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Tommy Guns Down City

Apologies, this one's gonna have to be a bit brief, work commitments and all. But I think fourth place is certainly sewn up now and we can set our sights on usurping a preoccupied Liverpool into third. It is important to finish the season strongly with the next campaign in mind. I want these players itching to come back to pre season training and firing on all cylinders by the time we journey to some European city or other in early August for our Champions' League qualifier.

I was always confident of a result last night, I am sure Wenger will have instructed his troops to win this game and get Champions' League qualification in the bag. The Gunners' flew out of the traps as well, playing more of the champagne football which we have betrayed somewhat in recent weeks. I think the temptation to hoof it to Adebayor has been all too difficult to resist and therein lies the key to our recent goal drought. With Hleb and Fabregas suffering a simultaneous dip in form in March, the creative cogs of the team haven't been firing. Arsenal played to their strengths infinitely in the opening period, playing the ball along the floor at speed. Hleb, Rosicky and Fabregas interchanged positions with great elasticity and Adebayor dropped off to link up play. City were chasing shadows and Arsenal took the lead half way through the first half. It was to be a carbon copy of the equaliser on Saturday, with a cross coming in from the right (I forget who put it in) and Tomas Rosicky once again attacked the ball from the back post, nicking in front of Nedum Onuoha and slotting between Isaksson's legs. Mr. Wenger has obviously had a dickie bird with Tommy Gun about attacking the ball in the box and it has paid a rich dividend in the last week. Many pontificate on Arsenal's lack of width, but this is simply not true, Arsenal hit a lot of crosses into the box in an average game, we just seldom have anyone attacking them. Let's hope Rosicky can keep this tendency going to supplement his long range shooting.

Rosicky was clearly the best player on the field last night, exuding energy and charisma. Hleb, Rosicky and Fabregas were in their element, pulling City apart at will. But theirein lay the problem, the game almost became too easy and the concentration dropped. A warning shot was fired when Beasley's goalbound effort was brilliantly blocked by the kinetic Clichy. The Gunners' didn't take the hint, a poor clearance under no pressure fell straight to Barton, who quickly fed Vassell and Eboue's poor awareness allowed Beasley in to score. Eboue and Jens had poor nights, the latter looking shaky and indecisive, while Eboue's concentration appeared to be sadly lacking. From here on, the Arsenal crowd really frustrated me. It seemed they just could not wait to jump on the players' backs, I swear I detected some kind of perverse pleasure in people barracking Arsenal's every move. Hleb, appointed scapegoat in chief by people who, frankly, just do not understand the game of football, was the target of most frustration. Never mind that this guy was at the heart of every balletic move in the first half, never mind his constant tackling back (did you know he has the highest tackle success rate at our club at 80%? Check the stats, he makes a lot of tackles too), the result was the team panicked under the weight of ignorant groaning. The fast football which was pulling City apart was not allowed to transpire as moron upon moron screamed, 'shooooot' or whailed impatience every time the ball reached the half way line. The upshot was that we resorted to pumping it long, which of course did not work. Fabregas was bypassed and his stranglehold on the game loosened. Hleb was visibly shaken by the crowd's moronic barracking and lost his confidence. This was chrystalized as he cut in from the right, with the goal at a tight angle and the pull back a safe option, in an attempt to appease increasingly childish 'supporters' he lashed it well wide with his left.

At one point, Arsenal ignored the 'pundits' and almost got their breakthrough. Adebayor brilliantly dummied Gilberto's pass, Rosicky read it like a copy of the matchday programme and ran onto the ball, pulling back for Adebayor, only for Distin to block his goalbound effort and deny football a piece of aesthetic mastery. Minutes later, the sheep went 'baaaaaaaaah', as a dipping Fabregas volley from twenty yards beat Isaksson, giving Arsenal a 2-1 lead with seventeen minutes remaining. I think a peak at the predictions on the forum will confirm just how predictably unpredictable football can be. Most people, your writer included, predicted a Fabregas goal, having gone 11 months without one it was inevitable he would get two in a row. Two weeks ago that shot would have cannonned off the post.

