Newcastle United 1 – Arsenal 3 – Barcodes Wiped

5.30 kick-offs are a pain in the backside. If you haven’t got the will to go to the pub to watch it, and you don’t want to shell out money to the horrible Murdoch empire or the comically inept Setanta gang, you end up watching the first half of the match on a hooky stream from Azerbaijan before having to try and listen to snippets of the game on Radio 5 whilst trying to put a 3-year old to bed.

Worse still, the bit you watch is the bit without the goals. C’est la vie, as Pascal Cygan would say, before falling over in slow motion. Still, the first half was pretty entertaining. You could say it had everything except goals. Dodgy refereeing decisions, missed sitters by both sides, and a hilarious penalty decision topped by an even more hilarious penalty kick. “Ah, Mr Almunia, I shall pass the ball to you gently, for I am secretly an Arsenal fan and do not wish to score against my favourite team!”

Thank You Very Much, Mr Martins

Thank You Very Much, Mr Martins

The dodgiest decision of the first half came when Stephen Taylor (more of whom later) blatantly elbowed Arshavin in the face. How he wasn’t even booked, let alone sent off, is beyond me. Arshavin looked someone bemused by the lack of protection given to him by the ref (or rather the ref’s inability to enforce the rules of the game). Van Pershie missed an excellent chance, although he looked offside in the buildup. Newcastle had a number of chances too, which thankfully they also missed, in customary fashion.

All the goals came in a ten minute period in the second half, by which point my son was merrily playing in the bath. First, Bendtner got his head to a free kick from Arshavin, after Clichy had been grabbed around the neck by Ryan Taylor (who should also have been booked, but mysteriously wasn’t). 0-1. Within a minute, Gallas had failed to clear, kicking the ball straight at Martins, who made up for his earlier mistake by whacking it into our net, rather beautifully I must say. 1-1. Then Stephen Taylor went off injured, and whilst he was being treated, his teammates decided they didn’t need to bother filling in that nice big hole in the defence, at which point Diaby decided just to run through it, then thump it past Harper to make it 1-2.

Thankfully for us, the Newcastle players still couldn’t be bothered to do anything about the nice big hole in their defence, Taylor being substituted for Little Mickey Owen, so Nasri ran through it too, and thumped the ball past Harper to make it 1-3. Lovely. As Taylor had already made two critical blocks, and had done enough to get himself sent off by any vaguely competant referee, you’ve got to say they got what they deserved.

We had some more chances to make it even safer, but Diaby hit the post and Harper saved from an excellent Van Pershie. The second half performance was better than the first, and Taylor going off really helped us. Diaby in particular looked lost in the first half, and Newcastle sometimes ran through our midfield at will for periods of the game. But they were unable to take the chances they were given, and we were, and by the time we got the third, they were a beaten team.

Arshavin has continued his mission to be a hugely popular Arsenal player. He’s strong and tough for a guy his size (munchkin), and playing in the Russian league has toughened him up enough to not worry about the nasty challenges and elbows of the Premiership’s Neanderthal element. Sorry, that’s being harsh on Neanderthals. A great signing, though frankly I would also have liked a central midfielder to remove the reliance on DiaSongNilson. Anyway, beggars can’t be choosers.

You can see highlights of the game on the marvellous Arsenalist. None of the usual suspects have done reviews yet. Honestly, I’m not even a proper football blog and I’m staying up late.

This loss puts Newcastle deep in relegation mire. I’m feeling somewhat conflicted about this, because I lived there for four years and loved the place. Great people, loads of bars, and I still remember how the mood in the city lifted when Keegan returned, whilst they were at the bottom of the old First Division. I’m rather fond of the place, and whilst the club are run by a pack of jokers, and some of the fans are somewhat, well, uncouth, I’d rather they didn’t go down.

But then, they’ve got people like this:

And this:

Kevin Nolan Tackle

(sorry, the Embed function doesn’t work for those)

And I think I’d rather not have to see some of those players again. Then again, if it was between them and Hull, I’d rather see Dirty Brown’s Tiggers go down, frankly.

Villa play Liverpool tomorrow at Anfield, so against my better judgement I’d quite like to see the Scousers win that one, and in every Arsenal fans wish list is for Wigan to beat Hull 26-0 tomorrow, whilst Phil “Are you questioning my integrity” Brown strips off naked, rolls around in the mud frothing at the mouth, before the men in white coats come to take him away to a nice, comfy, padded cell. Bit of a shame, really – going from being applauded off the pitch by Arsenal fans in September to public enemy number 1, just because you’re a sad little man who can’t take being beaten, so you have to make up loads of rubbish about one of the league’s most popular, and talented, young foreign players. Sad.

