Arsenal vs Fulham: Match Preview

It's been a crazy week for me and a crazy week in the world of Arsenal if Diaby's injury is to be believed. The midfield maestro is back and available for tomorrow's game. I don't understand how, and I don't think Arsene does either!

“Diaby is available, he recovered surprisingly well,” revealed Wenger at his pre-match press conference. “It seems I took him off at the right moment [against Roma].

It’s weird that Arsene has self praised himself in the above statement, it seems ironic considering that potentially he was at fault for not taking off Eduardo quickly enough.

Tomorrow’s game is a must must must must win game. We have to win. We must win. There is no possible chance of us not winning. And with that in mind, it’s useful to have two players back in contention (Diaby from injury and Arshavin from illegibility). So the question arises, who will the gaffer play. I’m not a fan of Bendtner, but I’m so sure he’ll start, I’ll eat my hat if he doesn’t. I’d love Vela to get more game time. I think there is a lot more to come from him and we’ve seen good stuff with the young Mexican. However, I don’t think he will start. I think it will be Nasri and Arshavin on the wings with Denilson and Song in the middle and Bendtner and Van Persie up front. Personally, I’d start Vela and Van Persie up front and Nasri, Diaby, Denilson and Arshavin in the middle, but hey – I’m not the manager!

Almunia

Sagna – Toure – Gallas – Clichy

Nasri – Denilson – Song – Arshavin

Van Persie – Bendtner

With a bench of: Fabianksi, Djourou, Song, Gibbs, Vela, Ramsey and Diaby

Some good news from the press conference is that we’ll see the return of three injured players with Theo Walcott back in contention very soon!

“It looks like Eduardo, Walcott and Adebayor will be coming in the next two weeks. It’s a real bonus, the first one will be Walcott.”

If you take Van Persie’s goals and contribution out of the equation we’ve barely managed to score a goal in the league since the turn of the year. We’ve had 5 0-0 draws and scraped past Roma with a penalty. Up front, our midfield and strikers need to turn up the heat a little. We need to start scoring very scon. Yes, the injured players will help, but we’re better than the 0-0′s and lack of goals. Almunia spoke out on this subject too:

“The fans deserve more. Before, we probably used to create a few more chances and also we would finish those chances quicker. Now we are spending a bit more time to get a final shot. The players realise the fans deserve more from us and maybe some of the players are feeling more pressure at the moment at home because we are not winning games. The only good thing that we can see from these kind of games when we are dropping points is we are still getting clean sheets. The team in general, defensively, are doing very well. Now need to find that nice balance where we are tight at the back but get the goals. It is what a team like Manchester United has been so successful with this season. They have always been getting the clean sheet and then just managing to get the goal. They have the confidence to get that minimum one goal. We have to get that confidence back.”

So come on team, let’s get loads of goals against Fulham and restore the confidence.

It’s getting uber serious now…]]>

Some post match post night day after next Roma thoughts… Updated

But back to all things in the world of Arsenal.... and the a reflection on the game against Roma on Tuesday at the Emirates.

[Sorry for the time delay]

So, I've been watching the replay of the game today and have a completely different perplexion of the game now. When I left the Emirates on Tuesday night, I was quite disappointed that we hadn't won by a greater margin. I was disappointed with the copious amounts of chances created and failure to convert. But as I sit back and reflect on the game, I can see a slightly brighter picture. The picture is that if we play well, we will create chances. If we create chances, they eventually we will score.

A one-nil win over Roma with an away game to come is a decent result. Our game was better than theirs and we were the better team. And the team out there didn't include first team regulars such as Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky, Cesc Fabregas and Adebayor and someone else whom I can't really call a first team regular, Eduardo, simply because he's been out for so long. With the makeshift team which saw Bendtner deployed on the left (why does Arsene do this?) and included Eboue, we were still the better team.

Having watched the replay many times, Roma showed that they are actually a decent side and attacking wise did have something to offer. In defence, however, they gave away the ball so much, it's clearly their weak area. One goal in Rome would surely see us through - our defence was by far the better. I said to JAT at the game on Tuesday, "the worse team will lose" twisted from the statement, "the better team will win", simply because at times it seemed bad. But again, as I saw the replay, it wasn't all bad.

The worse thing of the night was the two missed chances - first by Eboue - he even failed to hit the target and then of course by Bendtner - when scoring seemed easier!

Well, all in all, a decent result. We can't complain, we've won a game and have the second leg in our favour.

