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Fabianski – Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I always knew the lad had talent, lack of confidence was his problem. Now that confidence is on a high you can see the difference. Making world class saves, superb decision making, excellent on crosses and set pieces. Goodbye Almunia! (9)

Sagna – He was everywhere today. Superb defending and he was involved in nearly every attack as well. He sure has quite a stamina. And it seemed he’s been working on his crosses as well! (8)

Squillaci – Nothing special from him really but didn’t make any mistakes either. (7)

Djourou – Poor. Looked pretty shaky. His decision making and positioning wasn’t the best on plenty of occasions. Missed a simple header too. Not a good game. I can’t wait for Vermaelen and Koscielny to return. (6)

Clichy – Decent performance from him. Did get humiliated a couple of times in defence but other than that he was his usual self. Not bad. (6.5)

Song – His passing is still annoying and his renewed belief that he’s great going forward is a nuisance. But it did pay off today, fortunately. Got a good goal, great finish. (6.5)

Denilson – Worked really hard today. Good performance but I’ll have Wilshere over him any day. (7)

Fabregas – Our captain is just sheer class. What he adds to the team is priceless. His vision is exceptional, execution is always perfect. Missed a penalty but he made it up with his performance. (8.5)

Nasri – Excellent performance yet again from the Frenchman. He’s doing it week in week out. Scored a very well taken goal and got the assist for the 3rd goal. He’s a really skillful player and his ability to take on defenders is a treat to the eye. (9)

Arshavin – Saw some improvement today from his recent lackluster performances but still a long way to go to being back to his best. It was pleasing to see him tracking back today, something that has been his weak point from the start of his Arsenal career. He was pretty active in the attacks as well, good assist for Nasri’s opener. But he’s unable to take defenders on and beat them like he was in his early days and score some surprising goals which is worrying. (7)

Chamakh – The usual from our Moroccan. Good link up, decent runs, it was a tackle on him that resulted in the early red card. (7)

Substitutes:

Rosicky – Involved a lot since coming on but wasted an opportunity to shoot by trying to find Denilson. But it was probably because of his lack of confidence in front of goal; he hasn’t scored in quite a while. (6.5)

Walcott – Nothing to mention in his little cameo.

Bendtner – Great to see him back. He had a nice touch, movement was good and finishing was excellent. (7)

The Super Sunday encounter between Arsenal and Manchester City can rightly be called a battle of ideologies. Cash rich Manchester City have not been shy of spending money. They have made a completely new team over the last year or two spending lavishly. Arsenal, on the other hand, with Arsene Wenger at helm have been the least spending Premier League side. They have persisted with project youth in the past few years with not more than a couple of additions each year. Tomorrow we may well find out how right Wenger is when he says “You can’t buy success.”

We usually don’t term games this early in the season as must-win. But its getting the 3 points especially in big matches like the one tomorrow that help to keep those must win games to a minimum in the final stages of the season.

The trip to City of Manchester Stadium used to be an easy ride for Arsenal till 2006. But since the influx of virtually unlimited money at City, Arsenal have managed to avoid defeat just once in the last 5 trips to Eastlands. Not to forget last season’s 4-2 defeat – a result that was overshadowed by Emmanuel Adebayor’s infamous stamp on former teammate Robin van Persie. Neither of the two might feature tomorrow though. Van Persie, as usual, is out injured and Adebayor has fallen out of favor with manager Roberto Mancini.

What’s more worrying for Arsenal is that they have a horrible away form. They have not kept a clean sheet in their last 15 away games and have won only one of their last eight Premier League away games. It really makes one wonder whether Arsenal can manage to get the 3 points tomorrow. Looks doubtful, honestly speaking.

As for the team news, City have an extremely short injury list. Balotelli, Jo and Toure are the only big names doubtful for tomorrow. Balotelli and Jo will surely not be missed with the form that Carlos Tevez is in. 28 goals in his last 31 Premier League appearances, including 7 already this season, says it all. It is this remarkable form that has forced Adebayor to the bench. But the lanky forward did get a hattrick in the Europa Cup in midweek so he will surely be contesting for a start against the club where it all started for him. New boy David Silva is also starting to fulfill his potential and could pose a serious threat to the weak Arsenal defence.

