Arsenal down Fulham 1-0  

Sunday, 27 September 2009

LONDON: Arsenal rode their luck on Saturday as Robin van Persie’s goal and a fine performance from young Italian goalkeeper Vito Mannone secured a 1-0 win at Fulham. Van Persie gave Arsenal the lead in the 52nd minute with an impressive strike low into the far corner from Cesc Fabregas’s pass, but it took several excellent saves from Mannone to preserve the victory. Nonetheless, the win helped Arsenal move up to fifth in the league table. afp

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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Mexican youngster Carlos Vela came off the bench to inspire Arsene Wenger's young Gunners to a 2-0 Carling Cup victory over 10-man West Brom at the Emirates Stadium.

The 20-year-old marked his return from an ankle injury when his shot set up Sanchez Watt for the opener in the 68th minute and then added a tap-in after Mark Randall's clever chip came back off the crossbar.

After a positive start the Coca-Cola Championship leaders were up against it after former Gunner Jerome Thomas - who twice won the FA Youth Cup while at Arsenal - was sent off after 37 minutes for a needless slap on Jack Wilshere.

Wenger had once again given youth a chance, his team with an average age of just over 20, while also bringing in experienced defender Philippe Senderos - starting for the first time since May 2008 after a loan spell at AC Milan - and veteran Mikael Silvestre captained the side.

Senderos - who could have joined Everton during the transfer window - had an early chance when he headed over at the near post following a corner from the left.

With Watt and French teenager Gilles Sunu Arsenal certainly had plenty of pace in attack, while Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey - both with plenty of first-team experience already - provided the trademark quick passing through the midfield.

Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, 19, made the first meaningful contribution on his debut when punching a corner clear at the near post and he was stretching in the 15th minute as Robert Koren's angled 20-yard drive flew just wide.

Watt came within inches of opening his Arsenal account when he stabbed Wilshere's cutback goalwards, only for the ball to bounce agonisingly off the inside of the post and into Dean Kiely's grateful arms.

The match had suddenly sparked into life, West Brom midfielder Simon Cox the next to test Szczesny with a low drive.

The Pole produced another fine stop to turn Koren's shot behind, which was creeping in.

The youngsters were rattled - and Kerrea Gilbert hacked the ball off the line after a corner caused panic in the Arsenal six-yard box.

Arsenal responded well, with Wilshere again driving at the Baggies rearguard.

On 31 minutes, Wilshere again made space for himself with another positive run, and his 20-yard shot was just off-target.

West Brom swung a free-kick into the area which Szczesny dropped under pressure at the far post from Leon Barnett, but fortunately Kieran Gibbs - who had played in the Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester United last season - was on hand to clear.

West Brom continued to look dangerous on the break, with Thomas' run down the left forcing Szczesny to make an important block.

However, the 26-year-old was shown a straight red card in the 37th minute after he clashed with Wilshere, before then slapping the midfielder in the face while he was on the floor.

Cox also went into referee Lee Mason's book for his protests.

Cox headed over for the first real chance of the second half when well placed in the six-yard box before Wenger made a change in the 58th minute.

Mexican striker Vela and Randall came on, replacing Sunu and Francis Coquelin.

The game continued to be scrappy, as the visitors closed down the space quickly.

It took a moment of Premier League quality from Vela to finally help break the deadlock.

The 19-year-old showed great close control to create space for a shot from the edge of the penalty area, which Kiely palmed wide, and Watt followed up to smash in his first senior Arsenal goal.

The Mexican then got the goal he deserved after 75 minutes.

Randall's 20-yard chip came back off the underside of the bar - and Vela was alert enough to get in between Barnett and Kiely before knocking the ball over the line.

The Baggies missed the chance to pull a goal back with 10 minutes to go when substitute Chris Wood fired wide at the far post - which just about summed up their night.

Carling Cup Third Round


Arsenal: Szczesny, Gilbert, Senderos, Silvestre,Traore (Barazite 69), Wilshere, Coquelin (Randall 58), Ramsey,Gibbs, Sunu (Vela 58), Watt.

Subs Not Used: Shea, Bartley, Eastmond, Frimpong.

Booked: Senderos, Ramsey.

Goals: Watt 68, Vela 76.

West Brom: Kiely, Zuiverloon, Olsson (Meite 80), Barnett, Jara,Thomas, Koren, Dorrans, Teixeira, Moore (Wood 74),Cox (Mulumbu 61).

Subs Not Used: Carson, Bednar, Reid, Martis.

Sent Off: Thomas (37).

Booked: Cox.

