Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get…

*Substitute desirable / non-desirables flavours where applicable.

Well, yesterday was one of those chocolates. The disappointment of the result and display even worse when you consider the build up and belief instilled into the fans and players alike. I for one, was livid yesterday and for the first time in a long time, left the game early. I was angry at the game, but found it hard to be angry at the team. I thought of writing the blog yesterday and started, but it was going to wrong way and anger took over common sense.

I’ve now had time to reflect on the game and the result and more, so let’s look back at the game yesterday and review what happened and what we’ve learnt. 

Arsenal 1 – 3 Manchester United

We started with the expected line up, with Song and Cesc in the middle and Walcott and Nasri on the wings and the return of Van Persie to partner Ade up front. The defence saw Gibbs start next to Djourou with  Toure and Sagna completing the back four.

Almunia

Sagna – Toure – Djourou – Gibbs

Walcott – Cesc – Song – Nasri

Adebayor – Van Persie

It was the line up we all wanted, and the first ten minutes gave us hope that we could win, with us starting on fire, coming out really quickly and having a few early chances. But then, a moment which sums up our season… one of the most unluckiest events happening to the most inexperienced player.

In a rare attack, Ronaldo squared a hopeful ball into the middle of the area, Gibbs covering, favourite to win the ball – slipped and missed the ball – and the ball fell kindly to Park, who lobbed Almunia with quick thinking to make it 1-0 to the away team. We needed 3 and it was going to be an up hill struggle. But the goal shocked us we started to panic. Giving away possession and needless fouls. It wasn’t too long until we were punished for it, when a combination of sloppy play saw us lose possession and then foul… Ronaldo with a free kick, from some distance, but such is his quality and such is our inability to defend free kicks, it was 2-0 moments after. Ouch. After that goal, it was mission impossible. We looked like a team wounded. Very wounded. The third was inevitable – Man United are one of the best at counter attacking (didn’t we used to be?) and our penalty was a consolation which really meant nothing, albeit Van Persie struck it with aplomb.

Personally, I feel if Gibbs hadn’t slipped, we would have continued the good start and gone on to score first – and then who knows what would have happened. In reality, the result was bad, harsh, but we have to understand that United are a better team than us. I don’t think we’re terribly far off, but experience brings calmness and confidence breeds confidence.

Yesterday was the biggest team / experience our team has had, so they’ve learnt a lesson, and I hope it bodes them better in the future.

Let’s take a listen to Arsene on the game:

“The most disappointing thing tonight is that we don’t feel like we’ve played the Semi-Final of the Champions League because we were out of it after 10 minutes. We had 80 minutes to play against a team who defend well and waited for the counter attack. We were in a position where we had to take all the gambles after having started quite well. The most disappointing thing is that the game was over before it started, that is most difficult to swallow.
“We can only look at ourselves I must say but it’s very, very disappointing to fight such a long way to get where we have been but to give the game away like we did tonight.
“It is the most disappointing. I felt the fans were really up for a big night and to disappoint the people who stand behind the team so much tonight hurts really.”

“The most disappointing thing tonight is that we don’t feel like we’ve played the Semi-Final of the Champions League because we were out of it after 10 minutes. We had 80 minutes to play against a team who defend well and waited for the counter attack. We were in a position where we had to take all the gambles after having started quite well. The most disappointing thing is that the game was over before it started, that is most difficult to swallow.

“We can only look at ourselves I must say but it’s very, very disappointing to fight such a long way to get where we have been but to give the game away like we did tonight.

“It is the most disappointing. I felt the fans were really up for a big night and to disappoint the people who stand behind the team so much tonight hurts really.”

But one player, whose mind is all over the place, to be honest, he’s probably only thinking of himself, but he’s not helping that’s for sure is Adebayor who bleated out:

“It has been a long time [without a trophy] but I joined in 2006 and I feel sorry for not winning anything in three years. Now for next season I don’t know how we are going to do to be honest. I don’t know how we are going to manage. What we are going to try to do is score with our head, our toes, whatever. We just have to try and bring trophies to this club.”

Ade is at a cross roads, maybe it’s time for him to move on? I’m not being rash with that comment, but his heart is not in it and he’s just not the same player that we once saw all those years ago (well, last season…).

