It's only one game, but oh my what a game: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Despite contracting an illness that is nigh unspeakable and even a trip to the hospital to get a shot in the ass which staved off the nausea long enough to get some fluids in and watch the tape of Arsenals’ 6-1 win over Everton, I had a wonderful day yesterday. Such is the sickness of being an Arsenal fan.

The day started as inauspiciously as possible, I was awoken with a rumbling in my stomach and immediately went to the bathroom to empty the contents — that was 3:30 am.  6 hours before The Arsenal played Everton, ugh, what’s going on?

I sat on the couch with a glass of water and switched the television on to ESPN2 in high def, to check the listings to see if the Chelsea v. Hull match was listed; nope, huntin’ and fishin’ as far as the eye could see. Crap.

So, I waited and watched a turkey hunting show, well it was some kind of cross between huntin’ and NASCAR, very strange, but hey, I found out that Bass Pro Shops have a kick ass camo shotgun on sale for $1000! I need that, for, erm, turkey huntin’.

So, I waited, drank some water and waited until 4:30am, watching various huntin’ shows, when suddenly coverage switched from huntin’ to EPL… in High Definition. WOW. Yeah, I was watching Chelsea and Hull and no one wants to do that, but the high definition broadcast was as cool as it gets. For us Arsenal fans in North America this means that we’re going to get to see the first North London Derby (on October 31st) for free on ESPN2 in high definition. Very cool, I may even get up early every weekend and watch their broadcast, hell, the commercials for bass fishin’ and shotguns are a change of pace from the Upgrade and Wallbangers commercials.

The coverage was good too, I know a lot of fans were worried that the usual ESPN crews would be covering the color and play by play but it sounded like the Sky Sports guys to me, if anyone wants to clarify who was covering the match I’d be much obliged.

Anyway, that’s all just icing, the cake itself would happen at 9:30am.

As I’ve said before, I don’t do match reports, other folks do that better than me and if you want a match report you should click on over to ESPN where they’re saying “Gunners Crush Tottenham” or over to the Telegraph where the lead is “A summer of whispering doubt, silenced.

And if, for some crazy reason, you missed the match, you can head over to the Arsenalist who always has the highlights.

What I usually do is a Good, Bad, and Ugly and a man of the match. Why break with tradition now?

Man of the Match

Sometimes this can be a controversial pick, but I’d be shocked if today’s MotM was anything less than unanimous: Cesc Fabregas. All he did was have a hand in 4 of the 6 goals scored while doing a fine job captaining the team.  It’s only the first game and I’m not trying to get too high on anyone just yet, but Cesc looked like he had a good spring in his step and seemed to be organizing the boys very well. Obviously, the true test of a captain is when he’s faced with adversity but the young man has done well here.

The Good

There were so many goods yesterday it’s hard to pick out just one or two, so I’m going to limit it to just three: Vermaelen, Song, and Bendtner.

In Vermaelen (TV5 from now on) Arsene has found his dominant aerial player and actually his heading seems to be contagious. I have to wonder if the squad’s lack of heading ability the last few years hasn’t been down to just not being brave enough. Vermaelen doesn’t seem to suffer that affliction and gets his head in in places that normal guys wouldn’t dare. Maybe it’s just a perception on my part but it seems like everyone was getting “head in” on every play. Maybe Wenger worked on it? Maybe Vermaelen is an inspiration at 4’11” or whatever he’s supposed to be? But whatever the case the whole team was amazing in the air. His goal was just a bonus.

Song seems to have picked up another aspect of his game, man marking. Ok, well, maybe Wenger’s the one who picked that up, but whatever the case Song simply marked Felliani out of the game. Song didn’t win every header, you can’t expect him to, but he did fight and tussle, and basically took Felliani out of the game. Moyes didn’t seem to know what to do. It was as if he came with one plan, “Arsenal aren’t good in the air,” and when Song and Vermaelen neutralized that attack, Everton didn’t know what to do. Meanwhile, Song simply did his job, broke up plays, and then started the attack with a neat pass to the captain.  It was the kind of performance that he was putting in regularly at the end of last season and there’s no reason why we can’t expect more from him this year.