Arsenal’s absentee list is a lot longer than that of City. Almunia, Frimpong, Ramsey, Van Persie, Vermaelen, Koscielny and Wilshere (suspended) will all be missing. The list has shrunk a lot in the last week or two. Sagna is back, so are Walcott, Bendtner and Fabregas. The captain’s return is a timely one considering the little man running the show from midfield this season, Jack Wilshere, is suspended. The probable line-up will be:

Fabianski
Sagna     Squillaci     Djourou     Clichy
Nasri     Song    Fabregas
Walcott     Chamakh     Arshavin

Fabianski is turning out to be a reliable goalkeeper. You don’t have mini heart attacks anymore whenever he’s called into action, and instead you really fancy him to pull out a save or make a good punch. Sagna is back fit and I would prefer him over Eboue because he’s better defender defensively. The back two pick themselves since they’re the only options we have unless Koscielny makes a surprising recovery from his back injury. At left back I wouldn’t mind either of Clichy or Gibbs but Wenger will probably go for Clichy’s experience. Nasri has been Arsenal’s best player this season so he’s an automatic selection. Song is the only holding midfield option we have. Fabregas picks himself. As for Walcott, I think we really will need his pace and direct approach in a big match like this because as Wenger said the first goal decides the game in most big matches so better to start him than bring him on as a super sub. Of course you can’t drop Chamakh. He’s been The Man so far. Involved in nearly everything – tracking back, good link play, assists, winning penalties, scoring goals. And we all know Wenger wont drop Arshavin so lets not argue about that!

MANCHESTER CITY:
League position: 2nd
Points: 17
Goals scored: 12
Goals conceded: 5
Form: WWWWD

ARSENAL:
League position: 5th
Points: 14
Goals scored: 18
Goals conceded: 10
Form: WLLDW

Lets hope Arsenal can turn their away misfortunes around and turn up with a performance we’ve all come to expect from them at home. With Chelsea getting a win today, not dropping points is all the more important now.

arshavin101Arsenal’s exceptional performer this year Andrei Arshavin was asked by a fan whether he would consider a huge offer from Real Madrid like Christiano Ronaldo did. The Russian’s reply was neither yes nor no.

Q. Hi Andrew, if you are offered a contract by Real Madrid and paid 13 million euros a year like Ronaldo will you go there?

Arshavin. Hmm… This is scary even to think!=)

Arshavin-son

Q: You know, there is a phrase: “If you are tired of London, you are tired of life” – do you agree with it? And what’s your favorite place in London (well, not counting the base of Arsenal, of course)?

Arshavin: I think I can answer this question at the end of the year. Of course,
I have been sightseeing, trying to
immerse myself in the history of England.
Favorite place? That is our house at Hampstead.

Q: I have 2 questions for you Andrei:
Which English team do you not like and why, or which you think is harder to play against?
For example, I do not like Chelsea.

Arshavin: It’s not something that is liked. It was just bad play by Fulham, a very disciplined team, a lot of people behind the ball, and unpleasant.

Q: Andrew, how did you learn English so quickly? =)

Arshavin: Basically, I have not yet learned. The knowledge that I get
each day allows me to feel more comfortable.

Q: Who chose your house? =)))

Arshavin: To a greater extent – Julia.

Q: Have you traveled to Moscow? There are trams with your pictures on them! And it is written on them: “A huge success without fanfare “. Did you know ?

Arshavin: Yes, I know. It was agreed with me.

Q: How would you have felt had Arsenal won the Champions League this year?

Arshavin: I would have been delighted for Arsenal. But on the other hand I would have been disappointed that I could not play.

Q: Andrew please tell me what should I do. Go to an expensive school, or play football which I cannot live without? I do not go to school currently, but at Trenerovki I simply must go, I just don’t want to go on Trenerovku!
Please answer!

