Date: 28th January 2007 at 10:14pm
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Another midweek away game and another trip to the Reebok were hardly what I wanted from this tie (understatement), but with around twenty minutes remaining I would have settled on it quite nicely. I was really expecting the Arsenal to fly out of the traps and put the odious slob Allardyce well into his place, alas, it was not to be. It seems we cannot beat them, and do you want to know the truth? It kills me.

The afternoon had started brightly enough, whilst I slayed my hangover with the dark creamy hair of the dog that positively chewed my leg off, I was accosted by vital member hatespur. Always pleasant to discuss your hatred of all things Chelsea over a jar! Unfortunately Arsenal’s condition early on reflected my own, cumbersome, bloated and a little slow. There appeared to be an almost visible psychological barrier inhibiting the team as a consequence of their opponents. The ‘oh **** it’s Bolton!’ factor was amplified and a depleted crowd looked on in pensive quiet. Fortunately for us it seemed, Bolton had absolutely no intentions of trying to win the game, choosing instead to time waste from minute one and content to try their luck at set pieces. Davies managed to get himself a free header in the box early on. Had Bolton have been more enterprising, Arsenal were positively ripe for the taking. The Gunners betrayed their style and the midfleld was by passed, as Henry and Adebayor were left to scrap it out aerially with the imposing Abdoulaye Faye and his namesake Meite.

A stroke of Henry genius sparked Arsenal into life in the dying embers of the first half. Latching onto Ricardo Gardner’s understrength headed back pass, rounding Jaaskelainen and with his body positioned awkwardly, he conceived to backheel it goalwards, only for Meite to betray aesthetic beauty by toe ending it away from danger. Arsenal had a claim for a penalty as Adebayor raged into the box and was felled, but from my angle, he was always looking to go down and it was a bit of a naughty dive. Bafflingly, the home side contrived to begin the second half slowly as well, waiting statically for something to shock them into action. Bolton weren’t to disappoint them. Flamini and Senderos meekly challenged Anelka on the edge of the box and he was able to find Davies in acres of space, old elbows kept remarkably calm as he slipped the ball to Nolan, who dug the ball out of his feet to ruffle the unguarded net.

Going a goal behind has become an all too regular feature this season and one we have to correct. It is incredibly noticeable the difference between our first and second half displays this campaign and a remedy has to be found. This is the third consecutive game we have conceded the advantage in, while it is pleasing to see us exude ample charisma to come back, we simply must go about our business with a keener eye. The goal was to prove our catalyst, suddenly the pace of our game increased tenfold, Clichy bombed on with abandon, Fabregas got a foothold on the game, Rosicky carried the ball forward with some swashbuckling runs. I feel Alex Hleb was missed, he adds a fluidity to our game and his ball retention is beyond reproach, I hope we can compensate for his absence. The Beast was released and he joined play up brilliantly, spraying the ball wide to add another dimension to our attacks. Unfortunately, Faye and Meite repelled just about every cross sent their way, arriving first to clear low crosses. Last weekend Bolton showed a real succeptibility to high balls into their penalty area from out wide, Stewart Downing fed his strikers with sumtuous crossing and Bolton shipped five.

It was an area we really should have done our homework on, and in hindsight (that fickle old mistress) perhaps Baptista should have started and Walcott’s corners/crosses really should not have troubled the lush surface. Ironically, while Bolton scored a beautifully crafted goal, Arsenal got all ugly and equalised from a set piece. Fabregas swerved a free kick towards the back post where Kolo Toure stooped to head home from close range. With Jaaskelainen already on his way down, Toure’s tame header dribbled just over the line. The Gunners pushed for an equaliser, Baptista’s header goalwards sprayed wide off of Faye’s shoulder.

The winner would not arrive and it’s another fixture we have made for ourselves. The Man City game will be moved, hopefully, come Wednesday night we will have cause to move the Villa game because we will have a trip to Cardiff. The replay will be played one week before our tie against PSV and with injuries starting to reappear, I think this is a fixture too far and we should write it off. Most of our first team squad were involved in the World Cup and began training early for our European qualifier, legs will tire towards the end of the season. I think we should go all out for the Carling Cup but play the kids in this particular replay. Besides which, the youngsters have shown a fearless demeanour which the first team did not undertake against Bolton today. Bolton away on Valentine’s Day? Perhaps that is what they mean by the romance of the Cup? LD.


