Fight, Grit & ‘Champions Luck’ Keep Arsenal Top

A hugely satisfying result and performance at Upton Park from a resilient Arsenal team took all 3 points at the weekend and deservedly so.

Many expected Arsenal to slip up at West Ham and while our previous record there was not great, they showed the Arsenal fans what has served them so well so far this season; fight, determination, the will to compete and sheer fearlessness to play any team that’s in front of them.

Add great team spirit and a ruthless mindset and you have a very dangerous team.

And as ever, West Ham put in a performance against us and it was Robin Van Persie’s 13th minute header that ended up being the difference between the two sides.

The goal itself was brilliantly crafted, with the in-form Adebayor holding the ball up well in the penalty area and coolly laying the ball off to Hleb on the right. His cross was excellent and Van Persie threw himself at it, and was rewarded with a well-taken goal.

Arsenal enjoyed most of the possession and while West Ham had a couple of excellent chances to score in reality we dominated in the final third, forcing 14 corners and having a total of 16 attempts on goal while the Hammers had considerably less.

And if it wasn’t for another inspired Robert Green performance against us we should have notched up a couple of more goals.

I also have to mention the terrible tackle on Alexander Hleb by Mark Noble.

It was ugly, it was horrible and with Hleb’s standing foot firmly in the turf, a two-footed tackle like that was shocking. It could have easily broken his leg and obviously Arsene was less than amused.

Former Gunner Freddie managed to find the net early in the second half after making one of his trademark perfectly-timed runs from midfield but was adjudged to be offside. Replays showed the Swede was just onside and the equaliser was ruled out.

But that’s what I mean about ‘Champions Luck’.

When it goes for you, you get the rub of the green and it could be seen in action for all the top 4 sides this weekend.

Liverpool had an incorrect offside decision given against Wigan’s Marcus Bent whose goal was clearly onside, and scored when the score was 0-0. Liverpool ended up getting all 3 points by winning the match 1-0.

Manchester United also scraped a 1-0 at Birmingham, when the home side had numerous chances to take the lead and even managed to rack up an amazing 18 attempts. How many times this season will teams have that many shots on goal against United?

And although Chelsea are not exactly on top form, they managed to earn a point despite Fulham having a couple of clear opportunities to steal all the points.

But Arsenal keep on winning and when I think I can’t be surprised anymore by the lads the next week they do it again.

It is seriously like a dream.

Who could have predicted 10 wins from 11 games?

I’ve always said the first 10 games of the new season would tell me what Arsenal can do this season and sitting 2 points clear at the top of the league with a game in hand is scary.

I say scary because the potential of this team in fantastic.

And I don’t care what people might say – there are no easy games in this division, with the possible exception of Derby, although they did manage to beat Newcastle the other week.

I can’t find any more superlatives for Arsenal.

They will die for each other on the pitch, are so ruthless and are supremely confident.

They will shoot from anywhere, score from all kinds of positions and score a wider variety of goals that they have in previous seasons. Tap-ins, headers, volleys, set-pieces, 30 yarders – the list goes on.

And of course, they still play some of the most beautiful football this country has ever seen.

Ade Hat-Trick Sets Up Perfect Weekend For Arsenal

I seriously can’t go on about Arsenal anymore.

They just keep winning football matches and the scary thing is the swagger and the way Arsenal do it.

Do not underestimate this young team.

People will point to the opposition we have played against this season, and you know what I would say?

I would tell them Arsenal have already beat Portsmouth easily 3-0, while Liverpool and Manchester United struggled against them only managing to earn a point. We also beat Manchester City and we all know what happened to United in the Manchester Derby. And Liverpool dropped two points against Birmingham yesterday at Anfield.

And Chelsea are struggling with themselves.

But you know what? The more ‘experts’ that write us off the better.

Because this group of players don’t give a f*ck what everyone else thinks.

They get on with their game, concentrate who’s in front of them and just win football matches.

People will also point out the clashes with the other teams in the top 4, but as long as we beat the lower teams in the league and manage to get ourselves a few points clear of our rivals before we meet them then even draws wouldn’t be bad results against them.

But then again who says we can’t beat the top 4 teams, especially as we had the best record against them last season without (shhhh..) Thierry Henry.

And Mourinho isn’t there to inflict his hoodoo over Arsene anymore.

But back onto the game yesterday.

After 10 minutes, Abou Diaby – who struggled midweek against Sevilla – quickly found his feet with a simply outstanding goal. From the left he drove at the Derby fullback, easily cut inside and unleashed a stunning shot into the top corner which went in off the post.