Edit: I realised I’d got my Taylors mixed up. Fixed.

Arsenal 2 – Hull City 1 – Move On, Nothing To See Here

Golly, isn’t Phil Brown a bad loser? His team take a lucky lead against us in this FA Cup Quarter Final, then instead of pressing on and maybe scoring another, they shut up shop, timewaste, and generally don’t bother to really play football.

Result? About five bookings for timewasting and arguing with Mike Riley (who was awful), then conceding a goal after some bloody-minded determination from Bendtner, and then conceded another from Gallas who was standing a good two yards offside after the ball came off a combination of Djourou’s head and the Hull keeper’s fist, he decided to stomp his tiny little feet and bleat that Fabregas came on the pitch after the match and spat at his assistant manager, Brian Horton:

For their club captain – Cesc Fabregas – to spit at my assistant-manager at the end of the game just shows you what this club is about.

To which I’d happily state:

To not bother playing football for 75 minutes, timewasting, being rubbish, and then making up a load of old bollocks about an event that didn’t happen and changing your story twice in an hour, then saying that Wenger got your keeper booked for timewasting after he spent approximately 36 years taking a free kick 20 yards away from where he should have been even after the referee warned him three times, is what your club is about. And oh yes, you look a total dick with that headset, and have I said you’re out of the FA Cup, you dreadful little man?

Cesc, a man with more class and style in his little finger than Phil Brown has ever experienced in his entire life, refuted the allegations, in a rather classy and stylish way:

“I categorically deny that I spat at anybody after the match. I have never done this in my whole career on the pitch, so why would I do it when I am not even playing? … I don’t why they are saying these things about me because it did not happen. That is the truth. I don’t even know who the assistant manager of Hull is or what he looks like.”

He also, sportingly, said:

I can understand the frustration of losing a game to a dubious goal, that has happened to me many times in my career as well. But this is not the fault of me or any of the Arsenal players.

How many times to footballers actually admit that they won a game thanks to a dodgy goal? Hardly ever, that’s how many. What a gent. I bumped into a friend from the press last night on the way home, and the feeling amongst the press is that it’s a story which will sell papers, but they felt it was highly unlikely Fabregas would do something like that. And he’s a Spurs fan. Ok, if it’d been Eboue, we’d have said “Yeah, sorry about that, he’s a bit special”. But it’s Cesc. He’s a god in human form. Worship him, o ye sinners.

Sorry, where was I?

Ah yes, Phil Brown. I thought we’d had our fill of bitter, twisted ex-Boltonites after the visit of the odious Sam Allardyce on Saturday, with his hideous team of diving, hacking thugs, but this takes the biscuit. These people are anti-football. They cheat, dive, hack, and when they still lose they resort to lies and distortions, blaming everyone else but themselves for their defeat. When they appeared on Goals On Sunday last week, there wasn’t even a mention of this:

Pederson Dive

The sooner people like Phil Brown and Sam Allardyce are eaten by a radioactive uber-hippo, the better.

I’m sure there will be more claims from the Brown camp over the next couple of days as they try to deflect from the fact that they are out of the FA Cup, and sinking ever closer to relegation. Me? I think it’s all cobblers.

Phil Brown

The sad thing about all of this is that for the first couple of months of the season, Phil Brown actually seemed like he was a decent manager. His team could play good football, they weren’t hopelessly negative unlike, say, Blackburn or Bolton, and he seemed ok. Headset aside. But since the wheels have started coming off the wagon, he’s turned into a bitter, twisted little git. Good riddance, I say.

Oh, Arsenal’s performance? Not very good. The back four were ok, but the DiabSong central midfield partnership seems to think that passing sideways is the epitome of stylish play. Walcott huffed and puffed to little effect; Arshavin looked dangerous (that volley at the end of the first half was sublime); and if Van Persie had spent as much time finding space as he did moaning at the ref, he’d have got a hat-trick. Bendtner did very well to force the goal. Whilst he has his critics (including me), he’s really starting to work hard and use his arrogant temprement to good effect on the pitch. Still, we won, that’s all that counts now. Chelski in the semi-final awaits, at Wemberley.

