Well, for all his talk of knowing how to beat Arsene Wenger’s sides it was a sad trip back to Newcastle for Sam Allardyce and his team as they went down 2-0 to an Arsenal team that bore little resemblence to the one which beat Derby.
Only Senderos, Walcott and Eduardo survived. There was a debut for Fabianski, a first start for Bendtner and Diarra, a return for Eboue, starts for Denilson, Traore, Hoyte and Walcott and Alex Song at centre-half. Newcastle, as far as I can see, put out their best available team.
Now, like most of you I didn’t see very much apart from a 30 second clip of the goals (some Sky Sports News highlights downloadable here). Bendtner’s was a great header (a ‘real centre forward’s header’) after a great ball in from Traore on the left and the big Dane has done what the boss asked of him. Before the game the manager was lauding his talent but making it quite clear he has it all to do yet. He urged him to take his chances when they came and a goal for a striker is pretty much doing just that.
Denilson scored the second but not before Senderos made a brilliant stop on the line after Martins had rounded the keeper. The young Brazilian’s first goal for the club was a rocket into the top corner after some trickery in the box from Diaby. I’m glad he’s finally gotten off the mark and what a way to do it.
Beyond that I can only go on what people at the game have been speaking about. There’s been a lot of praise for Diarra, Denilson is like Cesc II, the keeper looked reasonably good and Alex Song did very well at the back. That’s a surprise, I have to say, but a nice one. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with him there outside the Carling Cup but this will have done his confidence some good. Anyone else who was at the game feel free to let us know more in the arses. For the rest of us there are match reports: Guardian – Telegraph – Times – The Sun – Arsene BBC interview (real player required).
Afterwards a clearly delighted Arsene Wenger said:
We were good and intelligent, and I like that. The game was of the same level we played recently with the players who did not feature, and with a style of play with continuity. We have wave after wave of generation of young players. We work with them and when they have come in, they show top quality.
We did not play against an average team. We played against Newcastle. We have shown technical maturity and looked strong in every department.
And that’s the thing. I know it’s early season but Newcastle are fifth in the league. It seems that we have this ability in this competition to beat good teams, strong teams, with the youngest, most inexperienced players we have. It’s kind of weird really. A good and very enjoyable kind of weird but weird nonetheless.
Arsenal really must be the best place in the world for a young, talented player to be right now. You know you’ll get chances, you know that if you can repay the faith shown in you by the manager then you’ll be part of things, and playing the kind of football that purists dream of. Sure, it doesn’t always work but when it does it’s just great to watch. I mean, consider our goals this season. How many top quality goals have we scored? Not just decent, well worked goals, but top, top quality. Can’t be arsed to figure it out? Well, I did and the answer is loads. It’s fantastic. The better we play the better the goals are. Long may it continue.
In other news there are reports that Gilberto is uneasy about his future at the club, saying he’s not sure if he’ll extend his contract. With 18 months still to run though it’s not a big problem.
Stan Kroenke may attend Arsenal’s AGM in a show of support for the current board, according to the Telegraph. It does appear as if the relationship between Dein and Kroenke has fizzled out with Dein’s new friend Usmanov the flavour of the month. You wonder if Kroenke, whose 12%+ is a considerable stake, shares the same uneasiness that the board and Arsenal fans do about Usmanov’s background.
In an interview with the Evening Standard Peter Hill-Wood suggested that Kroenke, who he described as ‘perfectly decent’ after a recent meeting, had been misled by Dein when he first got involved. It’s thought that it was to do with Dein not revealing the extent of the differences between him and the board and Dein’s ultimate intention of masterminding a takeover which would put him in charge of the football club. It’s little wonder Kroenke was viewed as hostile to begin with.
If you want to read the full interview you can download it here and there’s no question there’s serious opposition from the board towards Dein, leading to this classic line:
When was the last occasion he saw Dein? “The day I fired him” Was it Hill-Wood’s saddest day at Arsenal? “No. It was the saddest for Dein”
And that’s about it for today. Don’t forget you’ve still got a chance to win a t-shirt from Goonershirts.com. Just look at yesterday’s entry for the details and the very simple question. Some of the answers have been making me laugh though. I’ll tell you why tomorrow.