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Bendtner Silences Boo Boys

It was a bitter, bitter day in North London with the temperature gauge troubling the minus numbers, breath clung visibly to the winter air. We were at the Tavern in time to watch Villa's serendipity lamentably continue with their fifth own goal in six matches- all of which have been won by a single goal. Surely their luck with ricochets and ailments respectively cannot continue? Arriving into the stadium, banks of empty seats were noticeable, the game was not advertised as a sell out until Thursday, I suspect it was a lie. With Club Level members asked to renew their season tickets in March, the board will do well to take notice.

Bolton's tactics were obvious before the game had even begun, with two banks of four sitting very deep. Prior to the match, Megson attempted some mind games (I rather doubt Megson is sufficiently armed for such a tactic) by alleging that Arsenal were overly incongruous towards Bolton's strong arm tactics. It took precisely three minutes for a man whose ebullience towards on pitch violence is surely matched only by Alan Shearer to make his mark. Kevin Davies callously and maliciously thrust an elbow into the mouth of Gael Clichy in an aerial challenge. It was a calculated and pre meditated act by a man who very nearly broke the same player's leg in September. Mr. Davies is a thug and an embarassment to his profession, but Mr. Foy is also culpable for not even cautioning Davies. Neither of the ensuing highlights packages I have seen have mentioned the incident. Had Robin van Persie made the same challenge on JLloyd Samuel I very much doubt we would have been spared Mr. Foy's red card or the guttural rantings of the press.

Nevertheless, Bolton built a Maginot Line on the edge of their area and invited Arsenal to penetrate. However, whilst Arsenal enjoyed plenty of possession, once again the build up play was too laboured, the passing not of sufficient pace or incision to trouble Bolton. With injuries to Fabregas, Rosicky, Walcott and Eduardo, the role of chief creative agitator fell to Nasri, who notably drifted inside to a more central role.It was his pass that set up the opening chance of a barren first half, he drilled the ball to van Persie, who killed the ball beautifully with a yielding touch and swivelled but volleyed over. Arsenal's attack definitely lacked spark, but van Persie and Nasri always looked likely to be the chief alchemists. A defensive mix up between Toure and Almunia after the dreaded long ball gave Arsenal fans the only real moment of concern. Almunia's hesitance from his goal line and his inability to use his vocal chords are becoming recurring features. There are more urgent areas of redress for now, but I hope come the summer we buy a better goalkeeper. Almunia does not cut it for me. Another van Persie volley from Shittu's headed clearance sailed well over and that was pretty much it from a first half that was hardly celestial stuff.

Arsenal upped the ante in the second half, as the crowd behind the goal leapt up and down in unison to keep warm. For a few minutes in fact, with Arsenal attacking an end imploring them to attack, it was almost like we had a good atmosphere at a home game. More nefarious sections of our support would ensure a swift end to that nonsense later on. Arsenal had a penalty claim when Clichy's cross was misjudged by JJloyd Samuel, who appeared to use an arm to guide the ball back to his keeper. But it would have been a difficult one to be absolutely sure about for the officials. With the home side committing more to attack, there was harvest to be gleaned for Bolton on the counter attack. Mustapha Riga's cross found Matthew Taylor on the back post but his header was saved by Almunia. The Gunners continued to pour forward, Adebayor collected a pass from Nasri in the area, squirmed himself into some space but fired tamely at Jaaskelainen. Carlos Vela was introduced into the fray on the left hand side, leaving Nasri completely unshackled to weave his magic in the centre. It almost paid instant dividends when Vela carried the ball inside from the left flank to Nasri, who opened up Bolton's defence with a fastidiously executed through ball finding Adebayor on his own in front of goal, but the Togonator was far too casual and allowed Andy O'Brien to intercept with an excellent block.

