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Birmingham City 1 Arsenal 1

Birmingham City away probably isn`t every Gooner`s favourite away fixture- particularly this morning. For me it represents a slight break in routine in that my eldest sister has lived in Birmingham for some twenty years or so. This has subsequently resulted in a Birmingham City supporters branch in my family, with my brother in law and nephew keen Blues fans. So I travelled to took some very well deserved flexi leave and took a train up to my sister`s in King`s Norton on Friday morning. Thus there was something rather odd about leaving for an away fixture at 1pm and taking a short local train journey.

Arsene had spoken in the week about Birmingham being priority number one and that the game against Barcelona would not enter his thoughts until Sunday. It`s not a message that transmitted to his players in the first half as focus appeared to be lacking, Arsenal went through the motions for large parts of the first half. They did very nearly race into an early lead, Bendtner linked up the play and found Fabregas, who turned a ball wide to Rosicky, the Czech darted into the area and pulled the ball back for Diaby, but his close range shot was blocked by Roger Johnson. The game ambled and drifted from there, a Fabregas ball over the top pitted the pace of Walcott against Scott Dann, Walcott won the race but his finish lacked conviction as he poked the ball tamely against Joe Hart. Arsenal had two very valid penalty claims waved away by the atrocious Howard Webb. Webb booked Clichy and Song for incredibly tame challenges (first offences both), yet Gardner, Fahey and Bowyer were allowed three almost identical fouls without caution. Firstly, Walcott was clearly hauled down off the ball by Dann (the foul which he would pull Diaby up for in the second half was far less severe) and when Roger Johnson pulled Bendtner to the floor in the area contesting a Sagna cross. Webb`s incompetence and failure to equally apply the rules to both teams saw him taunted with chants of "Fergie`s rent boy" from the away section all afternoon.

With the Gunners beginning to drift away from the task at hand, the home side came into the game for the end of the first half, Lee Bowyer muscled Denilson off the ball far too easily, Cameron Jerome picked up the pieces and made a bee line for the penalty area and his low shot was clawed wide by Almunia. Anxiety began to pervade the away end in the 36th minute when Craig Gardner caught Cesc Fabregas below the knee with a tackle and the Arsenal captain limped his way disconsolately through the rest of the half. The Arsenal physio did not assess the injury, merely accepting the player`s prognosis that he could carry on. Will we ever learn? Surely the medical expert should at least look at the damn injury for himself? The beginning of the second half did not see a great deal more purpose; the likes of Bendtner, Rosicky, Denilson seemed to have their minds elsewhere. Rosicky, who played frustratingly conservatively all day, fed a pass into Diaby- clearly the stand out player on the pitch- but Diaby steered a shot straight at Joe Hart when space had opened up for him.

But Birmingham were to give Arsenal something of a wakeup call just before the hour mark when Craig Gardner`s free kick looped to the back post, Lee Bowyer hooked the ball goal wards, it brushed the post before hitting an unsuspecting Scott Dann on the thigh and bouncing over from all of a yard out. Arsenal introduced Samir Nasri and Andrey Arshavin from the bench to lend some much required fresh impetus into our attack. Birmingham`s success this season has owed much to fielding a very settled line up and the fatigue began to show in the Blues as they dropped ever deeper into their own half. Even Cameron Jerome was playing predominantly in his own half. Arsenal felt they had edged themselves into a second half lead when Sagna fed Diaby on the edge of the area, he brilliantly shielded the ball away from Bowyer, Webb did not give a foul for around two or three seconds until Diaby shaped to shoot, so when he drove the ball into the bottom corner Webb was again met with howls of "Fergie`s rent boy." Had Bowyer shielded the ball away from Diaby in the same circumstance, I do not believe for one single millisecond he would have given Arsenal a free kick, after all, it`s a man`s game it`s what we`re always told.

