Liege v. Arsenal; Statitstician Wenger

Wenger displays his trademark winsome grin while delivering the punchline of the day.

With just one line delivered, Arsene Wenger has completely deconstructed both Adebayor’s “what me worry?” defense and Mark Hughes’ completely nonsensical double defenses of “Adebayor was celebrating in front of the corner fans” and his plea for leniency in Adebayor’s case because he’s such a good lad.

Earlier in the week, I documented, fairly extensively that Adebayor wasn’t a good lad. He tends toward explosive anger when frustrated and after the fact it’s everyone else’s fault but his. After the League Cup final against Chelsea where Adebayor was given a red card he went on a Drogba-esque tirade against Howard Webb, captured on camera for all the world to see. And then after said

My reaction after the card did not mean I wanted to hit the referee – I just wanted to know why he gave me the red card. I do not think I did anything wrong.

So, it’s no surprise that he’s taking the innocent line again. But what is a surprise is that Mark Hughes is defending Adebayor so adamantly. Maybe it’s becauise he’s a former United player and feel like he’s the gods’ gift to football. I don’t really know.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. With the referee having seen the replays of the incident and saying that he would have given a straight red had he seen it, Adebayor will certainly be suspended for 3 games and could get up to 6 if they give him the maximum penalty for his steward injuring goal celebration. Frankly, I hope they appeal the decision and the FA double it to 12. Or maybe the FA will take a look at Adebayor mocking his goal celebration in training and further charge him with bringing the game into disrepute.

But that’s all in the past, whatever happens will happen, we’ve got a Champions League match today!

Ahead of the match Wenger and Vermaelen talked about team selection and scouting of Liege and so that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

On Thomas Rosicky, it seems everyone in the Arsenal clubhouse are jumping for joy both personally and professionally to have Thomas Rosicky back in training and scoring goals as a sub. There’s been a ton of speculation about whether he will get a start today and I will throw my hat in the ring as a definite start owing to the fact that the boss described his chance of getting a start, with his winsome grin,  as “a good chance, it is a good opportunity for him.” Quite where he will get a game I’m not sure but with everyone speculating that he’ll play in the three with Cesc, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he’ll start up front on the right with Bendtner in the middle and Eduardo on the left. Wenger does have an option here so don’t be surprised to see Rosicky replaced by Eboue at the start and Thomas coming off the bench if we need goals, or even if we’re way ahead — he needs the games!

The midfield three picks itself with Song on top form at the moment, Cesc as a must have in pretty much every situation, and Diaby is, erm, available. I suppose Wenger could surprise me and pick Rambo over Diaby at the start but I doubt there will be too much shuffling considering the options available in defense.

Speaking of which, there’s another bit of speculation that Clichy’s dip in form will see him relegated to the bench for this match but I really doubt it. Wenger is ultra loyal and might look at this as an opportunity to show Clichy that he believes in him after his string of poor performances. Plus, there’s a bit of a problem at goal keeper and I doubt Wenger will want to shuffle the back four at a time when he’s playing the third string keeper.

As for the keeper situation: whenever a player has a poor game and then gets sick immediately after there’s always going to be rumors that he’s being dropped. This is fueled by the fact that during the press conference as he was rattling off the injury list (van Persie, Denilson) Wenger had to be reminded (off screen by the handler) that Almunia was out injured and when the press asked what was wrong he paused, looked up, and said “uhhh virus” and followed that quickly with “chest infection.” Others have said it already but it bears repeating: Wenger couldn’t possibly be dropping Almunia for Mannone. That’s just plain crazy. Mannone is a fine kid I’m sure, but there’s no way that Wenger would put his team in danger like this. Mooney must not be fit.

So I expect the starting XI to be like this:

liege-v-arsenal

Feel free to lambaste me for my speculative selection.

As for the game on television, unfortunately it’s only LIVE on Setanta and that means that I would normally go to the bar. Today that trip was going to be after the match owing to work appointments but even that might be in jeopardy. See, I have this killer sore throat and one of my friends was just diagnosed with strep throat so, I have to go to the doctor. If I have strep I will need to stay home for at least 24 hours and that means I’ll be watching the match on some crappy video stream tape delayed on Fox Soccer Channel at 2pm PST. If I don’t have strep, I’ll need to go to work and then will be able to watch the match after work on replay. Fingers crossed!

Right, either way check back in here tomorrow for the Good, Bad, and Ugly. See you then…

76 Comments on Liege v. Arsenal; Statitstician Wenger

  1. Look’s like one had to be at the press conference to get a true measure of the Almunia situation. Your description does not make it cut and dried and leaves room for conjecture.

