2011 in Retrospect: Just Another Boring Year, Then! (Part 2 - games from this season)

8/1/11 - Sean's Season Preview: 2011-12

  • Some say the jury is out on Wojciech Szezcsny, but for me the case is emphatically closed...In an age where the list of truly world-class goalkeepers probably reads: "Iker Casillas. End text", Szezcsny is in the top 5-6 keepers in the division..which is more than good enough for our purposes.
  • For all my bitching and moaning about the state of the club, there is a serious argument that could be made where a fit TV5 for the whole season plus going with Szezcsny from the beginning would have put us in with a serious shot for the league title.
  • With a fit TV5 as his partner and a bit more consistency, he (Koscielny) could be part of a solid defensive unit that should go a long way towards addressing some of our issues.
  • Let's say we're away to United or Chelsea and we have to play with Jenkinson and, say, Armand Traore. Does that fill you with confidence?
  • I would love to see a signing in the center-mid position, but I doubt it's going to happen. Still, things aren't all negative. We managed to flog the useless Denilson off to Sao Paulo. Do us a favor, Denny, and lose our address.
  • With the status of want-away Nicklas Bendtner still up in the air, this is absolutely going to be the Robin van Persie show. As he goes, we'll go. There was no better Arsenal player in the second half of last season than the Dutchman, which of course was closely aligned to the fact that it was his most consistent campaign on the fitness front. If he can repeat that in this term, there's no reason why he can't have anywhere between 20-25 goals. The hope is that with Gervinho and either a revitalized Arshavin or a more consistent Walcott behind him, he may even get to 30. That's a lot of ifs though.

8/14/11 - Newcastle United 0-0 Arsenal: Positive Aspects to a Dull Match

  • It makes an incalculable difference to a defense when they know that they can rely on their goalkeeper, and it showed today.
  • The talking points continued shortly thereafter, with Alex Song guilty of a sly stamp on the leg of the odious Joey Barton - who has clearly missed his calling. He's the best heel that pro wrestling never had. Still, Song absolutely should have walked for that transgression, and the fact that he didn't was a huge reason that Arsenal walked away with a point today.
  • Gervinho steamed into the penalty area, and went down remarkably easy on a challenge from Chieck Tiote. Fair's fair...it was a dive and a risible one at that. Barton came barreling over, grabbed Gervinho by the shirt, lifted him up and then had his hands at the man's face/throat area. For his part, the Ivorian stupidly raised his hands towards Barton's face. The fucking piece of shit went down clutching his noggin like a sniper took him out from the rooftop, and our Incompetent Match Official Du Jour Peter Walton completely bought it. How on earth his linesmen didn't see the whole incident, I'll never know. The end result was red for Gervinho, and only a yellow for the guy that started the fracas in the first place for no reason. The mind boggles. Seriously, I would LOVE to hear the explanation of this from the esteemed Mr. Walton. Perhaps, at 51, this game just may be passing him by.
  • This is a team at a crossroads, and what I don't think Mr. Wenger understands is that the only thing harder than becoming a big club is getting back there once you've lost it. We are in clear and present danger of losing that status, which in turn would make it even more difficult to attract players of any real quality to the club. We don't pay them the sums that other clubs do, so all we really have to offer is pretty football and the chance of winning things. Take away the chance of winning things, and all we're left with is pretty football. Well, Blackpool plays pretty football too, but they aren't signing Juan Manuel Mata anytime soon.

(For the second time, if you are squeamish or have a pre-existing heart condition, you may want to skip down a bit)

8/28/11 - Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal: An Absolute and Utter Disgrace

