The Day Arsenal’s Title Challenge Ended

Was it against Manchester United in the 5th Round of the FA Cup?


Was it against Chelsea in the league yesterday?


It was on Saturday 23rd February 2008, when Arsenal visited Birmingham City at St Andrews in the Premier League.

Before the game even kicked off we were sitting 5 points clear of Manchester United. If Eduardo doesn’t suffer that horrific injury at the hands of Martin Taylor we would have won that game easily. In the second half Arsenal played some excellent football and were for the most part crusing so you can’t say that the Manchester United game a week before halted our momentum. Unlike Alan Hansen and other so called “experts” I just don’t buy into that. Unfortunately the players didn’t perform in the first half (which under the circumstances is completely understandable) by which time we were trailing 1-0.

Conceding that last minute penalty (along with the events that preceded it) was the most devastating moment in our season. No game has hurt Arsenal as much as that one.

If that tackle doesn’t happen, we wouldn’t be 6 points behind the leaders right now.

Because the fact is we haven’t recovered since that game.

The belief just wasn’t there any more.

And the team as a whole just hasn’t performed since. You have the strong-minded players like Bacary Sagna, Mathieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas and Gael Clichy who have been solid and playing well but others have not.

Emmanuel Adebayor

He hasn’t been firing since. Look at the two Premier League games before the Birmingham City one. We played Manchester City away and Adebayor was on fire. Make no mistake about it, he was sensational that day. And more importantly his new partnership with Eduardo looked like it was finally coming together, and proof was the stunning goal Eduardo scored from Adebayors header. And just before the Birmingham game, we played Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates. Senderos opened the scoring and Adebayor scored another late on.

But since then he hasn’t scored in the league, and only once in the last 8 matches.

The main problem is that since then he has been basically playing upfront by himself which is one of the hardest jobs in football. If he plays as the lone striker he needs service and he hasn’t been getting it. Hleb, one of our best creative players has been misfiring and we don’t have Rosicky in the side. At least Eduardo would give him support in attack but obviously now that’s not possible.

The match report I wrote after the Manchester City game basically gave Adebayor the highest praise possible. I hailed it as pretty much the complete performance and it was. And I refuse to believe that he has become this terrible player overnight. I will be the first to admit that I have been very critical of him in recent weeks, but in hindsight I think those comments were very unfair. I mean where is the service? How many crosses did you see from wide positions against Chelsea yesterday?

And when you see him play it looks like his confidence is shot. He keeps passing the ball square or backwards instead of taking on players or passing it forward. It’s like he’s afraid of trying anything because it might not come off. And unfortunately his slump has come at the wrong time.

Alexander Hleb

Is another one who has suffered a similar dip in form.

I’m not sure how I can explain his below-par performances of late really. He obviously looked distressed after Eduardo’s horrific injury and we all know Hleb’s game is ball retention and possession, so he is more likely than most to suffer a bad tackle than the rest.

Is that playing on his mind? Who knows.

The problem is that Hleb is supposed to be one of our main creative forces, along with Cesc Fabregas, who in comparison has been carrying the team. And especially with the absence of Rosicky, Hleb should be stepping up and improving his performances not the other way round.

Maybe his mind is elsewhere, probably on the ice cream business he and some Italian friend look like starting up this summer.

William Gallas

Did his strop at the end of the Birmingham game signal the end of his leadership? Did he lose respect in the dressing room? Because our defending has been suspect since and littered sloppy goals being conceded.

There’s no doubt that Gallas is a winner, and you can understand his frustrations at the end of an emotional football match but is that the right way to react after the game? It was hard to see if he was upset with Gael Clichy for making that mistake just before conceding the penalty or the fact the referee gave it.

He hasn’t looked the same since, but you wonder if that has to do with the return of Kolo Toure as well. It has been noted that Gallas and Toure can’t work together, and the fact is that Gallas and Senderos had been playing excellently together and as a partnership, have 7 clean sheets in 11 games – which is exceptional.

