Arsenal v. Blackburn; return of the pantomime villains

Pascal Chimbonda counts his IQ. Hey Sam, got any gum? How many roads must a man walk down?

It was once said that Fat Sam had Arsenal’s number. That any Sam Allardyce led team knew exactly where and when to kick every one of Arsenal’s “princesses” and disrupt their game. There was a time when that was true but not any more.

Last season Arsenal dismantled Sam Allardyce’s “defensive” teams 4-0, twice.  The year before that, when Allardyce was manager of relegation bound Newcastle, it was a 2-0 win. In fact, you have to go back to November 2006 to find the last time that any Sam Allardyce led team beat Arsenal, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of an Anelka brace. Look at that match report and you’ll see some strange names like “Lehmann” and “Ljungberg” and some cat named “Gilberto” but there’s one name who has been a constant for any Sam Allardyce led team and his name is there too: El Hadji Douche.

I wrote about this last season, after we beat them 4-0, and given his latest outrages it stands as much today as it ever has, how much longer must the EPL suffer this insufferable prick? If you remember, Diouf tried to break Almunia’s ankle (video link) last year and only gathered a yellow. The year before, Diouf tried to break Arbeloa’s leg, with the same result, a mere yellow card. And of course, Diouf is a convicted spitter and an admitted cheat in pretty much every aspect of the game. What does this guy have to do to get banned from the league?

Given his history with Arsenal, Diouf will get a lot of stick from the home supporters on Sunday and will almost certainly react in the way that he always has: by cheating. My hope is that Sunday’s referee, Peter Walton, who has doled out 12 yellows and no reds in his 4 matches so far, takes a grim view of Diouf and the rest of Blackburn’s antics and gets the cards out early and often.  Lest we forget, Morten Gamst Pederson isn’t above an absolutely disgraceful dive (video) when playing against Arsenal either.

I am taking pains to highlight Blackburn’s disgraceful, cheating, conduct but only in hopes that the word gets back to Peter Walton and he does something about it. The reality is that Arsenal will need to rise above these antics and simply play their game. We all know that a Sam Allardyce led team means a team that will “park the bus.”

The bad news is that this will be the second time in a week that we get to watch a football match where as soon as the ball is kicked off, you can expect all 11 opponents to drop back into their half and start kicking at Arsenal’s ankles. The good news is that Blackburn tried that last year and lost 4-0 and that Arsenal just overcame Olympiacos 2-0 on Tuesday and they did pretty much the exact same thing.

Oddly, last season’s 4-0 win saw the return to Premier League action of young Theo Walcott after a 4 1/2 month absence and he was a terror on the Blackburn defense. The boss is reporting that Theo will be fit (along with Bendtner) for Sunday’s match though I would be very surprised if Theo starts. No, I suspect that we’ll see our “usual” lineup of Arshavin, van Persie, Bendtner up front — Diaby, Cesc, and Song in the middle — and Clichy, Vermaelen, Gallas, and Sagna at the back — with Mannone in goal because Manny Pickledickle is still infected with a chest or something. Maybe it’s the alien from Alien and they are trying to figure out whether to cut it out or let in incubate and turn into a truly terrifying Arsenal keeper.

Arshavin was the key last season and he will once again be the key this season, I suspect. The boss praised him after Tuesday’s win for his close control and thus ability to unlock defensive teams like Olympiacos and Rovers. Many of you similarly praised him after his “Goal of the Year” candidate last season unlocked Rovers (you’ll need to download the video from his file sharing service to watch it). I agree, Arshavin will be the key tomorrow.

As for the rest of the team Arsenal are on a mini streak of 5 wins with 4 consecutive clean sheets and I don’t think it’s uncalled for to expect that both streaks will continue. Blackburn’s leading scorer is David Dunn (another Pantomime villain) and he will need to be closely watched as he has a penchant for long shots. But with this team playing team football the way that they have been over the last two weeks, I expect them to work hard and give as much as they get.