  • Early on in the match, I wrote in my notes: "This looks like an early-round FA Cup game, right down to our hideous shirts." You know what, though? I cannot think of a single team in the lower divisions who would defend this shambolically, that would have so little pride and determination that they would essentially stop playing and let the champions do whatever they wanted.
  • But, fuck's sake, look at that defense. Carl Jenkinson, with all of 8 games for a third-tier side. Armand Traore, who anyone with a functioning brain stem can pick out as not being a Premier League player. Johan Djourou, who is capable 30% of the time, a liability 60% of the time, and worse than Helen Keller 10% of the time. If you include the holding midfielder, Francis Coquelin, making his first-team debut and largely considered to be not good enough as well. This is who we went to battle with. This is who we asked to march into Old Trafford and take on the champions.
  • For a team with pretensions towards greatness, that perhaps (Chamakh aside) would be the bench for the reserve team. Look again at United - waiting in the wings they had names like Berbatov, Chicharito, Ferdinand, Park and Da Silva - quality players all. Take another long stare at the gulf in quality between the lineups and the benches. I would not pick the team put out today to beat QPR, who are easily the worst team on show in the Premiership so far. I really mean that.
  • But, this was the first time Arsenal have shipped 8 in the league since 1896. Arguably, this is the worst loss in Arsenal's history...any sort of big-club mystique left over from the Henry/Bergkamp days is irrevocably lost.
  • Djourou had one of his 10% games, and Coquelin wasn't providing any help in midfield. So, what you had was the largely blameless Laurent Koscielny and the completely blameless keeper frantically trying to repel attacks with only four flailing, bumbling Keystone Kops for assistance.
  • Right after, Jonny Evans fouled Walcott in the area, and up stepped RVP. It's funny - normally I am somewhat of an optimist about this team, but I looked over at my roommate and said: "He's going to miss." Sure enough, he hit the worst penalty I've seen since the Women's World Cup Final, and De Gea had the easiest of saves.
  • Jenkinson completes his afternoon by getting sent off. This is what happens when you take someone from a kiddie pool and put them in the Mariana Trench.
  • I don't know what we do or where we go from here. I don't know who we buy to improve our situation. I don't know...I just fucking don't know. See you next week...it can't be worse.

9/1/11 - Grading the Transfer Window

  • However, I would emphatically file this transfer window as a whole under "Minimum Acceptable". because at the end of the day we are still light years behind the two Manchester sides and even Chelsea as far as challenging for any significant honors. What happened tonight brought us back from the precipice of a free-fall into the UEFA places or worse (10th place was not out of the question on the back of the drubbing at Old Trafford), but we still have a hell of a fight on our hands just to finish in 4th place again.
  • However, given the despondent state of Arsenal Nation and especially coming off the back of the worst defeat in over A HUNDRED YEARS (yes, I'm harping on it...it deserves to be harped on), a marquee signing...a true feeling of actual reinforcements...would have gone a long way towards revitalizing our faith...I don't think that was ever realistic though, whatever the reason why. Compounding the frustration is that Arsenal FC these days is as open and transparent as the Soviet Politburo circa 1945, so who the hell knows who is responsible for what these days?
  • Santos looks to be a decent shout, with over 20 caps for Brazil and 10 goals last season...The problem is that if he gets hurt, what are we left with?
  • The good news here is that an epic Rube Goldberg machine of events has to happen before young Miquel finds his way to the bench or in a game again, and only slightly less has to happen to see the execrable Squillaci.
  • It's not that I have a problem with us getting Jenkinson, per se. He's an OK prospect and having him in the reserves for a year before sending him out on loan somewhere, to return ready to play in year 3? That makes sense to me. Having him and all 8 games of his third-tier experience playing at Old Trafford because one guy got sick? Institutional lunacy of the worst order. Absolute clown shoes.
  • Anyway, that wasn't to be. We have Arteta now, and I freely admit that there will be games where he just DESTROYS teams. He can still pick out a pass, and if memory serves he'll bomb them in from long range every now and again. Great. But, he's coming up on 30, injury-prone, and has never been one to relish the big occasions or the blood-and-thunder epics that the Premier League throws at you from time to time. He's extremely light-weight, in other words.
  • Look, I'm not saying Yossi is anywhere near as painfully terrible as the Frenchman was, but it comes down to one basic principle for me: If one of your direct competitors is willing to give you one of their current first-team players, the odds are overwhelming that there is a reason why they're letting you have them.
  • Now, we come to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and this is where I want to go Jules Winfield on the nearest person...Riddle me this, Batman...why is it that we're willing to spend TWELVE TO FIFTEEN MILLION EUROS on an 18-year old from the third tier who has accomplished the square root of fuck all, but we let a reserve clause of only perhaps 5 million more slip away for Juan Manuel Mata...who is not only a top-level talent, but we let him get away to bloody Chelski on top of it?
  • Park Chu-Young, on the other hand, is at least a slightly better gamble.
  • Again, this is a position that was crying out for some established, veteran help...and is another position where what we have is essentially a roll of quarters and a bus ticket to Atlantic City (when Robin misses games, that is).