Bendtner had a lot of question marks hanging over him this year, especially about his ability to score goals. But I think we saw what we should expect from the big fella this year; he’ll be some kind of wing-ish, attacker, hold up player. Seriously. It’s strange to see a big man on the wings, receiving a long ball, holding up play, and then moving it on to a marauding midfielder. The commentators noted that they’d never seen a big man deployed on the wings  and I’d have to agree with them. It was strange but it worked and it worked because, unlike some other tall feller I could name Bendtner put in a massive work rate yesterday. More than once, Everton tried to exploit space behind Sagna by passing a long diagonal there and then bringing in their own player into the space that opens in midfield, only to be thwarted by Bendtner patrolling the midfield. If he can do all that AND be a target man I think a lot of folks will be very happy with him this year.

The Bad

I really wanted that clean sheet. I wanted it so bad that I started getting nervous at the end ofg the match, kind of like I was watching a 1-0 lead in the FA Cup or something. Not quite, but still you get the point.

Plus I hate messy, scrambling, goals. Unless we score them.

The Ugly

The only ugly yesterday was the fluids coming out of all my orifices (HA HA POOP THREAD). But I did wonder why the Everton folks were booing Cesc?

Conclusions

As much as anything, this game was a signal to the league. It’s pretty clear that this team felt like they had something to prove yesterday, from their defense in the air, to their slick passing, and shots from distance they took every criticism that Arsenal have suffered these last two years and turned it into a strength. How well they’ll be able keep that up will be the tale of the season.

I haven’t seen Arsenal beat Everton this badly since the 7-0 win that immediately preceded the FA Cup which marked Arsenal’s last piece of silverware. On that day, it was a masterful 34 year old Dennis Bergkamp who won man of the match, today it was the 22 year old Cesc Fabregas. One has to wonder if the torch of the old invincibles hasn’t been finally extinguished with the departure of Toure, and a new torch lit yesterday. 37 more games will tell, for now, I’m basking in this one glorious victory, the day when Arsenal’s season started perfectly.

Enjoy.

53 Comments on It's only one game, but oh my what a game: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. Dang Tim, I was hoping we coul call “TV5” something cool like “the verminator”…

    Pure class from fab yesterday, includimng the tribute to Jarque.

    Bring on the wrold, we’re ready.

    Robie Keane should have a brace for spuds but since he has no creativity he got denied by Reina on both. Shit, they just scored.

    Oh and ano

  2. I am ashamed to say that I almost let Everton’s last minute scrambler ruin my day. A bit of an idiot, I am.

  3. Ok sorry about that, I typed on my blackberry and the text was not showing up so I was essentially blind.

    The other thing was that I checked newsnow this morning and saw a bunch of headlines saying “Adebayor: “cesc will leave next summer” and “Ade: season over for arsenal if they don’t win in glasgow”.

    I have 2 questions.

    1. Why the fuck is he talking about Arsenal, Fabregas, or anything not having to do with Man City? I mean, the glory of beating world champion Blackburn Rovers by two must have put him in such a great mood that he let it slip.

    2. The season would be over? No, the season would not be over if we lost or drew at Celtic, which won’t be the case anyway. Apparently since he is playing in the prestigious Europa League he has forgotton that the Champions league employs a two-match tie format as well.

    The guy is showing a clear lack of class and intelligence. I bet the only thing we hear out of Kolo is “I am rooting for Arsenal” when we are in the quarters of the UCL after Man City gets put out of the UEL group stages by Levski Sofia and Lokomotiv Moscow.

  4. And, Tim, no mention of Eduardo’s first league appearance and goal since Taylor broke his leg? That was, actually, my favorite moment of the game.

    I am not sure who the announcers were, but they immediately found themselves in my good graces when they said Dudu had “his leg broken by Taylor’s horror tackle”.

    Usually English announcers shy away from calling out Taylor for his actions.

  5. Should put money on us. Arsenal 10/1 odds are fantastic!

    Man U looked slow and jaded, lacking creativity. Against Birmingham
    Chelski looked distinctly average against Hull. If it hadn’t been for Dogbreath they would have lost
    Scouse have Reina to thank for not being 3 or 4 nil down by the half!

    It is going to be a fun season!

  6. Xabier- I feel like an idiot, but it makes Adebayor look even more stupid.

    Matt- I feel EXACTLY the same way about that moron.

    Tim- That 1,000 dollar browning gun is a duck gun. I actually found the outdoors related commercials amusing/ a nice change of pace. I laughed pretty hard when you were talking about the huntin/nascar show because I was watching it with the volume way down wondering what the hell was going on, especially when dude wrecked into the wall I was laughing pretty hard.

  7. man of the match has to be song. mr reliable and the reason we didnt concede before scoring IMO, and out jumping a 6”6 Felani is no mean feat. if that boy plays like that until the January transfer window we will miss him through the African Nations cup… mark my words.

