before sending a curling shot just wide of the far post. You just knew it wasn`t going to be our night. That sense of foreboding was multiplied minutes later. Michael Duff took a quick throw in which inexplicably caught Silvestre napping, not acceptable for a player of his experience. Randall appeared to have it covered but, in keeping with his general demeanour throughout the game, he was far too casual and Kevin McDonald bundled past him, before despatching an impressive finish with the outside of his right foot. The sort of clinical finishing we were desperately missing and a lapse of concentration from our most experienced player. Randall`s aberration as well as the lacklustre finishing revealed a tiny bit of arrogance in the performance, Wenger is a master at building a player`s confidence, often that can spill over into arrogance as has been a slightly uncomfortable trend in his reign. I thought I could detect a subtle hint of it last night, missing four one on ones isn`t bad luck, it`s psychological.

From there on, Arsenal never looked like getting back into the game; Burnley had an extra bite in the tackle and closed Arsenal down in midfield ravenously. Ramsey was denied any space and our last opportunity went when Wenger took off Wilshere who looked the only player with the guile and turn of pace to negotiate the travails of a packed defence. Though Jay Simpson did power through from the right for a shot straight at Jensen. Somebody who saw the game on television may correct my myopia, but I felt Steven Jordan handled the ball needlessly inside the area, but maybe it was an optimistic optical illusion on my part? The Clarets may have extended their lead when Robbie Blake beat Lansbury at right back, sent a floating cross over to Patersen, but his header was brilliantly saved by Fabianski, clawing the ball away from his goal line. Arsenal produced one last chance, Vela, who had looked somewhat nonplussed by the conditions, capitalised on a slip by Caldwell on Arsenal`s right, Vela fed off the scraps, put in a low cross for Bendtner, whose posture and effort left a lot to be desired throughout, casually tried to dink the ball over Jensen only to see the imposing keeper block again and the rebound spilled off Bendtner`s chest and over the bar into the away fans. It wasn`t our night, but as I said earlier, missing a host of gilt edged chances does not arise through bad luck; there was a slight mental weakness.
It`s perhaps significant that the most widely touted triumvirate of our starlets, Wilshere, Vela and Ramsey, were slightly off colour. Though that is in large part due to Burnley`s effectiveness in closing us down and pressing our players on the ball. We had our chances when Burnley were playing a high line, but a lack of killer instinct will always see you punished. It was a good education for our kids, they just couldn`t find a different solution once the Clarets backline sat deeper and the midfield pushed us higher up the pitch. My only real disappointments were Silvestre, who looked the most nervous player on the pitch and Bendtner, who gave the impression that he thought the game was beneath him. A with first team aspirations should be performing better. He did create chances for others and found two for himself, which showed that in the rare occasions he was switched on he had the ability to make a difference. But the caveat of holding the ball far too long can be assigned to Bendtner as well as any number of players this season. Hopefully the tiny hint of complacency I detected will have been shaken out of them by this defeat and hopefully, the jewels in the crown will get a further chance against Plymouth. But in closing, one has to pay tribute to Burnley, though I took great umbrage at their "are you Chelsea in disguise?" chant. It doesn`t get much more insulting.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday December 3 2008

Time: 9:25AM

Your Comments

Day off work Timbo? I thought the boys did ok. It was certainly a more entertaining game than some of the matches the seniors have lost this season. I actually thought Vela looked like he coped well with the conditions, it must have felt like it was 25 below for the Mexican but he always had a smile on his face and did ok I thought. Overall, a nice little run in the cup, and even the defeat was experience for the lads. Good luck to Burnley for the rest of the competition. PS - LD, do you watch any highlights or anything before you do your match reports? You knack for recalling almost every single detail perfectly is uncanny.
Rocky7
Day off? You must be joking! I was in the office at 07.30am. I got in at 04.30 and thought sleep is obviously not going to happen, so did most of the report then. Haven't seen highlights, but I always give the official website a check before I hit publish, usually I remember what happened and when, it's just the small details, like who played the pass etc. Vela looked o.k. but shrunk a bit when we went 2-0 down, as did a lot of the team. That's when you need an experienced campaigner to keep you at it, Silvestre wasn't that man in the end.
