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Ed and Buried

Only in England can you leave for a game an hour and a half before kick off wearing sunglasses and return home shivering and soaking wet. But as with the malleability of the weather, Arsenal`s home games this season have been tests of endurance at times. It showed in the stands too with thousands of empty seats and tickets available right up until 12noon on the day of the game. It looked like a great many had elected for the 'opt out` option for season ticket holders, seeing as this game represented an extra cup credit which will thus be charged onto next season`s price. It`s quite amusing to hear supporters decry how we undervalue the F.A. Cup and yet show scant regard for it themselves. It should also serve as a warning to the club that it may take more than a price freeze to get bums back on seats. I feel I also must ask where all these people were who`d "love to go but can`t get tickets." In any case, those of us that did show up saw a much changed line up with Eduardo skippering the side as a reward for his courage over the last twelve months. Mainstays Denilson and Samir Nasri were given the day off to soak their feet in a tub of warm salted water, leaving the business to the likes of Vela, Song and Arshavin. Theo Walcott made the bench.

The game began surprisingly openly, Burnley electing to adopt Hull City`s trick in September of playing without a defined midfield. The visitors pressed us high up the pitch in our own half and on the edge of the Burnley box, but were happy to cede possession in the middle third and on the flanks. They deployed a sort of flying V formation in which the midfielders and forwards sat back when Arsenal had the ball, but broke together in unison when they wrested possession back. Arsenal forged the first chance of the match more by accident than design, as with Fulham and Sunderland, Burnley were quite happy to let Sagna have the ball on the touchline due to his awful crossing (probably the sole flaw in his game), on this occasion Sagna spooned his right wing cross so badly that it was inches away from creeping into Brian Jensen`s top corner. Chris Eagles was looking to give Kieran Gibbs a hard time, but the youngster dealt with the threat admirably and had another solid game. Eagles was removed at the beginning of the second half such was the quality of Gibbs on the day. The Gunners sensed an opening and they got it on 25 minutes, Andrey Arshavin may still be adjusting to life in England but one thing the man has shown in abundance in his short time here is an eye for a pass. The link between midfield and attack this season has diminished with the departure of Hleb and the injury to Rosicky; but Arshavin is showing class in that area of the pitch, it was he who picked the ball up just in from the left hand side and delivered a slide rule pass to Vela; the young Mexican allowed the ball to roll across his body before surging through on goal, with Gudjonsson`s hand firmly gripping his shirt and Steven Caldwell closing in, Vela lifted the ball beautifully over the onrushing Brian Jensen. In the Carling Cup exit to Burnley Arsenal had missed five on one ones with the same keeper, two of which Vela was culpable for. On each occasion, Vela, Bendtner and Randall had tried to get the ball under Jensen unsuccessfully. Whether Vela`s decision to chip was predetermined or instinctive is game for debate, but he showed massive intelligence either way and it will be good for him after some less than composed misses against Sunderland.

Arsenal looked to be in the mood and Alex Song lifted a beautiful flighted ball over the top of the Clarets back line, Eduardo tool it down in his stride only to be denied by a last ditch tackle from Graham Alexander. At this stage the heavens began to open and rumbles of thunder were audible, the wind picked up dramatically and made for hazardous conditions. The unctuous surface aided both sides` proclivity towards passing football; but the wind nearly helped Burnley to an equaliser as it grabbed hold of Eagles` corner, Diaby`s slight connection took the ball away from Fabianski and a melee ensued, but the Gunners eventually got the ball clear. Arsenal carved out another opportunity on the stroke of half time, Arshavin played the ball into Eduardo with his back to goal, the Crozilian`s impudent flick found Eboue in his stride, but his low shot was clawed away by Jensen. Half time and warm Bovril was the order of the day, with sunglasses tucked firmly away in pocket. Six minutes into the second half, Gooner cockles were warmed by a quite devastating goal. The ubiquitous Alex Song once again turned provider with another sumptuous chip into the penalty area, Eduardo had peeled away from his marker and found the top corner with a nonchalant first time volley with the outside of his heel. A quite intentional slice and a brilliant piece of improvisation, it was the kind of instinctive finish we had missed so desperately in the Fulham and Sunderland matches where the finishing was laboured and often panicked. The biggest compliment I can pay that goal is that I think that`s probably what Dennis Bergkamp would have done in the same position. Part of the reason I do not doubt Eduardo can come back to play at this level is that, much like Henrik Larsson, he was never the quickest player over the ground, his strengths were his movement and his finishing and physical affliction will not diminish those qualities just yet. His movement all game was quite excellent, always playing on the shoulder of the defender, chasing down, giving the players ahead of him options, giving defenders something to think about. It`s the kind of stuff Adebayor hasn`t been able to do quite so well this season. In the shape of Arshavin we appear to have a player who can aid and abet that movement too.