15 minutes later, with Derby holding a high line up the pitch were undone with a straight through ball which Adebayor controlled using his chest. He simply rounded the keeper and coolly slotted the ball into the net.

Just after half-time good work from the energetic Diaby and Adebayor saw the ball arrive to Eduardo, who was tugged by Derby Captain Mat Oakley and the referee awarded a penalty kick. Adebayor stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

At this point Arsenal were all over the pitch with excellent passing and movement and one of Toure’s many bursts up the pitch found Eduardo, who played a nice one-two and layed the ball off to the prolific Cesc Fabregas. His first touch was sublime, moving the ball away from the defender and with his second he unleashed another 25-yard screamer into the top corner.

Will teams ever learn?

He was substituted seconds later on 70 minutes, after scoring one goal and making two.

Not a bad shift from the little man eh?

I cannot praise Fabregas enough. His range of passing and now shooting this season is exceptional. I mean his goals and assists statistics already this campaign is phenomenal.

I am speechless with his form.

Then with the game won, Arsene brought on Song, Denilson and Diarra and it was Denilson this time that was the creator for Adebayor. His long ball found the edge of the area and Adebayor managed to execute a fantastic leap and control the ball on this chest. Then he proceeded to storm towards goal and grabbed a well-deserved hat-trick.

I hate to say it but Adebayor looked more and more like Henry yesterday.

And looking at Arsenal’s position in the table, you wonder how vital the first day of the season was. IF Arsenal didn’t managed to come back and win that game after conceding the lead then who knows where we would be?

This team are growing more and more each week and it’s just a pleasure to watch this young team develop as the season progresses.

José Mourinho: Overrated & Far From Being Great

All this media coverage of Mourinho’s departure from the Russians is just beyond me.

What annoys me the most is how everyone that has been interviewed or questioned has praised what the so called ‘Special One’ has done for football in this country.

Talk about spouting complete bollocks!

The coverage to be quite honest has been completely absurd.

The only reason people have been flattering of Mourinho is because he’s gone! He was not good for football in this country and I just cannot believe how gullible and naive people are.

Seriously.

Everyone just believes all the reports and rubbish they see and hear in the media and most people have forgot about the facts on Mourinho’s reign at Chelsea Football Club.

Let’s break down the Special One’s reign as Chelsea manager shall we?

His Purchases In The Transfer Market

With a bottomless pit of money, obviously you will use it and Mourinho was no exception. Arsenal fans will tell you about Arsene’s ability to buy young talent and mould them into world class players. We have Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Nicolas Anelka, Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas, Bobby Pires, Kolo Toure, Manu Eboue – the list is endless. Don’t get me wrong, Wenger has had his fair share of donkeys in his time. Remember Francis Jeffers? Remember Richard Wright?

Well whatever Arsene’s poor buys have added up to, they surely don’t even come close to the value of Mourinho’s crap purchases.

We have Mateja Kezman (£5.4m), Tiago (£10m), Paulo Ferreira (£13.3m), Michael Ballack (Free), Andriy Shevchenko (£30m) and Asier del Horno (£8m) to name but a few over the years.

Good stuff!

And some of Mourinho’s best players, Lampard, Terry and Joe Cole were already there, and if you think back you will remember that Petr Cech and Arjen Robben were actually Claudio Ranieri signings.

Tapping Up Ashley Cole

Then there is Mourinho’s disregard for even the simplest rules. Because he had a so-called ‘left-back crisis’ he saw fit to meet Cashley Cole behind Arsenal’s back, despite the fact he was under contract to Arsenal Football Club. Yes, Cole is hardly blameless either but for a ‘top manager’ to even do this is completely ridiculous. Would SAF or AW do this?

This would be a damaging matter that would start from late January until late September of 2005, covering most of the season where Arsenal would finish second to Chelsea in the Premier League. Arguably one of Arsenal’s best talents and Arsenal fans would leave for Chelsea just one season later after Arsene Wenger allowed him to leave, and after playing him in one of the biggest games in World Football – the Champions League Final.

Mourinho himself was fined £200,000 for his part in the saga, which was reduced to £75,000 on appeal. Not a bad price for poaching one of the best left backs in English football.

The Anders Frisk Affair

During the 2004/2005 Champions League campaign and during a game against Barcelona and the Camp Nou, Jose Mourinho publicly accused referee Anders Frisk of ‘inviting Frank Rijkaard to his dressing room at half time’ which is against UEFA regulations.