Arshavin:
You should not leave school in any case. No one knows whether you will be successful in your football life. And education is  very useful.

Andrew, what a nice conclusion of the season. Will you tell us about the game?
And why not? Today we had a good, decent game. As always, filled with “Emirates” waiting for us in the last match of the season a lot of heads at the gate “Stoke City”. I think that the goals Arsenal fans pleased. We got almost everything right, we played for fun ….
When the scoreline was 3-0, their goalkeeper asked to be taken off. Perhaps he picked up an injury. Injuries are always a bad thing. Today his departure from the field probably saved him from more serious moral emotions.
During the second half we continued to escalate.  We constantly kept the ball but could not make it to the last goal, but it was not so important, the team enjoyed the game, and the result allowed us to do so.

Andrei Arshavin enjoyed playing together with partners. A few striking episodes in your performance forced the stadium a few times for a standing applause and to chant your name. Did you hear it?
No, it is difficult to understand. Andrei Arshavin merges with Arsenal.

What moment in the game you like most?
My blow “through itself”. If I had scored that goal, it would have been a beautiful end to my first season in London.

So the season completed.
The first part of my overseas career is over. I want to say that all was not bad for me. Apart from the fact that Arsenal could not fight for the League. I hope that next year will be much better for the team and for me.

Let us suppose that we in the school. What would your conditional instructor Andrey Sergeyevich teach his student Arshavinu for the first season in England?
Solid four… However, in the everyday plan at the beginning of my London life there were the problems. Now they are practically solved. I hope that at the beginning the new season it will be completely solved.

Off to a meeting in London?
Yes, today until August we bid farewell to the club mascot – a sweet Dinosaur, I personally shook his hand, and tomorrow we will be in St. Petersburg, a city in which I am bored. I am pleased that there is a lot of time that I spend in will spend im my native St. Petersburg now.
I want to say a big thanks to the management of Zenit and the chief coach. They gave me the opportunity to train together with a Zenit prior to the collection of the national team of Russia.

Andrew, congratulations on winning! 3:0 on the scoreboard. This means that Arsenal’s autumn starts in the Champions League. In the field at Fratton Park in the match against the current holders of the FA Cup,  you were the captain. Captain, who is traditionally the best player of the team.
Captain? Honestly, for me it was somewhat unexpected. It may be that in the merit of my age, I was the oldest in the composition. Perhaps, therefore, Arsene chose me.

Arshavin on the field Arsenal scores a lot of goals. Let us remember today’s goals. The first ball into the goal. Had you noticed Bendtner, or did it go to him unexpcetedly?
I wasn’t thinking whether it will come to Bendtner or not. I was just hoping that someone will get to it.
If we talk about the game in general, I think we move very quickly from defense to attack. While, on the other hand, and they had opportunities to change the account on the scoreboard. Remember Crouch’s strike.
But the first goal we scored. Again, Crouch had a chance to equalise. He did not make us of it. And then we continued to control the game.

In the game you were brought down twice in the penalty area, but you only won one penalty.
Yes, in the first episode, It was without doubt a penalty kick. Second? It is at the discretion of the referee. Nick scored, and we led 2-0.

Why did you not take the penalty?
Before the game, Arsene wrote a list of will take the penalties. Bendtner was first in that list.

After this goal the fans started to boo you.
They were not happy with the designated penalty kick and with my game!

Second half
At the beginning of the second half we had some problems in the game. This was connected with Kanu coming on. Their composition has two tall players. Crouch and Kanu began to win the upper duel. But our goalkeeper is irreplacapble! Well after that, shortly Vela scored a third goal. After that game was practically over and Arsene had the opportunity to bring on young guys.

Yellow card to you, and red on you.
I was fouled because the area was clear. Red? Insulting. It would have been better had he let me go one on one, I would have scored a goal.

Opponent. A few words about it.
I think that they did not have the motivation. They also did not have several leading players. It was hard to play against us. Yes, and Denilson, who played center midfield, in my opinion, was the master of all players. He selects all the balls right and reviews of all those who have not ran past him.