Arsene was asked about whether he will strengthen the squad next season and this is what he replied with:

“It’s a difficult question to answer tonight because I am too disappointed. I need to take some distance with this season. We are on a consistent run of 21 games unbeaten but recently in the games that have mattered, like Chelsea and tonight, we couldn’t win. That of course needs thinking. It’s easy to say that we need a bit of experience but I am convinced that we have the quality and we’ll continue to develop. If you look at the average age of the team it is still very young. To reach that level deserves a lot of credit but tonight we were caught by a tem who has the art to kill and take advantage of mistakes. I believe Cristiano Ronaldo today gave us a tough time.”

In reality, I do think we need to strengthen. Experience is vital. We can see what Arshavin has done for us in the league. A world class talent with experience makes a hell of a difference.

Okay, I don’t want to wonder off topic, there will be plenty of time for the squad and the ins and outs to be discussed close season.

Let’s put this defeat into context, let’s forget about what’s happened and let’s focus on the rest of the league games and hope we put on some entertaining football for the next few games before the Summer starts…

More tomorrow…



Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Gibbs (Eboue 45), Walcott (Bendtner 63), Fabregas, Song Billong, Nasri, Van Persie (Vela 79), Adebayor.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Silvestre, Diaby, Denilson.

Booked: Nasri, Adebayor, Eboue.

Goals: Van Persie 76 pen.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra (Rafael Da Silva 65), Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson (Giggs 63), Park, Ronaldo, Rooney (Berbatov 66).
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Evans, Scholes, Tevez.

Sent Off: Fletcher (75).

Goals: Park 8, Ronaldo 11, 61.

Att: 59,867

Ref: Roberto Rosetti (Italy).

]]>

  • zohaib

    < ![CDATA[That's pretty much IT for our season. The small matter of two huge league games against two of the top teams in Europe, let alone England, remains - Chelsea and ManUtd.

    It'd be nice to see us give everything in those games. It'd be nice, for a change, to see us capable of matching them after what we saw against Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinals and ManUtd in the Champions League semifinals.

    With Arshavin available, it makes me 4 times more confident about our attacking ability. Depending on who we have available and if Gibbs (and pretty much everybody else) has recovered mentally, we should have a decent defence (and squad).

    However, realistically, the season is over for us. The next thing I'm looking forward to is the summer and the transfer window. It'll be interesting to see who leaves, who's sold, who's bought, who's not, and whether there'll be a change in the extremist youth policy. And of course whether we'll try to do something about the constant injury curse.

    Next season, if we make no additions or subtractions(except for loaned players coming back), our squad, as a result of players coming back from injury, should look like this :

    Almunia
    Fabianski
    Mannone
    Woijech (excuse the spelling)

    Sagna
    Eboue
    Hoyte

    Toure
    Djourou
    Gallas
    Senderos
    Silvestre

    Clichy
    Gibbs
    Traore

    Song
    Denilson
    Diaby
    Fabregas

    Ramsey
    Wilshere
    Merida
    Randall
    Coquelin
    Bischoff

    Nasri
    Rosicky
    Arshavin

    Walcott
    Vela
    Simpson
    Bendtner
    Adebayor
    VanPersie
    Eduardo

    (have I missed anybody ?)

    Where do you guys think we need to make the additions or subtractions ?]]>

  • devday

    Great list there Zohaib! Food for though, no doubt…

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[Don't think you've missed anyone, but a few of those players aren't first teamers though. Well at least according to the Arsenal website.
    I'd pretty much like to keep everyone in all honesty. Losing players was one of the causes of our slow start this season. So keep everyone, then get a DM and/or CB, and maybe a striker, and if Ade hasn't sorted his act together, offload him in Jan when we would have built some momentum and wouldn't really suffer for losing one player. As for Senderos, probably just leave him at Milan, or sell him if tthey're keen. Not too sure whether we need Armand Traore, but I guess we could always just have him as a squad player, in case someone needs a rest or something or leave him at Pompey for more 1st team action. But first priority, keep the squad together and work out a way to sort out our injury nightmare, then strengthen in as many positions as possible.

    But here's Ade on his future:

    “Now I am empty-handed but I don’t have any reason for leaving until I have got trophies and what I came here for.

    “Arsenal put me where I am today. They made me one of the biggest strikers in the world. I have to pay them back.

    “How am I going to pay them back? Make them win trophies. That’s what I am here for and I have to fight for that. Next season, 100 per cent, I am an Arsenal footballer.

    “I will do everything that it takes to come back next season and show how good I am, show character, personality and desire for this club. I have been doing my best, giving 100 per cent in every single game but don’t forget last season I played without injury. This time I got three injuries and that has made it quite difficult for me.

