How Do Arsenal Recover From This 7 Day Disaster?

I am totally speechless.

Tonight’s game against Blackburn Rovers was so one-sided it was untrue, but yet again for all their possession Arsenal forgot the art of goalscoring. And it was Blackburn Rovers with their first shot on target on the 84th minute that ended up deciding this FA Cup tie.

The first half was full of Arsenal chances, with Baptista missing two simple headed opportunities to open the scoring. On top of that, Aliadiere had a decent shout for a penalty when Brad Friedel clipped the attacker and got no-where near the ball – and Freddie was denied one of the most blatant penalties I have ever seen. Freddie was through and Brett Emerton kicked the Swede once on each leg and had his hands all over his shoulder.

But Graham Poll waved play on!

That has to be one of the worse refereeing decisions this season – and even Sky were saying it was a blatant penalty!

Not even the most Anti-Arsenal person on the planet could deny that it was a stone wall penalty.

Arsenal continued to dominate in the second half but missed a hat-full of chances and while the game is 0-0 then anything can happen.

And just like against PSV and Chelsea it did.

Arsenal’s failure to make their chances count – and these were clear opportunities – was criminal. In a game where other teams are seemingly clinical with minimal chances against us, Arsenal without Thierry Henry cannot score.

So now we have defeats in the Champions League, Carling Cup and FA Cup.

How the hell does Arsene save this season?

Goals win games and Arsenal are severely lacking any cutting edge and we cannot just pass off the last 3 games as another bad patch or just a few bad days at the office. And people will say that I may be over-reacting but when you lose in 3 different competitions within a week then it has a huge bearing on the outcome of the season.

2 goals in the last 4 games is astounding for a team like Arsenal who create so many chances.

The crazy thing is that against Chelsea and against Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal have dominated those games both in terms of possession and in terms of clear chances created.

What else can you do?

Like most Arsenal fans, Arsene Wenger must be wondering what the hell is going on. Arsenal are playing some wonderful stuff but the ball just won’t go into the net!

I just hope Arsenal are saving their goals for the PSV game next week.

Valiant Young Guns Suffer Defeat In Cardiff

Before the cup final I thought like most Arsenal fans that we could nick the win, and after the first 15 minutes Arsenal looked like the far better team.

Like against Barcelona in the Champions League Final, no-one had given Arsenal a chance against a far more experienced (and expensive) Chelsea team who were at full strength.

After 5 minutes Julio Baptista struck a fantastic shot that went through John Terry’s legs and needed a superb save from Petr Cech to deny Arsenal scoring the opening goal. Arsenal started brightly and made Chelsea look pedestrian, moving the ball around confidently and making all kinds of penetrating runs in the final third.

And 7 minutes later the Arsenal kids did what no-one thought they could – scored against a full strength Chelsea side. Theo Walcott controlled the ball well after an Arsenal corner and played a smart one-two with Abou Diaby before calmly curling the ball past Cech into the far top corner.

Arsenal had scored against the Champions!

From then on Arsenal grew in confidence and made some decent chances, only for Cech to make some vital saves.

And those proved to be decisive as Chelsea scored a controversial goal on 21 minutes. I was sure it was offside when Ballack played through Drogba and although it was a tight decision – how many times have we seen those close ones given? The replays showed Drogba was marginally offside but the flag stayed down and Almunia was easily beaten by a scuffed shot.

An equaliser against Arsenal in a final which was offside? This was becoming all too familiar.

The disappointing thing was Arsenal probably deserved to be 2 or 3 goals to the good at that point, but if there’s one thing you can say about Chelsea is that they’re clinical.

Despite the setback, Arsenal’s youngsters showed their confidence and desire and pushed Chelsea back, making their millionnaires look lacklustre and second best.

Arsene Wenger and his young side deserve a hell of a lot of credit for their performance.

As the second half started as the first with an open game and Arsenal contributing all of the outstanding play. Cech was once again called into action and saved well from Diaby and minutes later Fabregas saw a shot flash slightly wide of the post.

You knew then that it might not be our day.

And for me, the moment that changed the game came on the hour mark when John Terry was stretchered off the pitch. Terry went in for a diving header from a Chelsea corner and Diaby swung his boot in an attempt to clear the ball but was marginally late and caught the Chelsea captain in the face.

The game was stopped for a good 7 minutes while Terry was receiving treatment and it was clear Diaby – despite the incident being completely accidental – was severely affected by the whole thing. The young Frenchman was seen crying by the side of the injured Terry and obviously brought back horrible memories of his own tragic injury suffered against Sunderland last season.

After the stoppage Arsenal didn’t seem the same and arguably Arsenal’s best player at that point Diaby (who had easily controlled the midfield against Ballack) was not at the races anymore and was substituted (for an apparent foot injury) only minutes later.

Eboue was brought on to cope with the introduction of Robben and Hleb replaced Diaby. Arsenal didn’t have the same movement after that and for the first time the game looked tighter and this suited Chelsea.

Lampard saw his long range effort hit the bar and minutes later Arsenal had a golden chance take the lead.

