Bolton From The Traps

Interesting statistic for you – at home, in 9 games, we have conceded just 2 goals and kept 7 clean sheets. That’s all I’m going to say about goalkeepers today. Apart from, hilariously, there are still those that blame Almunia for Bolton’s goal (and it was hardly his fault). There are also those who point to Koscielny’s error as a sign of our impending relegation. If you think either of those things you’re an idiot. It’s my own opinion, I don’t speak for the other writers on this fine blog, but I’m fed up with reading people looking for excuses to trash talk the players.

Koscielny in particular has looked the real deal – an excellent tackler, great (usually) in the air and probably one of the best passing centre backs I’ve seen in an Arsenal shirt. His distribution and confidence on the ball is fantastic. He has made two critical errors since arriving and unfortunately for him both have led to goals, one against Blackburn and one against Bolton. It’s not a question of strength, he stood up well to challenges in both games and continued playing after first Joe ‘Cabbage’ Cole tried to remove his leg against LOLerpool, and then on Saturday after Kevin Davies attempted to head his head off his shoulders. It’s just naivety, maybe a lack of experience, and hopefully those mistakes will help him learn that much quicker. Certainly he has not cost us points yet.

On the subject of Kevin Davies, the meat headed no talent hack, how the hell did he not get sent off twice in the first half? First on Rosicky and then Wilshere? Both challenges were far worse than Cahill’s. Cahill’s challenge was poor, late, two footed and from behind but there was actually a fairly good chance of him winning the ball if Chamakh hadn’t have backheeled it. I felt at the time and still do, that whilst I fully understand and support the red for discouraging two footed challenges from behind, that it was a harsh sending off. Davies on the other hand went in twice with the intent of hurting the other player, he even lifted his studs on Wilshere after the ball had gone. And yet he only got a yellow after both? He should have then received a second yellow (and therefore a red) after headbutting Koscielny – again, the ball had already gone, but he dropped his shoulder and head anyway. You can’t always stop your momentum, but you don’t have to offer the hardest bits of your body to hurt the opposition. Cretin.

Squillaci – he slotted right in didn’t he? There were a few moments where I thought ‘RUH OH!’ but the lads at the back, considering we had Eboue defending playing up front at RB, did incredibly well to recover from any dicey situations. Not that there were many, because defending starts at the front. Don’t lose the ball, win it back in the middle and finally drop back to block – all these things make defending far easier than it otherwise would be, and all of these things we did well.

You’ve probably read that the Arsenal move that led to our 4th goal comprised of 24 passes, a record in this seasons Premier League so far. What most people have missed was that the move was started by the eventual goalscorer Vela. It was Vela that won the ball in the centre of the park, tracking back to win it after a pass in his direction came up short. That’s what crowned the move for me, Vela getting stuck in and winning the ball, as much as the passes and the impeccable assist from Fabregas. Lovely to see the hunger of the young man – let’s face it, he’ll probably be up front on his own if Chamakh also gets an injury.

There are far more positives than negatives to draw on at the moment, disregarding injuries. On injuries, tragic for Bobby Zamora at the weekend. Fulhams answer to Robin Van Persie (ie legs made of bone china) has broken his leg above his ankle. Zamora has been a workhorse, I remember going to see him a couple of times when we lived in Brighton, but he has always been susceptible to injuries. He’s one of the footballers I admire in this league though, he’s not a gobshite, he’s not full of elbows, he’s not prolific against us and he doesn’t pay for fanny. Top bloke, hope he comes back well.

Actually – Zamora wasn’t the only one at the weekend who got injured by a terrible challenge.  Diaby nearly lost part of his leg after Robinson tried to nail him to the floor with his studs. Threeandin have written an excellent article on the subject of bad challenges and British TV’s (specifically Auntie Beeb’s) totally inability to address foul play. Recommended reading.

Karl Henry is rapidly becoming the new Shawcross, a player who seems determined to wreck others. He’s now broken a players leg in a game immediately after he karate kicked Joey Barton in the stomach. Remember how that ended? Alan Hansen and Shearer whooping and laughing, hi-fiving each other over what was probably one of the most sickening displays of thuggery the premier league has seen in a few years. I’d suggest they are at least partially responsible for Zamora’s plight.  Remember, this was the same episode in which Shearer counted the number of seconds Theo had on the ball throughout a slow motion replay. Total wankers.