As you can imagine, lots of opinions today. First of all check out Arsenalist for the highlights, some great comments from East Lower and Goodplaya and a top sweary rant from Arseblogger. I was going to say “Spitting Mad” too. Gah.

Till next time.

Arsenal 4 – Blackburn 0 – More Acid, Vicar?

That just takes the biscuit, that does. I had two childrens parties to go to today, so had to miss the game, following the game on Twitter . After about four league 0-0’s in a row, I really was thinking we’d probably balls it up again. Plus, as I was getting my son ready for one of the parties, I looked out of the window, and could see a bird circling high in the sky, toward the north-east. It looked like a vulture. Maybe a Sam Allardyce looking vulture, come to pick over the bones of our challenge for fourth place.

And frankly, if we’d just left it up to Bendtner, it really would have ended 0-0. Just have a look at this:

Dear oh dear. We know that players can’t score every match, but really, this boy needs to start performing. If he was half a good a player as he said he was, he’d have got a hat-trick today.

Thankfully, we’ve now got Arshavin in the team, and Walcott is back, providing valuable pace and craft to a side that’s been dreadfully lacking in both.

The first goal came after Walcott pegged it down the wing, and the ball deflected in from a Blackburn defender from a seriously tight angle.

The second was all Arshavin. He took it down the left, cut inside, skinning the poor Blackburn defender, and he then smashed it in from a seriously tight angle. 2-0 made it safe, and you had to say it’d been coming, following Nasri hitting the crossbar and all sorts of other chances.

Arshavin's Goal

We then got two more goals in the last couple of minutes. Lovely cross, Arshavin hit the crossbar, then Eboue, yes, Eboue was on hand to get the ball in off the sole of his boot.

In injury time, Vela was foolishly taken down by Olsen, and for some reason Eboue took the penalty. And a great penalty it was too. I’ve been a pretty serious critic of Eboue, largely because he’s rubbish but I can’t criticise a guy who has just scored two.

Full highlights available here from the great Arsenalist.

So, a great win, we’re now back in fourth and have a superior goal difference to Villa. They, of course, play Spurs tomorrow.

Come on Spurs.

I feel dirty.

Anyway, Arshavin is off the mark, the team are playing well, and Man U got spanked at home by Liverpool. 1-4, eh? Who’da thought it, eh?

Come on Spurs.

It still doesn’t feel any better.

Arsenal 3 Burnley 0 – Acid In The Cola

Sometimes it’s nice for us to go back to the old days when teams would come and play us and not be all defensive, putting 10 men behind the ball, and actually come and play football. It’s even nicer when we say “Thank you very much, kind sirs!” and proceed to thump them. The icing on the cake comes when all three goals were extraordinary, in their own way. Two were as fine examples of how footballers can be truly balletic, with a flick of the boot, with poise, grace, style and athleticism. And the other was scored by Eboue.

Seriously though, go and watch Vela’s goal. He latches onto a through-ball from Arshavin, beats one defender with a lovely touch, holds off another defender, then chips it beautifully over the keeper. He sure does like doing that. 1-0.

And then go and watch Eduardo’s. Song sends over a cross to the edge of the area, and Eduardo runs onto it and kind of slices it with his left ankle, and it fair shoots past the keeper into the far corner. They showed it about five times in the stadium and we couldn’t make out exactly what he’d done, and having watched it properly on TV I can only say that it’s absolutely extraordinary technique. A couple of people have been saying it was accidental, but watch closely – there’s no way he’d be moving his leg the way he did if he didn’t mean it. I suspect it’s something he’s practiced and this is his way of saying “Yeah, you might have broken my leg horribly and kept me out of the game for a year, but look what I’ve learnt. I’m back.” I said on Twitter at the time that it was astonishing. Watching it again and it’s even more so. I’m glad to have seen that one in the flesh.

Eduardo's Goal Vs Burnley

Eduardo's Goal Vs Burnley

Boy, it’s good to have him back.

The third was extraordinary for other reasons. Song backheeled it to Eboue who took a couple of touches and smashed it past their (rotund) keeper into the net. Yes, you read that right. Eboue scored! I’ve seen it all now. I don’t think I’ll need to go to another match. It’s like seeing Gus Caesar score. Or John Jensen. Actually, that’s a bit harsh on Jensen, he wasn’t too bad a player. Well done Eboue, and hopefully that’ll add a couple of million to the transfer fee when we get rid of you in the summer *crosses his fingers*.