Arsenal were turning the screw and the inspiration told nine minutes from time. Birmingham cleared a Fabregas corner, but in their fatigue stayed grouped in the penalty area, Nasri picked up the loose ball in midfield with space to run into. He purposefully strode towards the edge of the area before unleashing a low exocet into the bottom corner through a throng of tired bodies from 20 yards. It was exactly the sort of conviction that Walcott and Rosicky had not provided in their time on the pitch. With the Blues` energy sapped, an equaliser never felt likely. In fact, Arsenal had chances to make the game safe. Clichy hooked a long ball over the top of the Brum defence to Arshavin on the corner of the area, Hart had advanced out of his goal and Arshavin shaped up for the lob only to be pulled back by Stephen Carr. A yellow card the correct decision, but you have to feel the only difference between Carr`s foul and Vermaelen`s last week was that Arshavin actually had the ball under control and that he was about two yards back from where Franco tumbled. Quelle consistency? (Literally as I type Blackburn have been awarded a penalty- incorrectly- yet Jensen has been adjudged to have taken Olsson down in a one on one situation and referee Mike Dean hasn`t even booked the goalkeeper).

Again Arsenal were guilty of profligacy when Bendtner found Arshavin in the area and the Russian screwed his first time shot wide when he had time for a touch. Fabregas then played a sumptuous defence splitting pass to Samir Nasri, the Frenchman`s touch took him slightly too close to keeper Joe Hart, so he elected to try and square to Bendtner but Dann was back to clear. The sucker punch arrived in the second minute of stoppage time. Craig Gardner crossed towards Chucho Benitez on the back post, who was a good three yards offside, forcing Sagna to try and deal with the cross, in doing so he hooked the ball against the head of Kevin Phillips, Almunia was ridiculously positioned too far from his line, leaving him to embarrassingly fumble the ball into his own net, a costly error from a keeper whose intervention last week had been match saving. As with February 2008, the last minute equaliser never looked likely and we only really have ourselves to blame. It looked as though it would be an ugly 1-0 so desired at this stage of the season, but there were opportunities to make it 2-0 which were taken half heartedly. It`s hard not to be angry at the players for dropping their focus for the first 70 minutes due to the glamour tie with Barcelona, like a teenage girl who can`t concentrate at school because she has JLS tickets for that evening. Champions don`t worry about things like that and it looks as though we have flung away a chance at the league for a grope at some Catalonian skirt. With big wins for Chelsea and United yesterday, their respective goal differences are out of our reach and we are basically looking to both to drop points in at least two of their games without dropping a single point ourselves. It looks even more unlikely. There again it`s hard to stay angry at the players given how well they have fought to get themselves into the race at all. But the manager has created a culture of a hierarchical approach to games, telling them that some competitions are more worthy of our attentions than others and some games are more worth winning than others. Champions want to win games regardless and we cannot continue to publicly encourage this outlook. There again, having scored so many precious late goals, it was perhaps inevitable we would ourselves feel the sting of an injury time goal. In conclusion, I don`t know where to direct my disappointment.LD.

1.ALMUNIA, 3.SAGNA, 31.CAMPBELL, 17.SONG, 22.CLICHY, 15.DENILSON, 2.DIABY, 4.FABREGAS(c), 14.WALCOTT (8.Nasri `68), 7.ROSICKY (23.Arshavin `69), 52.BENDTNER. Unused: 9.Eduardo, 12.Vela, 21.Fabianski, 27.Eboue, 30.Traore.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday March 28 2010

Time: 12:37PM

Your Comments

still bitter over this one and can't help but feel that this will be the game that will cost us the title this season. im sure we will definetly finish second, cuz one of the top two will definetly drop points. United's next three games, Chelsea (h), Blackburn (a), City (a). they can surely drop more than two points in these games, Chelsea have three tough away games in United, Spurs and Pool so we can definetly finish second, but we need to be spot on from now and win every single game left. i'm trying to be positive, but we need United to ***** it up now to win this one..
I think your last line hits the nail right on the head LD. I'm properly gutted this morning, I want to be angry, but the team has done tremendously well this season in the face of severe criticism and horrendous injury, you can win all the games and points will be dropped. I suppose we can be disapointed in the performance, but I can be disapointed in this team who is still only three points behind the leaders with only 6 games left. It's still good going. Some times you just need that rub of the green, and whilst we concede a goal from a clearence that hits a strikers head and then is comically fumbled into the net, Man Utd's second top scorer for the season is own goals. So in my eyes that three points difference is still very impressive for us.
I meant to ask in the report whether there was any significance in Silvestre not even being in the 18? Might it be that there's been a falling out or that Silvestre has asked not to play so as not to jeopardise a summer move? Or does anyone know an alternative explanation, because not to have him on the bench seems strange.