Nasri was a little disappointed with the score, but well aware that it was a decent result:

“We probably deserved a higher score.We created some good opportunities. Now we have to repeat the performance in the return match. I think this result is not too bad, even though we could have won it with a larger score. But fortunately we managed not to concede any goals. The positive ahead of the second leg is that tonight we’ve seen a conquering Arsenal side, with a good defensive display. This is very encouraging for the challenges to come. We are confident for the second leg as we start that game with a 1-0 lead. We are confident about our means and are convinced we can succeed.”

All in all a decent result. A result which we can build upon on the next leg…

Back tomorrow with a Fulham preview…]]>

Happy One Year To The World of Arsenal

So guess what? I'm over a week late for my own anniversary!!!

It all started on the 16th February 2008, when the blog was created. My first phrase in relation to the blog was...

“The blog will be random and a complete mix of topics, but hey… that’s what they’re all about!”

And a year on, that’s still an accurate description of the World of Arsenal. Throughout the last year and a bit, we’ve looked at signings, matches, players, managers, the boardroom and created a community on the web of regular readers and regular commenter’s.

The early days of the blog kind of talked about the title challenge and the bad form around January last year and then of course, the Arsenal vs Ac Milan preview… http://worldofarsenal.co.uk/2008/02/18/arsenal-vs-ac-milan-early-preview/

My excitement always comes through:

“Wednesday brings us the first leg of the mouth-watering clash between the year before last’s finalists Arsenal and last year’s winners, AC Milan. I am sooo excited about this clash, it’s poised to be a great European night!”

I actually went on to write 5 blog posts before the game, discussed each player in length and reviewed the goalkeeping of Milan, team preview and line ups. We drew at home 0-0 and the title of the blog was:

“A clean sheet, a good performance or a wasted opportunity?”

And the same can be said of yesterday’s performance against Roma… A clean sheet, a good performance or a wasted opportunity? This time we’re 1-0 to the good, so all in all, a better result than last year?

Of course, post Milan, we had the Birmingham game and the Eduardo injury, subsequently to that was the collapse of our season…

Last summer proved interesting, with many people expecting a lot of signings, but instead we witnessed the departures of Flamini, Gilberto, Lehmann and Hoyte permanently and of course Senderos and a few others on loan. We did sign Nasri and Ramsey amongst others.

In August 2008, saw the launch of the Commenter of the Month, which Kieran Delaney went on to win and subsequently get a hat-trick of awards.

In the turn of the year, of course, we had the 24: Arshavin saga, which ended up in us signing the Russian… which kind of brings us full circle…

Thanks for all your support for the blog and partcipation in the comments – it wouldn’t be the same without you…

Here’s to another year of blog writing and hopefully…………. a trophy?]]>

Arsenal vs Roma Mobile Preview

Evening all, and today due to the crazy exploits of my working day, I find myself outside Kings Cross having arrived back in London going passed a busy Emirates on the way down. Vincemeister is here and reported to me of the 100′s of Roma fans hoarded away by Police. A few Ultras bopping around but more police then underground workers means there won’t be any problems.

Tomorrow is another day…

Arsene spoke on his gamble or lack of ability to take more of a gamble:

“It was difficult because we had no strikers on the bench. Arshavin was dead after 60 minutes and we only had Vela on the bench. We took Song off and switched Nasri and we finished with Van Persie, Vela, Bendtner and Eboue in a purely offensive role. We still didn’t score and I couldn’t see there was much more of a gamble to take.  I’m frustrated that the guys don’t get rewarded because this team really wants to do well. I can’t fault the spirit and I believe we have to keep that as a strength and the rest will come.”

Indeed, Arsene, we are all frustrated, but a refreshing post match overview from Arsene. His honesty helps us figure out why he made the changes he did and his attempt and want to try and win the game. With Arshavin only joining recently and having hardly had any match practice. With the preseason just starting at the beginning of January, Arshavin needs games to get him fit and with him not being legible for the Roma game, he’ll have a week to recover from the Sunderland and train until the Fulham game, where I expect him to get another run out.

He acknowledged that the English league is a faster league and he’ll take some time to adapt. The diminutive Russian said:

“I enjoyed my debut in front of so many spectators. But I am disappointed we did not get the result. I am doing everything I can to be as fully fit as soon as possible. I have never played in this League before, so I will have to see [how long it takes]. If I played today in the Russian Premier League, I think I would have been OK, but the English Premier League is a different speed, it is quicker. I think overall it was not so much of a problem for me on the pitch, but Sunderland played very defensive. All of their players stayed in the box. It was very difficult for us. We tried to play for a goal and had chances, but after the game we were not so happy.”