Anders Frisk would receive death threats after Mourinho’s public tongue-lashing and after severe criticism from Chelsea fans, Chelsea players and Chelsea management. Only weeks later, Frisk would cut short his 18 year career as a referee because of death threats towards him and his family.

Mourinho on the other hand would receive a two match touchline ban.

And Volker Roth, the UEFA referee’s chief would later call Jose Mourinho “an enemy of football.”

Quite an accolade, Jose.

A year later again in the Champions League, Barcelona fans would greet Mourinho with abuse and spitting when he arrived in Catalan, and he would experience even more on the way to the team hotel.

Other Feuds & Controversies

One incident Arsenal fans will remember are Mourinho’s comments where he called Arsene Wenger a ‘voyeur’ who was obsessed with Chelsea. Jose would also reveal having a 120 dossier which was full on comments Arsene has made about Chelsea. Mourinho would realise how stupid he was making those comments and would later apologise to Arsene in the form of a greeting card.

In December 2006, Mourinho was in the headlines again – this time labelling Everton’s Andy Johnson a ‘cheat and untrustworthy’. This would prompt Everton to threaten with legal action, and force Mourinho to apologise yet again for his outlandish statements.

He then of course called Double Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo ‘ill-educated, disrespectful and immature‘, for which Mourinho apologised yet again…

And there was the goal Luis Garcia scored in the Champions League against Chelsea, where had another public tantrum about the goal being allowed in the first place. A top motion expert argued said it was actually over the line, and Rafa Benitez pointed out that Baros should of had a penalty for the initial incident anyway if the goal hadn’t of stood. Something which obviously slipped the mind of Jose Mourinho.

The ‘Special One’s’ Love For Chelsea

Before even joining Chelsea, Jose Mourinho would publicly declare how he would much rather join Liverpool, citing several reservations about joining Chelsea.

And if Jose loves Chelsea so much, surely he would just get on with his job?

Instead he managed to get involved in all kinds of backroom politics, seemingly looking for an excuse for an arguement. Well it looks like he got what he wanted, which was a £20 million plus pay off from the club he ‘loves’ so much.

Conclusion

Could anyone actually picture Jose Mourinho staying with Chelsea in the long term?

Neither did I.

The problem is the word ‘great’ is banded around far too much, especially with the excessive media coverage we get in this modern age. 24 hour sports news channels, endless football websites – these need to fill time and space and what better way to go well over the top about Jose Mourinho.

We have ever man and his dogs opinion on how ‘amazing’ Jose was, and it’s amazing people forget someones faults and failings when they are gone.

Yes, he was probably Chelsea’s ‘greatest ever’ manager but that’s not exactly hard with their ‘history’ is it?

I regard managers like Brian Clough, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Bob Paisley and Bill Shankly as true greats, and Mourinho has a long way off to become anywhere near the stature of those guys.

Young Guns Cruise Past Sevilla (w/ Player Ratings)

Well Arsenal have started this seasons campaign in fantastic form.

And last night was our biggest test of the season so far. Before the Sevilla game, just like the Spurs match, I was tentative about the opposition.

Then Arsenal shattered any doubts I might of had last night by smashing 3 goals past them.

You can’t ask for more than that can you?

Maybe I should worry more!

It was an excellent result, considering how highly-regarded (and rightly so) Sevilla are in European Football. And it’s also a credit to them that many pundits are tipping Sevilla as outsiders for the Champions League.

But Arsenal just got on with their game and put in a good shift in the first group game of the competition. Fabregas was fortunate for his first goal, but how many times have Arsenal fans said over the years that ‘if you don’t shoot, you don’t score’. This Arsenal team scores goals from all over the park which was distinctly missing from our last few campaigns.

Another encouraging sign is that when we reach the 18-yard area, instead of passing the ball aimlessly around the box we aren’t afraid to have a pop at goal.

7 wins in 8 games. Can you ask for anything more?

Below are the player ratings:

Manuel Almunia: 7/10
Only really had one major save to make from Freddie Kanoute in the second half when his effory went through Clichy’s legs and did well to divert the ball away. Did fumble the game twice though in the second half from routine catches but TV pictures showed he was berating himself for those mistakes. At least he knows he made mistakes and the important thing was they didn’t cost Arsenal points or goals like Lehmann’s blunders seem to do.