The good vibrations around the stadium were multiplied by the introduction of Walcott and van Persie from the bench. Walcott nearly glossed the occasion with yet more sentiment when he received Arshavin`s through ball and went one on one with Jensen, but again the big Dane thwarted an Arsenal player that elected to try and shoot underneath him. But it wouldn`t be long before Arsenal were bulging the net again from an unlikely source. Alex Song, accused in recent weeks of lacking invention, was again lubricating the creative wheel with an exquisite back heel into the path of Emmanuel Eboue in the area who passed up his usual wounded duck impression once he gets across the eighteen yard line and smashed the ball low and hard past Jensen. There was even an air of incredulity in the voice of the stadium announcer when greeting the goal. Eboue and Song however lose marks for copying my dancing. What the hell were they doing on the razz in Covent Garden on Friday night anyway? Arsenal almost put more sheen on the score line when Walcott miscontrolled the ball on the edge of the area, but such is the fear his immense pace brings, he was allowed time to regain the ball and clipped a perfect cross to van Persie who amazingly shanked his volley when it was lined up on his left foot. If only it had fallen onto his chocolate leg! Burnley fought manfully to the end and Caldwell clipped the bar with a header before Chris Foy auditioned for the worst decision of the season award when Djourou clearly tripped Paterson in the area. A quite astoundingly poor decision and one of the more stonewall penalties you will ever see.

It was a pleasing performance, we probably should take into account the quality of the opposition but Burnley could easily be a Premiership side in three months time. They would certainly be a most welcome addition. But what was pleasing from our point of view was that the play in the final third appeared much more natural and quite a lot livelier. The movement of Eduardo allied with the eye for a pass that Arshavin has in 'the hole` made us a more dangerous prospect. The finishing was the proof in the pudding too, where composure deserted us in our past few home matches, Vela, Eduardo and Eboue provided a flurry of varied and excellent finishing, each player produced exactly what the situation called for- particularly Eduardo who reminded us all- as if it we needed it- how deadly he can be in the penalty area. But his work off the ball for the team was equally incisive and served the team. We now have an excellent chance of earning some silverware in this competition. It would be majorly ironic if in probably the least impressive Wenger season, we picked up a trophy. It also shows what a misnomer the whole shallow "four years without a trophy" willy waving can be. Last season we finished empty handed but ultimately I was satisfied that we were competitive and had events conspired slightly differently, we would have been deserving winners of a major cup. This year so far, we do not deserve the same kind of reward but might just get it. As Alex Ferguson once remarked, "fuckin hell. Football, eh?"LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday March 9 2009