A week later and we should see Andrei in action again. The following week, Eduardo should return and maybe just maybe, we may have some sort of squad for the remainder of the season. There is a little stigma going on in the game at the moment, especially related to Arsenal and how teams play so defensively, that it means we can’t win. But in reality, teams have a right to do what they want, it’s up to us to break them down. Sunderland were not the first team to come with a defensive attitude – actually, they were defensive, but they did move forward swiftly and in the first half they had their fair set of chances. Look at United or Chelsea – most teams when they travel to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge respectively, put 10 behind the ball, but they somehow manage to break the opposition team. So what it comes down to is our own ability to break down the opposition, not the opposition tactics.

Arsene touched on this subject:

“I am not critical of Sunderland. We have to deal with that because that’s what everybody does to us. They gave us a problem. We have to be good enough to deal with it. We want to be even more determined to punish teams who refuse to play, you know. But I feel at the moment we became nervous when we didn’t score early on and you could see that in the way we didn’t take our chances in the second half. I don’t know whether I would do that as manager of Sunderland. I don’t want to interfere in what they should do because they are free to do what they want. It’s down to us to win the game.”

So, I’ve veered completely off topic, I’m supposed to speak about the Roma game… okay… I’ll be back in the morning with a Roma preview…

Til then…]]>

Arsenal 0 – 0 Sunderland, should we be worried?

“Worry is for those with little faith.”

Are you worried?

We currently lie in 5th place after another lacklustre performance against Sunderland, another 0-0 draw and another home game where we were unable to win and unable to score. Aston Villa lost earlier in the day to Chelsea, where it was evident that neither team offered much more than we could. Neither team will challenge for the title and neither team should stand in our way if we could win our up and coming home games.

But the cards were not in our favour, and on the day that we could have really climbed up the table, we failed to take advantage and with 12 games left this season, we still have to recover 6 points. We face United, Liverpool and Chelsea before the end of the season, and as a result, the games against Everton, West Ham and Sunderland, two at home, were “must win” games. We failed to win any of the three games and those six points will be even harder to recover now.

Andrei Arshavin featured in the starting XI and he lasted 60 minutes. The first half was all about the Russian – very much smaller than I thought he was – in a very small Russian team, he didn’t look that small – but in a slightly taller Arsenal side, he looked very, very small. But he’s quality was there for all to see – he had a few shots, and most on target, he looked quick and he looked direct.

Apart from the impressive debut, we basically created a little more than Sunderland but our finishing was woeful. Van Persie, somehow managed to miss the target after rounding the keeper, and Carlos Vela – who’s finishing had been amazing in the Carling Cup – missed two “sitters” from about 8 yards. The worst part of this performance was the lack of urgency to score and in the last ten minutes, seeing William Gallas act as an auxiliary centre forward and the misfiring Bendtner bounce around reminded me of the John Terry / Mourinho, “I don’t know what to do” games.

On the game and Arshavin’s debut, Arsene said:

“We had the chances but we could not get the goal that would have made us happy. We don’t concede goals but we want take advantage of the chances that we create – we need to play with a little bit more freedom. Andrey Arshavin showed some good signs but he is also showed that he is not completely fit.” 

“He has shown in glimpses that he has talent and that he will be a player. He has also shown that he is not ready physically yet. You could see that if he was on the ball more often he will effect the game. in the final third you feel that something can happen. He nearly scored two goals; one right-footed shot and one with his left well saved by the keeper.”

So, the major is where do we go from here? We have Roma this Tuesday and then Fulham on Saturday – it’s going to be a very interesting week. Make or break, no doubt.

I’ll leave you with that today, no time to ponder, two days until Roma….

————————————————————————————

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Toure, Clichy (Gibbs 85), Nasri, Denilson, Song Billong (Eboue 78), Arshavin (Vela 63), Bendtner, Van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Ramsey, Djourou, Merida.

Booked: Nasri, Clichy.

Sunderland: Fulop, Ben-Haim, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney, Malbranque, Whitehead, Tainio (Leadbitter 76), Reid (Murphy 78), Richardson, Jones (Edwards 88).
Subs Not Used: Gordon, Davenport, Healy, McShane.