Bacary Sagna: 9/10
Outstanding. Made some fantastic defensive headers and more importantly directs them well clear of danger, which under pressure is impressive. Very solid defensively, excellent going forward and has exceptional burst over the first 10 yards. Arguably his best game in an Arsenal shirt so far and his ability to hardly lose the ball is vital, especially in his position on the field. I can’t see Eboue getting back in the team. Flicked the ball on for Van Persie’s goal in the second half.

Kolo Toure: 7/10
Solid as always and kept Luis Fabiano quiet in the first half, and then Kerzhakov in the second. Almost scored a header in the first half from a corner and another win as Captain of Arsenal.

Philip Senderos: 6/10
Was given a torrid time by Kanoute, who floated all over the pitch. Looked shaky at times at the back with the movement of the Sevilla attack but kept a clean sheet.

Gael Clichy: 9/10
Another fantastic game for the young Frenchman. Like Sagna, looks to support the midfield and forwards at every opportunity and adds an extra dimension to the Arsenal attacks. Made some great tackles, hardly lost the ball and even managed to win a goal kick with a cheeky back heel in the second half. Looks twice the player Ashley Cole ever did.

Alexander Hleb: 7/10
Floated in and out of the game but was willing to drive forward with the ball which unsettled Sevilla. Did well to dispossess the Sevilla defender to help setup the third goal for Eduardo. Drifts inside a lot which puts Sevilla under pressure and kept the ball well for most parts of the game.

Mathieu Flamini: 8/10
This fella surprised me. Like Almunia, I never thought Flamini could push into the first team but recent performances have been impressive. Has so much energy to burn and it looks like Arsene might be giving him his chance. The one thing I like about him as opposed to Gilberto is that when a player shoots at the Arsenal goal he will charge it down instead of standing stationary like the Brazilian. Did well and threw himself in front of numerous shots outside the area.

Cesc Fabregas: 8/10
Might not have been his best performance for Arsenal, but is becoming more effective which is encouraging. Two assists (one with help from Sagna) and a goal is becoming the standard for Fabregas! Willing to shoot from every area of the pitch and his range has certainly improved. Delivery and passing was excellent as ever and the guy just keeps impressing me, even though we shouldn’t be surprised should we?

Tomas Rosicky: 6/10
Full of running but not really in full flow yet, and went off injured 5 minutes into the second half. Doesn’t look happy on the left.

Robin Van Persie: 6/10
Scored a real poachers goal from Fabregas’ freekick but was quiet for most of the game. Doesn’t seem to be in tune with the movement and passing of the other Arsenal players yet and sometimes chooses the wrong pass or holds on to the ball for that split second too long.

Emmanuel Adebayor: 8/10
Another good shift from the tall striker. Made runs all over the pitch, got in the face of the Sevilla defence and caused all sorts of problems. Came close in the second half with an excellent headed effort that just missed the post after great work from Sagna. Defenders hate playing against him and is improving all the time.

Abou Diaby: 6/10 (replaced Rosicky 50′)
Did okay and got into some good attacking positions. Struggled with Daniel Alves in the second half though when the Sevilla right-back got more and more influential in the visitors attacks.

Eduardo Da Silva: 7/10 (replaced Adebayor 83′)
Has a knack of scoring late in Champions League matches! Only played 7 minutes and managed to rack up another goal for Arsenal. Looks like he is settling in well now but will find it hard to dislodge Van Persie or Adebayor in the first team.

Lassana Diarra: 6/10 (replaced Van Persie 88′)
Came on for the last 3 minutes. Probably happy he’s at Arsenal instead of Chelsea though.

He’s Had Enough: Jose Mourinho Quits Chelsea?

After celebrating Arsenal’s fantastic win over Sevilla in the Champions League, news has broke that Chelsea and the so called ‘Special One’ have parted ways. I heard the news tonight while listening to Talksport, and whether this is a wind up (I wouldn’t put it past them) or actually happening is obviously open to debate.

The Daily Mail have reported it as well, and expect loads of other reports to surface in the morning.

I don’t actually believe it at the moment, as the ‘reports’ say that Mourinho texted players saying he’s leaving. That in itself sounds fishy.

But they again, I couldn’t really give a toss.

Although it looks like Gallas got out at the right time!

I’ll post some real news tomorrow when I review the Arsenal and Sevilla game. Ah, isn’t it a wonderful feeling winning the opening game of the Champions League?

Now time for some sleep…

Did I mention we managed to win our opening game?

With all Jose’s talk about eggs, it looks like the yokes on him…