9/12/11 - Arsenal 1-0 Swansea City: Recovery, One Step at a Time

  • Swansea marries Blackpool's attacking intent with a slightly less suicidal defensive strategy, and Arsenal didn't make things difficult for them either. Once again, the build-up play was fine, but the lack of a final killer ball was telling. Primarily, Kieran Gibbs and Emmanuel Frimpong were careless with their passing and continually lost possession.
  • Mertesacker contributed with one excellent interception that I remember, as well as some blocked shots. With Thomas Vermelaen out with a long-term injury, this developing Mert-ielny partnership is one to keep an eye on.
  • He held for a second, and then looked to release his right-back Angel Rangel with a rolled pass. However, Rangel was not expecting it, and it hit the back of his legs...As I said to Brett after the celebrations: "It's about time we got a little good luck, isn't it?"
  • The funny thing is, Vorm is an excellent goalkeeper. He acquitted himself well for FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie, and has been capped by the Netherlands 5 times. Getting him was something of a coup for a club like Swansea...but it just goes to show that even a solid player can make a horrific mistake in any given game.
  • The match wore on, and Attwell booked a few more Gunners for breathing and/or continued cardio-vascular activity. I was honestly stunned that the streak of red cards was finally halted by the end of 90 minutes.

9/14/11 - Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Arsenal: Massive Defensive Performance

  • Despite the somewhat ropey start, the Arsenal backline came into the game after that opening quarter-hour, and were absolutely immense for the rest of the match. Per Mertesacker's size, ability to read the game and first-hand knowledge of these opponents was obviously a big factor. Laurent Koscielny was fantastic yet again in his role of sweeping up ahead of the big German, and made some critical blocks and tackles throughout the match. Sagna helped lock down the right wing, and was once again quietly brilliant.
  • A few minutes later, Theo Walcott made his one contribution to the match by picking out a lovely through-ball to the Dutch master. Weidenfeller came out, but had no answer for van Persie's ferocious shot (chocolate leg, to boot!).
  • But still, the Arsenal held. Really, how old-school was this? On and on they attacked, on and on Arsenal repelled them. If the defense failed, the colossal Szczesny was there to sweep up after them.
  • Just as it looked like the Arsenal would somehow escape with all three points, the home side got an equalizer that they probably deserved...albeit in sickening circumstances...No one on earth was saving that, and honestly, that guy can hit that shot 50 times and 49 of them would go over the bar and into low Earth orbit.

9/19/11 - Blackburn Rovers 4-3 Arsenal: Suicidal Defending Costs Us Again

  • Blackburn could easily have folded given their current dire straits and the multitude of knives out towards their embattled manager Steve Kean. Instead, they redoubled their efforts and fought their way back into the game (I wonder what that's like?).
  • The Spaniard opened his account for the club by absolutely thundering an unstoppable shot just underneath the crossbar. As well as the Blackburn keeper played on the day, he wouldn't have stopped that with a stepladder and two days' notice.
  • Really, it'd be kind of funny if it weren't happening to us. What wasn't funny was Sagna limping off, to be replaced by Johan Djourou. Yes, you read that right...Djourou, who can't even play his own position these days, was coming in to play right back. I don't know about anyone else, but I saw foreboding clouds on the horizon when that particular personnel change was made.
  • Seriously, if Djourou were a dog we'd be readying the shotgun behind the barn after this performance
  • At this stage, Arsenal decided that playing football might be somewhat of a notion. OH, WHAT A CAPITAL IDEA.
  • Now, we sit in 17th place with four measly points (3 less than QPR, 1 less than Norwich and Swansea) and a -8 goal differential, the worst in the division. We go from a ferociously battling performance away to the German champions, to meekly surrendering two leads against one of the worst teams in our domestic league. It's ugly reading, but that's where we are. If I had to guess, I'd say that once again, we turned up to a winnable game assuming the three points were already in the bank.
  • I hope I'm wrong...but I increasingly doubt it. Things change in football - imagine what you could tell a Liverpool supporter circa 1984, a Spuds supporter circa the late 1960s, etc. Maybe our time is just up. If it is, I am at least comforted by the thought that the same faces will still be at the Pig no matter where we finish. Arsenal 'til I die, bitches.

9/26/11 - Arsenal 3-0 Bolton Wanderers: A Functional, Drama-Free Win

  • Once again, Szczesny has proven to be one of the key pieces of this squad.
  • Gervinho was in alone and frankly should have scored. Sadly, his second touch had the grace and delicacy of a ballet-dancing elephant, and it bobbled into the grateful arms of Jussi Jaaskelainen.
  • RVP got two goals, as you know taking him up to 100 with the club. I was actually kind of stunned to read that he's not that far away from tying the great Dennis Bergkamp's figure with the club. Wikipedia tells me it's 120, but I always figured it was something around 11,542.