It was Adebayor's strike partner who would come even closer to scoring. Nasri fed Adebayor who flicked the ball beautifully into the path of van Persie, whose close control amongst of littany of Bolton defenders defied belief before he sent a low right footed shot bobbling across the floor and onto the foot of the post. His thirteenth flirtation with the woodwork this season. Had he been wearing a Villa shirt I'm certain the rebound would have hit a Bolton player and gone in! When the two sides met in this fixture last season, it was a long range exerset from Toure that opened the scoring. History almost repeated itself when Toure, presumably tired of continuously lumping long balls aimlessly forward, carried the ball forward and hit a low thirty yard piledriver which van Persie subtly redirected, but Jaaskelainen was equal to the ricochet. Wenger then introduced Bendnter on the right flank to offer more of an attacking threat from out wide, with Eboue hardly the most erstwhile predator in the box. When announced before kick off, Bendtner's name drew some audible boos. It was noticeable that Wenger was keen to get Bendtner on for Denilson's set piece, with nobody assigned to mark the big Dane, his impact was almost immediate. He connected with Denilson's inswinging delivery but could only direct the header straight at Jaaskelainen.

But a few minutes later, Bendtner drew howls of derision from the home crowd after a woefully misplaced pass. The next time he received the ball and completed a successful pass, he was greeted with large ironic cheers. We've long been campaigning for out home fans to act as a perennial twelfth man and it looks like we have achieved that because we have given our own players an extra barrier to surmount with our proclivity towards attacking certain players, who simply can do no right. I'm not quite sure what the act of destroying the confidence of your own players is supposed to achieve but it is by no means a new phenomenon. It is all too easy to point the finger of blame at 'nouveau riche' supporters or those we perceive as Johnny Come Latelys, but the barracking was spread very evenly around the ground, it was as much those in the RedSection as those who sit in the upper tier where I am positioned, so RedAction can spare me their sanctimony because this is a wider problem not dictated by generational or economic factors. Those crying that we lack a Ray Parlour like character in the current side are probably the same characters that sat beside me in the West Lower at Highbury that barracked him with equal alacrity and sometimes even booed him.

Some five minutes later, Bendtner beautifully elucidated the caprice of those that mocked him. van Persie found himself a corridor of space in the area, turned and delivered a sumptuous cross which invited Bendtner to stab home another vital late winner and his sixth of the season. Funnily enough I didn't notice many sitting down and refusing to celebrate Bendtner's goal, which means there were a few thousand hypocrites present. By audibly mocking your own player in the dying throwes of a tight game, you make a statement that you do not support the team and do not support any of the actions of that player. Bendtner might well have mimmicked Sammy Nelson's infamous celebration from 1979. Nelson scored an own goal and was met with polemic abuse from the North Bank. In the second half, he rectified his earlier error and scored the equaliser and celebrated by dropping his shorts and 'mooning' the North Bank. In Highbury's final years, I graduated to Block 19 of the Clock End and often greeted goals by cocking an ear to the away support, I never imagined I would be doing it to fellow Arsenal fans. But having defibrillated the critical factions, Bendtner showed class in not admonishing them and even applauded the supporters at the final whistle. Most reluctantly returned the gesture, middle class guilt can be a wonderful thing. Bendtner's ability can rightly be questioned and the jury is very much out on his suitability to our club, but deliberately damaging his confidence isn't particularly useful to anybody. It was a real shame because for a few minutes in the second half, the overall support was very positive.

What is worth saying is that Wenger's tactical tinkering paid off, by deploying Vela and Bendtner on the flanks, we carried a more potent threat in the box and gave Nasri license to roam. Vela and Bendtner proved to be very good impact players as they offered Bolton different problems to those posed by Diaby and Eboue and it is very difficult for defences to make contingency plans mid game for different sorts of players. The fact that Bendtner has a striker's instinct served him well from the right when van Persie teased in a delightful cross. Bolton nearly grabbed an instant equaliser, Steve Basham worked his way to the touchline and pulled back for Kevin Davies in space, but the useless thug could only plant the ball into Almunia's arms. Were his appetite for goalscoring as lubricious as his appetite for violence, the game would have finished a draw. But once again we have ground out a result and have now manouvered ourselves into a decent unbeaten run. Shorn of the forward players we are this is an incredibly positive sign, whilst not at our free flowing best, I doubt that if you took the likes of Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney and Berbatov away from United that the results would be much different. Nasri is excelling with nearly all of the creative focus of the team entirely on him, as well as van Persie who also looks willing and dangerous. Winning ugly is not a bad habit to get into and it'sa pleasing habit we seem to have got into of late. Here's to another scrappy 1-0 win at Hull next week.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday January 11 2009