    “But we have a good squad. We are learning things and are all young so we just want to achieve things. As soon as we have the chance to win the first trophy, I think many will follow.

    “We just have to believe and keep going. We are very disappointed tonight for the fans and for the way they believed we could do it. We are very sorry for that.

    “But it’s very important for the next season that we are here to play and ready to bring glory to this Club.”

    I guess he’s not going anywhere, but I’ll wait until the transfer window closes to be sure!]]>

  • AJ

    All we need in my opinion is a central defender first and foremost, then maybe another tough tackling midfielder (doesn’t have to be a holding/DM one, just one that has some bite in the tackle) and a striker who goes straight for goal like Arshavin has been doing. 3 new players is what we need and not much more I don’t think.

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Dev, cheers for the blog again mate. Really feel for you actually witnessing it first hand.

    Zohaib, good to have you back too bud!

    In all honesty, and I don't say this with blinkers on, I think we're about 2-3 really good sigings away from going from a "very good" team, to a "winning" team. Experience needs to be in the side too to help the younger lads. Thats where i feel United do really well, because they've kept hold of guys like Giggs and Scholes.

    One or two experienced defencive players would do us a world of good right now, whether that midfield or centreback. And besides, we're at least one man short in those areas at the moment. Hangleand would be ideal, but he's stated that he doesn't want to leave Fulham, but someone along those lines would be good for us.]]>

  • fan

    We need to upgrade Defense in the back four and the midfield. Gallas and Toure won’t do next season. Nor will Song, Diaby, and Denilson. We really need a change in that middle of the team.

  • CON-MAN

    < ![CDATA[again i dont want anyone to leave...losing ade or gallas or what not DOES not make us a better team...traore is gna be better for next season, maybe gibbs should go out on loan for all of next season...

    as for now what do we do? we dont have players that can jus have a crack at goal like Man Utd have in rooney or ronaldo etc...we really need a new CB and hopefully senderos, whos spent a year with maldini (and if that was me i wuda pestered him all year) and hes gna b better

    injuries have crippled us...i mean I believe in God and I dont want to offend anyone (and excuse my language) but how the fuck have we been so battered with injuries?

    i mean eduardo...ok, we lose him to a broken ankle, but then all the other little dumb niggles and this latest one...im sorry but rio alledgedly cracks a rib, yet hes back in a week, eduardo has someone FALL on his groin and hes out for the season i mean WTF?

    ROSICKY...i can clearly remember watchin us vs newcastle n seeing him come off(jan 08..ok i thought hes gna b out for a while...then hes out for the season...i think ok hes gna b bk for euro 2008...but no hes out for longer then just as hes gettin back, hes OUT AGAIN...i mean WTF!!!

    RVP...last 2 seasons been injured...this season, starts brilliantly...but AGAIN the flippin injuries i mean WTF...

    now these are just 3 players, if i wasnt so annoyed id go digging for more but its pissed me off...we need MORE...i mean personally, i love arsene but there he goes again with his retarded talk of 21 games unbeaten...sure wat good is that wen we had about 4 0-0 draws consecutively and lost the TWO games that mattered most...i really the FA CUP was ours this year, we had a pretty easy run until the semi's...we just lacked an edge last night and i wish my head had the been the ball that VP used to take the penalty]]>

  • Berth

    < ![CDATA[Its really interesting to watch wenger pour out his emotios the way he did in public yesterday. as for the rest of last nite is an issue that is gone and will never be back to be rewritten.

    Ade coming out to say all he said bout winning trophy is like his old self.....its not a thing of today, we have seen it before and heard all that In truth he should learn hopw to talk less and do more on the pitch.

    Zohaib nice work for brain-storming. what I have to say about players we want or not want is this. Most times this season we have always had double mind and questions over 3 key positions,CF,CB and CDM; "should we play bedtner or Ade, Song or Denilson, who will pair with Gallas or Toure"; those areas we always have a conflicting mind is worth looking over again and asking if we really are up for it next season.]]>

  • Berth

    < ![CDATA[This doesn't look good mates if you want to have a read.

    An Arsenal fan hung himself following his team's 4-1 aggregate drubbing by arch-rivals Manchester United in the Champions League semi-final, police said.

    Arsenal lost 3-1 to United in the second leg of their semi-final tie.

    Suleiman Alphonso Omondi, a 29-year-old Kenyan living in the capital Nairobi's Embakasi neighbourhood, hanged himself in his Arsenal shirt after the match.