10/3/11 - Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal: The Fail Parade Continues

  • As painful as it is to say, we well and truly deserved to get stuffed at the hands of our nearest and fiercest rivals, and only the individual brilliance of our goalkeeper kept the scoreline in the realm of respectability.
  • Song's giveaway was bad, but the worst perpetrator on the day was Ramsey.
  • RVP led the charge, rampaging down the left wing. His cutback to Gervinho was perfect, and with as much time and space as he had, a top level player absolutely must score from there in any circumstance short of a wonder-save from the opposing keeper. Brad Friedel's intervention was not required though, as the Ivorian risibly fired the shot high and wide. It was an absolutely shocking miss, given the circumstances.
  • Now, there are those saying van der Vaart should have been sent off for running into the crowd to celebrate, since he was on a yellow already...What I mean is that if you score a goal, you should be able to celebrate it without some Mr. Fussy waving a yellow bit of cardboard at you for expressing joy or taking your shirt off or whatever...Long story short - let's not take ALL of the joy out of this game, shall we?
  • Oh, and where Gervinho missed, Ramsey absolutely hammered an unstoppable shot right underneath the crossbar and in. The pub went mental, and at that stage I thought we might go on and win it.
  • It did swerve a little at the end, but Szczesny saw it the whole way. You know, sometimes you just lose the flight of the ball...sometimes you think "I got this", and relax a bit and thus take your eye off of it at the last. Keepers are human, these things happen. Unfortunately, this happened at 1-1 in a North London Derby, but what can you do? Again, if it weren't for Szczesny, Spurs would have been home and dry long before this point.
  • As our FOURTH loss of the season in just seven games loomed ever closer, we still played the same glacially-slow tippy-tappy crap that we've all had more than our fill of over the last three or four seasons.
  • You want the truth? Arsene Wenger should have been handed his P45 on his way down the tunnel after the match. Any other club in the world would have sacked any other manager in the world with this track record long before now.
  • Wake-up call, people. We are in 15th place with around one-sixth of the season gone. FIFTEENTH. There's still plenty of time to turn it around, but what evidence is there that we will?
  • Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer, but I don't see why it isn't warranted.

10/17/11 - Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland: A Tale of Two Heroes

  • When you're not playing well as a team and are struggling to find form, oftentimes the only way you're going to get a result is if your best players perform better than the other lot's best. Today, Arsenal got twin Man of the Match performances from Robin van Persie and Wojciech Szczesny to ensure a vital three points.
  • The young Pole came haring out of his goal box and was a good 5 yards outside when Sessegnon got around him. Thankfully, we had enough bodies back where he didn't have a clear sight of goal, and Alex Song was able to clear the danger. Fuck me, that had my heart in my throat for a moment there. I love you Wojceich, but don't ever do that again.
  • Honestly? If that went in, I am beyond sure that we would have gone on to lose the game...They didn't score though, did they? Szczesny came across the face of his goal in a flash, flinging his body far enough to just get a hand to Cattermole's header. Wojceich Szczesny refused to let us lose today...end of story. We would truly be adrift without him this season, that's for sure. At the end of the campaign, we may be calling this one The Save that Saved the Season.
  • Song was fine when defending, but he continues to show the passing range of Helen Keller with motor-neurone disease.
  • In fact, this is about where Sunderland switched tactics from "soak up pressure and get one piece of ridiculous skill" to "Gears of War 3". Honestly, it was like the Battle of the Somme out there for a while...
  • I didn't think much of it at the time, as Arteta, RVP and Walcott had contrived to make a pig's ear out of several free kicks before that. Not this time.