Anyhow, Burnley tried and could even have got a penalty at the end, not long after hitting the crossbar. But mostly we have to thank them for trying to play football. Fools!

Other reviews of the game at Arseblog, Goonerholic hails Song’s excellent performance and Goodplaya does the usual ratings. Personally I think Song had a very good game, but this was a Championship side, and Diaby was disappointing, given this was a Championship side. Everyone else looked decent; Gibbs in particular had the best game I’ve seen him have. Against a Championship side.

Not that I’m trying to set expectations here. This was a Championship side.

Oh, and one word for all the people on the lower tier who legged it inside and up to the upper tier when it started raining icy badness from the sky. Don’t blame you.

So, we meet Hull at home in just over a week and if we beat them (and I really think we need some more revenge after their 2-1 victory back in September) we’ll be meeting Chelski at Wemberley. By which time we should have Cesc back, and hopefully be able to field our strongest team for pretty much the whole season (barring any injuries and suspensions).

Right, I’m off to finish off another Pitchfork 500 post. This site is mainly about music, you know, but I do like wittering on about Arsenal you know. Even when we win.

West Brom 1 – Arsenal 3 – Phew, At Last

After spending the whole of February not scoring any league goals (or conceding any, for that matter), Arsenal finally managed to get their shooting boots on tonight and win. In a fairly frenetic first half, ol’ pinky boots Bendtner scored an early goal, thanks to Scott Carson making a hash of a fairly save-able chance. West Brom then managed to equalise from a free-kick, with Eboue doing himself no favours by jumping out of the way of the ball whilst in the wall. Alumunia didn’t look too pleased, I can tell you.

However, we managed to get on top thanks to some really shoddy defending, with Kolo Toure scoring a header, and Bendtner got his second not long after from a through ball from Kolo, to make it three. Normally, you’d say “Game Over” but not with this lot. Thankfully, our defence held firm, with Song moved into the centre-half position after Kolo went off injured, and he actually looked ok there.

Hooty McOwl could have got three, and was unlucky that Carson decided to make up for his earlier ineptitude by making some saves. We had more chances to make it safe(r), but typically, didn’t take them, and Almunia was forced into some good keeping a number of times, especially after Ramsay had made a hash of a back-pass.

We even saw the league debut of Fran Merida. Not that he did much in the five minutes he was on. Though we were expecting a hat-trick from him, at the very least. We should sell him now before he disappoints us further.*

One quick word about the Baggies. They do try and play football, which is great to see in these ultra-defensive days, but with the defence they’ve got I’m afraid they’re destined for the drop (again). Shame – every Baggies fan I’ve ever known has been very nice. And I can’t say that about many other fans.

Anyway, I’m happy with the win. This puts us three points behind Villa, who play Manchester Citeh tomorrow night. And Citeh can be good, they can be terrible, and Villa’s luck is sure to run out at some point so let’s cross our fingers and toes for Citeh to win 23-0. I’m not even going to moan that Eboue was a bit rubbish and that Diaby only looks good playing against a team at the bottom of the league. No, it’s all positivity round here tonight. Oh yes. We won, we scored more than one goal, and it was away from home in freezing rain (in which the travelling support made themselves proud).

Now, bring on Burnley!

Linkage: Just The ‘Holic

*This is a joke

Arsenal 0 – Sunderland 0 – Champions League, You’re Having A Laugh

It’s simply not good enough. We had a chance today to close some of the gap on Villa, after they lost to Chelsea at home. So what do we do? We balls around. We don’t take our chances. We pass backwards instead of counter-attacking. Then with ten minutes to go, we put Eboue on. Eboue. The attacking midfielder who doesn’t score goals, and has got all of one assist this season.

That says it all. Our only options, when we need to score, are to put on a player who doesn’t score, and doesn’t help us score. Disgraceful. We can complain about an injury list, but of the players currently injured only Fabregas and one of Eduardo or Adebayor would have started today. We have a central midfield pairing who won the ball about four times between them, and whose idea of creative passing is to pass it sideways instead of backwards. Seriously, with about seven minutes to go, we win the ball back after a rare Sunderland attack and Denilson, under no pressure, actually turned and passed the ball BACK TO THE DEFENCE! Absolutely appalling. Someone seems to have told Denilson about rugby, and he’s got the two games confused and now thinks he can’t pass the ball forward.