Little Dutch
There were so many frustrating aspects to this game. Webb's refereeing was appalling, the commitment shown to counter this very poor. Cesc seemed a pedestrian for large parts of the game, whether this was the injury or not I dont know. Ultimately, it is the last minute nature of the draw that is frustrating. An expected result turned to a sad draw with no opportunity to change this. it is a shame that almunia made such a poor mistake at such a crucial time. I dont even know what to say about that.
we have been playing a no.2 for the no.1 position for yet another year. i think we'll win title 5 years later when our gk retires. until that day, wenger will stick to him
Diaby's lack of defensive awareness at a crucial point also played a part in the goal we conceded. It's he who gets drawn to the ball leaving the space for Philips to run into and Sagna more of a decision to make than he would have wanted.
For the past couple of years we've been experts in digging our own graves but the team is maturing and it's happening less and less. In hindsight a 3rd place (worst case scenerio) isn't so bad and i'm very proud how well they've done without RVP and spending so little money with such a young side. I wasn't expecting a trophy this year but i was also fearing the worst of doing what Liverpool have done. Numerous players have stepped up a notch. I would like a new keeper. Almunia's errors have proven too costly this season. Next season i will be dissapointed if we win nothing because we should only be getting better from our youth. Last night's game was bitter and dissapointing but lets not forget how much we've actually achieved this season lads. Time and time again pundits and other fans seem to LOVE ripping on Arsenal and writing us off and we've pushed it back at them very well.
In many ways, yesterdays action was a tale of two goalkeepers: Van Der Saar's remarakable save at Bolton on the one hand, and Alumunia's clown- like impersonation at Birmingham on the other. The difference between success and failure is often miniscule. The Arsenal manger's repeated inability to address the need for a goalkeeper of the very highest calibre has returned to haunt the club again.
Tony Rocky Horror
Desperately disappointing. I thought this team would go on fighting for a little bit longer, and has done really well so far. If the team doesnt do well, then its only fair to direct any disappointment at Wenger, as he's the man in charge. This team bottles it when it comes to crucial situations and the pressure is really on, but when the status is one of underdogs, the team fights really well. So far this season, whenever the talk of Arsenal challenging for the title has become stronger, this team has *****ed it up. No co-incidence, IMO. I dont know how Wenger can change that (could signing more experience like Sol help?)
I was at St. Andrews yesterday and just KNEW that we wouldn't have the brains, or courage, to see the game out. The last time that I felt this bitter and let down after an away game, was when we threw the game away at West Ham. Normally, I don't single players out for criticism, but yesterday Theo had me raging in my seat. It was another of his " I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing " performances. At one point in the second half, he was on the touchline just staring into space, oblivious to the game around him. Come on Theo, just wake up and smell the coffee. You look like a kid at school who has been plucked from the Athletics team, and thrown into the football team cos you can run fast. Fair enough, a point is a point away from home, but Brum were there to be beat yesterday, and beat convincingly. Oh well, let's see what Wednesday night brings, and fingers crossed for the Captain. God we might need him.
Dont want to put too much emphasis on the keeper and maybe its easy to point the finger at one person but does anyone feel confident with ALmunia in goal? Our whole season has been littered with individual mistakes which will likely cost us. And its not just one or two players but all of them at various points. Almunia, Clichy, Eduardo, Diaby, Traore, Vermaelen, Song, Fabianski, Campbell all of the top of my head have made silly individual mistakes. Maybe we will learn eventually
No Iniesta for Wednesday, hamstring.
1 point against the 1st B, lets just improve against the 2nd B in midweek.. nuff said
shady gunna
Its the same situation when you were 11 points behind.Everyone wrote you off,so did I,then you bounced back.Nothing is written in stone,its still a 3 horse race.