As for viewing options, if you live in London the tickets actually went on general sale (no membership required) and the match is currently sold out. Elsewhere, the match is being carried by Sky Sports 1. Here on the West Coast of the United States, owing to the unusual 1:30 GMT kickoff, the match is being shown live on Setanta USA, but for us it’s a 5:30am kickoff and since bars don’t open that early, the only viewing we get is a replay. Locally, Doyle’s will be replaying the match at 10am (PST) which means no Sunday kickaround for me. Oh well, the things I sacrifice for my team.

Anyway, that’s about it for today. We’ll see you all tomorrow for, erm, well, I don’t actually know yet, but rest assured, there will be something! See you then.


  1. What a pile of rubbish. Arsenal are whiter than white are they? They never foul people do they? Robin Van Persie, prime example of an Arsenal player who is guilty of a lot of late tackles, high tackles and some would say (virtually) assaults. You will probably win but your attack on our players is nothing short of comical and stereotypical.

    1. @Pete, the difference is that Robin gets sent off (as he did when he pushed the Stoke keeper) and us Arsenal supporters don’t blame anyone but Robin. While El Hadji Douche has made a career of malfeasance and typically only gets warnings or yellow cards.

  2. Lol @ fat sam!

    The ‘kids’ have toughened up! We’ve learnt to deal with physical sides and i feel confident we will smash this anti-football team 4-0 again!

    COme on the gunners!

  3. We can but hope that the ref has got his card pocket on quick release because Dj-oaf is known to get his bad tackles in early so he gets away with only yellows.
    @ Pete – No, RVP isnt against a bit of stud work down the shins, but he is hardly the career criminal like Diouf, and Eduardo isnt in the same diving league as Pedersen. That was a shocker last season.
    @ Darwen Blue – Give 7am a break, its the day before a match with nothing much to report and its a blog of personal thoughts and opinions. Sod off if you dont like it.

  4. We score more before 9am than your team will day:P

    Norwegians in Drammen can watch it as usual in Goggen Sport pub, starting 1430 local time.

  5. Well actually Tim, Fado in Seattle will be open at 5:30 to show the game live. Thats where I’ll be as I have a game of my own later in the day and I don’t like running the risk of hearing the score before catching the replay.

  6. keep up the good work Tim.
    always enjoy your posts.
    Fat Sam is a Supersized Bag of Sun-Dried Assholes.

  7. This is probably the most biased one-sided preview I have ever seen.

    Try to be a bit more impartial in future. Do you want us to stand back and watch you play your beautiful intricate football and beat us 4-0 every game?

    A lot of Rovers supporters, who previously admired you as a club and the manner in which you play the game are becoming more and more turned off by your superior attitude towards smaller teams.

    1. @RickoftheRovers, well, it IS an Arsenal blog.

      I don’t want you to stand back and get beat 4-0. What I would like for your club to do is come out and try to play football. Maybe you remember that back in the olden days? It involves passing the ball, player movement, trying to get an attack in once in a while.

      It seems like a lot of fans in England have resigned themselves and their clubs to the shite that Sam Allardyce calls a “team.” It’s a cop out for you to come on here and suggest that there’s only two options: quit or kick. What you should be doing is demanding that Blackburn play football. You should be sad that they don’t bother taking a chance on an exciting coach who wants to train players how to play the game and instead wastes the talents of someone like Gamst on a squad full of shit kickers and felons.

      That’s what you should do, relegation be damned, play football. That’s what Arsene Wenger has done for 13 years, your club should try it too.

  8. Wait… Smaller teams have fans that can read?
    The frustration RickoftheRovers, is that while we try to play a sport commonly known as “football”, you may have heard of it, your team, certainly under Fat Sam and Mark Hughes tries to do the opposite.
    Granted your budget and your stadium and your talent level might be “smaller”, but you there are other teams that are succesful while still playing football. See West Ham, Everton, Fulham, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Wigan etc… Football is a contact sport, and some of the teams mentioned above do play tough, physical games, but at least they try to play.

