Arsenal v. WBA; The Carling Cup Kicksoff Senderos 2.0

Senderos Own Goal Aston Villa

You could put 100 Arsenal fans in a room and 97 of them would think Senderos isn’t Arsenal quality and the other 3 are me, Arseblog, and Arsene Wenger. Wenger has his reasons, he’s Phillipe’s coach so he knows this player’s qualities and frailties inside and out. Me, I don’t have reason, I have emotion.

I’ve followed him as a player since he first broke into the team and had the pleasure of actually being in the Emirates on a freezing Monday night in February when he scored a rare goal against Blackburn in 2008. It seems almost inconceivable that since that exact moment his career has basically disintegrated in front of my eyes. You’ll remember that February 2008 was THE season, Arsenal were 5 points clear of United on that night, playing very well, and everyone had high hopes that the club were going to really push for the title.

I flew back to America, adjusted time zones, and nipped off to the pub to watch the Man U-Arsenal FA cup match. Disaster. That was the Nani “seal dribble” match, if you’ll recall. A match which saw Eboue sent off, which saw United send an emphatic message that they weren’t done yet, and left the club thoroughly eviscerated. That was followed by a poor 0-0 draw at home against Milan and then the match where Martin Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg. I don’t have to remind you how much that effected our season.

For Senderos it might have been a case of too much too soon.  Thrown in to the center of defense on an Arsenal team who’s whose attacking philosophy often exposes center backs to route one embarrassments. But the thing is, he did really well during that time. He started the FA Cup final in 2005 which saw Arsenal win our most recent piece of silverware and then continued in a rich vein of form throughout the next season when Arsenal had a record breaking run of 10 consecutive clean sheets in the Champions League. In fact, many people think that Wenger’s substitution of Senderos and Flamini for Campbell and Cole in the final is what cost us that match.

But it was the 2007/08 season mentioned above which seemed to be his undoing. After Taylor broke Eduardo’s leg, Arsenal played Villa to a 1-1 draw and Senderos scored an own goal. From there, it seems like it was all down hill. He lost a large part of the crowd and for a 22 year old, under enormous pressure, at one of the biggest clubs in the world, the crowd is simply vital. I don’t have to remind you about the rest of that season, it was simply disastrous, and by the close of the season, Arsenal fans from nearly every quarter were calling for Senderos to be sold. He went off to Milan where he mostly sat in the dugout and a year later and really not much more experienced he’s back here.

This is his second chance, Senderos 2.0. He’s only 24 years old and though the boss isn’t calling it a second chance he is highlighting the fact that Senderos was once a player who he thought could be Arsenal captain and pointing out that this guy, this central defender no less, is just 24 years old.

I don’t believe he is starting his career with us again because we know how good he is but it is a new start let’s say. We have already seen his quality and he is still very young for a centre back. He’s 24 years-old and he has the future in front of him. The best 10 years are now coming for him.

His position at the moment is that we have four centre backs and he is one of the four because Djourou is out for nearly the season. In this job you have always to be ready and the day you get the chance you can do well. If you are not ready, everybody will say he is not good enough to play for Arsenal Football Club.

Now he is back with us so we will just give him a chance.

Just Give Phillipe a Chance, wasn’t that a song by Yoko Ono?

Seriously, I think a lot of the criticism of Senderos has been over-the-top and I’d love to see him prove the critics wrong. At the very least he’s a better replacement in central defense than Silvestre (his partner today) and has as much potential to be a great squad player as anyone in the team… if we can just forgive him and get behind him.

As for the rest of the team today it seems that Wenger might have learned some lessons from the Senderos saga and is refusing to throw Wilshere in the deep end as he did with many other players. That said, he’s a certain start tonight on the right side of the attack.

On the left (yes, they’ll be playing a 4-3-3) I think we’ll see Traore. Le Boss was talking him up in his pre-match interview and I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t start him.

In the middle, Wenger tipped his hat the other day and said that Sanchez-Watt will get the start. I don’t know anything about him apart from what I’ve read and what I saw in pre-season. I guess he’s got incredible pace.

The middle three will be Randall, Ramsey, and Merida with Randall and Ramsey holding and Merida in Cesc’s spot. I have seen plenty of these fellows and I can say that they are up and down, as will happen to youth players. Let’s hope that are up today, they’ll need to be because WBA are no slouches.