Our attacking options today were get the ball to the wing, where at least we had some creativity, for them to then cross to the centre where one of the lanky Sunderland defenders would head to out to the midfield. Again and again and again and a-bloody-gain.

Van Pershie messed up one good chance and Vela messed up too, one quite spectacularly. The only plus points were that Arshavin looked ok, if tiny, that Gallas and Toure actually looked good together in defence, and that Almunia did everything asked of him. Well done, chaps.

Frankly Song or Denilson wouldn’t have had a sniff our first-team action three or four years ago. Vieira and Flamini must watch Arsenal games now and laugh, in the same way you do when you see someone doing your old job and making a total mess of it.

We can now kiss the Champions League goodbye. Six points behind Villa is a tough call, with 12 games to go. And as we don’t seem to have bothered buying a decent big, tough central midfielder in the transfer market, shooting our bolt on a tiny Russian, we’re going to really suffer in some of our upcoming games against the likes of Blackburn and Liverpool.

/rant over. I’m going to go and eat some nice food and drink some nice wine to make me feel better. Links and stuff tomorrow.

One final note. Arshavin is really, really tiny.

It’s A Beautiful Day To Boo Eboue

What an absolutely beautiful day. After one of the coldest winters in London for many years, and a winter where we saw proper snow for the first time in 18 years, you can only be delighted at such a gorgeous day. The sun’s getting higher in the sky, the birds are singing, and it’s proper warm. Well, it’s 12C, which is warm for me. I’m bizarrely reminded of our last holiday in Florida. It’s that warm.

Ok, not really, but at least I don’t need to wear thermals again.

So, to today’s match against Sunderland. Eboue is back from suspension. So, the pragmatic me thinks we’ll play Vela – Song – Denilson – Nasri in midfield with the usual starters in defence and up front. But the cynical me says it’ll be Nasri – Song – Denilson – Fucking Eboue. Wenger already appears to be buttering us up, which is worrying. The feeling out there in blogland is that it’s likely Eboue will start. Boo, I say. I’m not a fan of Eboue, I think he adds absolutely nothing to this team and he’s a negative influence. I’d be happy to never see him play for us again.

In other news, a fan has a go at Adebayor. Too right, I say. We pay this man’s wages. If we’re unhappy we’ve a right to tell him. Wonder if Adebayor will buck his ideas up a bit today?

So, off soon, and am looking forward to seeing some Sunderland fans. Last year, on the tube, they were singing “We hate Newcastle, we hate Newcastle…” to the usual tune. They finished singing, there was a five second pause, and then all the Arsenal fans started singing “We hate Tottenham, we hate Tottenham”, and both sets of fans burst out laughing. They are ok, the Mackems.

Anyway, hope we thrash them. Nothing less than 10-0 will do. Including a hat-trick for Arshavin, who should make his debut today. We must see Owly goodness.

Laters, folks.

Quiet Morning – Quick Bit Of Arsenal News

Thankfully it looks like the Premier League clubs have decided there were no issues with the timing of the Arshavin deal. Could have been a sticky one, especially in light of the ongoing saga of the Tevez/Mascherano deal back in 2006 (funnily enough, Tevez still hasn’t got the hang of this legality thing).

Eboue isn’t appearing on Arsenal’s injury list so it looks like he might be available to play on Sunday. Unfortunately.

Anyway, must rush, got stuff to do and things to see.

Arshavin’s Finally Here

Andrei Arshavin is finally here, as announced on the club’s website. He’ll wear shirt number 23. Let’s hope he doesn’t go all fruitcake like the previous wearer of the shirt.

Let’s also hope he’s match fit so he can take Eboue’s role on the right side of midfield for the Spurs game. As opposed to Eboue’s role of being fucking shit.

Been listening to The Sundays and Felt today, might just have to knock up a special retro late 80’s post about sonic cathedrals of sound and the like.

And Yet More Arshavin…and Snow

Bloody hell, it’s never simple with the Arsenal. Apparently the deal is complete but needs ratifying from the Premier League. I’ll bet that they’ll turn it down, Arsenal will appeal and it will go through next Monday. After fucking Robbie fucking Keane scores on Sunday.

Couple of photos from earlier:

Parsons Green

Parsons Green

No, we didn’t make that snowman.

Richmond Park
You can just about see what route I took down the hill, through the long grass. And the logs.

Proper snow in London for the first time in 18 years.