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.

Phil Brown Ends Long Arsenal Anti-Intimidation Run

Stating that Arsenal fans had “intimidated his team” during last night’s FA Cup Quarter Final match between Arsenal and Hull City, Phil Brown ended the unprecedented 762-match streak during which Arsenal fans had completely failed to intimidate the opposition. The run, spanning 17 years in all competitions, was without equal in the modern game and crushed the previous record set by Accrington Stanley between 1920-1929, during which the fans would often make cakes and sandwiches for visiting teams, and take them on tours of the local countryside, and was only ended after an Accrington Stanley fan accidentally ran over a visiting player’s cat in his horse and cart.

The last team to be intimidated by Arsenal fans were the Albanian team Diýnamo Gãraÿmše, who during a UEFA Cup match in 1992, were reportedly “scared witless” by the Arsenal fans singing a song about Perry Groves. However, after the match it was revealed that the song (“Number 1 is Perry Groves”) bore a remarkable, and coincidental, resemblance to a chant in Albanian, describing how the protagonists were to tell the opposition’s mothers how many pornographic magazines were stashed under the opposition’s mattress.

Arsene Wenger was not available for comment.

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 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.

Eduardo’s Back

The curse has finally been lifted. Eduardo started last night’s match against Cardiff, scoring two goals. I must admit, I had a little tear in my eye when Eduardo ran to the crowd to celebrate. I firmly believe that we’d have won the league last season if Eduardo hadn’t suffered his appalling injury – not just because we lost our finest striker, someone who doesn’t need four or five attempts to score a goal, unlike Adebayor or Bendtner, but also because of the dark funk it brought to the team. Having him back, and better, looking pretty tasty is a great bonus to the team. He’s almost like a new signing (joke).

What’s more, when his name was read out at the start of the game, the cheers were deafening, and carried on right through the substitute’s names. Even if the crowd were pretty quiet the rest of the game, it was great to hear. On that note, it wasn’t good to see so many empty seats. We’d better start filling those seats or money troubles will follow.

On the whole, we looked excellent. I’m still not convinced by the central midfield partnership of Denilson and Song, and Bendtner, although he worked hard, sometimes struggled against a Championship defence, which is frankly not a good sign. And missing an open goal, somehow contriving to hit the post, was pure comedy. I’m glad we’d already scored at that point.

The team also looks far, far more dangerous with Vela on the left and Nasri on the right. They ran, they harried, they made space, and we had more chances in the first fifteen minutes that the entire match at Cardiff. If that doesn’t show Wenger that Eboue is the wrong player for this team, what will? Funnily enough, on the way out, I overheard a guy say “We weren’t good because Eddie was playing, it was because Eboue wasn’t”. Too true.

All in all, though, a great night out. Made even more amusing by watching Cardiff fans taunt the police and then peg it as soon as the police started to walk towards them, outside the Tollington. Protect our sheep, indeed.

Other match reports from Goodplaya and Arseblog, with some ominous news about Usmanov. I’ll try and find out some more about that later.

In other news, I’m now on Twitter. Feel free to follow me, follow meeeeeee. I still think it’s the Interweb’s version of CB radio though.