Little Dutch
It was a sloppy performance and Bendtner needs to be strung up and flayed for being a lazy sod! He was awful and apart from one flick wasn't worth his place on the pitch. Simpson should have started if that was going to be the attitude shown. It was worrying to see some of the kids acting like “big time Charlies”…….why? What have they achieved? That needs to be nipped in the bud by management ASAP. It was a very even game, but Burnley looked more polished in terms of end product. We should have won with the chances we created far more than Burnley, but they played the better game and deserved their win. Congrats to Burnley, good luck in the Semi's whomever you get!
LondonGooner
It was always going to be a tougher game for the kids away from the Emirates whoever the opposition. I thought there were some good passages of play and we created decent enough chances but Jensen played well and we finished poorly. The kids are always liable to make mistakes and all Burnley had to do was to take advantage of them when they did. Coyle has them organised well enough to do so and their keeper did the rest. Bendtner will take some flak for his performance which is fair enough but in truth Vela was even less effective though I suspect most will find more excuses for him than Bendtner is allowed. Those that are going to make it will still have taken something out of the game and for us that is all the competition is really about.
Amos.
Vela was played in on goal only once?! The service he received was non existent hence he had to continually come deep looking for the ball, negating his offensive capabilities. Bendtner had chance after chance after chance and they weren't exactly difficult either, so they both had the same end product, but one with more chances and help than the other. Bendtner deserves more of a slaughtering than Vela. He is also a regular first team player, Vela is not! There aren’t any excuses there Amos just cold hard facts mate! Bendtner isn't a favourite whipping boy of mine. But last night he was slovenly, lazy and basically awful from start to finish.
LondonGooner
If he had shown effort and application then that would of counted for somethign, but he just looked like he couldn't be bothered and that is totally inexcusable from any professional, especially one who is trying to make a name in the game and has hardly covered themselves in glory this season so far. He needs to put in more effort and his finishing needs serious working on, but that will come the more experience he gets!
LondonGooner
I agree with Amos here, I felt there were times when Vela didn't look like he fancied it. Like I said in the article, Bendtner created a fair bit for himself and others on the rare occasions he did try, which was what made it frustrating. I wasn't too taken with Randall and Silvestre disappointed me majorly. Other than that, I can't find too many faults other than with the finishing, Burnley gave us a good game and I wish them luck. They also showed you can be aggressive and disciplined and shut players down without trying to break their legs, a few teams a division above them would do well to take note. I imagine that Wilshere, Vela and Ra,sey will have other opportunities this year, Hoyte will continue to skipper the reserves and have another bash next season. I have to say I don't see much of a future here for Mark Randall and can see him being moved on in the summer, despite the fact he signed a new deal in August. Simpson might be worth a look against Plymouth, if only from the bench. Fabianski seems to have earned some stick but I can't realy see why, he would not have needed to try and come and get the ball for the first goal had Silvestre been in position/ aware of the situation. It was a good learning curve and I'm not too downhearted with them, but like I say, I did detect a slight bit of complacency. You've the feeling that had Eduardo played last night, we would have won the game comfortably, but it wasn't to be. We've taken a lot from this tournament this year. It was also the first time Wenger has lost to lower division opposition, which bears mentioning.
Little Dutch
I thought Fabianski was very hesitant last night, like someone had told him not to come off his line too often?? Which to me is one of his strong points. Sylvestre was poor, but then in all fairness he has never played alongside any of this team before. Randall doesn't look like he is going to make it, but lets hope he has a future at the highest level if he doesn't with us. Vela WAS poor last night but I think there were mitigating factors ie he looked like he didn't want to be out there lol maybe he s*** himself at the temperature, I don't know. All I am saying is Bendtner was crap and he had less of a reason to be compared to Vela who is younger, newer to the country hasn't played in such conditions before etc It may all be circumstantial but it DOES add up to atleast a possible reason why. Surely that is easy enough to see??