    The only thing I know about Standard Liege is that Onyewu was one of their best defenders and that is not saying much IMO. The Belgium National team I watched against Spain looked on par w/ a Newcastle U who are tearing it up in the Championship.

    Diaby has to get his head out of his ass or at not be wearing it backwards.

    If Witsel plays and even breathes crookedly on an Arsenal player, he should get a RC.

    Once again Chelsea and Man U show that even when playing like crap, they win games. That’s the ‘level’ we need to be at 😉

  2. You’ve just got to love Wenger’s quote about Hughes’s comments, ‘You ask 100 people, 99 will say it’s very bad and the hundredth will be Mark Hughes.’ Classic Wenger

    Eduardo for a hat-trick tonight, oh yeah !!

  3. http://www.onlinegooner.com/exclusive/index.php?id=1314

    I’m including this link to address the Martin Samuel (MailOnline) piece about racist chanting directed at Adebayor at Eastlands. One other source who was also there also explained how the racist chant was turn into a chant of support for Arshavin by the majority of Arsenal supporters. We should be thankful that Arshavin couldn’t play or else he too would have been a victim of Adebayor’s size 13 boots.

    • Haven’t read the original Martin Samuel article. He was a leading columnist at The Times till this season and was one of the few writers worth reading. Why did he leave for the downmarket Mail? Money, I guess; unless he was sacked by The Times? Surely unlikely? Must have sold his soul to the devil.

  4. I just don’t see Wenger starting Rosicky. Bring him on for some of the 2nd half maybe. He’s been out for so long, another montnh of easing him back will be time well spent. I expect Eboue to start on the right unless Wenger decides to rest Sagna. Maybe Gibbs should get a game to give Clichy a chance to reflect on his performance at City.

    Hopefully, we can get a couple of goals in front by half time and introduce some of the kids in the 2nd half.

  5. I think Diaby will start in Arshavin’s spot (left forward) and I’d loooove to see Rosicky in the midfield three, but I expect Eboue instead or Maybe Ramsey.

    Is Mooney being dropped? Or is Vito just being given a cameo? The Vowel-less teenager from Poland (Szczesny) looked good in pre-season compared to Mannone, but that was on crap streams on my lap-top. Physioroom says that Fabianski has 4 more weeks out. Personally I’d love to see them all compete for the #1 and if nobody impresses, let’s spend in January. Like Alec Baldwin said in Glengarry, Glenross: “….Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired….”

    • Mooney supposedly has a virus.. it would seem suspicious to me if Fab was fit and was playing but I just can’t see Wenger throwing Mannone in tonight if it wasn’t true…. but we definitely need to strengthen in this area !!

  6. i don t think rosicky will start probably eboue will begin the match but the very good news is that denilson is injured so we start with 11 players let s hope and pray that he remains out for at least 6 months

      • it s not true, have you seen the game against citeh he was looking at the game instead of playing he is beyond repair and look at him closley before you talk about improvments let alone good players

        • @john, Sorry. But, why are you so against Denilson?

          He is a good player, with bags of potential and consistency that you don’t usually see in a young lad. Please refrain from slagging of the lads at the start of the season, especially the younger ones. Assess them when you have the whole picture, not a 90 minute snippet.

    • @john, he came off against city because he sustained a back injury.

      Denilson is a very fine player, from assists to tackles and his superlative passing percentages.

      Why are you slagging off players right before the match? Are you an Arsenal supporter?

      Then support.

  7. Tim- strep sucks, I’m in bed with it now… Nothing will make you more miserable than a 103 fever and a scorching throat. Anyway I checked my guide and it said our game was being shown on replay at 2:00 your time on FSC so you may want to check.

  8. I turned on talksport at teatime. They seem to have tired of shouting about the cheating Eduardo. Today’s original topic of conversation was Wenger being bad for the premiership. This is why:
    1. There isn’t an English keeper at all in the Arsenal academy.
    2. There are few English players in the academy, and those who are there are never given a chance.

    I emailed them pointing out that James Shea, keeper in the under-17s, is English; that 9 of the 11 starters in Youth Cup winning side were English, and another two came off the bench – one of whom, Sanchez Watt, is in the squad for tonight.

    Did they take any notice? Not they. Myths are so much nicer than facts. Maybe I’ll make a more formal complaint – professional broadcasters surely have some, minimal, obligation to ascertain the facts, don’t they? If I can be bothered, if I have time…

    Sod them. Let’s hope Mannone has a blinder tonight.

    • @Mia, Ha. Our academy is the only academy consistently producing good youngsters. Few English players? Bah. Wenger submitted the entire bloody youth team as extras (List B) for the Champions League squad as a result we have the most English players in the whole damn competition!