Bitterly dissapointed for the team but this team has also got me really excited for next, with a couple of additions we will be champions
Not that I'm implying that our season is by any means over - let's see where next weekends results see us placed
spot on LD, didn't know where to direct my disappointment either... but then i kept probing for a guily party and i came up with this: if birmingham was more important than barcelona, why not start Arshavin and Nasri? possibly my only complaint
*guilty party
Arshavin and Nasri had picked up knocks in the earlier game, and couldnt start the game, but they were good enough to play a sub role.
aaah. ok, thx prits. missed that
I personally would have like to see Cesc assessed immediately, we did the same thing with Bendtner when he injured his groin, he was calling for the bench to substitute him but he carried on playing for another 10 minutes or so and Spurs nearly scored because Bendtner couldn't run when he let the ball roll past him into a dangerous area.
I hear a lot of people having a pop at Walcott (on my way out yesterday I heard a man rage, "I'm better than Walcott and I'm 41"). Yet nobody rages at Rosicky, who was just as ineffective and in truth, has been incredibly ineffective for quite some time now. Strange, hey? I have to say, at this moment, I don't regard his contract as a great fillip for us at all.
Little Dutch
True LD but if Rosicky was a 5 out of 10 then Walcott was a 2. What did you make out of the scum bags who were chanting "theres only 1 Martin Taylor" as we left the ground? I know i shouldnt expect better from this sort of pond life but i felt my blood boil to the point i wanted to punch someone. I also like the way they have barriers sectioning of the two sets of supporters which then ends 30ms up the street
I know they're only stats and I know they don't tell the whole story but - just for comparisons sake - based on time played this PL season Rosicky has scored a goal every 322 mins of playing time, Walcott every 343 mins, Arshavin every 241, Rosicky has an assist every 242 mins, Walcott every 967 mins, Arshavin 2165 mins, Rosicky a creates a goal attempt every 51 mins, Walcott 69 mins, Arshavin 60 mins. So Rosicky has had a hand in a PL goal this season (scoring or assisting) in 138 mins of playing time, Walcott 228 mins and Arshavin 217 mins.
ownz - what do you expect anyone to make of that? It's purely a wind up - all support does it. And that sectioning's hardly anything new. re Rosicky & Arshavin or whoever people feel doesn't get enough stick when other people get too much, it's all to do with short term memories and enough deposits in the 'emotional bank account' - if Rosciky puts in 2 or 3 more performances like he did yesterday then you can bet your mortgage he'll be copping some flak
Personally I feel Rosicky was one of the better players in the first half and Walcott had a poor game period. It was Walcott who gaves us the two goals as St. Andrews two years but this season injury has taken its toll and he looks short of confidence due to the fact that spend two games on the bench right after he had a brilliant game against Burnley. Rosicky and Walcott to score against Barca!!! COME ON!!
We strolled around like teh title was laready won, rediculous lack of application from the majority of players. It has to be said that without the rediculous refereeing decison swe would of won that game, Benitez was clearly offside and it shouldn't of stood, Diabny's gola was a great goal and nothign wrong with it, what can you do? That is 4 awful decisions against us in each of our last 4 legaue games, fortunately we have coped with them, but it had to catch up eventually. I just wish we'd sahown enough hussle and hunger to put this game to bed. Arshavin is playing terribly and needs to be dropped, maybe that will give him soemthing to talk to the medi aabout?
I've never been physically sick after a game, but I came pretty close after the game on Saturday. This is the first time I've been able to find the courage to log on to the site. It hurts like hell. But you know what? Wednesday beckons, theres a flight to be caught to London, theres Barca to be played and yet another emotional roller coaster to ride. I must be a glutton for punishment, but I"ll live and die a gooner!
I'm a Chelsea fan. Unlike the last 2 years when your team gave me enough reasons to be confident that their inexperience would ensure you stayed titleless, this year i have been really impressed with them. I think your young guns are nearly there, just get a better goalie & you may be on to better success. This year though, since you have lost both games to ManU & ourselves, if you still come from behind to nick it, i will feel
... that it was not entirely deserved.
"And that sectioning's hardly anything new". I have been to all the premiership grounds with exception to hull, burnley and Spurs and its the first time in england that i have been sectioned off coming out of the ground.(first time at Birmingham) My point was more how pointless it was considering you join up with everyone else a mere few metres further down the road.
One day we'll get a keeper that we can rely on. Until then expect the sort of keystone cops episode we saw on Saturday to happen over and over again. I don't think its an exageration to say that Alumunia has cost us the title.
Wyn Mills
"I don't think its an exageration to say that Alumunia has cost us the title." It is.