Fabregas sent over a brilliant corner and picked out Toure who was unmarked in the 6 yard box. But the Arsenal captain mis-timed his header and the ball bounced off his shoulder and over the bar.

Then Shevchenko saw his effort smash off the bar.

And then on 84 minutes the tiredness showed and Denilson gave away the ball with a sloppy pass and from that Robben picked out Drogba in the centre for him to head the ball into the bottom corner.

With 7 minutes of injury time added on Arsenal looked tired and a fight broke out after Mikel’s foul on Kolo Toure. Kolo and Mikel were sent off and Lampard and Fabregas were given yellows. Then surprisingly Adebayor was also sent off – when replays clearly showed he was in fact seperating the fights that were going on! Ade wouldn’t go off and I can’t blame him really.

And I’m sure this little incident will give those idiots at Sky something analyse over and over again in the coming weeks and months…

Overall Verdict?

Well Arsenal had the better attacking possession and attempts on goal and despite having a young side were unlucky not to be a couple of goals up in the first 15 minutes – and probably would have been if it wasn’t for a fantastic Petr Cech. Unfortunately he made a huge difference in the outcome of the game for me.

Like in the previous rounds, Arsenal again played some wonderful football which stunned Chelsea and the young side should be given a huge amount of credit for making Chelsea look ordinary.

Has anyone else controlled a game for large periods against Chelsea like our kids did in any of the last few seasons?

I have to say I thought the Drogba offside decision was poor and you would usually see those given. They talk about giving the attacker the advantage on those situations but throughout this season the referees have not implemented that way of thinking at all!

In the end, even though it was the Carling Cup this defeat for me is hard to take.

But I have no doubt this will add to the youngsters character and make them stronger individuals and more importantly players in the future.

Whatever Happens This Weekend, Arsenal Will Be This Years Carling Cup Winners

Arsenal are in a win-win situation this weekend in the Carling Cup Final because of the way they have approached this competition and the performances the young players have put in over the last few months.

There is seemingly no pressure for the young guns against a Chelsea side which most would assume would be at full strength.

Arsenal’s kids have played some really outstanding football in the Carling Cup, especially against Everton, Liverpool and Spurs on the road to the final and in the process getting all the plaudits – and rightly so.

Chelsea on the other hand have stumbled to the final, without anything worthy of note.

I personally can’t even recall a single team they’ve beaten to make the final!

The progress of certain players like Aliadiere, Denilson, Traore and Hoyte this season has shown that the future is bright for Arsenal Football Club.

It might be and old cliché but even if Arsenal’s kids lose on Sunday they will be seen by many across the land as the success story and therefore the winners of this years Carling Cup.

Good luck boys and I’ll be seeing you in Cardiff!

Did Arsenal Have This Coming?

I’m not sure whether this poor Arsenal performance was down to bad luck, too many games or just the lack of desire.

Whatever it was Arsenal gifted PSV an advantage going into the second tie with some really sloppy play and a lack of urgency. PSV had set up camp to defend and nick a goal and that’s exactly what they did – but it was not as if Arsenal were making it difficult for the Dutch team.

And even though Arsenal have been lacklustre against Middlesbrough, Wigan and Blackburn Rovers recently so was suprising that Arsenal put in another poor display considering this is the last 16 of the Champions League.

The only player who looked lively in the first half was Tomas Rosicky, and it was only his effort which was cleared off the line early in the first half that caused PSV any sort of problems.

If that goes in then we could have gone and increased our lead.

But after that Arsenal fizzled out.

Thierry Henry looked particularly sloppy – or maybe unfit – and the captain’s display was rubbing off on the other players. Cesc Fabregas looked like he needs a good month off to rest and you couldn’t really expect much from the recently returning Hleb and Gallas.

The problem was that you cannot afford to have 7/8 players not playing well but that’s what we had tonight. As a team who bases their play on slick and smooth passing Arsenal we misplacing passes left, right and centre.

You could not help feeling the kids would have put in a better display tonight.

Onwards to Sunday.

Why Arsenal Will Beat Blackburn Rovers 4-1

Looking at the last 3 fixtures I noticed the scorelines of 1-1, 2-1 and then 3-1 against Bolton in midweek (see the previous fixtures in the graphic above).

So surely Arsenal will continue the pattern and beat Blackburn 4-1 at the Emirates?

Of course, when I first thought about it I realised it was just a simply play on numbers but then I thought – is it actually so crazy?

Arsenal have scored 29 goals in their last 11 games, and in 5 of those have scored 3 or more goals. And strangely enough in the last 11 Arsenal have conceded 12 goals – on average that’s about 1 goal per game.

The numbers never lie.

And in the last 11 Arsenal have only managed to keep a solitary clean sheet – although that was in the game against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

And remember the two games against Blackburn Rovers so far this season?

Arsenal won 6-2 and 2-0.

And average score of 4-1 if I’m not mistaken?

The maths suggest it will be 4-1 and I’ll even put a flutter on it.

Don’t even think about messing with maths.