  9. @ Rick of the rovers – WTF!! This is a gunners blog not an editorial. If you cant be biased on your own blog where can you?
    Dont get me wrong I like Blackburn…always giving us 3 points and a hat full of goals. If you got rid of the hatchet men and tried to play football I would like you more.

  10. This poses an interesting debate. Maybe I will stretch it a bit, but on our local league, a so called smaller team, who just got promoted this year did the unthinkable. Kept its players and style: quick counter attack and good defending with a few spells of good posession and respect for the game. They happen to have the top scorer(a great finisher, but still, team gives him lots of chances), and have a good position on the table to qualify for an international cup. What Im trying to convey is that actually playing positive football instead of negative tactics is a choice that every team has. Im aware of difference in budgets, but any coach can assemble a team capable of playing, instead of just trying to stop the other team from playing.

  11. Well there are two kinds of anti-football. There is the kind that Jose likes his teams to play (stiffling defence and grinding out 1-0 wins) and there is the kind that Sammmy likes (kicking their opponents out of the park). I will not be surprised to see the Blackburn players take turns in kicking Cesc and Arshavin tomorrow. I just know its coming. What worries me is that someone like Song gets kicked, retaliates and gets red carded. Add to it the possibility of an injury to our already frail team and it’s a pretty bleak outlook. I am hoping for an early goal so that the match becomes relatively easy for us. Good news is that RVP seems to have found his goal scoring touch and he is WAY OVER DUE to score from a free kick. C’MON ARSENAL!

  12. Absolutely enjoy reading the post and the comments. The Rovers fans coming on here to demand impartiality make me laugh. How do you think your fellow Rovans would react if I went to your bogsite to demand balance in favour of my team? Just take it on the chin mate; the panking you are likely to get on Sunday & the impartiality of OUR (not your) blog. At least a good 2 goal advantage will do me fine from our boys.

  13. There’s been more and more non-Arsenalists finding their way to 7am. You must be doing some good publicity Tim.

    If Rovers want to kick us off the park they will have Vermaelen to deal with. He’s definitely not afraid to get stuck in.

  14. Sorry guys: The FA absolutely annoyed me when they tried to shift the blame for Adebywhore’s disgraceful behaviour to Arsenal fans provocation. Other professional footballers before him have taken far more humongous sticks from opposing fans without behaving in the same way that he did. Besides, it was his own fans, the ManC shitty fans, who started the Adebayor & Elephant songs. See for your self here.

  15. I think Nic is the one to watch out for, touched by the hand of God, (shades of Maradona), saved from a fatal road crash, to walk on water, and score miraculous goals. Jesus saves, Bendtner scores from the rebound!

    It’s a hard choice, do I buy a Volvo, or an Aston Martin for crash surviveability? Performance and overall caché can only be a secondary consideration now.

    As for Blackburn Drovers, the record of their successes, would leave space on a postage stamp.


  16. Sam only knows one way to play football which is to kick the hell out of opponents. He did this as a player and has created any team that he handled in his own image. Throw creativity out the window and bulldoze the attacking team. This is not a formula of a winning team and it will never be. He should know because as a player he won nothing playing that way.

    1. Ashley couldn’t come up w/ the budget for a scouting network so that’s why you hired someone like a Dennis Wise. Unfortunately for Ashley, Keegan is real old school and has a back bone.

  17. “It’s important that we do our best and kick lumps out of them. We must be strong and organized. The main thing is that we will have to be really aggressive and knock them about a bit. That’s what the manager will be asking from our lads.”-David Dunn

    That’s your team in a nutshell Pete and Rick-o-Shay Rabbit. So come to the Emirates, enjoy the the beautiful pitch, stay for the prawn sandwich buffet and donate 4 goals to our cause and we’ll try not to make it ‘hurt’ too bad.

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