15 Replies to “Faye and Meite High and Mighty”

  • It was esp. galling to see our team waste such an opportunity to lay the ghosts of bogeymen to rest. On a day watching King Federer showing how to beat determined opponents, by wresting out an advantage and then going for the kill(Both he and Arsenal have the skill to do it and make it look ridiculously easy), I wished Arsenal would follow the same example. But it seems we are behind Federer in learning curve. Hope we dominate like he does.

  • If you think hard about it, almost every time we have recoverd from a goal down this season it has come scrappily or from a set piece (Gilberto v Villa, Van Persie v Everton + Man U etc). Where as on the other hand when we score first, the goals are created from brilliant free, flowing passing and off the ball movement that only the arsenal are capable of. If we can combine these two aspects of our game and mix them from start to finish of every match then i think we would become much less predictable and accordingly harder to stop. While it is encouraging to know that our will to win and strength to fight back can only come from great belief and team spirit and that the problem of conceding first can be drilled out with practice where as the belief and spirit cant be taught and is a special quality, the worry is why havent we addressed this issue of giving away a goal like its part of a promotional offer to bring teams to the grove when it has been happening all season. Even more strange is why we only seem to begin to play with what appears full commitment once we have given the opposition their lead. – Football’s an odd game!

  • senderos is looking half the brick wall he was last season, he needs concreting up, i prefer djourou and gallas over him im afraid, i think we will have to panic buy a attcking minded player on a short term contract/loan, if baptistas injury is bad, cassano anyone ? anyway i was dssapointed and i thought the boys would be more up for it today, special mention goes to clichy, i think he was man of the match

    p.s where the hell w as henry all game ?

  • Arsenal’s problem with Bolton lies with tactics and players. Arsenal have too many small players. Bolton have huge and tall ones. Wenger needs to have a different approach for Bolton. But hey, there is another chance for us to banish our reebok memories, get a handy win.
    Still think bolton will get some thrashing, some day. I hope the ref doesn’t call the game off, when this is happening

  • Can I summarize? Yes, Senderos has looked as our 4th choice centerback, and he needs to wake up ASAP. Clichy and Gilberto have been THE most constant players of the campaign so far, we have PLENTY central midfielders and we need some wingers (I am counting Freddie as a squad player only), Henry has a completely new role in the team, often goes missing for large portions of the game only to pop up and decide a game. He is a new man after the rest and I think the same will happen with Gallas. Wenger is sometimes too stubborn and we DEFINITELY need bigger players to BEAT Bolton and they don’t come any bigger than Baptista and Diaby (Gilberto, anyone?). It is not Henry any more it is Cesc. He NEEDS a rest, he’s tired and when he’s not 100%, we struggle. Theo desperately needs a goal to get going, any U21 games coming up? Looking into near future, we will go through to the Carling Cup Final and we will go through to the next round in FA Cup (penalties would be sweet!), where probably we will meet ManUsa or Chel$ki AWAY. We will also win at Riverside and Wenger will sell Reyes, Aliadiere and perhaps even Lehmann and Ljungberg in the summer and keep Baptista.

  • I don’t think we necessarily need bigger players, Bolton did not outmuscle us. What was peculiar was that we betrayed our style and resorted to panicky long balls. It was not until we got the ball down and started playing that we looked dangerous.

  • i think we need a striker or winger in the market on some sort of loan deal, we are te most unlucky team with injuries in the world, its quite unbelievable, what are the physios doing wrong ?

  • comment of the week goes to my 4yr old son, arsenal fans start chanting ” who are ya ! ” and my son turns to me and asks’ why they singing who are ya, don’t they know who they are ! ” HAHAHAHAHA

  • i cant believe how much of my money bolton wasted yesterday. 1stly they dulled the 1st half into the most boring half i’ve seen for years (still in wenger yrs). Then they wasted time with 35 miutes to go.

  • P.S Puregold, your son talks more sense than Hansen, get him on motd! Maybe he can elbow Shearer in the process?

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