Arsenal readopted their fast flowing football again, with confidence imbued into their limbs and an appeased crowd. Hleb relaxed and, guess what? Without a stadium full of idiots shouting down his every move, he dribbled in beautifully from the right, swaying past Ball and Distin before demonstrating his low centre of gravity to nudge the ball past Dunne, into the path of Baptitsa who rolled home a tap in. A Samaras shot which was so wildly mishit, it ended up going out for a throw in about two yards behind where he had hit it from was the only event of note as the Gunners' played their slick passing game to the sound of 'oles' rather than frustrated cries. A word for William Gallas in closing, who is looking more and more the general of our defence, using his brilliant body positioning and superior positional sense to keep the dangerous DaMarcus Beasley at bay. A summer together, devoid of injury, together with one or two quality additions convinces me that this team can go on to challenge for major honours next season. The fact that 3rd/4th place and a Cup Final with the kids is considered an unmitigated disaster is probably the highest praise you could afford this manager. A word of congratulations for Cesc too, for his PFA nominations in both categories, he is a special talent. But I cannot help but feel sorry for Gilberto, who has been our player of the season this year in my humble opinion. Hopefully, I can sufficiently dodge the bricks and fists and report on a morale boosting victory over our delightful neighbours on Saturday. Peace out homies.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday April 18 2007

