Middlesborough 1 – 1 Arsenal, A Strange Weekend Of Football…

I'm back from my scouting mission to Barcelona in what seems a very short trip out there. Thanks to JAT for filling in for me yesterday, another great blog and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were certainly playing their lovely games again.

Over to my weekend for a bit and Barcelona beat Real Madrid 2-0 to effectively put the Champions 12 points behind them and vanishing any title aspirations they may have had. Barcelona were electric and maybe deserved to win by more. It was clear that Real had problems up front, with no real potent attack. Messi, Eto'o and Henry were simply sensational for Barcelona, scaring the wits out of their opponents. Indeed, whoever gets Barcelona in the Champions League will have a tough time trying to beat them.

Okay, on to yesterday's game and we drew 1-1 to Middlesborough. In a game we "should" have won, we've come away with just a point. I've only been back in the country for a few hours and have yet to see the highlights, so can't really comment on how we played. Ultimately, I understand it was a good game, a game where we looked interested. But ultimately, a point isn't good enough.

The formation and team line up saw a middle quartet of central midfielder, with Song and Cesc in the middle and Denilson and Diaby on the wings. Speculation that Eboue and Vela would start on the wings didn't come to fruition. We went ahead through Adebayor, from a Cesc corner and Ade scored his 11th goal of the season. Our lead didn't last long and it was old-boy Aliaidiere who came back to haunt us as he nodded home from a Tuncay cross.

I'll hopefully watch the highlights tonight (they're on Arsenal TV at 10pm) and have further comments on my take on the game later, but I'll leave you with these words from Arsene:

“There was room to win the game, especially when we were 1-0 up with plenty of chances to score a second; we were in control. I feel we were a bit unlucky on the goal we conceded but Middlesbrough played well and worked very hard.

“In the second half they had a good mixture of defending well and getting the pace out of the game, going down and gaining time. That was a bit frustrating but they did it well and in the last 20 minutes they defended very well.”

“We tried, I do believe that. In the end we lacked something, we couldn’t take our chances and I must admit I expect ‘Boro to collapse a bit more than they did in the final part. They didn’t give in, even with tired legs and that is credit to them.

“You want always to get more but I feel my team needs more encouragement because they don’t get it anywhere and that is why I want to focus on the next game.”

Sometimes you do feel that Arsene thinks we’re a fitter team who can come strong in the final parts of the game and although that has been reminiscent of previous teams – I can’t remember how many winners we’ve scored in the latter part of games this season, can you?

I’ll keep it short today – hope everyone has has a good weekend.

Til tomorrow.]]>

  • AJ

    I’m just getting a bit bored of the same old rubbish now, we get a lead and we throw it away, it was slack defending I feel that allowed the goal to be scored, we should be beating boro’ and at this rate we are looking like a team aiming for fifth or sixth, not a team challenging for the title.

  • jeffvip

    The draw seems not that bad as Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea all fails to win their game. ^ ^

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[Dev - we played ok, but ultimately I wished I stayed at home afterwards. We looked like the home team and we dominated the match with large portions of possesion. But we had 7 (i think) shots on target, most of which were scuffed or straight at the keeper. In the last 10 minute we did indeed come on strong - but we should have played like that for the entire second half.

    Ultimately it was a poor display because we just didn't create any chances.

    AJ - Middlesborough's goal was a touch of class. Gallas perhaps never challenged like he should have in the air, but take nothing away from Alliadiere, his header was brilliant as was the build up play. Exceptional goal, and to be fair, one of the few goals this season scored against us that I've been happy with. I don't think many teams would have cancelled that strike out.

    Jeff - That makes it worse! A squandered oppurtunity to get closer to them, instead we've dropped to 5th!]]>

  • Debs

    finally watched the highlights, but not too impressed, really. Good possession, but poor finishing… sound familiar? Almunia did great in between the sticks, credit to him, but there wasn’t anything too impressive about the rest of the team’s performance, really. What really gets too me is the fact when we play Liverpool next match, we’d be a completely different side and that’s just not pathetic! One would think it’d have sunk in that there are 20 teams in the league, not 4! Villa are the form team and deserve to be fourth. I’d say again that we deserve to play in the Europa league or whatever it’s called next season to teach us a lesson, but then the guilty players would probably leave the club as a result, so it’s a catch-22 situation. But yeah, disappointing performance, yet again…

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[I am getting so angry watching us lately and it is getting to the point that I nearly turn off before I throw the tv out the window in a fit of rage.

    Song was in front of fabregas for most of the game which didn't help both our forward play or protect our defence. I don't know if AW's tactics are to blame to this?

    Diaby wasted so many opportunities simply being a greedy bastard instead of using his brain and just squaring the ball for an easy tap in. We could have bagged at least three if we picked the right passes.