The Team In General

Well obviously losing Eduardo for the rest of the season is a massive blow, and looking in the position we are now we know who significant his absence really is.

He settled into the team from January and been scoring vital goals at vital times. There was the double at Goodison Park when we were trailing against an inform Everton side. Then there was the opener against West Ham United at home. Scoring early is so important in these tight games (especially as the season closes) and he was the man who would be most likely to break the deadlock. As it stands, in the last few league games our goals have come from Theo Walcott, Nicklas Bendtner (who are both hardly regulars), Kolo Toure, Philippe Senderos and Bacary Sagna.

He offered that extra threat we needed. Now the opposition know that all they have to do is concentrate on Adebayor alone and keep him out of the game.

With our midfield and Adebayor drawing blanks Eduardo would have made the difference.


26 thoughts on “The Day Arsenal’s Title Challenge Ended

  1. Its hard to believe that Adebayor was in such a rich vain of form… he just doesnt look good enough now… looking at your ratings from the Man City game, at the time i couldnt agree more with you… We were unstopable!! And we need to refind that form and we have to find it NOW! We cannot afford a defeat or draw against Bolton… we have to go there, outplay them and thrash them… then we have the games against liverpool, games which i believe we can win. I think we are missing eduardo immensly, he made Adebayor the player he was earlier on in the season… hopefully when he returns to action he will take Ade out the side and our front 2 will be Eduardo and RvP…

    I’ve been saying we can win all of our last 5 games but have failed to do so in any of them… I dont know when the next win is gonna come from… Hopefully it will come in emphatic style against Bolton… they are one of our bogey teams and we must get rid of all complacency and go back to basics for the match. They are in a relgation battle and are determined to survive and they will also think they can beat us.

  2. Arsenal is just not good enough to win the league. The squad is too small in number. I reckon the gunners should be happy with what they have already achieved this season, as they’ve surpassed everyone’s expectations from the start of the season. ManUtd and Chelsea are simply stronger and more enduring than Arsenal. Blame Wenger, he relies too much on hope and puts too much faith in young players, good as they may be, they r still too inexperienced and can’t grind out results on a bad day.

  3. just watched the yesterdays game again and have to say adebayor was shocking now i know he is tired etc.. but he never won a header all game and when we went 1-0 up we brook 3 times and simole ball wrer played to him and he miscontroled them this has nothing to do with being tired he is just an average player who went on a good run like he did around christmas of last season and really the manager is to blame for this not adebayor how can we compete with no wingers and such a small squad but what is annoying is that in my opinion the board and the club are in the comfort zone,look at it from the boards point of view we sell out our stadium every week we are in champions league every year so far and we have a manager who MAKES MONEY ON TRANSFERS id say between transfer dealings ticket money tv money and sponsers we make more money(profit) than any club in the world and this year the tv revenue went up again and we make about 15 million after transfers in and out as i say if i was and arsenal director i would be happy as the cash keeps coming i too have a season ticket and would like my club manager to at least give us some transfer dealing to get a buzz about,can anybody remember when denis b arrived the buzz was the best ever for a fan and look at his service to the club

  4. What a disappointing conclusion the season is stumbling to
    I think if we are all honest, we never expected to be top of the league this season, but having got there with the most sublime fooball we have ever witnessed, to be throwing it away so half-heartedly is disgraceful.
    I even cancelled a holiday becuase it fell on the last day of the season and I could not bear the thought of being in foreign lands on the day we could become Champions – I might rebook it now !
    Many of us who complained during the close season that Wenger had not strengthened the squad enough, had to swallow our words when the youngsters performed beyond our wildest dreams. However unfortunately those complaints are now coming home to haunt us. If he truly has the £40 million transfer fund to spend the Board says he has, the he must get real and strengthen the weaknesses if he wants to actually win something.
    I never thought I would agree that Toure coming back would weaken the defence but he has been dire, particularly when considering that Senderos was starting to look the Tony Adams replacement we were hoping for.
    Mind you it would be just like this team to go on and win the Champions League; if so please ignore this rant.