Booked: Richardson, McCartney.

Att: 60,104

Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).]]>

Arsenal vs Sunderland Match Preview

Tomorrow sees us take on Sunderland at the Emirates and it should be a bit of a cracker. Yes, I base this on nothing but pure gut feeling. News coming out of the Emirates is that Arshavin may start the game with Vela rested for Tuesday's game against Roma. The bad news post Cardiff is that Eduardo picked up a hamstring strain and won't be back until the WBA game (missing Sunderland, Roma and Fulham).

On Arshavin, Arsene said this earlier in the week:

“He will be involved,” said Wenger. “But I have not decided what I will do with him yet.”

And spoke again about the Russian in the press conference today:

“He can integrate well our combination game, he can move very well, he is very mobile so that is something we work on as well. He is a clever passer of the ball and that is something you need in every big team to open teams up. You have to give everybody who comes in time to adapt, to adjust. I know him quite well on his vision, his passing ability, his quick brain. That is something which is very important in the modern game. He has personality, he has a strong character. The handicap he has at the moment is that he is not completely fit physically, but all the rest should be quite quick. Anyway, we will take the needed time. We will not put him under pressure, if he needs a bit longer he takes a bit longer. At the moment we have many players in that area injured like (Cesc) Fabregas, like (Tomas) Rosicky, like (Theo) Walcott, so there is a position to take as a creative midfielder.”

The probable line up for tomorrow is:

Almunia

Sagna – Djourou – Gallas – Clichy

Nasri – Denilson – Song – Arshavin

Bendtner – Van Persie

With the likes of Fabianksi, Gibbs, Toure, Eboue, Ramsey, Wilshere and Vela on the bench.

So, from having 5 strikers potentially available, we’re down to 3 now. Eduardo’s injury is down to his lengthy time out and maybe it will continue like this for a while. We’re probably best looking at him as a sub to change a game this season then a regular starter and a player who can regain his fitness for next season and really get a consistent run in the team. If we do make it past Roma then he could really help us through the latter stages of the Champions League – it’s all very touch and go. Am I making any sense in what I’m saying?

“Eduardo is out for two weeks. He picked up a hamstring injury two minutes before I took him off. What a nightmare. Nobody knows how it happened but I knew straight away after the game it would be a two-week job. It is nothing like he had before but I do know that little setbacks like this are part of being nine months out. After that long out, nobody plays six months on the trot. It is impossible. But at the same time it is a blow because, of course, he can score goals. He had shown that on Monday night.”

Okay, so, kick off 3pm tomorrow. 3 points is a must, must, must… we’ve got to hope someone drops points.

Til tomorrow…]]>

Let's Finish The Season With Style…

If anything is more glaringly obvious, it is that our title challenge is well and truly dead. Our recent form, although we haven't lost recently, has had too many draws and as I touched on yesterday, 3 games ago, I'd say we were in with a shout. Three draws later and it's looking ominous. Ominous for the title, precarious for the top four. We travel to Sunderland this weekend and nothing but a win can do. Anything but a win and we are really staring at 5th and 6th. 

So, the call to the team is not to be upset that we're so far behind... but to start the season from Saturday. We have 13 games until the end of the season. We still have to play Liverpool away, United away and Chelsea at home. At a minimum we have to claw back 6 points on Chelsea and 9 on Villa. Yes, we need other teams to slip up, but we also need to start playing with swagger and style, confidence and ability.

The re-introduction of Eduardo into our team, plus the performances of Vela, coupled with the Arshavin signing and the return from injury of Cesc and Walcott should give us enough impetuous to push on for the last couple of months of the season. Monday's game was like no other game I have seen this season. We were incensed, we were passionate, we wanted it. The same again on Saturday is the order of the day. 

Alan Smith seems to think we can step it up a gear, as he said:

“It certainly isn’t what Arsenal fans were hoping. But that’s what they’ve been left with by a side that, for all their talent, still needs some extra steel to go the full distance. Having said that, it’s a side more than capable of finishing with a sprint. It could be enough to cause some excitement.”

Well, for one, I am excited. Could we win all 13 games…? No, but we can get at least 30 out of the 39 available points. That will see us finish on 74 points – surely that mark is good enough for the Champions League spot?