    It pains me to say this as he is a quality player but I feel Clichy was to blame for the Boro goal as he had two Boro players closing him down and he tried to kick it through/over them instead of kicking it out for a throw...school boy error...if in doubt, kick it out.

    Although saying that, other players were incredibly slow to react to the deflection...but the finish was class from Alliadiere.

    It did however get better towards the end and too be honest should have been like that for most of the game.]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[

    It pains me to say this as he is a quality player but I feel Clichy was to blame for the Boro goal as he had two Boro players closing him down and he tried to kick it through/over them instead of kicking it out for a throw…school boy error…if in doubt, kick it out.

    I hadn’t really thought about this, and I think (as I said earlier the goal was class) that you’re probably right. After we got home I watched the match again on Sky and you are right – Clichy did overcomplicate his clearance. Happened at Spurs as well. He has made a few mistakes lately….. he’s one of our best players, if not the best player this season. Maybe its symptomatic of our season!

    You’re right about Diaby as well, though Bendtner had a great chance to square for a tap in and went for a near post shot from a 5 degree angle.

    I can hand on heart say after sitting in the rain hungover for 2 hrs on teeside – none of the Arsenal fans were happy about Bendtners introduction.

    Let’s hope we get our shooting boots on for Sunday or we’re fucked however well we play.]]>

  • Debs

    on a positive note, Eduardo’s back-ish 2moro! Goodluck to him!

  • Fabrez!

    Was a tough 1…all of the big 4 had a tough weekend at the end of the day. I hope slipping to 5th doesn’t have a negative mental effect on the boys. BIG day for Eduardo tomorrow… and BIG day on Sunday v Liverpool! Let’s support the guys no thru the rough times! Let’s keep the belief…

  • gunner32

    < ![CDATA[There is no doubting the fact that this Arsenal squad needs strengthening. It’s been a big subject amongst any conversation involving Arsenal for a while now.

    Most Gooners, pundits and ex-players all agree that Arsenal need to buy. The sooner the better because the season is beginning to take shape and it seems Arsenal are in for a real battle for fourth place.

    Arsene Wenger has set such high standards at Arsenal that it is inevitable the day those standards slip people will begin to ask questions.

    We Gooners have watched an invincible side taken apart and replaced by a side who are struggling. It’s painful to watch but it’s only recently murmurs of discontent have spread amonst Gooners.

    We are used to competing, thanks largely to Arsene Wenger who over the years since his appointment has maintained a high standard at the club.

    Those high standards set by Arsene Wenger are not being matched anymore. They haven’t been for four years.

    We were unfortunate last season but even the end of season collapse may have been prevented. It was obvious throughout the season that the squad was full of talent but lacked depth. But Wenger did nothing.

    Gooners have kept quiet because of Wenger’s achievements. He has been given the time and patience by us because we believe in him. It’s only recently Gooners are beginning to show some displeasure at what is being witnessed.

    The problem is it seems glaringly obvious to everyone that Arsenal need to make signings. Only Wenger doesn’t see it and seems to have his head buried in the sand.

    I understand his public intentions. He wants to protect his players but the truth is Arsenal are suffering because Wenger believes he is right in what he is doing.

    He isn’t. Signings are needed because things appear to getting worse rather than better. Arsene Wenger doesn’t seem to listen to anyone but I think there is one person he may listen too.

    Cesc Fabregas………

    Cesc Fabregas is the present and the future of Arsenal. He is our captain and the team is built around him. Despite this he can’t be happy with the situation at Arsenal.

    He won the Euro’s with Spain and has had a taster of what it is like to win things. Publicly he can back his fellow team mates all he wants but privately he must be dismayed at whats going on.

    A player of his talent needs to be competing for honours and he must look at some of his team mates and think how can we achieve this?

    He is the voice of the team and he needs to go to Arsene Wenger and tell the gaffer that changes are needed. If Wenger doesn’t listen to Fabregas then who will he listen too?

    If Fabregas doesn’t feel that Arsenal are going to win things then it is unlikely he will stay. Why should he? With a click of his fingers he could go back to Barcelona who are beginning to look the real deal again.

    Arsene Wenger needs to realise that his ways are beginning to backfire. In the past he hasn’t been afraid to use funds available why not anymore?

    Cesc Fabregas has a special relationship with Arsene Wenger. That bond could be broken unless Mr Wenger wises up and realises that Cesc needs help. He is a young man with a lot of responsibilities.

    If Fabregas wakes up one morning and thinks enough is enough then I wouldn’t blame him. It’s time for Wenger stop being stubborn and get back to those high standards he set at the club.]]>

  • Debs

    yeah Fabrez, supporting them is standard, no matter how frustrating they can be attimes!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[I know this is completely irrelevant but has anyone heard of likey transfers as I heard a few rumours at the weekend that we are going for Mexes (CB) from Roma. Also trying to land Yaya from Barca for 6M...sounds a bit cheap to me and we are trying for David Villa as well.