No...its not. 2 points dropped yesterday when a decent keeper would have pushed that over. And its not the first time either.
Wyn Mills
What was it Clough used to say about Shilton winning him 15 points a season? That's how valuable a world class keeper can be, and in the context of the closeness of the title race this season mistakes like saturday's will cost us big time. I understand Almunia's ranking, in terms of saves to shots ratio, puts him as 19th in the Premier League. Enough said really.
Wyn Mills
I dont think its the only reason we have not won the title. Other mistakes, injuries etc count too. But overall i would imagine he has cost us 6 points which would probably have been enough to be champions
According to official PL Actim Stats Almunia is rated 5th currently.
we wont* win the title
Thats overall actim index Amos (whatever that means). I cant find saves to shots ratio
Sorry Ownz bit ott there on my part. Some of the **** being spouted on the way back from Brum was an embarrassment, "Almunia's the worst in the PL" "I'm better than Almunia" etc etc etc. Blaming him for costing us the league is so childish it's unreal, do one.
Its absolutely right players get flak when they underperform. They're being paid enough FFS. Shewore, we're going to have to just agree to disgaree, but calling fans childish for having the temerity to question the quality of a player's performance is typical of the sort Arsenal Thought Police ********* that pervades many forums. It's a forum, which means people have the opportunity to debate, rather than insult or put down.
Wyn Mills
I slag down Almunia just as much as a hell of a lot people, i think he's not up to Arsenal standard (one that Wenger's set) but him purely costing us the league? Nah.
Will you still be saying that when we finish 5 points adrift at the end of the season?
Wyn Mills
I think in the heat of the moment you can expect that reaction shewore. Once you have had a chance to calm down and think about the situation your views become a bit less clouded. I dont think he is the worst keeper in the league, but i dont think he is good enough for a top 3 team. I think he has too many faults in him to be a top top keeper. This year especially he is culpable for at least 6 goals which are his own mistakes. His kicking, distribution & commanding of the area is not great either. Is he a keeper which wins you matches or earns you 6-8 points in a season? Probably not. Not a scapegoat either, but its an area i would see as pirority for strengthening next season.
Opta stats does not put Alumunia in the top bracket. Listen, I like Almunia, but he's not a No 1. If we really want to prevail against teams like Chelsea and Utd we won't do it with a 2nd string keeper. At the end of the day there really is no substitute for quality at the back. Most successful managers realise that.
Wyn Mills
It's pretty impossible any any cirmcumstance to blame any player for not winning a league especially. Might be a little easier, if still unfair, to identify individual culpability in knockout competitions but there are too many other factors over a league season. Did Arshavins air shot in the B'ham game cost us 2 points for example? It's far too simplistic.
There are too many key incidents over a 38 game season to say 1 player lost us the title. I could highlight, Diabys Own Goal vs the mancs, Mannones Calamity against West Ham, the 1-1-8 formation we played against Everton when the game was 1-1. Personally I think if you give up 12 points to the 2 other title chasing teams you leave yourselves wide open to exactly what happend to us on Saturday.
"Almunia's save/shot ratio this season is 62.5% - only 2 regular PL keepers have a lower ratio". Fulop and Kirkland. I found this stat, but how accurate it is i dont know as i dont know where to find up to date Opta stats
The Opta save/shot ratios don't really tell you much - not really proof of anything. The keepers that make the most saves are those playing behind the worst defences. You get a similar picture with tackles - the best tackling stats are often with players whose team just can't keep possession so they spend the game trying to get it back. There are very few meaningful stats on keepers because it is about far more than shot stopping. I don't particularly like the Actim stats but it is at least an attempt to factor in things like crosses claimed, ball recovery et c.
I'm obviously sick about the result but I don't think you can blame it all on Almunia. After all, he saved a crucial penalty last week and probably won us 2 points. I do find Arshavin's general nonchalant attitude on the pitch a bit grating though - sometimes he'll misplace a simple pass just because he's trying to be too cool about it. God if we had a Pires in this side even without a striker!
Amos, if you had to give direct answers to the following questions how would you answer? Do you feel confident with Almunia in goal?, Is he with in the top 6 goalkeepers in the league(your oppinion, not stats)? Do you think we need a better keeper?