At the back will be Szczesny, (who would like to buy a vowel, Pat) the aforementioned Silvestre and Senderos, Gibbs, and Hoyte The Younger. That’s about as strong a defensive team as we could field given injuries and the approach Wenger takes to the League Cup.

West Brom for their part reportedly have a gritty AND flowing attacking team who can grind out results, which is what I would expect if the terminator cross-bred with all of AC Milan.  They are currently leading the Coca Cola Championship and they are both scoring loads and conceding few goals. They beat Middlesbrough just a few days ago 5-0 so they will not be an easy match by any stretch of the imagination.

In the season preview I mentioned ease of schedule as a crucial factor to the youngsters advancing in this tournament and it looks like we’re not going to have that this year. So, it looks like “old fashioned ass whuppin” is our route to the next round. I have no doubt in the quality of all of these youngsters and I’m sure they can do it.

Unfortunately, the only way to watch the match is going to be via Arsenal TV Online, after the match is done.  That’s what I’m going to do today after work; get on over to the market, pick up a 6 pack of Carling (actually Carling is hard to find here, so any lager will do in a pinch) and fire up the ole computer and watch some red and white blobs play against some blue and white blobs — should be a real good time.

See you tomorrow for the Good Blob, the Bad Blob, and the Ugly Blob. Until the UP THE ARSE!


  1. I agree with you on Senderso, but since your writing is really good, you should get your apostrophes right: “an Arsenal team who’s attacking philosophy” should be “an Arsenal team whose attacking philosophy”.
    A pedantic teacher-friend.

  2. Tim – nice angle for today’s match.

    I guess I’m part of the minority that is partial to Senderos & his ability.
    Hi IQ, solid technique; his lack of pure speed is compensated by excellent anticipation like Vermaelen.

    If Arsenal are to make any serious run for silverware, a strong contribution at CB by Senderos is essential. Good size and bulk, I think he can push Gallas for starting position.

      1. @Tim, Senderos needs to take the gauntlet of opportunity and relaunch his career at Arsenal. Few will expect any goals, but putting in 90 minutes of solid defense would be a great first step.

  3. Pedantic teacher, just leave our Tim well alone. As long as we can understand him, his apostrophies are well fine by me.

    Tim: Merida & Hoyte have gone to an Under20 competition playing for Spain & England respectively. So I don’t think they will play, unless for some inexplicable reason, they both have been sent home. Gibbs & Wilshere did not go because both have been promoted to the Under21s. Anyway, Kerea Gilbert & Francis Cocuelin (our little battler gem) will play. Believe me Arsene will not send out a young team without Cocuelin (probally wrong spelling). The boy is a defensive midfield dynamo, who can also play right back.

    1. @LRV, “Merida & Hoyte have gone to an Under20 competition playing for Spain & England respectively.” Doesn’t that just take the piss? I’m not alone on this, Gunnerblog said much the same.


      1. Believe me Tim, it is so annoying. Why have under20 & under21? Do you know that here, apart from the under17, they sometimes confuse us all talking about under18 & under19 sometimes? It is all so annoyingly hilarious.

    1. So Watt and Vela to start, Sunu off the bench when Vela gets tired? Sunu is very very exciting. I’m a big Coq-au-vin fan too. Frimpong also looks promising.

  4. Go Big Phil! So, no Merida then? I definetely need to see Coquelin in action. There have been tons of praise to him. Over here espn will have Lpool’s match. So blobs it will be, and full match from atvo after I score some good ones on our 5 a side tonight.

  5. Before we predict the second coming of Senderos, we should not forget that it’s not just his lack of pace but also his positioning and anticipation that have been poor as well. His lack of pace is good for a yellow card per game that he starts when he gets caught out. Also recall that he is Drogba’s biotch. He is our player though so he deserves a second shot at success w/ us.

    Speaking of CBs, I would draw everyone’s attention to the 2nd goal scored against Fulham by Edwards (Wolves) on a give and go. Edwards found himself in an acre of space because the DM failed to track back and the CB got lost. That CB was Hangeland.

    1. @ctpa, if you stack the CBs that Drogba has scored on end to end they would reach the moon.

      He single handedly ruined Tottenham’s season on Sunday. He absolutely owns Skrtl and Carragher scoring 4 in two legs of their CL match two years ago and putting more hurt on them last year.