    Last I heard we were going for a Winger so this news was unexpected.

    I have looked on the speculation pages but nothing on there.]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[David Villa is a pipedream. He's just signed a 6 year deal for Valencia and he is La Liga's top scorer. He isn't going anywhere.

    Yayha Toure joined Barca for 9m Euros. Thats about £7.5 m at the moment. I can't see them letting him go for less, he's a regular first teamer. Although he apparently wants to come and play with his brother - i can't see Wenger buying him for more than £8m, and I gat see Barca letting him go for less than £10m. However those rumours are ever so persistant!

    Mexes is French though which makes it likely he's at least spoken to Wenger. Trouble is he cost 7 million Euros in 2004! Doesn't say what his contract is like, how long left so I guess if its near an end we could pick him up cheap? I've only seen him in this seasons CL after reading rumours and he definately impressed.

    Apparently Arsenal have been holding talks with Steven Defour - £8m Belgian player of the year, midfielder.

    Most likely is Stephen Appiah, midfielder who recently quit Fenebache and has no club. Ghana captain, he's talented, and could be some experience in the midfield alongside Cesc. I can't see him playing every match though. It's Arsenes sort of deal though, tempt the player with a signing bonus because there is no transfer fee. He'd love CL football in Europe and he isn't cup tied in Europe either....

    The only other player I think is a realistic transfer target is Fabian Delph, another midfielder. He's a youngster and is on brilliant form for Leeds. But they keep losing and are beggining to slip down League 1 - Delph has already stated his target to get into the Premier League. Trouble is, he's only 19, so even if he does join it'll be a while before he makes much of an impact in the first team.]]>

  • Gooner Get Ya

    I seriously think we are going to spend some money in Jan…I will actually cry if we don’t :-) . The board swear we have money to spend and I for one beleive them if they are saying that…why would they lie? so for me the buck stops at our beloved manager AW!! He seems to be spending more time trying to boost morale/confidence in our team than planning tactics and picking the team?

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[

    The board swear we have money to spend and I for one beleive them if they are saying that…why would they lie?
    Yeah but they said that last January and in the summer and we didn’t really spend any money then either (exception of Nasri as a direct replacement for Hleb).]]>

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[If Tottenham have money to spend we must certainly have some...i know we have the stadium but we must have foreseen the need to strenghten our squad as well as moving to the Grove...surely the financial brains at the club are not that short sighted.

    I think it's Arsene Wenger who's being a tight arsene (sorry...couldn't resist). He has a remarkable beleif in the players that seems to be clouding his vision...has he not been watching the games this season, some players have been really bad, but he inisists they will "come good" not mentioning any names :-), but how long is willing to wait for them to come good....we are all but out of the title race and we are currently not in CL place either?]]>

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    < ![CDATA[I don't doubt the money is there, but Arsene is reluctant to spend it on overpriced players.

    I agree with you, and everyone who thinks we need to strengthen - 100%. Instead of Flamini leaving we should have kept him AND signed a midfielder. But we didn't do either.

    However, we've had this for 12 years so it really should be a shock or surprise if Wenger doesn't spend big in January. In fact, everything he has said suggests he won't.

    Don't forget, when we nearly lost out of 4th place to Spurs we didn't make any particularly big signings, and now we face losing out to Villa I can't see him making any again.

    Its a shame and will sadden me greatly, but I just can't see the chequebook coming out and it is definitely one of Arsene's few failings.]]>

  • zohaib

    and adebayor’s pass to vanpersie which persie should have done better with. almost an open goal.

  • http://kierandelaney.net/blog kierandelaney.net/blog

    Yeah we were horrendous up front, which up until I’ve always thought our strongest position! Mistakes all over and no real cutting edge. THose are the games Utd manage to sneak through all the time (Vidic 92 minute last week!). Just gutting we can’t be clinical.

  • Fabrez!

    If Arsene doesn’t sign…i don’t think i’d know what to say… But i have that sneaking supiscion he will bring in 2 quality players that are not overly expensive… I really hoe he does…(setting myself up 4 disappointment huh?) *sigh*

  • Steve

    < ![CDATA[Wenger never buys big names and rarely buys in January. I don't think we should get our hopes up to much. I'd love to see a good DMF come in along with and a CB who's better than Silvestre.