  5. Good points form the Arsenal fans. As for the Manc prick go watch your team GRIND results if thats what turns you on. I hope we meet you in CL final with a foreign ref, you won’t be able to hack your way out of trouble then.

    Out of the 7 clean sheets I am interested to know how many games Coco the goalie played in them. Bring back mad Jens. Its not to late.

  6. Spot on Clock end Jim. Big Phil is a proper CB. I love Kolo but why can’t Arsen use him in midfield to shield the defence. The Flamster goes all over the place and is awesome up and down the park. This will free up Cesc and Hleb and let RVP wander down either flank. Ade or Nick can up top or let Theo go up the middle. AW should experiment now and give us something different.

  7. Disagree completely!!
    Arsenal squad is too small but remember Eduardo trying a double leg amputation on Nani and then Gallas fouling him. If the ref had, deservedly, sent them both off, they would probably both be playing, now, and well – with fire after their suspensions.
    Wenger, misguidedly, allowing them to be humiliated lost it.

  8. Great article.

    Can I suggest another time that we actually lost the league?

    Last Summer!

    We haven’t overachieved so far we have just gone as far as a squad our size could go. We are falling away which I for one could envisage happening last Summer.

    It was obvious our squad would never last the distance it wasn’t big enough! Arsene Wenger must shoulder the responsibility of going into the season with a thin squad its not like he didn’t have the money!

  9. Arsenal haven’t been playing anywhere as good as they were earlier on this season since the end of November. They were lucky to win a few games that they shouldnt have and although they may have won against Birmingham if Eduardo wasn’t injured, that’s not a given and they were playing against ten men.
    They’re nearly to the level of winning the title, but not quite. A bit over-rated, if anything

  10. Arsenal who…? Hahahahaha!!! What ever man! What did yoou expect? A Championship? Honestly? from the start of the season? Really…?

  11. antigooner must be a fuking loser,it seems that our failure is the biggest event of his life.the underclass that spawned him should be proud

  12. But are you really allowed to be this fragile that one bad game and yes a very horrific injury to Eduardo are ending your season.I think you will find the dog are buried somewhere else.Remember how the guys came out and said that we would win the league for Eduardo the same happened to Pires and we took the double but here we just crumbled big time.Some of the liverpool teams of the eighties won their championships by only ever using 15 or 16 players when you think of that we have in abundance, another bad excuse.Furthermore Arsenal have never ever had big squads during Wengers Reign.What puzzles me to the extreme is this notion that a professional football player cant perform on a consistent level for nine months.I know for a fact that Adebayor had a long summer rest and right know he looks like he is about to crock etc.Why are United performing at this level and having absolutely no injuries and our team having all these injuries…….it puzzzles me !!!!!

  13. Manc scum be warned the fat lady hasn’t sung yet. Laugh while you are winning. You can all return to your pond very soon. Lets hope your protected little boys don’t get crippled by an hired hatchetman like our Eduardo was done. We have been done over by none other than The red nose piss heads mates at the FA. Only poor decisions have cost us recently. Racist cunts all of them. What goes around comes around. We Arsenal fans remember the league before the 90s when you went 20+ years without winning jack shit.My Grandpa my Father My Sons and my Grandsons will all see the Arsenal win the title. Old wine face hasn’t got long left, what will you do then. Lets hope we never sign a player with a name like Nani what a crying little fairy he is. Keep smiling Gooners time is on our side

  14. If you look at what Arsenal have done up to this point it is nothing short of phenomenal. United, with all their so called talent, squad and millions are only 6 points clear of Arsenal, who have been crippled by the injury to Eduardo.

    What would you Manc twats be like if Ronaldo broke his leg like Eduardo? You would be fucking crying your eyes out wouldn’t you?

    We’ve had injuries to our main players for long spells like Van Persie and Eduardo, yet the Mancs have been blessed on the injury front.