Do I feel confident with Almunia in goal? I'd feel more confident with Reina in goal and maybe two or three others but they aren't available and will probably never be available to us - so yes I have morel confidence in him than the other choices available to us at the moment. Is he with the top 6 keepers in the PL? I've no doubt that he is. Do we need a better keeper? Yes of course we do - and better strikers, better midfielders, better defenders and a better manager. Those are the easy decisions.
Amos, it isn't the same thing. There are a host of variables associated with Arshavin's attempt on goal...indeed any attempt on goal. A striker can miss or even put a ball in his own net, but this can have as much to do with a bobbly pitch as a lack of technical ability. The goals conceded by Almunia point to technical failings that are much harder to explain away. Yes, it's simplistic, but its often the simple things that we ignore.
Wyn Mills
Of course I'm not blaming it all on Almunia, but what I am saying is that for all our other shortcomings a better keeper would probably have made the difference. And its not just about shots stopped, but also the confidence instilled in those around him.
Wyn Mills
So a keeper failing to deal with a poor bounce or a fluke deflection is due to a technical failing but a striker not? As I said - too simplistic.
Iím fairly pragmatic about winning something this year because I can see the potential that previous seasons have promised starting to bear fruit. Replace the goalkeeper and hope for fewer ridiculous injuries and I can see us being successful for years to come. This season isnít over yet though. By the way, what a great goal by Philips, it has to go down as one of his best and heíll be a proud man showing his grandkids the artistry of the headed goal.
Sir Henry
Quite frankly some of the goals conceded by Almunia have been due to suspect positioning and poor anticipation. Players who are moving at speed on the pitch usually have less time to get that right. So yes, technical issue for me.
Wyn Mills
This may sound a tad simplistic to some but the way I see it we should have a better keeper than we currently have, and I have no qualms about just saying it. I watch every match so I guess my opinion is as valid as any. I don't feel less of a fan for saying this either. Our lot pay the highest ticket prices in the country. We have the 2nd highest league attendances in the Premiership. Apparently we're also one of the richest clubs in the world. So why, for the love of jesus, are we content to make do with a 2nd division keeper? Why exactly are the top keepers not available to us? Would it make winning the title too easy maybe?
Wyn Mills
its about the teams perfomance, or the lack of mental ability to close the game down with 2 minutes on the clock,they should be more cynical....keep the ball,dont try and do anything fancy like commit too much in order to score a second, they should waste time, feign injury,anything to run down the clock, frustrate the opponents into fouling,and go down and stay down....basically what any other team would do in the same situation....
fran merida
No one need be content with any player or feel less of a fan for expressing that view. By the same token no one need be overly concerned if someone expresses a dissenting view. That's what forums are about. What I would see is that wanting a better keeper (or any other position) and actually being able to get one generally acknowledged as a top keeper just isn't as simple as we would like it to be.
I dont know if i agree with the top keepers being out of our reach. I am sure if we went to Lyon with 15m & Silvestre they would give us Lloris & Silvestre back
I am sure if we went to Lyon with 15m & Silvestre they would give us Lloris & Silvestre back paul_ownz.................LOL!!! Lloris has looked a class act in his short career at Lyon so far. I'd take him in a heartbeat.
Silvestre is out of contract in a couple of months - there is no value there. A record £15m+ for a keeper eh? Someone will break the record someday I guess - not usually us though is it.
Record in this country Amos. Buffon cost a cool 23m.
Has Walcott even played 967 minutes this season? Surely he hasn't played double that yet to constitute "every 967 minutes"? I have to say, I think those stats look very doubtful.
Little Dutch
My mistake it's every 686 minutes an assist for Walcott based on one assist as credited on Telegraph stats. All the other stats based on the same figures have been checked and verified though to be fair the official PL Actim stats credit Arshavin with 1 more assist which would change his figures to an assist every 1083 mins of playing time and overall (scoring and assist) every 197 minutes. All other stats check out so overall comparison of effectiveness is still valid though.