LondonGooner
You can accuse Bendtner of plenty of things, find fault with his finishing, poor weighting of passes, maybe too casual but not laziness. He worked hard and didn't hide even though he was having a pretty poor game. Vela on the other hand flickered only very briefly and looked to lack the effort or willingness to get involved. Maybe not laziness exactly but if he had matched Bendtners effort he might have contributed a bit more to the team. It's easy enough to find excuses for him but really he had no more reason to play poorly than Bendtner did. Based only on last nights showing if Simpson warrants a start it should be at Vela's expense more than it should Bendtners.
Amos.
I felt that some of the players - like Ramsey, Randall and sometimes Merida and Wilshere - were trying too hard to impress by trying to play a clever pass or holding on to the ball too long. Perhaps we can put that down to inexperience and the desire to take their chance to impress. Maybe they also tried to out-do each other because there's bound to be tons of competiveness amongst them to get into the first team??
Gooner_Vin
Sorry Amos, I cannot agree with that. He was down right disinterested last night and looks far, far too casual. Vela was poor as I mentioned earlier (and there ARE plenty of reasons why that could be) he has been an Arsenal player for about 7 games, certainly not up north, certainly not in those conditions and certainly knows his team mates less than Bendtner. Who lets face it, was f*****g terrible last night. I actually rate the lad (not that you could tell lol) but he was an embarrassment to watch. That isn't mitigating for Vela but is IS and very clearly is a couple of reason why he might of had a bad game. No excuses just cold hard facts.
LondonGooner
There aren't any real excuses and certainly nothing that passes for a fact. Saying it was too cold and too far north for Vela isn't any excuse at all and he has had enough time with his team mates not to use that as an excuse. Impressions of Bendtner are naturally affected by other poor performances but if you judge the performances last night on last nights game alone Bendtner was not disinterested just ***** poor - but Vela was worse.
Amos.
niko quote unquote after the chelsea-arsenal game (on the VA thread): "You can bring up the teams we've lost to this year but then all that'll happen is I'll turn round and shout BUUURRRRNNLEEEYYYYY :) nikolaijns AHAAAAHHHHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA my turn mate to scream: BUUURRRRNNLEEEYYYYY :) niko boy, now repeat after me again (since you've had lots and lots of practice): BUUURRRRNNLEEEYYYYY!!!! BUUURRRRNNLEEEYYYYY!!!! and don't bother replying. i won't be visiting for a while (leave you to lick your wounds), besides it's gonna take a long time getting that foot out of your mouth! :))))
johnny come lately
There was another team Chelsea lost to at the Bodge recently, who was that mighty outfit?
Little Dutch
People have been comparing the likes of Merida, Ramsey & Wilshere with Fab because of their similarities, and none are DM. Randall is also hardly a DM. That's what you get for playing 4 players of a kind across the midfield. Though the former 3 played some good passes and assist attempts, the back four were almost totally deprived of any protection. This was manifested in the apparent poor performance of our CDs.
Joe_@**
http://www.fansfc.com/frontpage/frontpagenews.asp?newsid=193866Danish international to Spartak Moscow. Is there any truth to this article that Bendter has or likely to be sold for 5m LD/Amos have you heard anything
alwaysgunner
I dont think ive ever felt so cold in all my life than that night! But still a performance that came down to Burnley taking their chances superbly, and us not. Shame that we didnt go down the wings during the later stages, as Simpson made a few good runs that could have been exploited by a nice long ball. But I guess not to be. Importnant thing is to get the 3 against Wigan.
lebob88
On the basis of his performance yesterday...i wld hope so
number14
I think people have gone overboard in their praise for burnley.. the simple fact is we could have won this game 6-2..there were 6 clear chances while the goals they scored were gifted to them..the partnership of Djourou and Song has been crucial to our success in the competition this season and when I saw that neither were playing I feared the worst..
Anon 1
It's interesting how people see things differently. I honestly believe Vela didn't do too badly. Bendtner certainly got himself in plenty of good positions but his finish let him down, it was as if he was lacking in creativity, he played the same shot time after time making it easier for the goalie to read. A little dink at some point would have been certain to find the back of the net.