    And talk about shit referees! How the hell did Mascherano get sent off yesterday? The FA must work for United because that was a complete disgrace. Ass Cole swears and is aggressive towards an official and gets nothing, and Mascherano just talks to the referee and gets sent off!

    United are the stuffiest team in history. I wonder what will happen next season when Ronaldo flies off to Real Madrid?

  15. Go Robert my son. Let them twats laugh now as it will all come to an end. Mascherano is vital to Liverpool thats why the cheating cunt ref sent him off. Whinno’s Jock friend had Eduardo seen to just at the right time as the boy was looking good. Don’t forget that probably our most influential player has been out most of the season not RVP but Rocky. But eh lets not moan about that the main reason we dropped points are because the FA have seen to it. We didn’t get 1 free kick around the Chavs area, not only is it offsides that are bad decisions but most of the game was in their half and not one fucking free kick. WHY ? RVP thats why, they knew that the Chavs midget keeper would struggle if RVP got a chance.

  16. Robert mate you over rate him. He only does it against poor players. Real can have the pick of the best so I doubt they will want him.

  17. Well said boys..the penalty against bham, Ade’s disallowed goal v Boro and yesterday’s offside was surely the final straw…compare Wenger’s reaction to fergie’s after they were dumped out of the cup…it’s an absolute disgrace

  18. Firstly, what really annoys me is all these people (the press included) saying that chelsea are suddenly back in it and ‘real’ title contenders now and our chances have gone! We’re 1 point behind them for gods sake….. so if they slip up and draw there next match and we beat bolton, does that mean were ‘real’ contenders again?

    As for us it just seems when the pressure was really off at the start of the season we thrived on that. Our style of play requires that we play with confidence and have no fear just like the start. When we realised we had a damn good chance of winning it, the pressure kicked in?

    I agree that the Birmingham match was a hell of a pyschological turning point though but how does that explain the Milan match? Have the foreigners not clicked onto how we play yet like the english teams have? I think Champions League is a great opportunity but we’ll probably have to play 3 english teams to get there!
    Bring on Barca, Juve, AC, Bayern any day!
    The 3 other big EPL teams? hmmm

    I still believe….

  19. If we don’t end this season on a positive note, don’t expect to see Gallas, Hleb, Gilberto, Lehmann, Diaby, Flamini, Eduardo, Bendtner and Walcott in the squad before the end of next season. In theory it’s easy to say that these guys are young and that they’ll learn and grow and mature etc but ironically, young players are not patient and so unless we start winning things relying just on young players without spending on good experienced ones will surely backfire big time. Wenger seems obsessed in trying to imitate Fergie’s Babes but that was just a one off fluke and requires a character like Sir Alex to forge. Alan Hansen was right with the exception of the one off that you don’t win anything with kids. The sooner Wenger realises this, the better we will all be. Until then, expect many more seasons like this where we give up the ghost at the last hurdle. For me, I’ve given up any hope of us winning anything until we invest in good experienced players.

  20. HAHA, united fans, fuck off and write on your own blogs, You’re jelous! WE have a bright future and you are doomed!! Giggs and Scholes are shit… Ol cunt face alchoholic fergie can no longer justify playing them… 19 million for Anderson(who hasnt scored this season) 17 on Hargreaves(Doesnt play) 18.6 on carrick(hes just dismal) 17 million on Nani(his celebrations are more entertaing than his football)… now thats alot of money for shit players that dont often play…. raise some of your own players… and dont say arsenal just buy other clubs youngsters, they all improve immensely when they come to arsenal and you know it!!

    Now kindly fuck off and dont ever come back…

    You know i’m right…

    Now go get aids from your mother you cunt glory supporter!!


  21. there was never going to be an arsenal victory yesterday or you deluded gunners a prem title this year when wenger (whom imo is the best manager in the country) admits that he has to buy a center back and a top notch forward(yes i know ade has done great this year ) he will win very little


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