Time: 12:41PM

Your Comments

you were lucky
ric112
The amount of long balls we use infuriates me! We are always accused of not playing enough direct football and only play pretty football, this only confirms my suspicion that all journo's and pundits alike do not watch Arsenal games with any consistency. We use it FAR too much and the over-reliance on Adebayor is a false requirement that seems to be caused by his brilliant last season. We need to play football. That is what we are best at and it is what works. Nasri - Denilson simply hae to be paired in the middle, een if that means we play Diaby on the left, or Vela. Toure looked pretty poor with the very little he has to deal with as well I must say.
Tom14
I dont know about luck.. the only thing Bolton deserved was having their hearts broken at then end, as happenned, so justice was done. The result aside, all we saw was more confirmation (if we needed it) of the yawning gaps in our squad - lack of creativity, poor contributions from Eboue/Diaby, and the jittery mental state of our centre backs. I admire the desire shown by some, but this is a weak team and I just hope we can finish fourth this season.
Andy-bayor
arshavin has been hijacked by manchester city
gooner_till_i_die
They say. In the sunday papers. Without any evidence.
Tom14
People in glass houses...
Nigel-not-Reo
Great read! Was the game that bad? We will struggle a bit because we are not playing to our strenghts which is more on the offensive side. Creativity has been substituted with maturity more due to injuries I think. Vela, Wilshere, Ramsey are great but dont have the experience so Eboue and Diaby get the nod. Diaby can be great but his fixation on carving through atleast 3 players gets him into trouble - pass or beat your player and pass, please! I dont think Man U would win the Tea Cup if they didnt have Rooney, Tevez, Ronaldo and berbatov. Our unbeaten streak prove that we are much deeper than people think.
Paulsito
Well done Ld a great report again.
alwaysgunner
Good write up LD. Special mention also to Denilson, who put in his usual solid performance (I think this needs emphasising every game, esp with the inconsistency we see from Diaby, Ade, and some of the others).
prits
Tom14, I agree, the man city roumors are probably rubish, but then the arsenal ones aren't exactly concrete either.
ArsenalRob
i think that it should of been a draw how the match was like.
lil blackpoolgas
The Arsenal rumours are as concrete as any transfer story you will ever hear. If we are not after Arshavin I would eat my hat. Wenger would have quashed them by now. (luckily for me, I do not own a hat :D)
Tom14
I reckon if he scored a hat trick every match from now until the end of the season he'd struggle to silence the boo boys to be honest LD, which is sad
TR7
Arsene has made contact with Zenit, yes. But we don't know how seriously to take it. He made contact with Chelsea over Kalou, but he didn't take it very far. It may just be more of an fluttering idea than a plan. I'm not saying we won't get him, but we have to treat this all with a bit more caution.
ArsenalRob
now the sun says we are on the brink of signing Ashravin. dun want to believe a thing till it's done..
luckys_10
Not a classic but the team worked hard for the full ninety minutes and in the end got what they deserved in spite of some squeaky bum moments defensively. Well done Bendtner for the goal and I quite like the look of Denilson and Nasri in centre midfiled.
norfolk dumpling
Thought Diaby as appalling on Saturday, you never truly know what one is gonna turn up. I personally think it's brilliant how well Djorou is coming along, he has some tests coming up which i can't wait for, but so far, so good. Almunia's calling and the confidence shown in him is dwindling by the game, explemlified in 1st half when he called for a ball rolling to him that he was never gonna get.
shewore
Kevin davies comments show he is a bitter C**t. I dislike him more than any other player in the premiership. Elbowing his way through the opposition. At least Alan Shearer was a good player/scorer, Davies is just a waste of life.
paul_ownz
That message didnt do justice to how much i dislike him. I would gladly do time in prison to be able to take my hatred out on him.... Now i will go and sit in a quiet dark room to calm down
paul_ownz
lolz Paul, easy mate. i'd love to see one of our players give it to him big time, even if it results in a big suspension, dun care..
luckys_10