    "We were watching the match at Bamba 70 pub, and when Arsenal was defeated, Suleiman just walked out in protest and he was crying," Calvin Otieno, one of his friends, said.

    "We didn't know he was going to hang himself until this morning when we received the reports and came here to find his body at the balcony," Otieno said outside the deceased's home.

    Arsenal slumped to a 3-1 defeat at home in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, capping a disappointing season for the Gunners who were already out of the Premier League title race early in the season.]]>

  • Fabrez

    < ![CDATA[This was a box of chocolates that were ALL coffee filled...that's 4 flippin sure. The vibes I get from Cesc and Ade is that they still want to stay...to make things happen...so that's a step in the right direction. Wenger was very honest at his press conference...i kno it was hard 4 him 2 take. It was hard for all lovers of Arsenal.

    I want today to be the last day of my disappointment...it's so easy for us to feel sry 4 ourselves and the players but we've got a bit more incentive to beat Chelsea come Sunday. As hard as that defeat was to take I know there must be a silver lining...or the lone chocolate that somehow turned out to be caramel filled instead!

    Ok...so we've fallen agonisingly close to silverware. Will that be our story next year? I think not. I think the belief and family like bond of the squad will hold it together. Arsene better know 3 or so more players with experience and quality are needed. One of my major let-downs over the course of the semi-final games in the CL was us not having a go from outside the area. Just have a flippin shot once in a while! I think Arsene sorely needs that DM who can help us and help Song come along as well. Denilson is an offensive player who likes to have a pop but AW needs to stop making him a defensive mid. Diaby...well I just don't know.

    I really believe in this group of players...but we do need a bit extra. I do think we can do it next year. I just hope that I don't believe in vain for another season that's full of injuries and lacking silverware.]]>

  • Fabrez

    Wow…I feel really passionate for AFC but not to hang myself… that’s so sad. Some ppl really love this Club more than themselves… I hope the players know about this…bcuz it shows how much affection some ppl have for the Club. That’s an incredibly silly thing to do but very unfortunate as well.

  • devday

    Oh my gosh Berth… wow, that’s crazy – where did you read that from?

  • Fabrez

    < ![CDATA[And along with sum1 who has hung himself, it gets worse... It's on the official website:

    'Nicklas Bendtner - An Official Statement

    Nicklas Bendtner has made the following statement in relation to images of him outside a nightclub yesterday evening:

    "I love this club and was so disappointed to lose against Manchester United last night. Reaching a Champions League Final is one of my biggest dreams and getting knocked out was a massive blow.

    "However, no matter how disappointed I was, it does not excuse my behaviour later in the evening. I may be young but my actions were a poor error of judgment and something I deeply regret. I want to apologise to the Club and the fans for letting them and myself down.

    "I cannot change the past but will learn from my mistakes. Tuesday night is behind me now and I want to use my energy to fully focus on our three remaining games this season, starting with Chelsea on Sunday." ']]>

  • Fabrez

    < ![CDATA[Photos of Nik...trousers down...embarassing...

    dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1177834/PICTURE-SPECIAL-Arsenal-stars-late-night-Bendtner-sees-Nicklas-drop-trousers-Gunners-pants-Euro-display.html]]>

  • Fabrez

    I feel as if my Club is slowly falling apart again…

  • debs

    < ![CDATA[Wow that's really deep. I feel so much sympathy for the dude who hung himself's family. That's really sad and it's put a downer on my mood.
    Not to worry guys, I'm sure it can only get better. I just hope it's sooner rather than later...]]>

  • Berth
  • debs

    Thought you was supposed to stay away from the internet except WOA Fabrez, eh? Cheer up mate, it’s not all as bad as it seems :)

  • Fabrez

    Haha…i tried but failed! Ah well! Trying to avoid my facebook for now…too many Man U supporters there! lol

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    BARCALONAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! :D :D :D]]>

  • Pete

    Unlucky Chelsea :D

  • Fabrez

    Haha! I’m here saying the same thing! I know that I want Barca to win it 4 sure! Now they shud go win the whole thing! Tough for Chelsea!

  • Berth

    < ![CDATA[LOL; Chelsea almost punched the refree!!!! am just laughing off my head, comedy football; drogba diving like a swimmer, Ballack wanting desperately to become Mike Tyson.