10/29/11 - Chelsea 3-5 Arsenal: There's Only One Team in London

  • "You are very adamant that your lot are winning this week," my roommate said to me yesterday. He's right - I was (and you can look at the comments of the post before this if you need proof). I suppose part of it was the recent winning streak, the form of Robin van Persie, the excellence of our young goalkeeper. Sure, all of those things came into it. But, at the end of the day, I know a sick wildebeest when I see one, and Chelsea look like they're on the bad end of the nature documentary.
  • More importantly, I feel like Arsenal won back a large part of its soul on this day. Call it hyperbole if you wish, but this club was peering into the heart of darkness not that long ago - 17th place, losing to Blackburn, no end in sight. This team was one or two more bad results away from the precipice. Will history remember that?
  • Instead, we were treated (if by "treated" you mean "taking 5 years off your life") to a madcap, helter-skelter defensive shitshow from both sides.
  • Not for the first time on the day, Arsenal could have pulled the all-too-common collapsing act. Not for the first time today, they didn't.
  • Those goals scored at the beginning or end of a half are absolute killers...even playing at my own humble level, I can tell you that they're a real gut punch to the whole team. Again, Arsenal could have folded. Again, they didn't. Whatever the boss said at halftime worked, as the Gunners looked like a much more dangerous and complete team after the interval.
  • The Czech stopper definitely wants that one back - and it wasn't the only bad one he'd give up, either. Truth be told, he had a right old mare on the day.
  • Szczesny had another rush of blood, coming way out of his area and clipping Cole along the way. There was no need for it, especially with referee Andre Marriner seemingly giving the home side the benefit of the doubt on every close decision. Marriner reached towards his shorts pocket, and my heart leapt into my throat - that's usually where the red one lives. Thankfully, the cardboard square was a different color.
  • Among other things, one of the great beauties of this game is the symmetry it often provides. The first half saw us miss two glorious chances, only for Chelsea to score right after. The second half saw Szczesny both give and take away a chance just as glorious, only for Arsenal to take the lead within minutes. What a goal it was, too...Walcott - who played with far more purpose and vitality than he has in the recent past - once again had time and space down the right flank...It was a hell of a strike, but it was at Cech's near post and frankly at a comfortable height to save. I'm not complaining, but that was the keeper's second gift to us on the day.
  • The funny thing, though? I STILL wasn't worried. I still honestly believed we'd win the game....me, Mr. Pessimism! Santos at least got his back a minute later, blocking away Lukaku from a ball and getting away with it. Swings and roundabouts, you fucker.
  • Then, the magic happened. There will be those who say that Arsenal's fourth goal was just one of those things...a crazy, fluky mistake from the defender that could happen to anyone. Indeed, it was a harmless backpass towards Terry, where the racist twat inexplicably and under no pressure whatsoever fell over and let RVP in alone. Cech came way too far out, taking away the dive at the shooter's foot from himself. The Dutchman, cool as you like, simply went around him and slotted the ball into the vacated net. It was pandemonium in the Blind Pig - a jumpy, beery, huggy, cathartic celebration. So yeah, many will say it was just bad luck for Terry. Personally, I think Karma swept the leg like Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
  • There are so many heroes today, but let's start with Koscielny. The defense as a whole didn't cover itself with glory on the day (though the second half was much better and we did preserve a lead this time), but he was immense. He made quite a few saving tackles and blocks, and in general would have had a great shout for Man of the Match on any other day.
  • Santos rebounded from an appropriate-for-the-holiday first half to give us a serious threat down the left-hand side in the second. Oddly, I don't think we could have done it without him.
  • Ramsey wasn't flashy today, but his passing was sharp and incisive, and he did his bit off the ball as well.
  • Enjoy this, friends. Tonight, we feast in Valhalla.

11/6/11 - Arsenal 3-0 West Bromwich Albion: Efficient and Drama-Free

  • That said, I think we can all agree that this was a professional, composed performance against a side that took four points off of us last term (albeit all at the hands of Manuel Almunia). West Brom never seriously threatened at any point in this contest, and while they gave an honest effort and even defended well at times, Arsenal took their chances when it counted and took all three points on the day.
  • Mikael Arteta took the free, sending it up to Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman hit a brilliant diagonal through-ball to catch the run of Theo Walcott, who was in alone. Walcott had room on either side of Ben Foster, but opted to go for the nutmeg. The former England keeper made a decent save to keep it out, but the predatory instincts of our captain kicked in from there. When you're in a purple patch like Robin is, everything just seems to fall your way...and sure enough, the rebound came right out to him. He was left with the simplest of finishes into an open net, and Arsenal were off and running.
  • Thankfully, Foster opted for the interesting technique of "diving out of the way of the shot", which in turn whistled through the location recently vacated by the keeper.
  • van Persie was quickly closed down by two striped-shirted defenders, but he intelligently spied the late run of Arteta just outside the penalty area. The Spaniard took one touch and rocketed a low shot past Foster's dive and into the corner of the net.