    I think we have enough wingers (when fit). When Eduardo is back we'll have a good complement of Strikers (with Bendtner back in his rightful place as 4th choice). So these problems could rectify themselves in the new year anyway. Although a top-class striker like Villa would be amazing (but very unlikely).]]>

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA["setting myself up 4 disappointment huh?"

    yup Fabrez, big time! lol. Best thing, forget about signings, and if he ends up signing anyone, it'd be an amazing bonus!]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[i was hoping vela'd be the one coming on, not bendtner. seems wenger thought vanpersie on the wing would be better than vela. but he could've played vela up front n vanpersie on the wing cudnt he ? anyways. he's the boss.

    vieira's said we're lacking fighters. and we need to defend better as a team. i'd have to agree.

    wat to do about our strikers though ? i just dont feel confident about them - adebayor and vanpersie. they just struggle to appear threatening. why is that]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[Steve - we only have 1 winger in the team. 2 if you consider eboue a winger. i have seen him attack the fullbacks on occasion so i dont think he's completely useless. that said i would rather have a proper winger. the only other winger we have is Nasri. Rosicky is not a winger. he plays as a central attacking midfielder for czech republic. and i'm reasonably confident that he didnt play as a winger for his previous club. Diaby isn't a winger either. he's supposed to be a central midfielder - whether thats defensive, central or attacking or a combination of one or more of those three qualities, i'm not sure yet. because he's consistently been played out of position - i'v forgotten what his default position is in the team. Walcott isn't a winger either. he's being given the 'Henry-formula' treatment. being deployed on the wing for games and experience, and will eventually play in his default position as a striker.

    and now we've started to play more central midfielders as wingers - denilson, ramsey. i thought it was pretty obvious that we weren't as strong on the wings as some of the other teams with good wingers - everton (arteta - he's the top creater this season with 40something key passes, according to the stats section of skysports), wigan (valencia), aston villa (ashley young), mancity (wright phillips) and so on. and its pretty obvious that playing central midfielders out wide isn't working. i suppose its partly because we dont have a stable central midfield that we can't afford to be too attacking with our wingers, and as a result have to ask them to be slightly defensive. plus the injury worries of course.

    shouldn't we go for another winger. wat if a situation arises where we have the option to exchange eboue for a proper winger. who'd say yes to such a deal ?]]>

  • Fabrez!

    I’d say yes zohaib…but what about buying a guys like Arteta and Valencia? Even accepting that it isn’t gonna b in January… And i actually thought Arteta was default CM but maybe i’m wrong. And i too noticed that AW buys attacking CMs to play on the wing…granted Rosicky & Walcott have done well in those positions… but it goes back to ideally having them ready made…

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[exactly mate. it wudnt hurt to have a readymade player. we're in trouble of losing 4th place to aston villa. i'd rather we act now and do something than cry about not having champs league next season when its too late.
    i'd rather we get off our lazy stubborn rear-end and do some risk-taking, get some proper readymade player.

    but now we'll have people say song's getting better and denilson's got a good attitude and engine, so to take them out of the team wouldnt be fair. certainly wenger'd be from that school of thought. and if that doesnt work it'll be a problem.

    i'm getting tired of waiting, being patient, and having faith. its time to get things done, not wait for them to happen.]]>

  • zohaib

    i’m imagining if reyes hadnt had a problem with the weather and eduardo’s leg hadnt been butchered, we’d have an awesome strikeforce.

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[it'd be great if we could get a proper CB, but having just bought silvestre, i dont know if thats possible. although if gallas decides to leave or if we decide to sell him, then we'll need one. it'd be even better if we can get rid of both the french CBs though. but it may have a negative effect on the 'balance of the team'. they'r two of our most experienced players and 2 of our 3 experienced CBs. they probably wouldnt both go unless we're prepared to spend some serious money on readymade quality CBs.

    another thought has just crossed my mind. who'll want to come to arsenal in this time ? a ready-made player ? or a youngster wanting to play some occasional first-team football ? probably the latter. if thats true, then thats another problem we've created for ourselves. we're now being identified as a club where youngsters get lots of chances.and that could mean we're a less attractive club to read-made players. plus we're not very rich so wages is another issue.]]>

  • JDD

    We should buy Vagner Love

  • zohaib

    why ?

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[Michael Owen looks like a possible target since his wage bill has been dropped to 80,000 and AW dosen't seem to mind buying players with a history of injury ala Bishcoff (sorry if i have mis-spelt that). When fit he is a proven goal scorer...might be worth taking a gamble.

    I have heard Gallas could be going to Juventus for 3M so that could be another sign Mexes is on his way from Roma?

    Then we just need Yaya and a winger and we are laughing

    Owen (5-8m)
    Mexes (8-13m)-3m for gallas money
    Yaya (6-10m)
    Winger (8-10m)

    Yeah...adding that up maybe we are not going to buy anyone. lol]]>

  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[Just noticed Owen will be able to leave for free so even more of a possibility for us now.

    So 3 players 30m ish should give us the strengh to push us back in the top 4 and a better chance in CL]]>