Time: 10:23AM

Your Comments

You're wrong about the penalty - it was not. Djourou never touched the Burnley player even the Setanta pundits couldn't claim it was. You're also wrong that we wouldn't deserve a cup if we won - as long as we win the rest of the games in the competition, of course we would deserve it - that is the whole point of a cup competition, winner takes all, it's not about 'deserving' it by performances over the season like the Premiership.
Passenal
You're wrong about the penalty - it was not. Djourou never touched the Burnley player even the Setanta pundits couldn't claim it was. You're also wrong that we wouldn't deserve a cup if we won - as long as we win the rest of the games in the competition, of course we would deserve it - that is the whole point of a cup competition, winner takes all, it's not about 'deserving' it by performances over the season like the Premiership.
Passenal
Glowing praise from Passenal there.... Personally i think the empty seats should be a good thing, hopefully the tight arse board may start to raise a few eyebrows when exactly the same thing happens against Hull
shewore
Glowing praise from Passenal there.... Personally i think the empty seats should be a good thing, hopefully the tight arse board may start to raise a few eyebrows when exactly the same thing happens against Hull
shewore
Gibbs..what a fella..one of the Men OM for me. There was a hint of Messi in Vela throughout too.
number14
Gibbs..what a fella..one of the Men OM for me. There was a hint of Messi in Vela throughout too.
number14
You missed my second point Passenal, we have played infinitely worse this season than we did last season. Last season Arsenal looked like a trophy winning team and, for a long time, a Premiership winning side. This year we have veered between distinctly average and very poor yet could well win a cup. It shows how vapid the argument can be. Re: the penalty, I have to ask a) why did the ref not book the Burnley player? And b) why the hell was he diving when he was absolutely clean through on goal?
Little Dutch
You missed my second point Passenal, we have played infinitely worse this season than we did last season. Last season Arsenal looked like a trophy winning team and, for a long time, a Premiership winning side. This year we have veered between distinctly average and very poor yet could well win a cup. It shows how vapid the argument can be. Re: the penalty, I have to ask a) why did the ref not book the Burnley player? And b) why the hell was he diving when he was absolutely clean through on goal?
Little Dutch
The only season we reached the CL final was when we were having a poor season with a CL spot in danger. Our performances in the CL that season were very good. Quite different from our league performances. Had we won it we would have done so on merit and, based on our performances in that competition, would have deserved it. I'd also agree with Passenal to the extent that it wasn't a stonewall penalty - though they have been given for less and denied for more. The Burnley player wasn't clean through as he first had to get past Djourou and Gallas. There was no obligation on Djourou's part to make sure he had all the space he needed.
Amos.
The only season we reached the CL final was when we were having a poor season with a CL spot in danger. Our performances in the CL that season were very good. Quite different from our league performances. Had we won it we would have done so on merit and, based on our performances in that competition, would have deserved it. I'd also agree with Passenal to the extent that it wasn't a stonewall penalty - though they have been given for less and denied for more. The Burnley player wasn't clean through as he first had to get past Djourou and Gallas. There was no obligation on Djourou's part to make sure he had all the space he needed.
Amos.
Two very good questions LD, but the kicker for me is that if he hadn't have taken a dive Djourou WOULD have fouled him. By the time Johan made contact the player was already on his way down in my eyes. With regards to the game it was another great team performance, I was a bit baffled to see van Persie take to the pitch at 2-0, one can only assume Wenger wanted him to have a bit of match sharpness for Roma. The whole midfield was excellent. One thing that has impressed me about Arshavin (aside from what LD has already pointed out) is his work rate, he has readily admitted the physical aspect of the PL has caught him flatfooted, but that hasn't stopped him from running his knackers off everythime he's played ..... also never realised he was so short! Nice to see Walcott back in action too, caused Burnley many problems in his short time and should have had an assist to his name but the lino made the wrong call!! Bring on Roma!
Rocky7
Two very good questions LD, but the kicker for me is that if he hadn't have taken a dive Djourou WOULD have fouled him. By the time Johan made contact the player was already on his way down in my eyes. With regards to the game it was another great team performance, I was a bit baffled to see van Persie take to the pitch at 2-0, one can only assume Wenger wanted him to have a bit of match sharpness for Roma. The whole midfield was excellent. One thing that has impressed me about Arshavin (aside from what LD has already pointed out) is his work rate, he has readily admitted the physical aspect of the PL has caught him flatfooted, but that hasn't stopped him from running his knackers off everythime he's played ..... also never realised he was so short! Nice to see Walcott back in action too, caused Burnley many problems in his short time and should have had an assist to his name but the lino made the wrong call!! Bring on Roma!
Rocky7
I'm perhaps not making myself clear re: entitlement to trophies. Of course, if we win the F.A. cup or the CL, it will be because we deserve to. What I'm saying is that, on the whole, the team of last season was a much more impressive outfit than this one, yet finished the season empty handed. Ask any Gooner how they have felt about this season and I bet you my life savings the words 'frustrating', 'average', 'sub par' will all make an appearance regularly. Yet this year the team might win something having been booed off in most of their home games, whereas such frustration with performances was in short supply last year. More questions have been asked of this manager than ever before this year, yet he might just bag a cup. I was only pointing out the irony of that.
Little Dutch