about Diaby, i think he was trying to do too much by himself on saturday, and that is the reason why he gave away the ball a few times and looked a bit average. if only he can improve his decision making and awareness of the game, he will be a much better player. there is nothing wrong with the technical side of his game, just needs to be a bit more smarter and a little less lazy on the ball lol..
luckys_10
and Denilson i think still has a gear up in him, hope he raises his game upto that when the CL resumes. the lad plays so economically and correctly throughout the game that yu get the feeling he can surely do a lot better than what he is doing..
luckys_10
Happy that Bendtner scored - hopefully he can build on it. Considering Bolton's tactics, I thought it was a good performance, and we certainly deserved the win. The 'lucky' comment could be truthful in the fact that we're lucky that Davies is so gash that he missed a clearcut chance, but apart from that we dominated the game in every single aspect. It does worry me, however, that whenever toure plays we resort to more long-ball tactics. I love his darting runs into attack, but he has to stop the long balls, or at least lessen the frequency.
ChaosTeaCup
Davies is a ****butler of the highest order. As yu point out Paul, his only function on the pitch is to be violent, he doesn't even score goals as exemplified by the one time he was actually in our box in the whole game. It wasn't just the elbow on Clichy that grated, but a few minutes later when he tripped Denilson when the ball was about five yards away. How he escaped without a red card for the elbow into Clichy's face I'll never know and why was it not documented when Fellaini's less vicious elbow was highlighted? But that Davies escaped this game without even a caution is a terrible indictment on refereeing in this country when Djourou and Ramsey were booked for minor fouls.
Little Dutch
I have not seen the incident as i missed this game due to having to attend a 50th wedding aniversary of my grandparents. Anywhere i can see the elbow incident, just to add to my hatred. He always gets away with things where others wouldnt. The tackle on Clichy, Pushing eboue in the face(theatrical fall by eboue, but it was still hand to face), kicking the ball at Fabregas while he was on the floor. The man is a disgrace.
paul_ownz
Off Topic but this has to be said..... Subject: Ronaldo Update Cristiano Ronaldo escaped unharmed after writing of his Ferrari yesterday - rumours are that he dived from car before it hit the barrier! The first thing he said to the police was that the wall was not the required 10yrds away! Alex Ferguson is furious and is claiming that Ferrari does not give Ronaldo enough protection. Some witnesses at the scene of Ronaldos crash say he was only lightly tapped from behind, when all of a sudden the car flipped and rolled over 10 times!! Apparently witnesses in other cars who saw the incident, said that Ronaldo's car was accelerating towards the tunnel, when it suddenly and inexplicably seemed to flip over, with absolutely no contact with any other vehicles. The police arrived and were immediately surrounded by Ronaldos fellow team mates. Then, following directions from Ronaldo, arrested the nearest car driver. Police are investigating why a player voted the worlds best, and earns 140000 per week cannot take a simple corner. "Anyway he was all right and he was walking, added the witness, confirming that Ronaldo is the only man in Manchester who walks away from massive car smash but spends five minutes writhing in agony if someone pulls his socks down! Meanwhile, Lionel Messi has delivered a scathing attack on Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo. The Barcelona star has named his own personal World XI for 2008 for uefa.com and rival Ronaldo does not feature. The young winger gave a contemptuous analysis of United's number seven, saying: "He's a diving, preening, mummy's boy who goes missing in big games and is slowed down by the weight of his own ego. All real football fans detest this loathsome brat and the sooner he becomes an expensive prima donna at Real Madrid the better."
KBGoon
One last thing on the Davies matter. He is a striker who in the last 3 seasons has racked up more yellow cards than goals.. 2005/6 8 goals 12 yellows, 2006/7 9 goals 10 yellows + 1 Red and incredibly last season 4 goals 13 yellows. Says it all really.
paul_ownz
Indeed. I think Davies is one of the most-hated players in the Premier League and beyond. Lol, KBGoon!
adamski243
Great stat there Ownz!
shewore
Not a patch on Jens.
Tom14
Almunia, Toure, Gallas, Bendtner, Diaby, Denilson, Rosicky, Walcott and Senderos all not good enough and need to go in the summer, let's hope eh?
Orange Quadrant
Blimey, I forgot Eboue..LOL...there's so much dross at our club these days, but Eboue and Bendtner are ar the worse and deserve to be barracked when they play like they do..SHOCKING!