I fear playing Wolves I really do. With our injury record and their new found ability to damage people, it could be a blood bath. Hopefully if they keep at it they’ll all be suspended and we’ll be able to play their youngsters and tea lady – it won’t end well otherwise. I was listening to 5 live after the games and the amount of Wolves fans that were ringing in to complain about being mislabeled as a dirty team was incredible. One guy said “I don’t like it”. Well here’s a newsflash pal – if the team you follow go out of their way to injure an opponent (Barton) or make dangerous over the ball studs up challenges (Zamora) that result in people getting broken legs, that makes the team you follow a dirty team. Seriously, it’s that simple and it’s irrelevant if it embarrasses you. Be dirty, get labelled dirty. It’s the same thing as Shawcross and Stoke. These total morons don’t ever like it when the attention is on them for being dangerous pricks on the football pitch. If you don’t like being a villain, don’t do villanous things. Ringing into 5 live won’t change the fact that Zamora will miss a large part of the season after flirting with international call up (especially given Defoe’s injury).

Blackpool did the business at the weekend – and it’s really lovely to see them sitting in the top four at the moment. 28 points seperated them and Newcastle at the end of last season, but with a slice of luck and an impressive goalkeeping display they managed to take all three points at St. James Park. Put it into perspective, it’s the first time that Newcastle have been beaten at home since being relegated. I hope Blackpool stay up, purely because their manager isn’t a total dickhead and so far they haven’t resorted to boxing in order to earn points. A rarity in this seasons Premier League.

Much has been said about Chelsea looking amazing again, and sure they do. But they’ve played Wigan, Stoke, WBA and West Ham – 4 teams you would have expected them to comfortably beat. Don’t get me wrong, they look incredibly strong, but I’m going to reserve total judgement until they play United et al.

Manchester United made Saturday even more incredible, throwing away a 2 goal lead for the first time in 9 years. Such utter capitulation, Everton never gave up and credit there, but again Manchester United looked fairly mediocre in the middle. It was probably a fair result though – even with a two goal lead, it was Everton were creating more chances (14 on target to United’s 8 ) and had more corners (7 to United’s 5) – United also commited twice as many fouls which suggests that they were struggling to impose themselves on Everton. Weak.

It was lovely to see Baconface’s team concede two and lose two points, it was even better to see Preston (and Son of Baconface) concede three from the same position, lose 4-3 and throw away three points whilst the big man himself sat and watched. Darron Baconface is even worse than his old man, he’s got all the arrogance and twattish behaviour without anything to back it up. Anyway 5 injury time goals and 5 points lost – Ferguson’s are jinxed, AMIRITE?

LOLerpool did well to hang on against a Birmingham team that did everything except score. Another team that looked really dire in the middle, Liverpool had virtually no creativity or service to the front men. Torres won them games last season, he’ll struggle to do that this time round without seeing the ball. Or throwing himself to the floor like he’s just been hit by his mum.

Finally, both Spurs and City struggled again at the weekend, both looking less like teams and more like a bag of cats.

It’s a great time to be a Gooner, don’t let all the idiots spoil it for you.

  • Berth

    With the first few quotes I knew it was Kieran writing. Goal keepers re sometimes judged by crucial moments like the game against Birmingham where we blew our chance.

  • Kieran

    Berth you could have told sooner than that, my name is under the title.

    Of course goalkeepers are judged by crucial moments, who is suggesting they are not? Please don’t make stuff up to suit your view, it’s disingenuous.

    The fact remains that Almunia was not at fault for the goal we conceded at all on Saturday. It’s ludicrous to suggest he was.

    He did however make three very good saves all of which were highlighted after the match on several highlight shows (Sky/BBC) and during the match on Radio 5 Live.

    So I’ll continue to judge the goalkeeper on those three crucial moments, and the previous 8 home games rather than made up ‘facts’ generated to support some kind of witch hunt.

    Out of interest, which Birmingham game are you talking about, the one where we beat them at home or drew away after Sagna kicked the ball at Phillips and it bounced into the net – a goal which incidently the Goalkeeper couldn’t have done anything about? Unless you also believe goalkeepers shoould know where the defender will kick the ball and who it will bounce off?