Adebayor has been in the news, talking about his lack of goals and how the team doesn’t need his goals to win trophies because if he doesn’t score any more and we win a trophy then… Hold on… okay, so he doesn’t want to score any more if we win something… but he says that if doesn’t score we won’t win anything. If we are to win trophies then he needs to score more, but he is injured, but if he doesn’t score any more he will be happy as long as we win something – man, the boy is confused.

I know having scored 30 goals in a season that people will always be waiting for more this season but the most important thing is to keep on going and to progress. I have 12 already but to score another 18 now would not be easy. I am getting assists now too and getting closer to being a complete footballer. I can score with my left, score with my right and score with my head too, which is good for a striker. But I don’t care if I stop on 12 goals if we win something with the club. To win trophies is more important than scoring goals but if we are to win trophies I will need to score some goals. This club needs trophies and that’s what we are fighting for.

Indeed, the club needs a trophy or two or three or more… Putting his goal tally into perspective, the question to why he hasn’t scored so many can lie in the team as a whole. I’d say, last year, we had on average 20 – 25 shots a game. With this 20-25 shots, about 60% fell to Ade. So let’s say Ade had 12 shots a game and missed one in 6, then on a good game, he could easily score at least 1 if not 2 goals. Now, when we are only creating 10 shots a game, and 40% of those shots are falling to Ade, he is still missing his one in six, but this time only has four. So that pretty much explains it. Personally, I think he’s got worse – he thinks he has nothing to prove.

But I am excited by the emergence of Vela and the return of Eduardo. Nikki B has more in his locker and of course Van Persie is playing well.

Let’s Finish The Season With Style…]]>

Wednesday Woes… Apparently…

Fulham take on Manchester United at Old Trafford tonight, and can they pull off a suprise win, which would leave the table looking a little bit healthy. Villa and Sp*rs are also in action tonight, so a few injuries for both teams maybe a good thing - a very tiring affair - extra time isn't possible as it's the first leg, but maybe Agbonlahor out for four weeks would be a good thing. Listen to me, I doing the worst thing that someone can do and wishing injury on professional footballers. Is this what I am reduced to?

Well, I say this in light of Arsene comments, whereby he has officially conceded the title and said that his aim is to finish fourth...

“We are on a very strong run at the moment and we have promised to give everything until the last day of the season but at the moment Manchester United look untouchable.  They are 12 points ahead of us and they have a game against Fulham (on Wednesday) which they will certainly win. If they win that they are 15 points in front and that means they need to lose five games. Let us say they lose one against us, that still leaves four. They still need to lose four other games, which they haven’t done yet this season. But our basic target is to get into the Champions League and therefore the championship remains a priority.”

At which point did Arsene realise this? We’ve been saying it pre-transfer window. With 3 draws in the last 3 league games, adding a player or two at the beginning of the window could have seen us only 6 points behind United. Interesting stuff, and maybe a few words of inspiration for Fulham tonight? At least an injury to…

Talking about injuries – the infamous Martin Tyler – the guy who “did that” to Eduardo has never actually, personally visited the Crozilian. Eduardo said this recently:

“Some friends told me he was saying he’d spoken to me – but he never did. I’ve never met him. And someone at Arsenal received an email from him when I played for the reserves at Barnet a short while back and it said he was pleased I was playing again. I have received lots of mail from other people. I’ve had around 25,000 emails – from Croatia, Brazil and England – wishing me a speedy recovery and I’ve had letters by the sackful. But he’s never sent anything directly to me. But I don’t want to talk about the incident. It’s probably best left alone now.”

What a little twat – to lie about it all just makes me sick!

Anyway, time to heap a little praise on one of my least favourite players, Niklas Bendtner… I have to admit that he has been playing a little better recently. He has missed a few sitters recently and apparently his bad form came during a stage where he was carrying an injury. Apparently, he didn’t say the previous quote about him playing every single minute for Arsenal and being the best striker in the world….

“It makes me upset because it comes across really bad. None of it was said like that. Basically, I did a long interview for the Danish press recently, they asked me a lot of questions and the press over here have taken my answers and twisted them out of proportion.

Apparently, Alex Hleb is the “laughing stock” of Barcelona. Apparently, nobody likes him and he is a bit of an outcast to the team. Toure’s agent recently belittled him publicly when he said:

“They are waiting to extend the contracts of Eto’o and Toure, but all they do is wait. What is going on? The players will leave, and then who will play? Hleb?”

Well, good on ya son… hope you enjoy your quiet life in Barcelona, we’ve got Nasri, Vela, Arshavin, Rosicky, Eduardo and Walcott, you got… slammed.

