Category Archives: Vermaelen

Third Place – but this is no time for complacency

Ah, Everton – one of the quintessential English clubs. A proud club of tradition, heritage and achievement, though there hasn’t been too much of the latter in recent years. Apparently they’ve been playing at Goodison since 1892; I’ve never been there, but from my vantage point on the couch via the telly, it looks like a proper football ground. Even the advertising has an old-school feel: Rainham Steel, Draper Tools etc.

And of course, the very mention of Everton F.C. evokes some famous (or should that be haunting?) memories…

The beefy thighs of Bob Latchford.


The ill-advised ‘tache of Derek Mountfield.


Even the cutting-edge 80′s hairstyling of Adrian Heath.


In recent years, however, they have found it tough to beat us. In fact they haven’t taken three points off us since 18th March 2007, a 1-0 win at Goodison. As you are all aware, that trend continued last night as we came away from their place with three points and a clean sheet, on what turned out to be an excellent night for us overall.

It was an Arsenal performance characterised by grit and solid teamwork, particularly at the back. At the end of last season we were left to wonder what might have been had Vermaelen been fit. This season, apart from a recent dip in form and some uncharacteristic errors, we have seen how much he brings to the team. He scored the only game of the game last night by spinning away from the taller Fellaini, who was left bumping into his own player and unable to challenge for RVP’s inswinging corner. That was his fifth of the season. The thing I like most about Vermaelen is his attitude and intensity. Even if he isn’t playing to his full capability, he doesn’t stop working. He’s not the biggest central defender, but he is – to use his own word – a fighter.

There were certain aspects of our performance that were not particularly inspiring. We gave the ball away pretty cheaply at times, particularly during the second half. The team selection was curious. Ramsey and Rosicky both started and I got the impression that Ramsey’s inclusion somewhat cramped the Czech’s style a little, if you see what I mean. Rosicky’s recent performances ensured his inclusion, but for me the selection of Ramsey was somewhat counter-productive. He got into some very good positions and should have had at least one goal in the first twenty minutes of the game. But a consequence of his attacking role seemed to be that Rosicky was less inclined to push up in and around the box, which was unfortunate as his finishing has been good recently – and Ramsey’s hasn’t. But I suppose I’m splitting hairs, and the manager may have been mindful of the need for defensive cohesion in his decision to play Ramsey rather than the Ox or Gervinho down the left.

David Moyes left us with a decidedly blue-nosed rant about the inefficiency of the officials when interviewed after the game. There is no doubt whatsoever that Drenthe was onside and that his goal should have stood. Nor can there be any doubt that his attempt to demonstrate his pole-dancing skills (using Rosicky as the pole) should have resulted in a penalty. The referee was unimpressed, however – perhaps he is an authority on pole dancing, I don’t know. The only person who was energised by Drenthe’s demo (apart from the vociferous travelling Gooners) was Gary Birtles in the commentary box, who seemed highly excited: “He’s got his leg in his groin!!” Curiously, I didn’t hear either manager quizzed about the incident after the game.

In any event poor old David was left with a second consecutive loss to mark his ten years as manager at Goodison, and as a good footballing man, he clearly takes these setbacks to heart.


In the meantime the Chavs from the Bridge stuttered to another defeat and the spuds had to rely on a very late equaliser to rescue a point, leaving us in sole possession of third place.  Rumours of Twitcher’s omnipotence appear to have been somewhat exaggerated, particularly as he publicly admits to his own fuck ups. At half time at the Lane last night he tried to motivate his players by lying to them, telling them that both ourselves and Chelsea were winning. What is he going to do the next time his side are facing defeat? How does he expect his players to believe him when they reach their next crisis? His gamble didn’t pay off yesterday, and I’d like to think there may be repercussions for him as season draws to an end.

For the moment we have the momentum, but we cannot take the spuds lack of form for granted. I’d like to think that with players as focussed and committed as RVP and Vermaelen this is not going to happen, but we just have to wait and see.