Orange Quadrant
OQ, are you being serious. I agree some of the players, not all of the ones you mentioned, aren't up to the required quality but to just get rid of them all... Where would that leave us?
ArsenalRob
I would sell Almunia, Toure, Diaby, Rosicky (only because of the persistant injuries) and Senderos quite happily.
Tom14
Thank bloody god you OQ and to a lesser extent T14 are not running our team. T14 I had high h opes for your opinions but I now begin to wonder why. OQ your opinions are just a waste of space. IMO there is still a twist in the tail to this year's PL but unlike you two I'm prepared to wait.
alwaysgunner
If i was bendtner i wouldn't have cheered with those jabronee fans.
thenry009
Why would you doubt my opinions on players who are clearly not good enough? Or injured constantly in Rosicky's case. Why should we keep Diaby? We already have enough decent quality central midfield back-ups without a top class first choice partner, Diaby is not needed with Denilson, Ramsey, Fabregas, Coquelin and Song. Almunia? He is no better than average. That has been quite clear for some time. As for the Senderos... I think he was brilliant alongside Gallas when Toure was away last season, but if you are a player who cries after mistakes (however harsh the treatment from idiotic fans is) you cannot be playing games for a big club. And Kolo Toure should also leave, with Gallas following him out if we sign the right players. Kolo has been WAY off any sort of form that we saw from him four/five years ago. I cannot see him recovering in any impressive fashion. So there you go. Argue against it.
Tom14
Read past issues of this blog and you will find Get rid of Theo, Flami etc, (i've heard it all before)yet now we would bite anyone's hands off if we could have them back. Unlike you I am prepared to let the manager make the decisions and as I said thank bloody god you and your mate OQ are not running the club.
alwaysgunner
The real issue I think is that players like Eboue, Diaby, Bendtner and Song are good enough to be squad players, but the unrelenting injury list we've endured since the unbeaten season (when we were admittedly very fortunate with injuries) has meant that these players have in effect become first team players by necessity. If the Invincibles had to endure Pires, Ljungberg, Vieira, Bergkamp, Campbell etc out for long periods, then the likes of van Bronckhorst, Luzhny, Kanu, Pennant and Jerome Thomas would have been called upon regularly to step in and you can bet those players would not have won us much playing every week. Don't get me wrong, I don't think the current squad is as good as that one and there are obvious deficiencies, but we have to recognise that the players we criticise constantly aren't really meant to be first team players.
Little Dutch
I think any team that had to endure the injuries to key players that we have, in the last few seasons would struggle. Infact, I'm willing to speculate that they would struggle more than we have, with the exception of say, ManUTD.
ChaosTeaCup
Fact is we have lost 4 of our most creative & attacking players in Cesc, Rosicky, Walcott & Fabregas for lengthy lay offs. Trying to gel a a reserve team and make them title contenders is not easy. Like LD said, take out the equivilant in the unbeaten side Bergkamp, Vieiria, Pires & Ljunberg and all of a sudden we dont look as good. I watched the Bolton game on Arsenal TV and thought Eboue looked quite good actually
paul_ownz
I would sell them to be replaced, not just get rid of them. But in the real world of course I would not get rid of them. Do you think I am a stupid idiot? Come on man.
Tom14
I didnt mean to list Fabregas twice, was meant to say Cesc, Rosicky, Walcott & Eduardo
paul_ownz
Well he is that important Paul!!
adamski243
T14, not really sure what you mean quote "I would sell Almunia, Toure, Diaby, Rosicky (only because of the persistant injuries) and Senderos quite happily.". Your comment did not leave much to talk about. I agree in the main with LD's comments we are almost at the bottom of team players available. I think the team have been remarkable considering the injuries. its not even the one's that remain that are free they are either just returning from short term injury. Do i think players should be bought Yes (but as i have said before and I have been corrected by other people's opinion) i just feel we don't have the amount of money we are alleged to have. My friend time will come, perhaps its just that the glasses i wear are rose coloured.
alwaysgunner
 

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