I’ll speak more on the boardroom antics tomorrow, but here’s a little useful list of who owns what now… in order of their share…

  1. Alisher Usmanov – 25% 
  2. Danny Fiszman – 24.11% 
  3. Others – 17.49% 
  4. Lady Bracewell-Smith – 15.9%
  5. Stan Kroenke – 12.4%
  6. Richard Carr – 4.4%
  7. Peter Hill-Wood – 0.8%

So, after a very exciting match on Monday night, we must turn our attention to the game on Saturday. We’re still lagging behind the top four, and Hiddink’s Chelsea and O’Neill’s Villa won’t be easy to catch. Games between the top 5 will be even more decisive this year and when Chelsea take on Villa this weekend, who do you want to win?

And for those of you who didn’t spot it… the Arsenal.com site had Emmanuel Adebayor out for a slightly longer time that he’s actually out of action – about 5 minutes after publishing it, they did change it back to weeks.

It was funny at the time.

Emmanuel Adebayor
Friday, February 13, 2009
Arsène Wenger expects Emmanuel Adebayor to be out for “three or four years” after suffering a hamstring injury during the North London derby against Tottenham. The Togo striker was stretchered off during the first half at White Hart Lane.
]]>

Arsenal 4 – 0 Cardiff… Eduardooooooooooo……..

Arsenal 4 – 0 Cardiff
Eduardo 20, Bendtner 34, Eduardo 60 pen, Van Persie 89.

Yesterday marked the return of the awesome Crozilian, Eduardo, to the starting XI and he couldn’t have had a better come back.

The line up saw Van Persie rested with Eduardo and Bendtner starting up front. The midfield consisted of Nasri on the right and Vela on the left with Denilson and Song in the middle. Johan Djourou exited the warm up, ill, so Toure and Gallas were paired together with Sagna and Gibbs on either side and Fabianski in goal.

The signs were there from the word “go”. This team meant business. Eduardo looked like he was so glad to be on the pitch. He looked every inch the player that was last seen against Birmingham last year. Bendtner looked like he had a point to prove and little old Mexican Carlos Vela’s twinkle toes were in full action. With Samir Nasri starting a little deeper, the formation resembled a bit more of a 4-3-3 at times. Don’t get me wrong, Nasri got forward enough, but the side was balanced and it was an exciting side. With Vela and Nasri we can pace and skill on the wings, which put Cardiff on the back foot from the beginning of the game. Vela, Nasri, Eduardo and Bendtner coupled with Denilson have a lot of flicks and tricks and it made for an entertaining game.

The moment we have all been waiting for took about 20 minutes – some incisive play by the front players saw Eduardo pass out wide to Vela who cross back in for Eduardo to head his first goal into the back of the net. A goal that breathed emotion though the crowd, even if you weren’t at the ground. All Arsenal fans saw and watched in awe as Eduardo slid on the form and gave Vela a wry smile… “I’m back, it read” and all fans suddenly had a glaze on their eyes. Girls let a tear go, men just gulped. It was emotional.

The dominance continued and about 15 minutes later, Bendtner, from a corner, headed in to make it 2-0. I’m glad Bendtner got his goal, because the amount of chances he missed were amazing – if you watch the highlights, check out the one when Vela spun and shot and Bendtner had two goal scoring opportunities from about 5 yards and was unable to convert.

The second half saw more of the same, we went forward with venom and defended with unity. We did have a few penalty appeals turned down before finally the ref pointed to the spot – it was actually a little harsh on the Cardiff defender – but Eduardo got up and duly tucked away his second of the night. Smiles all round. Before the Crozilian could get his hat trick, he was replaced by Van Persie – a standing ovation. The Dutchman almost had an immediate entrance shooting wide and then setting up Bendtner. But RVP got his goal one minute from time with an excellent right footed shot.

Arsene spoke on the game and Eduardo’s return:

“I am not surprised he played well tonight. I didn’t play him as a reward for his excellent work; it was because in training over the past few weeks he has done extremely well. He made a big step forward two weeks ago when he found sharpness in front of goal and in his runs and he got rid of his apprehension in the tackles. Of course it is nearly 12 months out and he has been extremely strong mentally during that time, I could never see one minute of doubt in his mind or one minute where he said ‘no, I don’t want to do it’. He always wanted more and this guy is small but has the mental strength of a mountain. He is intelligent, talented and he understands what is happening quickly. He responds very quickly to every situation. That is why he is a striker. He is a quiet boy. He is very, very quiet – he is focussed but of course very happy tonight.