Finally, a word of appreciation for the magnificent and awe-inspiring legend that is T. Henry, who flew from the U.S.  – having just played an MLS game against ‘Real Salt Lake’ – to London to visit Fabrice Muamba in hospital, and then headed straight back to the airport to return to the U.S.. I’m off  to raise a glass of O’Hara’s Irish Red in his honour, and to drink to the health of Fabrice while I’m at it.  Cheers!

Comments Off on Third Place – but this is no time for complacency

Filed under Henry, Ramsey, Rosicky, Van Persie, Vermaelen

Newcastle 0 – Arsenal 0: picking up where we left off?

As I’m sure you’re aware, the season began today with a no-score draw at St James Park, an unsatisfying result from a game that appeared to follow a very familiar pattern. We dominated possession and passed the ball a great deal, but failed to create a lot of scoring opportunities. The opposition tried to keep their shape and close us down; when they did have possession they looked fairly impotent. It’s going to be a long, long season for Toon supporters, but that’s their problem.

There were some positives. Gervinho started and became the focus of much of our attacking play. He caused Newcastle problems on both flanks, and when he develops a better understanding with his teammates I should think he’ll get plenty of assists. Of course the first thing he’ll have to understand is that when he gets the ball into good wide positions he’s going to have find Van Persie, because there’s not likely to be many other attacking teammates in the box to aim at.

The downside – apart from our inability to score – was obviously Gervinho’s red card. If there was any clearer demonstration why Joey Barton should not be an Arsenal player, this was it. Having reacted aggressively to Gervinho’s fall  in the Newcastle area (by picking him up off the deck by his shirt), he then dropped as if he’d been shot when Gervinho stupidly slapped his cheek, and told the ref he’d been punched. I’m not defending Gervinho – if you put your hand into another players’ face you’re likely to be dismissed. But Barton showed the football world once again why he fully deserves his reputation as a cunt and I do not understand why anyone would to see him in an Arsenal shirt. Song was lucky to stay on the pitch after he deliberately trod on Barton’s ankle in the first half. Was this why Barton contrived to get Gervinho sent off in the second? I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Anyhow, Gervinho gets an automatic ban for a straight red. Ironically Newcastle didn’t look any more likely to score with the man advantage.

Defensively we looked pretty good, I felt – but as mentioned above, Newcastle didn’t create and didn’t really pressure us. But Chesney dealt with things pretty decisively – he didn’t get flustered and looked confident. Vermaelen and Koscielny played well as the preferred options at centre-half. Frimmers made his debut as a late sub and was fine. Arshavin was, I felt, largely ineffective and gave away possession too often, though he did provide an excellent chip to put RvP through on goal. Rosicky was industrious without being incisive. Song was both solid and lucky, as mentioned above. RvP didn’t get much to work with.

The other notable point from the game was the behaviour of the away fans. “Spend our fucking money” was the clear message from the travelling Gooners, and rightly so. AW is quoted on the club website as saying:

“Everybody looks for centre backs in the whole world…People with unlimited resources look for a centre back… We have specialised people to work everywhere but we are not in a supermarket where you go to a shelf and you ask where are the centre backs or the strikers.”

These are not the sort of observations that are likely to appease those Gooners who are already deeply frustrated by the club’s inability to address the weaknesses in our squad. He goes on to say:

“If a player is interesting the top clubs, he has a fantastic value. If there is no interest from these clubs he is £3-7million…The same player can be worth £30-50million and £3-7million. There is no logic in the market any more. In football it is very difficult to set the price for the players.”

It sounds to me as though he is addressing the Cesc issue indirectly here, by attempting to justify to supporters why Fabregas is being sold to Barca for less than his market value. I believe he’s also offering an explanation as to why he is seemingly unable to countenance buying a centre-half, being unable to match the valuations of the selling club/s. It’s worth noting, perhaps, that Gary Cahill scored for Bolton today, which will certainly not do anything to weaken Bolton’s bargaining position should Arsenal bid for him. Which we won’t, I daresay.

Not to worry, it’s only Udinese next in a crucial CL tie…

Comments Off on Newcastle 0 – Arsenal 0: picking up where we left off?

Filed under Frimpong, Gervinho, Match Day Postmortem, Rosicky, Song, Szcesny, Vermaelen