Portsmouth. Another city which you have visited in England. The city, which has a population of 190 000 people. The city with an interesting history…
Yes. The history of the city, really interesting. Today learned that the King Richard the Lionheart has paid particular attention to this town. I was told that at a place near Portsmouth Charles Dickens was born ….
What I saw? The sea, a lot of yachts. I did not see the city much, just noted when traveling by bus, a very beautiful coastline.

4 goals against Liverpool are fine but Arshavin wants 5 against United!

The Russian has been heaped with praises after his phenomenal display at Anfield. But the little master refused to brag about it saying there are some days when everything flies on target. Whatever the reason be, he has done something that only Henry has before been able to do. So it was no surprise as Arsenal players were all over him! The Russian said:

“After Liverpool game my team-mates congratulated me and made a lot of jokes: We’ll do everything for you tonight! Do you want anything? Just say and we’ll bring it running. Can we clean your boots? Or carry your bag?

“On the plane back to London they signed the ball from the game and presented it to me.”

Then when he was asked what could be better than such an achievement Shava replied:

“Winning the Premier League, naturally. Or scoring five at Old Trafford.”

He sure sets his expectations high and I like it a lot. Aim for the stars and you might reach the moon. But if you don’t aim high then you wont even get to the moon. Good going Shava! You will surely become a legend at Arsenal!

Did you know Arshavin is a good writer too and has written 3 best-sellers namely “555 Questions and Answers”, “We Did It! Story of the Great Victory” and “Euro 2008: Guus’s Team – Diary of Andrei Arshavin”! Multi talented!

Andrey, congratulations on such a great achievement! Tell us about the game.
We arrived at Liverpool after Saturday’s loss at Wembley. Obviously we were not in the best of moods, having been knocked out of the FA Cup. Arsene told us that game was history and that we now must concentrate on our remaining Premier League and Champions’ League games. We are playing a few teams who are fighting for the Champions’ League spots and those games might allow us to get higher in the table.
The game? We did not start the game very well. Liverpool had the initiative, they were creating chances in front of our goal. In some episodes our defence came to the rescue, in others it was our goalkeeper. Eventually we got into the game, started putting some passes together, which resulted in a good attacking move that led to a goal.
The goal was beautiful and well worked.
All I had to do is put my foot in the right place and direct the ball goalwards. Summing up the first half performance I think the result did not reflect the game, Liverpool were pressing throughout the half but ended up a goal down.
In the second half our opponents, playing at home with incredible support from their fans, unleashed a barrage of attacks on our goal. They managed to score twice, it might have appeared that we were going to lose by a large margin.
Could have lost, were it not for Arsenal’s number 23. This brings us to the second goal…
The defender did not expect me to burst from behind him. Carragher had not anticipated this as well – he tried to get into position to start the attack and as a result Cesc and myself were left against a single defender. I was planning to pass the ball to Fabregas initially, but having noticed that defender was closing the space down, I decided to hit the ball, I managed to strike it quite well, the ball flew past the post and the score became 2-2.
Goal number three…
I managed to score the third one almost instantly after a poor clearance. All I had to do was hit the target.
This goal did not break the hosts’ resolve.
No, their team has great spirit, they carried on passing the ball around and attacking. Then they scored the third. Afterwards the game became even more open: both teams went for an all-out attack.
Which brings us to your final goal? How did you do it?
I saw Theo pick up the ball and realised that I needed to dart forward. I’m happy he passed the ball to me. I didn’t even look at the goalkeeper, I was just thinking about hitting the target. Unfortunately even four goals proved to be not enough for us, it was a blow to concede so late in the game. Overall I think the fans loved the show. This is the type of games hated by defenders and goalkeepers and loved by the strikers.
Andrey, do people love poker in England? (quad goals are called “poker” in Russia – translator)
I’ll gladly play it in every coming game.
Which goal was your favourite?
The first one, it got everything going.
Andrey, this is a huge success. Will you be able to keep your feet on the ground?
I have a wife who will quickly put me back in my box. 🙂
You were awarded a bottle of champagne as the man of the match. Did you to take the bottle home?
No, the bottle went to our training camp.
What about the matchball?
I was promised that I will get it tomorrow.
Andrey, the game was played in the city of…
Beatles? Yes, they are a legendary band, of course I listened to their songs. They’re great but I did not think about them on the pitch.
92 goals is a good achievement for someone playing in your position. Century edges ever closer.
Yes, but the final steps come at a very challenging time.
You exchanged shirts with Torres after the game, you do not normally do that.
My childhood coach – S. Gordeev is collecting number 9 shirts. I hope a friend from St. Petersburg who was staying over with us will deliver it to him. 🙂
What are your immediate plans?
Arsene gave us a couple of days off so I’m going to spend them with my family. We’ll probably go for a stroll, visit the Zoo…
Andrey, congratulations again! It was a fantastic result.
Thanks! My regards to St. Petersburg.