Rocky7
Bendter style of play is suspect...the only thing I can say for him is is Wenger thinks he is ever going to make the grade then well and good for both of them...me i would sell him off ASAP to make room for a more serious attacker...the boy contrives to be woeful...he has consistently cost us goals - remember the ManU match anyone? I hope he doesnt prove to be a liability--oops too late...had he scored any of the chances he got within the first 5mins or so the outcome wld have been different. I just wish we had been totally outplayed and outgunned instead of bemoaning the inability of Bendtner/Vela/Randall in 6-7 one on ones with the keeper. Funnuy season we are having innit?
number14
*is if Wenger*
number14
I dont particularly care that we lost...how we lost is a study in wastfulness and in how not to take ones chances in a one-on-one chance...will we learn? hmmm..i give up.oh to be a millwall fan at this moment (or a fan of any other mediocre club - no offences to anyone)...this team takes us sky high in one minute and brings us crashing down with a loud thump almost immediately.
number14
somehow i think if jay simpson had played instead of pink boots... he would have buried a least one of thoses chances...and the rest of the boys would have upped their game because of the confidence one or two goals gives
fran merida
also is JCL the new BITC...i mean an annoying tool...or bad smell that just hangs in your nostrils
fran merida
Playing jay simpson ahead of pinky wld have been better - however, this is analyzing from hindsight...if pinky cant hold his own against burnley in a mtch where he had 3-4 clear chances i wonder his value. well for his and Arsenals sake i hope he was just having a real bad day at the office bcos I dont think Wenger is ready to offload him...we are definitely going to totured by insipid performances from our team througout this season - brace yourselves gents
number14
Amos. Looks like we see things differently old fruit. Be boring if we all did thoug eh? This is an up and down season and I think it makes us, as Arsenal fans very edgy before what should be the most simple of matches and this is providing us with some fabulous debate material so far. Top stuff and it's never dull......
LondonGooner
Credit to Burnley. They had a plan, were well organised, worked hard and took their chances. I thought Ramsey and Wilshere were a little less effective than previously and Bendtner and Vela seemed to play too far apart to able to give each other support and I was surprised to see Simpson. who I thought did well in the previous game, dropped for Bendtner. I am not sure it fair to accuse Bendtner of laziness but he certainly looks very languid at times. An enjoyable game and the best amongst them will have learnt some lessons.
norfolk dumpling
I have to agree with the negative comments on Bendtner, he did not look like someone who is challenging for a 1st team place. His body language was not upto it, several times he was jogging towards the ball and not really harrying the opposition. Anyway, there was a lot more to talk about and I do feel that Bendtner will come in for disproportionate criticism. Vela & Randall had one on ones as well which were missed. This seasons' CC will see Randall's value rising by a million or so, I'm certain that he will be sold at the end of this season. Poor choice by Wenger to take off Wilshere, he should have taken off Bendtner instead and stuck Simpson alongside Vela.
prits
I thought Gibbs betrayed his inexperience and lack of understanding of the balance between attack and defence required of a left-back. He was caught out a lot by Eagles. This game shows that the boys/reserves are talented but some way from challenging first-teamers, which is not a good sign in the short-term. Someone in a previous blog suggested that Armand Traore should be sold to Portsmouth and Gibbs installed in his place. If you saw Armand's play against AC Milan in left midfield, you would have seen power, pace and technique. He did a lot of good work and Wenger wouldn't sell him. By the way, is Kerrea Gilbert still at the club?
Gael-Force
Yes, Gilbert is still an Arsenal player, although he's out on loan (Leicester, I think).
prits
Bendnter found his level. Not quite in the same league as Kevin McDonald but with a few years experience could prove useful to a Championship team engaged in a relegation dogfight.
th41
is it just me, but i dont reckon randall has a future with us?
gooner_till_i_die
Three or four of these players will break into the first team. They are still young, but I'd say Ramsey is a sure thing, Vela, Wilshere, Gibbs and Fabianski have a good chance, Simpson and Hoyte may improve enough but will probably end up elsewhere, Merida is a possibility, but Randall and Bischoff don't have a chance in hell of ever being first team players at Arsenal.
elbondo
Just a thought, the whole point of the Carling cup for the last 4 seasons has either been to a) Win it b) Blood youngsters for the first team. With the exception of Cesc, who out of the crop of the last 4 years is now a pukka first teamer? Let's face it, 80% of these players will be sold on for a tidy profit and Arsenal Football Club are happy to do that.