  9. Would love to see Rosicky starting. But doubt it. It’ll probably be Eboue in an advanced right wing. It would also be great to see Ramsey and Wilshere involved in this one.

    Bendtner
    Eduardo – – Rosicky/Wilshere

    Ramsey – Cesc

    Song

    Clichy – Vermealen – Gallas – Sagna

    Mannone

    But I think it’ll be Diaby and Eboube starting. Watt might just get a look in as a sub.

    And is Tomas Rosicky, not Thomas.

    Great blog!

    Cheers

  10. I just want to say: T- shirts arrived today! Woohoo! Both, 7am’s and Philosophy’s, both are really fine. Thank you Tim, get well soon. Fox will show the match only tomorrow night. Stream it will be. Btw, are you still receiving pics with tees on?

  11. Funny, I can’t help wanting to construct a sentence with the words Ade, Hughes, ManCiteh, Wenger and offload. Damndest thing!

    For a man whose first language is not English, doesn’t Le Boss has a wondeful grasp of its use and nuances!

    As for tonight, looking forward to making another sentence containing Liege and overrun, with Arsenal triumphant.

    Speedy recovery Tim!

    Viva!

  12. Down 2-0 in 4″! Wow. Houston we definitely have a problem.

    ? Time enough to recover remains to be seen. The crowd in into it.

  13. W-T-F. 2-0 in 5 minutes. What the hell is this team doing? I’m already tired of being optimistic, screw that, I’m calling for changes.

      • @Tim, Diaby is worse than garbage, Bendtner isn’t that good either, there’s no depth in the goalkeeping department, there’s no depth period. Sitting on that 40M is doing nothing if we can’t win jack all.

        We have no game changers from what I’ve seen in almost 30 minutes – all possession and no clear chance on goal. We’re turning into the laughing stock of European football.

        • @WC, They have more than £40m to spend but the transfer window is closed. So, unless there’s some magically undiscovered game changing free agent available we have the team we have.

          Yes, we can get angry that Wenger didn’t do more to bolster certain positions but calling for changes is pointless.

          I’m pretty sure we’re not a laughing stock of anything.

          • @WC, Look, I respect you and enjoy your dissenting opinion, but Liege is Belgian champions and probably the most difficult team in this group. Also, Arsenal just played a very tough, emotional game which ended in a loss, and are playing with the third string keeper in the sticks.

            I’m betting that Arsenal win this 4-2, I think they’ve got the character.

        • @WC, Overreact much? In case you missed it, RvP, Arshavin, Almunia, Walcott, Nasri, Denilson, Djourou, and Fabianski were all out injured. Not sure how you can say there’s no depth when we’re missing all those guys and we still end up winning the game. That’s the definition of depth right there.

          LOL at Arsenal being the laughing stock of European football. That would be any and every club from Scotland.

  14. Diaby finally got his head out of his ass to assist Bendtner to pull 1 back. Now more than enough time to get something out of this game w/ Standard Liege sitting back and relying on the counter.

    We need more Fabregas.

  15. Our first 15″ will be key. Better passing. Quicker passing. Increase the tempo. Close down quicker because defensive intensity will translate into offensive pressure. That’s Wenger’s message.

    Now let’s see our fghting spirit. Let’s gird the loins boys.

    Most disconcerting is that one of most veteran players, Gallas, has been been poor. Clichy had better not pick up a 2nd yellow.

  16. @Tim.

    One good play doesn’t make up for a season of being utter shite. I don’t doubt we could win this but looking at the bigger picture – we’re quite frankly in trouble. It’s not a result that should even exist. Debrecen were outplaying Liverpool but the fact remained that it was still 0-0 for 45 minutes until Kuyt scored in injury time. Mancs looked like absolute garbage yesterday but it was still 0-0 for long spells of the match.

    Defense wins championships, it doesn’t matter if you score 100 goals because if you ship 99 along the way you’re not winning a title. Clichy is in the prime of his career but is just not as good as Evra or Abidal and he simply cannot cross.

    I still think we can win silverware this season, I just don’t think it will be a trophy we really want.

    • @ctpa, I don’t doubt we can win the game or at least tie it. However it shouldn’t be as hard as we’ve made it out to be. If this were a better team we’d be done for – this has been why people aren’t afraid of Arsenal lately. For all of our possession we’re trying to play the game on paper and not on the field.

  17. So our defense is stronger but in the games we’ve looked bad in, they’ve had these momentary periods of utter madness. I think that needs to be fixed ASAP.