Andrei Arshavin was as obvious a disappointed man after the FA Cup semi final defeat at Wembley. The Russian was given just 15 minutes to win Arsenal the match which he was unable to. Now he and his team-mates have to switch focus to maintaining their 4th place in the Premier League and try to win the Champions League.

Arshavin took some time out after the match to share his views on the defeat:

“I think that today at Wembley there was a match between two very strong teams. I think that at first in the game, we had greater territorial advantage, but they conducted the game and they could drive in goal. Subsequently the game was equalized. After that goal the game narrowed. Chelsea slowly took possession over and due to that advantage they got a goal.

“If we, as a whole, evaluate the results of first half, then I think that it was quite even. But in the second half Chelsea had more possession. Most of the game took place in our half of the field, although we did carry out rapid counter-attacks. Unfortunately, we conceded a late goal. We were left with very little time to organize and make Cech work. They did not give us any chance to score. We are upset that one half of the stadium left Wembley utterly disappointed. This is football, sometimes there are defeats. Surely it is not possible to win every match. Now we have to switch our focus to the fight in Premier League and Champions League.”

24 birthdays but none as bad as this. That is the story of Lukas Fabianski. Started the match by nearly conceding as he needlessly came off the line and ended it in the same fashion, except that this time he conceded.

Fabianski

Not many Arsenal fans were expecting a defeat considering the form they were it. It seemed we were invincible, but not anymore. FA Cup was the tournament we had the greatest chance of winning but we will have to wait yet another season now for it. To expect winning the Champions League is more hope than expectation. It seems another trophyless season it will be now…

It all started with bad news and ended with bad news as well. Denilson and Diaby preferred to Arshavin and Nasri. Wenger did manage to give a logical explanation as to why Nasri was not started but Arshavin. That was an unbeliavable decision. He had not featured in the mid-week match against Villareal so he was fresh and daring to have a go at Chelsea. Yet he is dropped. Wenger said when you have 8 matches in 24 days you can’t expect to play the same 11 in every match. But wait Arshavin didn’t play the last match. No reason to drop the best player of Russia in such a big match. Complaints later lets talk about the match.

Fabianski as expected was in goal. The same back four as against Villareal ahead of him as Gibbs passed a late fitness test. Walcott on the right, Fabregas, Denilson and Diaby in the centre. van Persie playing on the left and Adebayor the forward. The line-up raised a lot of eyebrows but Wenger isn’t a man who listens to others does he.

The match started with Arsenal clearly looking the better side. But that didn’t last. A howler from Fabianski nearly let Drogba give Chelsea an early lead but his header cleared off the line by Gibbs. Chelsea soon had another decent opportunity for Drogba. But the Ivorian’s touch too heavy and the chance went begging.

Chelsea couldn’t get the early lead but Arsenal did. Against the run of play Walcott put Arsenal ahead. Adebayor had the ball on the left flank, played a neat pass to Gibbs whose cross came straight to the unmarked Walcott inside the box. The youngster took the shot with his unfavoured left foot and it needed a deflection off the hand of Ashley Cole to beat Petr Cech.