      Juventus and Chiellini, who was held up as some option for us this summer, eviscerated.

      Barcelona? Scored one in each of their two legs in the group stages.

      Man U? Best defense in the world? Beat them with the only goal in the FA Cup final and since then hasn’t really been involved in many matches. He did get an assist in the Community Shield but that doesn’t really count for me!

      There isn’t a center back in the world who hasn’t been ripped apart by Drogba.

  6. I watched him vs sp*rs on sunday. Man, I dont want to be on the shoes of anyone playing against Drogba. He is powerful on 1-1, in the air, set pieces, he crossed perfectly for ass cole header (wtf?! shouldnt it be the other way around?), which was the opener. All in all, it is unfair to measure a CB based on performances vs drogba. Maybe The Verminator will be his nemesis!

  7. Stupid soccernet dot com(munists) got my hopes up by having a link to watch live video of it but goes nowhere except mindnumbing frustration. Oh My Ninja is just another permeation (is that a word) of OMG but for people who have really fat fingers or small cellphone buttons get OMN or possibly OMH as in Oh my (insert random H word here) By the way The lineup is

    51 Gilles Sunu (ST)
    54 Sanchez Watt (ST)
    19 Jack Wilshere (M)
    35 Francis Coquelin (M)
    16 Aaron Ramsey (M)
    28 Kieran Gibbs (D) <–but prolly DM
    30 Armand Traore (D)
    Kerrea Gilbert (D)
    6 Philippe Senderos (D)
    18 Mikael Silvestre (D) <—–Prolly 75 years old
    Wojciech Szczesny (G)

  8. Side note- top 5 teams in the 7am kickoff fantasy league are:
    1. honeyjos09 Joshua Honeychurch Honeychurch 266

    2. Southern Gunns richie pippin 256

    3. Gooner4life Tynan Edwards 255

    4. The Septopus Wife (This is embarrassing) Sarah Tremblay 254

    5. Gunning Aloysius Gunawan 247
    and Im sitting in the sweet spot of 32 out of 37 teams just waiting to make my move

      1. No, no, I was back home by 10.15, it’s not a long walk, and am just having a sandwich and seeing if I can find Wenger’s post-match comments anywhere. Really shocking our game wasn’t even on the radio – why pick some game from up north where they probably haven’t got radios yet? Still, such was the demand, Arsenal opened up the whole of the Emirates, which they’ve never done before for the Carling, and it was pretty much full.

  9. I read the BBC txt and Senderos seemed to be in the thick of the action, picking up a yellow in the 33″. Vela’s entrance turned out to be a timely substitution.

  10. Vela was terrific – morally both goals were his, though Sanchez Watt obviously did a neat finishing job. I was sorry to see Coq-au-vin substituted – his passing was mostly brilliant – but clearly it did the trick. Tell you one thing, Vowel-less or Woo-sheck, I suppose we should call him, looked a lot better than Mannone. I don’t know enough about West Brom to tell if that was their first team – probably not entirely?

    Jerome Thomas: pure spite. Miffed that he didn’t make it with us.

  11. Now this makes sense: Campbell has now quit Notts County after 1 game (2-1 loss). Going to Notts County made no sense in the first place.The manager has 2 games to save his job and the league wants to know where Notts is getting their money from. You’d have thought that minor financial matter was sorted when all the “t’s” and “i’s” were crossed and dotted.

    Sounds like West Brom tried to kick Wilshere off the pitch and it got them was a red card. DeMatteo offers up so lame BS as an excuse for Thomas. Must be a disciple of the McLeish school of lame alibis.

    While everyone and their brother was buying up all the Bents they could find for strikers, Fulham had the nerve to go into the season w/ Zamora (3 goals in something like 2 yrs) and the Johnson twins (Andrew and Fast Eddie). Now Andy is out and Fulham are ripe for the picking. At least we can see Hangeland up close rather than making ‘eyes’ at him from afar. We never bid for Hangeland or that would have come out.

    Just a final word on the EPL’s resident drama queen w/ Ronaldo having departed. Drogba must have fallen on every blade of grass on Sun. yet all you saw from John (we don’t dive in England) Terry was a look of concern when Drogba got carted off w/a ‘3rd degree’ muscle cramp.

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