  8. Why do we need a new CB? Liverpool are playing now, and when Skrtel came off it was a crap 18 year old whom our Youth rang rings around last year… We are in no trouble.

  9. The announcers were John Champion and Joe Royal. Both British. I preferred this guy though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvC9hsY8koo&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.arsenalreview.co.uk%2F2009%2F08%2Fwho-needs-english-commentators-when-you-have-this-guy-everton-1-6-arsenal-video-highlight&feature=player_embedded#t=11

    Some additional thoughts since my comments yesterday.

    Everton were poorer than dirt.

    We’ve set the bar high for ourselves and Fabregas wisely wants the bar set a little lower so that no one gets overwrought if we don’t do 6 again.

    Song’s superb defense on Fellaini was a direct result of Wenger’s coaching. When Atletico madrid were slicing through our mid-field Wenger clearly indicated to Song too close down in the middle.

    Bendtner worked harder yesterday than in all his appearances last season. He was even covering for Sagna near our end line and I almost choked on my brie at that.

    Vermaelen does what Senderos and Djourou don’t do and that’s “read and react” to high ball threats BEFORE the offensive player does.

    I watched as many games as I could to see who looked the goods and who needs to scramble up better talent in the next 2 wks.

    Fulham looked to have maintained their status quo and that’s mid-table fodder.

    Portsmouth are on the relegation express. Are they even Championship quality at this point?

    Chelsea were their grinding it out best and made Birmingham City look like they were a difficult opponent.

    Man U, champions know how to make their luck. Any team playing Man U will have a secret weapon in Ben Foster. Owens’ promotional brochure needs to come off the bench and score because the man today could not score when put through all alone.

    Aston Villa high point of this season will be the first half of last season.

    Wigan looked absolute quality despite losing Cattermole and Valencia. Reminds you of another team that lost 2 ‘big’ players and came out firing.

    Liverpool without Alonso looked extremely poor against Sp**s and I think Liverpool will be poop (sorry, Tim)this season. The subs that they brought on after going down 2-1: Voronin (no pace), Ayala(for an absolutely hammered Skrtel),and Benayoun. Not one of those subs has any magical capability.

    Stoke, Burnley, Wolves, and Blackburn, the less said the better.

  10. Great start to the season 6-1 is just what the boys needed, the confidence is now running high and we’ll take this form into the match against Celtic on Tuesday.

    MOM for me it has to be Song, hey this is the guy who was written off by a large section of the no nothing Arsenal supporters as being not fit to wear the shirt, well listen to them now!!!

    The only thing we need to confirm our intent to go for the title this season is a couple of signings like the guy from Fulham – Hangerland and Rafel Van-dervart from Real Madrid.

    Keep it real you Gunners

  11. We need to keep the work ethic and the personality shown week in week out.

    A couple of signings are required still.

  12. There are losers and then there are Losers. Liverpool and Aston Villa coming off last season results have got to be seen as major disappointments after just 1 game. That’s because they both looked like sh*t in their losses. These teams have sold players and not adequately replaced or upgraded in their purchases. You look at their line ups and read the managerss rhetoric about the “quality” in their teams and there is a disconnect.

  13. I can do the match reports for you if you like….Quite Easy…Id have picked Song for MOTM…especially since some of the sects of Arsenal fans are hailing him as the new Vierra…(blasphemy i know) but our midfield was everything but Soft yesterday.

    6-1….am i the only one that was crying out for a 7th?

    • @txgun, I’ll be mentioning that in tomorrow’s blog, I think Matt told me about it last week.

      What’s weird is that the FSN folks mentioned other broadcasts (like Setanta on Tuesday) but listed the Arsenal games as same day coverage on FSN and not on one of the affiliates.

      Very strange.

  14. I have to admit that Bendtner being on the wing is really a huge deficit. He works his socks off – we all know this – but I still think it’s imperative for Wenger to get him to be the middle man in the front three. However I can see why Wenger wouldn’t do that simnply because Bendtner isn’t as agile or creative on his feet as Ade was. I just can’t see Nicky going for some audacious bicycle kick in a CL game. He doesn’t play that well with his back to the goal. His drive is however admirable and his willingness to play wherever the Boss puts him, demands respect. It’s just one game as Cesc says but it’s a statement that rumours of our demise have been greatly exaggerated and Citeh taking top four is simply terrible pundits using their media hype to fight down Wenger.