Arsenal had got the goal but that was the only advantage they had as Chelsea continued to dominate. With a midfield comprising Ballack, Lampard and Essien against Diaby and Denilson, it was quite obvious Chelsea would dominate in midfield.

Walcott was looking very lively whenever he got the ball and Fabregas was brilliant as usual as well. The two nearly combined to increase the lead. Fabregas’s through ball met by Walcott who had his shot brilliantly saved by Cech. But Walcott had wrongly been called offside. Had Cech failed to stop the shot there would have been a lot of post match controversy.

Chelsea had an immediate reply though. Great vision and a pin point long ball by Lampard found Malouda just inside the box. A sublime first touch, got away from Eboue with the second and had a shot on goal with his right foot. Through Eboue legs and into the back of the net at Fabianski’s near post. Advantage Chelsea.

At this point everyone could feel that Almunia was being sorely missed. Fabianski was looking very nervous. He isn’t the worst of keepers but probably the nerves of playing in such a big match got to him.

It was one way traffic after that goal. Anelka had a stunning effort on goal but it hit the post and out. Diaby was at fault there. Trying to play pretty football inside the box isn’t something you should be doing in the FA Cup semi final against a team of Chelsea’s quality.

Next up Essien tried a curler but it was straight at Fabianski. Whenever Chelsea came near Arsenal’s goal, one feared Fabianski would mess up.

Even in the second half, Wenger’s motivating half time talk couldn’t do the trick as Chelsea continued from where they left. Lampard had a chance but superb tackle by Toure to deny him.

Both the sides had their chances. Walcott was the main player of Arsenal. Whipping in dangerous crosses in but no one getting on the end of them. Ashley Cole was looking hapless. Both side also had appeals for penalties turned down. Drogba and Lampard also combined nicely by Lampard volley went wide.

Honestly speaking, I feared Chelsea will inevitably score. They were looking too good and Fabianski too bad.

Arshavin and Nasri came on very late on. It was too little too late though. Ok they are wonderful players but you have to be sensible enough and not expect a miracle from them by bringing them on so late in the game.

A minute after Nasri came on, the worst happened. Drogba sent through by a long ball. The Chelsea forward shrugged off Silvestre and the Frechman virtually gave up his chase. Very poor defending. Then Fabianski capped up a hopeless performance by setting up Drogba’s goal. Came off his line. Tried to stop Drogba by a half stretch of his left leg. He was never going to be stopped that easily, got away and finished it with his left foot. Toure and Silvestre got back but too late, the ball had already crossed the line. You could see how furious Toure was seeing the ball cross the line. He secretly felt this game was over.

Wenger had a final throw of the die by taking Adebayor off and bringing Bendtner on. Bendtner can be a good super sub and he nearly forced extra time. Got away from a couple of defenders and sent a cross in. Arshavin got on the end of it and had a shot. The shot had beaten Cech and was heading for goal only for Alex to step in and put the ball away for a corner. The corner saw Cech flapping at the ball resluting in another corner. Similar flapping by Cech but this time the ball was cleared. Match over. Dream over.

Drogba yet again brought tears to the Arsenal fans eyes. Dumped Arsenal in the League Cup final two years back and does the same in the FA Cup semi final this year. Arsenal fans will have to live with the regret that if Almunia and Gallas were fit maybe the result would have been different. Nothing can be done now and Arsenal are out of the FA Cup

Injuries have killed yet another season of Arsenal.

Ivanovic hardly had anything to do all match. A player of Arshavin’s quality would just have ripped him apart. But no Wenger thought Diaby would do a better job than Arshavin.

And Adebayor really needs to start fighting for long balls. Fabregas sends brilliant long balls to him. And what does he do! Makes a run forward in the vain hope that the defender might fail to head the ball and it will fall to him. That is never going to happen Ade. At least not against a team of Chelsea’s quality.

Lets forget about it now, though I just cant get it out of my mind! So one can imagine how hard it will be for the players to get over this defeat. Lets hope they get over it as soon as possible or it might even result in a Champions League semi final defeat. They need to re focus quickly. This season may seem to be over but it’s not as yet…