11/20/11 - Norwich City 1-2 Arsenal: The Run Continues

  • "Arsenal right back" is quickly becoming like "Spinal Tap drummer" with Bacary Sagna's broken leg and Carl Jenkinson's back strain. This meant that Per Mertesacker would partner Thomas Vermaelen in central defense, giving us what I still consider to be our strongest back line in Sagna's absence.
  • Recent matches have seen Arsenal slowly begin to abandon the third-rate tiki-taka approach for something more of a hybrid approach - Wengerball with a splash of blunt directness.
  • However, it seems that Mertesacker isn't quite used to English center-forwards yet: I doubt there is anywhere on Earth that preaches mindless exertion towards lost causes than in England, and this was one of those rare cases where it reaps the benefits. Morison closed in, muscled Mertesacker off the ball entirely too easily, and was left with a simple low finish past the advancing Wojceich Szczesny.
  • However, Martin was perfectly positioned to clear off the line, giving him his second vital block of the game. Not one minute later...Martin came out of nowhere to hack it clear from the line. Seriously, this man was royally getting on my tits at this point.
  • In the 26th minute though, Martin ran out of tricks and Arsenal were level. Once again, that man Walcott destroyed the fullback and drew Ruddy out as he cut inside. His low cross to RVP met with no resistance this time, and the Dutch wizard was able to sidefoot home from a few yards out.
  • Arsenal should have been ahead. RVP's through-ball eviscerated the static Norwich backline, and Gervinho was in alone on Ruddy. He rounded the keeper and had the entire net at his mercy. Sadly, the Ivorian was far too casual with his finish, allowing Ruddy to recover and make a fabulous save to block at his feet.
  • The Cameroonian's diagonal pass found the run of RVP, who somehow found the millimeter of space available over the advancing Ruddy to hook it over him and into the net. That was a finish that defies superlatives - the captain just gets better and better.
  • You know what, though? I'm actually kind of hopeful at this point. Perhaps this team will, once again, take the football away at the last second like a Charlie Brown comic. Then again, maybe they won't. Come on, Arsenal...let's really kick on from here and salvage something from the shit-show that was the first two months of the season.

11/24/11 - Arsenal 2-1 Borussia Dortmund: Group Stage Mission Accomplished

  • Unfortunately for the visitors, there was a freak 10-minute passage of play in which Sven Bender and Mario Gotze both had to be substituted due to injury after fairly innocuous challenges. Given the intensity of their pressing game, Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp was left with the choice of either abandoning that gameplan to keep his guys as fresh as possible for the latter stages, or keep going with it and hope they got the lead before they tired. They stayed with it, but without their main playmaker and their holding midfielder, they were on a hiding to nothing from that point. That, more than anything Arsenal did, changed the complexion of the match as the second half began.
  • Gervinho, full of inventiveness early in a move, continued his putrid form when it came to the decisive moment. Seriously, the man's first touch makes Nicklas Bendtner look like Leo Messi. On the other wing, Theo Walcott kept his opposing winger and fullback honest without ever threatening the Dortmund goal.
  • Reaching the outside of the penalty area by the end-line, he was closed down by Sebastian Kehl and Lukasz Piszczek. Beyond uncharacteristically, Song shredded both defenders with an impossibly-deft dribble involving at least three feints before plowing right through the middle - almost like an NFL running back hammering his way through the defensive line. His cross was a little high for van Persie, but the Dutch maestro arched his head back enough to get under the ball, sending his header downward...Arsenal now had the momentum, and the visitors were left with tiring legs and one substitution remaining.
  • I wonder why it is that we have so many attacking players completely bereft of confidence - Gervinho, Chamakh, Arshavin - when ostensibly the pressure should be off with RVP scoring for fun. Answers on a postcard, please (or in the comments below - we do encourage that sort of thing, you know).
  • The last substitution was made with five minutes left, and hang onto your hats because apparently Abou Diaby is still alive! Somehow, he made it out onto the pitch without shattering a bone or tearing a hamstring. Well done, Abou! Well done!
  • It should have been Easy Street from there, but the Gunners still had to fulfill their Stupid Goal Conceded quota before De Bleeckere blew the final whistle. Incidentally, this happened during the "Arsene Wenger's Red and White Army" song - in the past I had given our own Brett some stick for how he bristled at us singing it too soon. I admit defeat there now, sir...the evidence is overwhelming.

11/26/11 - Arsenal 1-1 Fulham: Could Be Worse

  • And yet, I find myself palpably less frustrated than most of my Gooner brethren. I keep coming back to the fact that Fulham played a fantastic road match, took advantage of the one mistake Arsenal's defense made all day (look on the bright side - how often is it only one?) and most importantly that the team came back from a losing position once again.
  • This is around where Fulham seized the momentum, often aided and abetted by the wayward passing of young Ramsey.
  • Still, a positive from Arsenal's point of view is that the midfield and fullbacks were all effective in quickly winning the ball back after possession was lost. I distinctly remember Djourou, Andre Santos and Alex Song all making key interventions to prevent Fulham from getting anything going. Djourou in particular was fantastic on the day, showing the kind of confidence he had previous to last season's epic collapse.
  • I had just gotten finished thinking to myself "Hey, Mike Dean hasn't had a bad game!", when he missed Riise's obvious handball as he tried to chest the ball down...Song was far too casual in his closing down of Murphy, giving him plenty of time and space to make the cross. Djourou was caught ball-watching in the middle of the area, and ended up taking himself out of the play. Thomas Vermaelen got beaten in the air by Riise, and then for an encore hooked the ball past a surprised Szczesny and into his own net.
  • Walcott provided the cross after yet another excellent run down the right, and the Verminator was inexplicably left in acres by the Cottagers' defense. TV5 made no mistake, planting a perfect downwards header into the bottom corner.
  • Hey, we could have lost to Queens Park Rangers like some OTHER London side, you know?