    • @WC, You can hardly blame our defense for dudu’s pasing or Almunia’s mistakes against Manu and Pompey or Diaby’s own goal.
      Nor can you call Clichy’s goof ups a real defensive problem. Everyone goofs up from time to time.

  18. Whew! That was too close for comfort. The 2nd goal was a gift from UEFA for putting us through all that grief over Eduardo’s ‘dive’. Replays showed Song to the (L) of the goal extend his arm to keep the ball from going out, then Vermaelen slams home the ball after it came off Song’s arm. Song not had a hand ball but was in an offside position on the original header when the ball came to him.

    We simply wore down Standard Liege who clearly were not on the same fitness page as Arsenal.

    Except for those 2 goals, Mannonne was a ‘capable’ stand in 🙂

    Now some were calling for cha, cha, cha, changes after that brutal opening 5″. Take a deep breath. You had a poor clearance by a veteran player (Eduardo) that fell to SL for the opening goal. Maybe Mannonne should have protected his short side better since the SL player had players blocking his view of the far post. Gallas gave away a ‘Toure’ type foul for the PK and Mannonne is 50-50 there.

    I will admit that Arsenal were so bad in that opening 25-30″ that it comical. Knowing what this team is capable of is why my confidence grew in the last 10″ that we could at least get something from this game.

    • @ctpa, I always knew we’d win. Even a 2 – 0 down. Magic crystal ball and what-not.

      Positives? Grit. Determination. Winning ugly. Last season I wouldn’t of had the same confidence.

      Goals conceded? Frustrating, a lapse of concentration and a contentious penalty.

    • @ctpa, Yes I’m calling for changes. The fact that we can’t keep clean sheets always gives opposition the chance to score and play 10-0-1 Catenaccio formation.

      As I said before – check any team that has won something – they have the fewest goals conceded and trying to outscore our opponents is always going to be a risky strategy.

      I’m not sure why Wenger continues with Diaby. He’s a weak link and may be a better player on a different team but never going to be Vieira, Gilberto or even Edu.

  19. I’m slightly hysterical; possibly slightly drunk – two glasses of wine – but mainly hysterical. When we conceded two goals the whole pub was laughing. Well, what else could we do?

    But walking home, I found myself thinking not about the game – about which I can’t think of anything rational to say – but about Martin Samuel’s claim that the Arsenal fans at the City match were chanting racist slogans. Really? Our away fans? Frankly any libel about the Emirates crowd and I’d be prepared to believe it – I detest them, the spoilt brat booers – but the away fans have always struck me as brilliant. Racism? At Arsenal? It strains credibility.

    Well almost. Once, last season, I went to a pub a couple of miles from where I live to watch a game that wasn’t on normal tv. It was oned of those dodgy pubs showing the dodgy illegal channels, so it was packed to the rafters, though – oddly for the area – everybody in there was white, and I was the only woman. I felt slightly uncomfortable but managed to elbow my way to a place I could see the screen. Then, ten minutes into the game, someone shouted at Ade. What they said was certainly racist, but only quite mildly so. Nevertheless the entire pub froze. There was silence. The air turned to ice. No one knew where the comment had come from, but someone, shamefaced, slunk out of the door. Racism just wasn’t acceptable in that pub. And if it wasn’t acceptable there, in an all-white all-male really rough sort of place, then I find it hard to believe it’s possible among our away fans. So what’s going on? Is Martin Samuel lying? Or have we really acquired a bunch of racists at away games in the north?

    • I suspect Samuels is trying to make more out some minor racist coments but the majority from my readings were trying to drown those idiots out.

    • @Mia, I believe what Samuels is referring to is the “elephant chant” which was popularized by Spurs and which was sung quite extensively last year at teams like Man City.

      And here’s City fans, this year, singing about Adebayor being “hung like an elephant.”

      It’s all quite distasteful.

      From what I understand a few Arsenal fans tried to sing the elephant song and they were quickly drowned out by the majority of traveling supporters.

  20. Watching the replay of the Bendtner goal. That’s a favorite move for him. He scored a similar goal against Portugal.

    There was some good points today but the shock of being down 2 kind of makes it diificult to recall.
    We never gave up.
    We scored a very ugly ‘goal’.
    We defended better (SL helped).
    Song was tremendous in this game.

    • @Mia, Liverpool played terribly. There goal was a keeper mistake. So uh, in perspective, we played ok, considering Chel$ki and Manure also didn’t play well. *shrug*

  21. What will be the radio’s topic of the day:

    (a) Eduardo shouldn’t have been on the pitch
    (b) If that was a dive for the penalty, it serves Arsenal right
    (c) Wenger on the handball: ‘I didn’t see it’

    The last one, has to be, it never palls or fails to give pleasure.

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