Date: 4th November 2007 at 4:31pm
Written by:

2 things in the intro today:

1. Arsenal will not face a more dangerous opponent than the Salford team this season in any competition. Having said that, our opponents today, despite the array of talent within the team opted and sometimes were forced to utilize a sophisticated version of the Liverpool approach – which basically means contain the Arsenal and (unlike the hoof-the-ball by Merseyside Reds) use their skillful individuals to hit us on the break by carving us open with passing and movement. And hit us they did, on 2 occasions where our wide players and the midfield forgot to follow the darting runs of Evra and Ronaldo. Hopefully, lessons will be learned from this game.

2. In face of his pathetic moan re- the ref and the security around the away team dugout at the Emirates, Sir Cry-A-Lot forgot to mention 3 incidents which the apparently Arsenal-loving Coward Webb failed to see:
a. A clear, stonewall penalty after the ball hit the arm of one Owen H. (Won’t go into the shirt tugging by Vidic on Hleb). Would this ever happen at OT? Just think about it.

b. The foul by Evra on Eboue (a clear hack from behind on the legs of our winger) right after he was booked. The nicknamesake of the singer from BEP started moaning, flapping and applying all sorts of pressure to divert attention from his left back and accusing Eboue that he cheated for that foul and even got near to him and gave him an earful. Which brings me to

c. Anderson. No doubt that Cesc’s tackle on him was a tad late and deserving of a yellow, but did the ex-Porto man make a meal of it? Most certainly. One would think that he had a broken ankle. After seeing the booking, he was up quicker than you could say ‘foul’. What the Sir failed to see was also Anderson’s waving of the hand in demand of a booking (of Flam I think) which Mr. Webb failed to appropriately sanction.

All right, player ratings:

Almunia – 6.5 – seems that Manure are his bogey team. Memories of him chasing Giggs in the corner at Highbury during that 2-4 defeat came back as he misjudged his and Evra’s speed on the second goal. His decision making was not at the highest level today, although he looked ok on a few crosses and a couple of long-range efforts.

Bac – 7 – ran himself to death. Overlapped and overlapped, and ran back to tackle hard. Did not back out of any tackles and one particularly stands out – throwing himself head-first on a Vidic half-volley to clear from a corner. Tiredness got to him in the end, and might partially take blame for the 2nd goal. Just partially.

Clichy – 7 – kept the Portuguese quiet most of the time, and was tenacious as usual. Won us a clear penalty that red-n-white wearing (if you believe Ferguson) Webb didn’t see. 1st goal conceded from his side and backed from a tackle by Brown.

Toure – 7.5 – A solid performance from the Ivory Coast Rock, tarnished by two conceded goals. Fantastic couple of blocks on Rooney, numerous interceptions of attempted through and lob passes by the opponent’s midfield and a couple of trade-mark surging runs, one was particularly memorable – the shot went a bit wide.

Gallas – 8.1 – MOM – despite the own-goal canceled by the scored goal, what continuously fascinates me about this guy, despite all the setbacks with injuries, Will Gallas is one of the few players I’ve seen with such enormous desire to win. Excellent game by William Gallas, could have gotten another one but for a smart leg save from the leggy Dutchman between the sticks for ManYoo.

Hleb – 7.5 – was recognized as a major threat and marked closely most of the time. Got in great positions offensively and made some good runs back. His immaculate technique and balance opened up space for Fab4 in the build up for the 1st goal. If him and Vidic wore opposite team colors at OT, would have gotten an easy penalty. Subbed (should not have been) by Gilberto on 80 mins.

Rosicky – 6.5 – A better outing for the little Mozart, although I expected him to be more of a danger on the left. Had a couple of snap-shots from the edge of the area, one took too long to set his feet but still fizzed by after hitting it with the outside of the boot. Gave his all in terms of effort and ran out of breath towards the end. Eduardo replaced him on 80 mins.

Flamini – 6.5 – You know what you get from Mathieu. He got properly stuck in – again. His anticipation was off on several occasions when trying to intercept a pass. Unusually, ran one too many times forward for my liking which left a significant hole behind. Had a shot wide. Time for Diarra to step in and give him a breather or two.

Cesc – 8 – there’s no words to describe his value to the team. He is never afraid to tackle, pass and is probably the 2nd most passionate winner in our club, behind Gallas. A finish of incredible calmness and composure – worthy of senior experienced players – this KID is only 20. Great game taking into account the little space given. Booked for a late tackle on Anderson.

Eboue – 6.5 – skillwise at times looked like his counterpart on the opposite side – at times he was at his lazy best not tracking the runners back. I was delighted to see him tackle hard and fair, disappointed to see him jog at times he was supposed to ran his arse off. Too inconsistent. Replaced by Theo on 75.

Adebayor – 6.5 – Alone up front against the best defensive pairing of the EPL so far, Ade gave them hell. His goalscoring might have gone dry, but his effort never does. Won a good number of headers, chased and got away few times and was hacked down by his ex-colleague from Monaco. The service was limited two 2 crosses which he headed wide and one through ball from Fab which produced a great save from v.d.Saar, but Bac found Fab4 for the equalizer. Needs a partner up front.

Subs:

Theo – NR – just wasn’t on enough. Got caught in possession once – but tracked back to close the gap left by Sagna. Involved in the 93rd minute goal.

Gilberto – NR – quite disappointed of his outing today – he looked completely disinterested and not warmed up. Jogged and watched the 2nd goal develop right in front of him.

Eduardo – NR – miskicked a volley at the end, where he should have done better. Expect to see him in Prague from the off, and hopefully more goals coming from him.

Ref: Coward Webb – the name says it all I think. Average to poor.