shewore
Shewore, the current first team has pretty much been built off the Carling Cup. Diaby, Cesc, v.Persie, Walcott, Denilson, Song, Djourou, Clichy, Bendtner and Eboue all made their first starts in the competition. Giving them competitive football earlier also allows us to weed out those who aren't quite up to it quicker too, the likes of Lupoli, Quincy, Larsson, Muamba etc would probably still be kicking around our reserves looking quite impressive until they were found out in bigger games. It speeds up the evolution of the squad and I think that's incredibly astute management.
Little Dutch
Exactly, the current first team has been built off the CC teams of the last 4 years, and we're winning eff all! I'm not trying to detract from the positives, they've given us a few memorable matches with bits of brilliance to saviour. Just a little concerned, that's all...
shewore
i think its unfair to write off Bischoffs' chances...considering that he is highly rated by the team that sold him and wenger who bought him,and that he is far from being match fit,after only just returning from a very long injury
fran merida
No one knows anything about Bischoff and if you are into the business of drawing conclusions on players who have played less than 60 minutes of football for us, then that is a very foolish attitude to have.
LondonGooner
----Roman Calderon, President of Madrid said: “We are proud of the manner in which we manage the resources of the club"---- Off the subject I know, but this is Calderon yesterday! Can you believe the front of this complete and utter **nt? Didn't the local city council have to bale them out by paying 200% of the market valule for their training ground to clear their £100 million plus debts?
LondonGooner
Ive seen Bischoff in a full reserves match twice and he is a class above all of the other players. Except for Wilshere, nobody else touches him in passing, close control and shooting. he is a brilliant little player, and he looked twice the player Randall is on Tuesday. He may not make it, but he has more of a chance than Simpson, lansbury or G Hoyte.
Tom14
Also off the subject, our club Doctor has also left to join England. Given our diagnoses over the last few years I can't say I'm mortified. But I'm wondering if Rosicky will get abandonment issues, RvP has stayed fit so far, Lewin's left, now the doctor, he'll start to get a complex. Still, there's always Diaby, and Nasri will probably keep him company again next week too.
Little Dutch
Let's boo Rosicky if he comes back! Poor old Tommy, won't know what to do with himself now...and what a time to leave to go to England, aint got a game til Feb ffs - talk about gardening leave, lazy effer!
shewore
I think Lewin was a good physio/doctor. WOuld Wengerof kept him that long if he wasn't? But the point you make LD about the timing of having a fully fit RVP bears some cause for concern! lol
LondonGooner
It was widely accepted that Lewin was the best in the business.
shewore
He wouldn't be England physio if he wasn't! Maybe, just maybe he wasn't solely responsible for all of the diagnosis that were made as it would be pretty difficult for one person to be able to diagnose illness, breaks, muscle tears and so on and so fort as they are all specialist fields that take people years to learn and specialise only in that. So to expect someone to be responsible for all of the above is pretty short sighted.
LondonGooner
Lewin was a physio I rated very highly, evidently everyone else did as well. Did I miss something? Nobody criticised Lewin on the thread.
Little Dutch
Off topic some more. Anyone elses job really getting to them in one way or another but the current financial climate would make you foolish to move on.
paul_ownz
LD no mate, no one criticised him, it was just purely saying what we think about the guy when the his name cropped up!
LondonGooner
Paul - I have been made redundant, Fri 12th is my last day. Great timing eh?
LondonGooner
Sorry to hear that mate
paul_ownz
It happens, to a lot of people in London. I did want a couple of weeks off over xmas, but not that many! LOL Shame as it means I may have to miss out on a couple of away games I wanted to go to. Anywho, do yourself a favour Paul, stick with the job mate, many others haven't had the luxury of choice.
LondonGooner
It was a great advert for the Carling Cup, our young Gunners gave us fans alot to shout about in the two home matches. I for one really enjoyed watching them. Thanks Young Guns!
hackneyval
Just one other thing Well Done to Burnley, they deserved the win Good Luck to them against the Spuds!
hackneyval
 

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