  15. Anyone saw the rumour about Arsenal bidding for Van der vaart (about 7 million pounds)… I don’t even think about rumours as Italian press are sayin that AC Milan will anounce Cesc’s signing 2mrw, BUT I think it’ll be a good signing as Rosicky and Nasri are gonna be kind of injured through the season… And Song is doing a fine job as CDM… So what u guys think, good rumour or bad rumour????

  16. i think playing bendtner on the wing is a stroke of genius by wenger. fullbacks mostly not so tall and poor in the air so player like bendtner would almost always win the header. we even seen bendtner could easily chested the ball instead flick it behind. so its more effective than launching the ball to the middle where tall and aggresive center back would be much more difficult to handle.

  17. Great post, and a great start to the season. Hope your insides are better 🙂

    You wondered about the Cesc booing – it goes back to a couple of seasons ago, when he went down a little easily to an Arteta flailing elbow. Arteta was sent off. If memory serves me right, Bendtner went in the same game, but we whooped them!

  18. Once again, if you want to watch the match ATVO has the full 90 minutes up for download. I was pretty shocked as it’s usually just a 10 minute highlight reel, maybe something to do with the Setanta collapse?

  19. Scousers cant do anything right. They made the spuds look like an actual football team, What? Also Congrats to week one leader TxGun 1886 in the fantasy football league. Still not to late to sign up You still dont have to get many points to beat me.(my wife is ahead of me) Join at soccernet dot com

  20. Arsenal can’t look past Celtic. Pipsqueak McGeady talking shite about how they can win if they stop us playing by getting amongst us. That’s the ticket McGeady. Been there, done that w/ teams who hold black belts in football mayhem, Bolton and Blackburn Rovers. Can’t kick what you can’t catch kid.

    Rio’s out for 2wks, maybe back by 8/29. Vidic to return by 8/22. Evans hobbled off today. Man U’s back line will hopefully be a patch work still by 8/29/.

  21. Solid performance by the boys yesterday. Everton were absolute crap but that’s not our fault.

    I, too, hated to see us concede that goal. It pained me to see Ramsey lose the ball that lead to Everton’s goal when there was no need to lose it there.

    Song was nothing short of fantastic. Vermaelen looked completely assured, better than Senderos, Djourou, and Silvestre. We’ll see how he does against the likes of a Drogba, Anelka, or Torres.

    I hope van Persie doesn’t get frustrated being our battering ram. He has too much talent to not be on the end of chances. Here’s hoping his attitude stays positive.

  22. I don’t get why people are pissed with the goal conceded, 6-0 up the boys went to sleep in the final minutes and fair enough, by then it was time to slow down and not take any chances by making hard tackles.

    Everyone keeps sayng we played 4-3-3, we didn’t, even at the start of match when they showed the formation it was 4-2-3-1

    Almunia

    Sagna, Vermaelen, Gallas, Clichy

    Song, Denilson

    B-52, Fabregas, Arshavin

    Van Persie

    Arshavin to me looked quiet in that match and a bit fed up, I think if we’d have lost he would have gotten a lot of stick for his performance. His cheeky little chip was awesome for the final goal though.

    • @Bongo, It’s 4-3-3, just a variation of it that other teams have used. It’s the diamond that Ancelotti used at Milan with Pirlo sitting behind Kaka, Seedorf and Pato. Cesc sits behind Arshavin and Bendtner who are given freedom, which RVP spearheading. It allows for much smoother transition in passing when your team has many offensive players. It may look like a 4-2-3-1 but it’s classified as a variation of the 4-3-3.

      • @WC, Arsenal’s “Flowing Football” is a flowery phrase that (IMO) compares to “Attacking Football” – introduced by the the Dutch in the ’70’s. Any player on the pitch had the ability to initiate and be integral in the attack.

        Some might argue that we are playing a 4-2-4, where either of the (2) midfielders can initiate or join the in attack, but their primary responsibility is supporting the back 4 and front 4. The front 4 are in a diamond shape (conceptually), with Cesc at the bottom – center of this configuration.

        Anyway, this discussion on system is more for fan and media. Once the whistle blows, everyone adapts to attacking or defensive opportunities.

  23. Great article buddy. It’s nice to see a fellow North American blog about the Arsenal, and actually know what they are saying.

    It was a great match yesterday. I was tremendously impressed with TV5. Him and Gallas do have a great understanding. After Cesc’s 5th goal, replays showed him urging his fellow defenders to push up and properly form the offside trap. It’s good to see he’s also got an amazing leap on him.

    After his goal, Denilson looked like a new man. I think his issues are confidence related, and not his footballing ability?

    Anyways, keep up the good work, and I hope you get better.

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