    I must really hail Yaya and the ten man Barca. what a fight, what a game. I can't stop laughing now. You guys should come join me laugh.]]>

  • Fabrez

    *wanted Barca

  • debs

    Word! Chelsea losing has absolutely made my night! I just couldn’t face the idea of a repeat of last yr’s final. But that just makes sunday’s game even massiver! lol. Now I’m really looking forward to that! :)

  • Fabrez

    We’re there already Berth!

  • Fabrez

    Shame on us…we’re all here laughing at Chelsea…feels good! :D

  • debs

    I’m laughing with you mate Fabrez. Come on Barca! Although I’d have loved us to meet them in the finals, but yeah, totally unlucky Chelsea!

  • debs

    oh soz, Berth I meant to say! Just to damn happy! How sad! lol

  • Pete

    < ![CDATA[Man, i never would have thought I'd laugh so hard after last night, but Chelsea have put a MASSIVE smile on my face!

    Anyone going to Sundays game feel free to chant "1-0, and you f***ed it up!!!!*

    :D :D :D :D :D]]>

  • Fabrez

    Nxt yr we’ll have Arshavin in the Champions League! With a few additions probably! :D Barca are screwed in terms of team selection tho…3 absentees at the back? My goodness! Terry was crying again… Balack almost clothes-lined the ref… Drogba was having the biggest go I’ve ever seen at the ref! Chelsea denied 2 or 3 penalties? Hahaha!

  • Fabrez

    The Sunday game will b a massive hang-over game! Shall b interesting!

  • Debs

    On the other hand though, I’m slightly worried about a backlash from Chelsea on sunday though. Good thing we’re at home!

  • Debs

    I guess us London teams will have to wait another year for Champions League glory. Hopefully we’ll do it before Chelsea!

  • Debs

    I do feel for Chelsea though, but just a little bit, just a little!

  • Fabrez

    Well…maybe in the way it happened i kinda feel 4 them…but not the fact that it happened! Chelsea’s team aint gettin much younger…they’ll have to buy and sell come the summer, that’s 4 certain. There could have been some politics involved…the ref was Barca’s 12th man and UEFA big-boy, Platini, didn’t want another all English final… I personally don’t know…the ref didn’t just have a bad game…it was absolutely shocking…so maybe politics was involved… That would b really sad if it were true!

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[Yeah, just the way it happened, but it brought a huge smile to my face cos it was Chelsea. I think the ref just had a really bad game, doubt there was much politics involved though, that'd be criminal! He even sent of Abidal unfairly with 20mins to go, and Chelsea should have killed off the match then. If it was a Chelsea player who was sent off then there might be an argument that it was Platini-organised! The ref at our game was also dodgy, maybe not as bad as Chelsea's, but I guess they just picked the wrong dudes to officiate.
    And true, Chelsea's squad's ageing. Maybe they want to become the Premier League's AC Milan!]]>

  • Fabrez

    < ![CDATA[lol...AC wouldn't make it in our league...they barely got past Pompey! The prem is definitely not the place to have an ancient squad!

    But yeah...Abidal's sending off definitely wasn't a sending off...so point taken. Plus Alves got booked so he'll miss the final... granted he actually deserved that 1. The ref will surely not ref a big game again...apparantly he's a horrid ref for the Norwegian league as well...don't UEFA do their research? Ah well... our ref was bad enuff too...i was impressed by the Danish 1 in our 1st leg tho. He was pretty solid. I'm thinkin...the same way cricket has a "3rd umpire" and rugby has an official that check out the replays...football may have to head in that direction too...it'll happen sooner or later i'd think!]]>

  • Fabrez

    Apparantly he was the ref in the 1st leg of our Villareal tie… didn’t even kno that…

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[I suggest a robotic referee with all the different cameras angles in his head! lol
    But yeah, football might have to move in the direction of cricket and rugby. Or maybe even as far as tennis goes, that you have 3 incorrect challenges to use, maybe for each half or each game. That'll bring more drama and at the end, the team wouldn't be able to blame the ref at the end. But I guess it'll only be for stuff like penalties, goal-line clearances and bookings, not simple fouls. But I guess for now, we'll just have to deal with the controversy!]]>

  • Debs

    I thought I recognised him! But it wasn’t a massively big game so he wouldn’t have been under much pressure.

  • Fabrez

    lol @ the robotic ref! I think regardless of being robotic, emotionless and flawless, we’ll have the footballers that will have a go a it…and will probably hit it a punch or 2! haha!

  • Debs

    true true! I can just imagine it! I’m sure Drogba would be the first to punch it!