12/3/11 - Wigan Athletic 0-4 Arsenal: Killer Instinct

  • Wait, let me get this straight - we scored a goal from long range, scored off of a corner kick, kept a clean sheet and easily saw off Wigan at their ground, which has been a house of horrors for us in recent seasons? Who are you lot, and what did you do with Arsenal? Actually, on second thought, I don't care...I like you better.
  • Anyway, Wigan's early contribution to the match seems odd to me, because all I saw once I walked in was Arsenal curbstomping this helpless rabble.
  • Yes, Virginia...an Arsenal player took a shot from distance. It even went in, too! How about that?
  • The other center-half had shaded over towards RVP, I'm guessing to help out if the other two guys got torched (that's how good our Robin is - three defenders shitting themselves against him at once), and the right back was nowhere to be found. Inexplicably, Gervinho could not possibly be more open, and his joy was palpable as he bundled the rebound in.
  • Frankly, I am kind of annoyed with Le Boss for not making substitutions sooner.
  • Let me repeat, for emphasis: The defender got muscled off the ball by 87-pound Theo Walcott. It's nice to see from Feo, but man alive, can we just relegate these poor bastards now?

12/11/11 - Arsenal 1-0 Everton: Happy 125th, Gunners!

  • It just had to be one-nil on our 125th birthday, right?
  • Some of the faithful were convinced that this would be one of those matches that we out-chance the opponent by hatfuls and lose 1-0. There was one problem with that theory though, and that's that Everton couldn't score in a women's prison with a fistful of pardons.
  • Seriously, are you kidding me? What a goal...what a MAGICAL goal. When the cameras showed Thierry Henry applauding it in the crowd, you just knew that this day would belong to Arsenal. What a birthday present from the Dutchman.
  • Wouldn't you just know it, but it was their young lad who almost tied the game. A long ball caused some bother in the Arsenal defense, and McAleny was left all alone just outside the area. His half-volley was sweetly struck, and for a second I thought "Oh, not again". I mean, how many times over the last few seasons have we been victimized by no-names and fetuses, whose one moment of glory always happens to be a goal against us?
  • Me? I won a Theo Walcott away jersey. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's a Boys Large, so I may be able to wear it without scandal if I can somehow cut, say, 40 pounds or so. Bloody hell.

12/18/11: Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal: Valiant Effort

  • If nothing else, Arsenal have proven beyond all question that they are not the same ragtag outfit that shipped a cricket score the last time they visited the greater Manchester area. For long stretches, the men in red defended resolutely against a squad put together with the GDP of South America. It was a ferociously-contested dogfight that left the Arabian Petro-Dollar All-Stars no room to breathe until Professional Shithead Phil Dowd blew the final whistle.
  • The Welshman fired a shot through the forest of bodies in between him and the goal. Somehow, the young English keeper saw it early enough to get down and make a fantastic diving save.
  • Szczesny read the danger perfectly though, and swooped out of his net to block. One eventually runs out of superlatives for the man - he is already one of the best in the league.
  • Ostensibly, Miquel moved to LB, Vermaelen into the center and Koscielny out right. It looked like there was some confusion with those assignments though, and that was the mistake that cost us a point...That said, it was a little frustrating that with Djourou apparently in danger of not being able to continue, that everyone involved on the backline did not know exactly what they needed to do in case of Djourou being withdrawn. Honestly? I blame Arsene for that - he had the entire halftime interval to make absolutely sure that the eventuality was covered, and clearly it didn't happen.
  • That was just about the only contribution to the match from The Incredible Disappearing Samir Nasri, by the way. His Man of the Match award was clearly a troll move from a side that for some reason has a bug up their collective ass about us (Why Always Us?). He frankly sucked, and once again showed that last season's early good form aside, he was not nearly as big a loss as the whole world said he was going to be.
  • If ever anyone needed to be sold in the January window, it's this man (Arshavin). I give Arsene a lot of credit for finally realizing who the deadwood is and getting them out of the club, but the two bits of flotsam left on the roster are of course the guys who were brought on to try and save the game.
  • For years...no, for DECADES, you lot were Manchester United's inbred cousins. If you had had anyone that another team could possibly have wanted, they would have been signed away quicker than you can say "Shaun Goater and Paul Dickov used to be our strike partnership". Since you seem to have faulty long-term memories, let me remind you of the shite that used to suit up in sky blue. So, now, here you are with your nouveau riche oil money, and it's like the last 50 years never happened. The problem is, the last 50 years DID happen. You're still a club with no history and no tradition of winning. At best...at fucking BEST, you're going to be like the galactico-era Real Madrid: Shit-tons of money spent, once in a while winning something on sheer talent alone but always folding the second anyone significantly fights back. Yes, you had a tough Champions' League group, but you'd have gotten through it if your team was anywhere near as good as you think they are.