Time: 12:47PM

Your Comments

nice work LD.
Wenger_Knows
Good report LD. The booing was ridiculous last night. We've had a poor season but Hleb and Baptista are being made scapegoats. Whatever peoples opinion on the Beast (personally I like him and think he'll be an asset if kept) Hleb is getting stick thats unwarrented. He made a big mistake in the PSV match but other then that he is one of our more consistant performers (stats back this up) and his footballs a joy to watch at times. If fans are upset, it should be directed at Arsene, and not the players. He buys, picks and trains the team so the buck stops there.
d11gunner
Another good game at the grove, we played some fantastic football at times, we seem to be understanding one another within the team now. I wonder how Adebayor will fair next season when he only plays a bit part?
gunnerb
I wish there was some way of letting Hleb know that not all Arsenal fans are on his back, and some of us live up to our description as 'supporters'.
Gooner_Vin
fantastic article mate which convinced me to sign up to the site. i sit in the east lower and some of the stuff being directed at our players was completely disgraceful. what i also notcied was that these moronic "fans" were the same fans who left immediately after the beats had scored with 6 minutes remaining. perhaps they were upset that hleb and the beast (who had received the most stick) had stuffed their boos down their throats by combining to score the 3rd? what i will say though is there must be a way of shutting these muppets up? surely they're not that thick enough to not realsie that the players actually play better when the crowd are behind them and urging them on?
Labwam
Welcome, labwam. I completely agree with you, I mean how does it help if a player is boo-ed? Gooner_Vin, if you figure out a way, pls let me know coz I like Hleb as well. I think he has been very good for us, and his confidence right now is not right up there coz of the PSV botch up. But I hope he comes back strong from this.
prits
Cheers labwam, welcome to the site. Sadly, our home support was the reason I started going to away games, the contrast is astounding. I just tend to shout these people down now, either by taking the ***** out of them or, as I did yesterday to the serial Hleb baiter behind me, when the third goal went in I told him to sit down and shut up. There's a guy behind me who just whails, "shoooooooot" like a teenage girl having her first ever period, my mates and I took to absolutely ripping the ***** out of him and now he doesn't do it. Call it bullying if you will, but I just feel that strongly about it, surely the point in going is to support your team? I think most people just look at football as a way of letting off steam. It is to an extent, the referee will usually hear about it if I've had a bad week, but I prefer to channel that energy into encouraging the team, not barracking them.
Little Dutch
Excellent write-up LD (as always). I agree with most things there, Gallas' positioning was top-class and he was solid in defence. Lehmann had a bit of an off-day, but I wouldnt be so harsh on Eboue. He certainly did not have a glorious day and there were mistakes, but it wasnt abysmal and his attitude was much better than earlier this season. I thought Baps was invisible for parts of the match.
prits
Every time Baptista comes on some dude behind me breaks into a chorus of "weve only got 10 men" For some reason he then cheered when The Beast Notched? Bloody hypocrite.
iceman10
The weird thing is that I think the crowd went totally silent after we got our goal.. and I wasn't there, but I felt that it must've contributed to some extent to us losing the impetus to go on and get the 2nd goal.. because after that 1st goal, we played superbly for 20 mins and then lost it altogether towards the end of the half. I feel that the fans do have the right to express their opinions, but after the match - not jeer the players during it.
arsenalrulz4ever
LD- funnily enough someone near me did something similar yesterday. it's fair to say he'd had a few drinks but he was hysterical. basically he was on the end of the row, so whenever people left early and walked past him, he got up and literally booed right in thier faces! the early leavera faces were a picture let me tell you! RE eboue-something's up with him it looks like. he's got rid of the nasty, diving antics he had earlier in the season but he doesn't seem to have any confidence to beat his man any more. every time he got the ball by their box, instead of driving past their full back he was simply laying it back to hleb. once his confidence comes back though hopefully he'll be back to his electrifying best, swining the crosses over for our new "fox in the box" rosicky to run onto!
Labwam
Places like this is where we get to express our opinions, Ashburton Grove is where we go to SUPPORT our team. I respect everybodys right to behave in a way they see fit after spending so much money to see a game of football but personally I will never boo and will support my team in a constructive manner.
iceman10
spot on arsenal rulz 4 ever. i'm the first to feel dissapointed after a bad result but i'd never boo or moan at the game. i know it's different but i always think about it like a parent chil relationship: if your kid peforms something badly on the school pitch, you don't as a parent slag him off as you know he'll play worse, instead you encourage and show support to him in order for him to get up and try again. same goes for arsenal in my eyes
Labwam
Prits - I guess the only way is for someone to make and display a banner/flag at the Emirates along the lines of "HLEB, YOU HAVE THE SUPPORT OF All AT ARSENAL VITALFOOTBALL" :-)
Gooner_Vin
Baptista is a very strange one. I really don't think he's done enough this season to be bought by us, but I really do feel sorry for him for some reason and I don't really know why. I do think that he's got massive potential, but it just seems that nearly everything he does just goes wrong.
scooch
Anyone who doesnt rate Hleb just doesnt know football, i said the same thing when people used to call Gilberto the weak link in our unbeaten season, muppet kunts. Hleb may have had a bad month but when he is on song he is beautiful to watch, probably the best close control i have seen on a footballer since Maradona, and his holding up the ball which frustrates people is clearly to allow Eboue time to get down the wing, who he also tracks back for tirelessly which is why he rarely lasts 90 minutes. Booing your own team is *****in' disgraceful these kunts should go watch Chelsea, madrid, juve or Inter.
Ozi Gooner
LD agree about Gilber's being player of the year for us to, but he'll never be recognised formaly cos he doesnt do the pretty stuff.
Ozi Gooner
Agreed on all your stuff there OG, Gilberto doesn't have a huge boot deal either. Hleb is a top, top player. I really hope people see that some day. I fear it'll be when he rips us apart playing for another club.
Little Dutch
Good report. "A summer together, devoid of injury, together with one or two quality additions " so you admit this team does need more, only when people suggest names you think we are undermining wenger. point is, if arsenal dont get those one or two names and carry on with the status quo, will you feel disappointed that we can only really hope to finish 3rd (maybe 2nd) once again?
gazzap
blimey LD, if that was brief , i would have to see your long johns ! (s*******s )... the early and late fans dissapoint me, another long story. i was talking with my brother last night about hleb and baptista. he said baptista isn't a bad player and how long it takes a players to adjust to our game and the english game overall, also the fact the older the player the longer it takes where the kids are quicker to adjust. he was saying how baptista is more your terrier style players and we like the slick passing movement he isn't used to. hleb obviously has a confidence thing going on, his form is very eractic, which does baffle me somewhat, brilliant one minute, does too much the next and if it doesn't come off his head goes down. personally he needs to know he is in the team no matter what, apart from injuries. that would help his confidence as he looks like a player that tries, maybe he is asked to do stuff he is not comfortable with ? like playing different position or playing a certain way. some players just don't do goals, he is deffo one of them, so to ask a player to shoot on goal when he would rather give it to the player who can score is strange to him. he prob gets more joy knowing he created the goal than score it.
PUREGOLD
whts up with the emirates crowd man its really dissapoiting me.
hazzagooner
gazzap, I think we need a player or two yes, Chelsea, United and Liverpool will all add. We should be looking at players every summer, what I have been saying is that suggesting names is pretty futile with a manager like Wenger. Who was screaming for the signature of Toure in 2002? Or for him to sign Henry in 99? If we don't add, we won't win the league, that is true. But United don't have much shelf life as a team and our players will get better given their age. But bottom line is, we should always look at cutting the driftwood loose and buying better players to replace them, that's natural. We won the double with Boa Morte as our second choice left winger, the game progresses and we couldn't do that now. I think Hleb's confidence took a big blow after PSV PG, the fans barracking him clearly doesn't help. I wish I could cut loose some of the driftwood from emirates and get some of the overseas contingent from this site through the turnstiles, alas, I don't have the same axe wielding power as AW.
Little Dutch
Hleb isn't a left is he?. Because he plays on the right, the ball is always on his left side and judging by shots he would have much better accuracy and power with his right and he can't switch to his right with out the defenders noticing. His link up play with eboue simply amazing, always creating space for eboue for those sharp crosses.
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