It is easy to blame the keeper when the team loses,but I maintain soccer is a team sport in which each player takes responsibililty for results; well at least, 80% of the times. On a bad day, even the very best keepers make errors; Buffon recently had a basketful of goals against Bayern; Van Der Sar has had his fair share of howlers (remember one where he collided with Ferdinand?); even Petr Czec looked so bad at the start of the season. So, why would Almunia's errors, in the face of an all-round poor team performance, be the reason we lost the title? In my opinion, he is not such a bad keeper but appears to lack confidence in tense situations (isn't it the same with all of the team?). This is something a winning run by the team can correct. If we get a better keeper in the summer, I will not object, but Almunia will have my support till such a time the manager feels we need a new man. It is the same for when we get a better DM, CB or striker.
paul_ownz: "I am sure if we went to Lyon with 15m & Silvestre they would give us Lloris & Silvestre back" -- then you don't know Lyon! They'd laugh in our face for offering such a paltry sum, Lyon are not desperate for money in the least, they know they have France's best keeper, as well as one of Europe's best. They are hanging onto him like grim death. You really think they're so desperate, they'd be so incredibly honored to get such a paltry offer from Arsenal for France's best keeper?
Naija, you mention Buffon -- it's interesting that this season all of Europe's top 3 keepers (Buffon, Casillas and Julio Cesar) are having poor seasons at the same time. While Valdez (who was Barca's most dodgy player last season while they were winning all those trophies and who can't get near the national team) is having a superb season. I agree totally with you--this was a TEAM failure. The inability to score clinically (esp. easy chances) is just blameworthy. Amos' point is on-target: it is not easy at all to get a world class keeper. There are very few available, teams keep hold of them tightly when they know they have a good one, the few good ones available are far too expensive. That said, there are keepers better than Almunia that AW could've gone after. Friedel isn't "world class" but I do think he's better than Almunia. AW has been in search of one, if press reports have been true. So has Ferguson as VDS ages and he clearly has no confidence in Foster and Toschak. He keeps trying for Akinfeev with no luck so far. Top class keepers are very, very hard to get.
What continues to amaze me is how a world class manager like Arsene Wenger could ever believe that Almunia is good enuf to be Arsenal's #1. I don't blame Almunia - he's a good keeper, no more no less, just not good enuf. The question isn't "do any gooners feel confident with him in goal"--it's do OUR PLAYERS feel confident with him in goal? What is striking is how little communication and understanding there is between Almunia and his defensive teammates. As to Saturday's game...frankly, how many of you were surprised? I had very little hope of winning this game, I strongly believed it would be a draw. Bham gave Chelsea and Utd difficult games, I really didn't think we could do better than they. I hoped we could, esp. after Stoke, but I can honestly say that I was less disappointed than many gooners were because it's what I expected. Esp. once I saw which referee would officiate, I never expect a good performance from him for any of our games. That said, I too was gutted because the result forced me to wake up and realize that dreaming of a perfect win record until the end of the season with injuries mounting, tough CL games coming up, a tough game like Bham away AND both Utd and Chelsea faltering was just too much to ask.
Theo will have to blame Bendtner for ruining his Assists stats; re the game against... Burnley (I guess). That day, Bendtner failed to put away so many passes, put on a plate for him by Theo. Now, who takes notice of such stats? Lol!
" it's do our players feel confident with him in goal?" Jaelle, I have got to say there were times I thought, but for the implications for team spirit, Gallas would have whacked Almunia over the head for being indecisive coming out to claim the ball. He ends up glaring at him and turns away sulking. Yet, one must ask how much confidence the defenders inspire in the keeper.
"one must ask how much confidence the defenders inspire in the keeper" -- fair question, naija, I suppose both sides of the equation are at fault for not developing a bond of communication and understanding.
As a Mad Men fan I think it apposite to blame the pitch.
Almunia for England
Tony Rocky Horror
There are stats for 'attempts created' which haven't been converted as given in the earlier post
How much do you think they would want for Lloris then? 25m? I would pay that
25m for a keeper?
Wyn Mills
I was joking.
paul, Lyon won't sell Lloris for anything.
For me, Almunia needs replacing and Iíve said this many times. Being a good goalkeeper isnít just about shot stopping because a huge amount is about presence, letting the defence know that heís there. I remember Gomez being ridiculed last year for clattering into his defenders when coming for crosses. Once the Tottís defenders had realised that certain balls meant that the keeper was on his way, they left him to it. Almunia does not have any presence and this leads to uncertainty in the defence and it is this uncertainty that gives the opposition the belief that they can score.