12/22/11: Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal: Scram Before the Cops Get Here

  • Nah, you just saw this a few days ago!

2011: The Cumulative Modern Gooner Player Ratings:

(Again, keep in mind this only accounts for the matches where I assigned ratings.)


Wojceich Szczesny - Apps: 27 MOTM: 3 Average Rating: 7.26
Manuel Almunia - Apps: 5 (1) MOTM: 2 Average Rating: 6.00
Lukasz Fabianski- Apps: 1 Average Rating: 7.00
Jens Lehmann - Apps: 1 Average Rating: 6.00


Laurent Koscielny - Apps: 26 MOTM: 4 Average Rating: 6.69

Johan Djourou - Apps: 16 (4) MOTM: 3 Average Rating: 6.06 (2 N/A ratings)

Bacary Sagna - Apps: 17 Average Rating: 6.82

Per Mertesacker - Apps: 14 Average Rating: 6.79

Kieran Gibbs - Apps: 12 (2) Average Rating: 6.75 (2 N/A ratings)

Gael Clichy - Apps: 10 (1) Average Rating: 6.40 (1 N/A rating)

Thomas Vermaelen - Apps: 9 (1) Average Rating: 7.22 (1 N/A rating)

Andre Santos - Apps: 6 (2) Average Rating: 6.57 (1 N/A rating)

Sebastien Squillaci - Apps: 7 Average Rating: 6.57

Francis Coquelin - Apps: 4 (2) Average Rating: 5.60 (1 N/A rating)

Emmanuel Eboue - Apps: 4 Average Rating: 6.00

Carl Jenkinson - Apps: 2 (2) Average Rating: 5.00

Ignasi Miquel - Apps: 1 (2) Average Rating: 5.50 (1 N/A rating)

Armand Traore - Apps: 1 Average Rating: 4.00


Andrei Arshavin - Apps: 15 (11) MOTM: 2 Average Rating: 6.04 (3 N/A ratings)

Alex Song - Apps: 22 (1) MOTM: 2 Average Rating: 6.65

Theo Walcott - Apps: 20 (2) MOTM: 3 Average Rating: 6.64

Aaron Ramsey - Apps: 16 (2) Average Rating: 6.24 (1 N/A rating)

Mikael Arteta - Apps: 14 MOTM: 1 Average Rating: 6.86

Tomas Rosicky - Apps: 7 (7) MOTM: 1 Average Rating: 6.18 (3 N/A ratings)

Gervinho - Apps: 12 (1) Average Rating: 6.00

Jack Wilshere - Apps: 12 Average Rating: 6.83

Samir Nasri - Apps: 12 MOTM: 1 Average Rating: 7.00

Cesc Fabregas - Apps: 7 (3) MOTM: 1 Average Rating: 6.67 (1 N/A rating)

Denilson - Apps: 6 (2) Average Rating: 5.29 (1 N/A rating)

Yossi Benayoun - Apps: 1 (7) Average Rating: 6.67 (2 N/A ratings)
Abou Diaby - Apps: 5 (2) MOTM: 1 Average Rating: 5.83 (1 N/A rating)

Emmanuel Frimpong - Apps: 2 (3) Average Rating: 6.00 (2 N/A ratings)

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Apps: 0 (2) Average Rating: N/A (2 N/A ratings)

Henri Lansbury - Apps: 0 (2) Average Rating: N/A (2 N/A ratings)


Robin van Persie - Apps: 26 (1) MOTM: 6 Average Rating: 7.00

Marouane Chamakh - Apps: 3 (15) Average Rating: 6.20 (8 N/A ratings)
Nicklas Bendtner - Apps: 5 (7) MOTM: 1 Average Rating: 5.83

Carlos Vela - Apps: 0 (1) Average Rating: N/A (1 N/A rating)