I'm perhaps not making myself clear re: entitlement to trophies. Of course, if we win the F.A. cup or the CL, it will be because we deserve to. What I'm saying is that, on the whole, the team of last season was a much more impressive outfit than this one, yet finished the season empty handed. Ask any Gooner how they have felt about this season and I bet you my life savings the words 'frustrating', 'average', 'sub par' will all make an appearance regularly. Yet this year the team might win something having been booed off in most of their home games, whereas such frustration with performances was in short supply last year. More questions have been asked of this manager than ever before this year, yet he might just bag a cup. I was only pointing out the irony of that.
Little Dutch
On the penalty, there is no obligation for Djourou to allow him space, but there is also no obligation for the striker to move and avoid the trailing leg. A foul in the area does not have to be deliberate to be a foul.
Little Dutch
On the penalty, there is no obligation for Djourou to allow him space, but there is also no obligation for the striker to move and avoid the trailing leg. A foul in the area does not have to be deliberate to be a foul.
Little Dutch
Rocky I agree about Arshavin and his work rate and desire to do well but for ***** sake Arsene don't let him take any more corners.
Armory
Rocky I agree about Arshavin and his work rate and desire to do well but for ***** sake Arsene don't let him take any more corners.
Armory
Good win - bit like the Arsenal of old - all were great goals but i thought Eduardos' was sheer class. Good to see him and Walcott back in action.
Thaibluefan
LD, it looked like he did not touch the Burnley player until he was already parallel to the floor. He may well have caught him, but the had already taken the dive.
Tom14
Good win - bit like the Arsenal of old - all were great goals but i thought Eduardos' was sheer class. Good to see him and Walcott back in action.
Thaibluefan
LD, it looked like he did not touch the Burnley player until he was already parallel to the floor. He may well have caught him, but the had already taken the dive.
Tom14
LOL Armoury, agreed, every single one of them went straight to Jensen!
Rocky7
LOL Armoury, agreed, every single one of them went straight to Jensen!
Rocky7
But LD there is an obligation for the striker to wait for the contact before hitting the deck .... lol
Rocky7
But LD there is an obligation for the striker to wait for the contact before hitting the deck .... lol
Rocky7
Ld would find it hard not to agree with all that you have written however you have made one mistake 'Only in England can you leave for a game an hour and a half before kick off wearing sunglasses and return home shivering and soaking wet' try Melbourne Australia they have four different weather conditions in one day. Did think young Gibbs was really outstanding.
alwaysgunner
Ld would find it hard not to agree with all that you have written however you have made one mistake 'Only in England can you leave for a game an hour and a half before kick off wearing sunglasses and return home shivering and soaking wet' try Melbourne Australia they have four different weather conditions in one day. Did think young Gibbs was really outstanding.
alwaysgunner
My MOM was Alex Song, I thought he had a great game. Gibbs was OK (obviously still learning), although he was sometimes a little bit naive positionally. Having Eduardo gives us a different dimension up front, he finds space the others don't. Even I got a bit wet, and I'm in the 8th row of the upper tier!!!
navydave
My MOM was Alex Song, I thought he had a great game. Gibbs was OK (obviously still learning), although he was sometimes a little bit naive positionally. Having Eduardo gives us a different dimension up front, he finds space the others don't. Even I got a bit wet, and I'm in the 8th row of the upper tier!!!
navydave
Was a bit apprehensive when Diaby came off as despite Song's great distribution I still think Burnley had too much time on the ball in Midfield. Denilson was clearly missed. Eboue MOTM!
MeetTheGunners
Was a bit apprehensive when Diaby came off as despite Song's great distribution I still think Burnley had too much time on the ball in Midfield. Denilson was clearly missed. Eboue MOTM!
MeetTheGunners
As someone who lives a stone's throw from the emirates but does not have 40 to spare week in week out those empty seats were heart breaking. I know it may cause all manner of problems but if they could reduce the price of leftover seats just before kick off, I'd be right there, rain or not! Some sublime finishing yesterday, Wenger's going to have some real selection headaches when everyone is fit and that's surely a good thing.
Kman
As someone who lives a stone's throw from the emirates but does not have 40 to spare week in week out those empty seats were heart breaking. I know it may cause all manner of problems but if they could reduce the price of leftover seats just before kick off, I'd be right there, rain or not! Some sublime finishing yesterday, Wenger's going to have some real selection headaches when everyone is fit and that's surely a good thing.
Kman
kman how much would you pay for lastminute.com
fran merida
kman how much would you pay for lastminute.com
fran merida
All I can say is Alexandre Song - who knew? MOTM for me. Previously, the best I could say about him is that he works hard - but against Burnley he not was not only a defenisve colossus, but was passing like Fabregas in disguise. 2 really good assists, could have had another had the finishing been better. I didn't know he had it in him!
krismon1
All I can say is Alexandre Song - who knew? MOTM for me. Previously, the best I could say about him is that he works hard - but against Burnley he not was not only a defenisve colossus, but was passing like Fabregas in disguise. 2 really good assists, could have had another had the finishing been better. I didn't know he had it in him!
krismon1
Was going to say the exact same thing as alwaysgunner, Melbourne has such messed up wether we're the only city in the world that is actually said to have 7 specific seasons.
Ozi Gooner
Was going to say the exact same thing as alwaysgunner, Melbourne has such messed up wether we're the only city in the world that is actually said to have 7 specific seasons.
Ozi Gooner
what a class finish from eduardo the other night..quality
bluemooner_mcfc
what a class finish from eduardo the other night..quality
bluemooner_mcfc
 

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