  • JTGunner

    Kieran i do agree with most of what you have said in your article (another article btw).
    i think its good that you didnt talk too much about almunia.i feel hes had a good start to the season.i was impressed by his determination against blackburn and he has made many key saves, as you said, a few good saves against bolton.but i dont agree that almunia was not at fault for that goal against birgmingham last season.the ball didnt travel at express pace towards him and he should have done better.but that was last season and doesnt matter anymore.
    koscielny has looked good apart from the two errors he has made which led to us conceeding goals.but as you said, he is learning and he will improve.squillaci looks to be a very good buy.i was him a few times for sevilla and he never seemed to do much wrong.sadly for djourou, it seems he is now 4th choice!
    chelsea do look ridiculously strong but have played 4teams who you would expect them to beat with ease.they smashed wigan 7-0 or something on the last day of last season, they beat a newly promoted team, and a west ham team who look rubbish atm.i thought they would find it harder against stoke and that they did, but they still came out with a good win.
    in terms of our teams performances so far, i have been impressed!we had a hard start away at anfield and were lucky to come away with a point. we outclassed blackpool and dealt with all the long balls from blackburn which is something we would not have done over the past 3seasons!we were in control at the time cahill got sent off and the result was inevitable after that.i dont think it should have been a straight red but people have clearly forgotten that he was already on a yellow so he would have been sent off if he got a second yellow.he jumped in two footed into the back of chamakh so i can understand the reasoning behind the red but i dont agree with it.
    on the topic of karl henry.i completely agree that he put in some big hits against newcastle.some i thought were well timed, but the others were ridiculous. how he didnt receive even a yellow card is a joke!the tackle against zamora was also very bad.he was nowhere near the ball and he took out zamora with both feet.another poor tackle.im not worried about when we play wolves as im confident we can outplay them and make our superior technique and touch count. henry was sent off against us last season wasnt he?i think it was for a tackle from behind against rosicky?

  • JTGunner

    *(another excellent article)

  • dean

    Some more facts for you…

    We have yet to keep a clean sheet in 11 consecutive away games.

    That’s all I’m going to say about goalkeepers today

  • dean

    Cesc had a brilliant game as is expected.. however, I couldn’t help notice that despite setting up 2 of the goals, he didnt appear to celebrate any of them. It may just be my paranoia but I swear he used to be one of the most emotional players when we scored.

    Admitedly, as long as he keeps scoring/assisting it may not really matter to most, but clearly eyes are going to be on him after the summer. Did anyone else notice this? Should we care? Am I just being picky?

  • theusualsuspect

    I have to agree with you his body language was awfull not just him but most of the players look at the fourth goal again knowbody realy running about all just wandering allover the pitch just passing backward and forwards to eachother I know we scored but it didnt even make sky sports 6 best of the week so it couldnt of been that good. For me Fabregas just stood in the middle of the pitch got the ball and then just passed it of to somebody else I mean what else does he bring to the team, cant get a corner past the first defender. When we score why isnt he running up and down the pitch doing cartwheels, conducting a marching band and singing simply the best to whoever scored it’s disgusting I think he has a problem…….

  • Kieran

    @ dean:
    Maybe after you called him a mong he decided it wasn’t worth it? You can’t level horrific insults at players and then demand they improve their body language. After the guff you and others have come out with across the internet I’m still amazed he hasn’t just quit football for good.

    @ theusualsuspect:
    Outstanding analysis – you’re right of course, Cesc did nothing for that goal…. except pass the ball over the top and claim the assist. What a terrible footballer. Disgusting.

    Just out of interest, is that how other people measure a goal’s merit? By how high it ranked on Sky Sports?

  • Kieran

    @ dean:
    Also, dean, that’s a good stat and clearly shows our need for improvement in both defense and goal keeping.

    I’d be interested in the squads for those matches – we had a run of away matches at the end of last season and my memory is that Gallas was injured – that surely affected us.

    One thing I would point out though, is that you expect away games to be tougher and the home team to attack more, so I would expect to concede more away – every single one of the clubs in the premiership last season did.

  • devday

    @ theusualsuspect:
    One thing to take note of is that Sky Sports also named him (Cesc) man of the match.

  • theusualsuspect

    I was talking about the body language

  • Kieran

    Some other Statistics – only four clubs, Villa (15), Chelsea (18), Manchester United (19) and Liverpool (17) managed more clean sheets in last seasons league than Arsenal (14).

    Only 4 teams conceded fewer goals than Arsenal (41) and they were Villa (39), Chelsea (32), Liverpool (35), and Manchester United (28).

    Both sets of stats show what we already knew – at least 3 of those teams have significantly better goalkeepers, but equally there are 16 worse teams at stopping the opposition from scoring.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, we aren’t terrible, or we wouldn’t have finished 3rd – but we weren’t good enough last season to finish 1st or 2nd. However, stopping goals isn’t everything – look at Liverpool, conceding fewer goals and keeping more clean sheets – but they were well out of the top four!

    So scoring goals matters just as much, something thankfully we haven’t struggled as much with, despite playing Arshavin up front.

    Would our goals conceeded have been better if Fabregas and Gallas didn’t miss the last 6 games? Probably.

  • Kieran

    @ theusualsuspect:
    Dos that matter then if he pulls two assists and wins man of the match? Does it matter if he does cartwheels?

  • derek

    The thing is, I see no reason why he’s any more likely to leave next summer. Barca are still going to struggle to match our valuation.
    But really that doesn’t matter, what matters is now. He was phenomenal on Saturday, and the only thing the team can do is to win something this year and convince Fab he has a reason to stay

  • Berth

    @ Kieran – I was referring to the away game against Birmingham last season.