Sir Henry
paul, I will amend that last comment: I think Lyon would consider selling Lloris if they're knocked out of the CL by Bordeaux and they don't improve their standing in the Ligue 1 table. They're not desperate for cash but if both those things happen, they'll take a moderate financial hit in their preparations for next season. Still, I can't see them selling Lloris for 15m, they'll drive a hard bargain.
Lyon are well renowned for being hard taskmasters in the transfer market. Remember how hard they pushed Chelsea for Essien? And this was when Chelsea were at the height of their money throwing stage. My beef with Almunia is not really the goal he conceded, I can see how a defender booting the ball clear and it hitting a striker's face can fox a keeper. But it's the uncertainty in coming from his line, I've lost count of the amount of times a defender leaves the ball and he doesn't come out- this is where Fabianski is a lot more positive and I still believe in him in the long run.
Little Dutch
Good news that Gallas will be in the 20 man squad tommorow night. It would give me a lot of confidence having him & Vermaelen at Camp Nou next week. Also delighted that i have a good seat for the game, Row 33 on the top tier sounds near tot he pitch.. Doesent it?
Good news that Gallas will be in the 20 man squad tommorow night. It would give me a lot of confidence having him & Vermaelen at Camp Nou next week. Also delighted that i have a good seat for the game, Row 33 on the top tier sounds near to the pitch.. Doesent it?
Enjoy the game Paul. Gallas getting back in the squad is a big positive. Huge actually. It also may be an indicator that some progress may have been made on his contract. Otherwise, AW usually doesn't let an unsettled player get anywhere near his squad. I agree with those calling for a new keeper in the summer. Almunia is a good number two for us but we could do with someone more decisive and commanding as our no 1. Hell of a job ahead for the gaffer to bring a quality no 1 in though.
Whew! Great news about Gallas!! Still worried about Cesc. And a big yeah! to LD for expressing belief in the much-maligned Fabianski. I still think he'll become a much better keeper than Almunia at his best.
Fabianski has all the attributes (Command of his area, shot stopping, collecting crosses etc.) needed to become a top keeper except match experience. Kind of a chicken & egg situation about him needing experience to become a great keeper. Cant afford to make him start as our number 1 next season. A new experienced keeper who Fabianski can learn from will be most welcome.
Having not seen a replay of the goal until today, I now feel that it was a really poor piece of goalkeeping by Almunia and he is to blame because I really saw us seeing the game out if it wasn't for that.
Fantastic to see the much-underrated Olic sucker-punch the mancs at the Allianz today! Great game from Bayern's side--Utd just played a cowardly game of protecting their 1-0 lead. And tho it makes me into a miserable horrible evil person, I couldn't help but cheer when Rooney was injured. And the French derby was a fantastic game!
Fabianski. I still think he'll become a much better keeper than Almunia at his best. jaelle - That maybe true, but since I have been watching Arsenal he has made more mistakes, cockups and anything else error related in only a handful of appearances than I can remember Lukic, Seaman and Lehmen making throughout their entire Arsenal careers. Every time Fabianski plays he makes a complete hash of something or other and it usually costs us dearly. How long do you wait for potential?
And the French derby was a fantastic game! jaelle - Ruined by an incompetent referee, what was he doing ALL game?
Jaelle, Lloris is that good! I watched him in yesterday's game more closely and think he is excellent. He made one great reflex save off Chamakh's inventive slice, which will beat Almunia everytime (and we won't have put the blame on him). 15m for a keeper will not be Arsene's way, though. Hope we can find a Keeper we will all appreciate, in the summer. As for the Man U game, couldn't control my elation when the 2nd goal went in (does that make me mean?)...and Oh! to know Rooney is human after all. While I'll want to see him for England at the WC, i had started to worry that he must live a charmed life, being the fittest, of all the top 4 teams' class strikers. Let's hope it is for 3 weeks and see if that doesn't help our cause.
1-0 lead. And tho it makes me into a miserable horrible evil person, I couldn't help but cheer when Rooney was injured. Add me to that!
Tonight's game deserves a preview does it not!? Where do we post all our rantings and ravings tonight?
Gallas and Cesc start! Barring RvP, we are playing our strongest team. Up the Arsenal!
....and back to square 1.......

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