“I think Tony Colbert has spent more time with Eduardo than with his wife. So perhaps he deserves that kind of hug. The physios and doctors have as well done a tremendous job with him. We use him when he is ready but they did a lot of work with him and have done a great job. We will know how important this was at the end of the season. I am very happy to have him back because he gives us options. He can play on flank, he can play central, he can play on the shoulder or upfront on his own. It is fantastic for us.

“I still have to be cautious with him and I cannot throw him in every three days after nine months. We will see how he responds to that hamstring and maybe he can be with us on Saturday, I don’t know. Of course everybody’s happy for him but I believe it was a good team performance; dynamic, convincing and mobile. We played the kind of football we love to play and it is good to see us play with handbrake off. We are now consistent, we are stable defensively, and we added tonight our drive going forward. We played the game we want to play and Eduardo played a big part in that. Everybody is of course pleased for him tonight.”

Amazing words from Arsene, and an amazing return for the Crozilian.

Well done Dudu!

—————————————————————————-

Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Gibbs, Nasri (Ramsey 67), Denilson, Song Billong, Vela (Bischoff 74), Eduardo (Van Persie 67), Bendtner.

Subs Not Used: Almunia, Wilshere, Clichy.

Booked: Gallas, Bendtner.

Goals: Eduardo 20, Bendtner 34, Eduardo 60 pen, Van Persie 89.

Cardiff: Heaton, McNaughton, Purse (Blake 68), Roger Johnson, Kennedy, Burke, Rae (Scimeca 74), Ledley, Parry (Whittingham 68), Bothroyd, McCormack.

Subs Not Used: Sak, Capaldi, Eddie Johnson, Comminges.

Att: 57,237

Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).]]>

Match Preview: Arsenal vs Cardiff

We take on Cardiff tonight, and it's live on Setanta at 7.45pm - it's also a bit more live at the Emirates. The fire has been stoked ahead of the game by Cardiff manager, Dave Jones, who insists they can and will win tonight. Thanks for the extra motivation. Let's take a listen to what Dave Jones had to say, then we'll take a listen to what Nikki B has to say about himself being the best striker at the club (yeah I know) and finally take a listen to Arsene and preview the starting line up for tonight.

Dave Jones had this to say:

“We will go out to win.

“And I don’t think that is out of realms of possibility to do that – if Arsenal are not at their very best, then we obviously stand a better chance of turning them over. Arsenal are like us, they simply can’t turn up and turn the tap on and off. They will have to be at full pelt to beat us. Even with 10 men (after Emmanuel Eboue was sent off), they were outstanding. We know what we are up against, but we can only prepare and be organised for a hard battle. That’s what we will do, but we will do it knowing that we have a decent chance. I don’t see any point in me or any of my players going to Arsenal in any other frame of mind than being confident. What’s the point of thinking any differently?

“I want to keep that winning mentality in players’ minds, even if the opposition is Arsenal.”

That’s a statement and a half from the manager, but of course, what else can he say, and with our form so random at the moment, there is an element of truth to that too!

In light of Bendtner woeful finishing this season, the Dane thought it was a good idea to reveal what he thinks about his position in the team. I don’t want to get on his back or anything but this is quite silly considering his very very very bad form earlier in the season (where he supposedly had a niggling injury but still started ahead of non injured players!)…

“I’m very sorry to see Adebayor injured as we need him fit and to be playing in the league. But it does not really matter to me who is fit and available.

“I should start every game, I should be playing every minute of every match and always be in the team.”

Every minute? Yeah right – at least Ade admitted that he was in bad form.

Sagna at least knows how important the cup is and will do his best for the team. For the team Bendtner, for the team.

“We have to be focused and try to win because we want to go through. The FA Cup is really important for the fans and for the club and for ourselves. It is one of the competitions we can win, along with the Champions League.”

News this morning suggested Eduardo may start ahead of Bendtner. We will see…

The possible line up could be:

Almunia

Sagna – Toure – Djourou – Gibbs

Nasri – Denilson – Song – Vela

Eduardo – Van Persie

Clichy had a bad clash to the head, so could be rested and with many games coming up, it may be a chance to see if Eddie can get some time under his belt and give Nikki B a rest / drop to the bench.

Come on you gunners – can’t wait to see Edaurdo in action tonight!]]>