  • Kieran

    @ Berth:
    OK, so what about my question – would you not blame Clichey more for failing to make the clearance that came of the Birmingham player, Phillips?

  • theusualsuspect

    He is going next summer just enjoy him while he is here

  • Sam

    @ theusualsuspect:
    Can u be any more negative?! In fact Cesc celebrated the goals. He was all One could ask for on & off the ball.
    It’s a good time to be a gooner.

  • Berth

    See Kieran just as Alumnia is prone to mistakes, so are players like Clichy (lack of concentration), diaby (misplaced passes),Denilson (not tracking back) and Walcott (final balls). We all know our deficiencies, not that we choose to ignore them; we know they exist. However the final bus stop is Alu – his not half bad as you have convinced me but his mistakes can easily be detected by even a passive football fan

  • Kieran

    @ Berth:
    Fella, I am not saying you are wrong at all, I’m simply asking – my take on that goal was a mix of horrendous accident and poor defending. Clichey panicked and lashed at it without thinking about trying to avoid the crowded box.

    Almunia makes plenty of mistakes, I’m not trying to suggest otherwise, I just think it is unfair to blame him specifically for that particular goal!

    He does a lot wrong, but I think people are beginning to find fault with his performances even when he has had a pretty good game!

    That was why I mentioned it in the article – you cannot blame Almunia for the Bolton goal really, from the moment LK tried to pass back Almunia was always stuck in no mans land. He did very well to push Li wide in the first place, but it was always going to be impossible for him to cover the front and back post, he had to push the player out, he couldn’t covert the back as well.

    And yet people are blaming him and using it as an example of why we should have got Schwarzer (who conceded himself!).

  • Pete

    4-1 against Bolton is a good result. Remember, this is a win against a team that has caused us plenty of problems in the recent past, and we out did them convincingly. I watched Saturdays game and Arsenal were impressive, as they have been this season so far. It’s easy to single out the odd mistake made here and there.

    I dont think it’s fair to blame Almunia just because of his poor form last season. Remember, Fabianski played quite a number of games last season too, so it wasn’t just Almunia who suffered in goal. I think it was more collective defending mistakes than just down to goalkeeping errors. Credit to the Spaniard though, he’s done a lot better this season so far. Not saying he’s suddenly world class, but he’s done very well in recent games. Didn’t think he was to blame for the Bolton goal or come to think of it, any of the goals we’ve conceeded this season so far (Liverpool and Blackburn). To me it seemed more of a collective mistake by Koscielnys header and Eboue not covering back in time. But honestly, in the entire 90 mins I cant really think of that many other mistakes we made at the back. Be that nit-picky about things is like Alan Hanson singling out the one poor cross Walcott made against Blackpool the other week.

    Didn’t notice anything unusual about Cesc either. Am just delighted that he played well. If he can perform like that every game then I’ll happily take it. His passes were sublime all game, he looks physically stronger, and even more willing to take the bull by the horns and stamp his influence of games. Really impressed me and was deservedly Man of the Match. And it’s good seeing him play alongside Rosicky again. As for his “lack of celebrating”, I didn’t notice that at all. Its perfomances that win games. I’d be slightly worried if all of a sudden out of nowhere he started doing Obe Martins back flip celebrations. Henry was hardly the most celebratory goal scorer, and look how great he was for us.

    Regarding Koscielny, you have to take into consideration that he’s still adaping to the Premier League (he’s played 3 games for us so far), but credit where its due, he’s done very well so far, and I thought he did especially well against Liverpool. He’s already played two tough away fixures already this season, and did remarkably well by anyone standards. It’s his attitude thats impressed me most, and if he keeps it up, he’ll just keep on getting better.

    There was plenty to be happy with from Saturday, as well as the games played so far. Chamakh is getting a consistantly good run, Song looks better than before, players like Diaby have performed well so far this season, and so far we’ve had good cover in each position. Despite having a tougher fixture list, we’re only 2 points behind Chelsea, who’ve had such an easy run of games it’s unbelievable.

    So far so good from the Gunners.

  • Berth

    No I don’t blame him for the goal. I will blame the defenders for not closing down quickly; Ebuoe in particular.

  • dp

    My word there are a lot of half full glasses today!
    Reasons to be happy:
    - We kept Cesc
    - We got 3 new guys in who all look better than those who went out
    - Arsene is staying
    - We kept Cesc
    - We have had a very good start (7 points from Liverpool, Blackburn and Bolton)
    - Others have already slipped up (Man U, Man C, Spurs, Liverpool)
    - We kept Cesc
    - We got a great draw in the CL
    Now all of you doom and gloomers go and have a beer and look forward to winning the double this year!