Att: 56,592

Ref: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

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Arsenal 4-0 Athletic  

Sunday, 20 September 2009

ARSENAL drew a line under recent controversies by recording a straightforward Barclays Premier League victory against Wigan, helped by Thomas Vermaelen's double.

What they needed was a regulation win, and Wigan's limited attacking ambition at the Emirates Stadium meant they were perfect opponents. In the end it was down to Vermaelen to grab the limelight, with the defender scoring his third and fourth goals of the season, the first a powerful header and the second a delightful curling finish. Emmanuel Eboue and Cesc Fabregas completed the scoring.

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Arsenal comes from behind to beat Standard Liège  

Thursday, 17 September 2009

LONDON: A giant banner greeted Arsenal on Wednesday night with a simple but imposing message from the ‘Ultras’ of Standard Liège. “Vendetta”, it simply read.

Most of this Arsenal young team probably had little idea what it meant, but the home supporters were determined to ensure their team clearly understood the humiliation that Arsenal had inflicted with a 7-0 victory on their previous visit to this part of Belgium some 16 years ago.

Having taken a 2-0 lead inside five extraordinary minutes, Standard were poised for redemption, but the script was ultimately written for Eduardo – a player who had not even been expected to play following the two-game Uefa ban – to complete the most unlikely of comebacks with the winner in a remarkable 3-2 victory.

Amid all the recent controversy regarding Eduardo’s alleged dive and Emmanuel Adebayor’s antics at Eastlands, the actual football – and specifically Arsenal’s two consecutive defeats in Manchester - was in danger of being forgotten. Not here, although even in victory, Arsenal again looked highly vulnerable in defence and have now managed just one clean sheet in seven matches this season. Familiar problems persist.

Manager Arsène Wenger had suggested at the end of last season that he would add defensive steel and experience to the squad, yet his response was to simply sign a 23-year-old Thomas Vermaelen and allow Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Adebayor, two of his senior players, to leave.

While Eduardo started after having his two-match Uefa ban overturned, the involvement of Standard’s Axel Witsel was equally contentious. Witsel, a Belgium international team-mate of Thomas Vermaelen, has been suspended domestically for eight games after a horror challenge had inflicted a double fracture on the leg of Anderlecht’s Marcin Wasilewski but was cleared to play in Europe.

With Witsel excellent in midfield, Liège’s collective motivation for their first ever appearance in the Champions League was immediately obvious and overwhelming. Upon walking around the old-fashioned and compact Stade Maurice Dufrasne on Tuesday night, Wenger had noted to the Belgium media that he anticipated what he called a “chaud” atmosphere. He was not wrong.

The stadium was like an inferno as the two teams emerged and there was little doubt which side were the most fired up.

While the Standard players were flying into every challenge, Arsenal looked strangely nervous and individual mistakes were quickly forthcoming. Eduardo inexplicably conceded possession after just two minutes, with Eliaquim Mangala gratefully pouncing to shoot beyond Mannone from the edge of the penalty area. Arsenal looked shell-shocked and their lethargic re-start was instantly punished. Milan Jovanovic surged in front of William Gallas, who seemed to stumble and glance the Serbia international's heels.

Referee Eduardo González was satisfied that there had been contact and pointed to the penalty spot, with Jovanovic sending Mannone the wrong way.

Above the 2-0 scoreline on the stadium’s giant television screen was a time of just 4mins 1secs.

The squad that Wenger exudes such faith in was being badly exposed. In mitigation, eight potential first-teamers are currently injured, prompting Wenger to include five teenagers among his seven substitutes. The most surprising selection was the preference for Emmanuel Eboué above Bacary Sagna at right-back, although most heart-warming was the inclusion of Tomas Rosicky for his first club start since he lasted just nine minutes of the 3-0 win against Newcastle on Jan 26, 2008. You would have to go back even further – 22 months to be precise – for his previous Champions League match.

At the time of the injury, Wenger had diagnosed the problem as “strange” rather than serious. It proved both and Rosicky, who had two operations and spent an entire year troubled by constant pain, has since admitted that he feared his career was finished.

The man nicknamed ‘The Little Mozart’ has been missed. His guile, trickery and goal-scoring threat are obvious but, of greatest importance in such a young squad, is his stature and experience. Here he played to the right of Wenger’s fluid 4-2-3-1 formation and it was his influence that gradually gave Arsenal a foothold in the game.

Increasingly they assumed a stranglehold of possession and, on the stroke of half-time, created a lifeline when Abou Diaby span quickly to elude Mangala.

He then fed Nicklas Bendtner, who calmly guided the ball beyond Standard goalkeeper Sinan Bolat.

Arsenal, though, showed they had learned little from the opening 45 minutes when they almost gifted Standard another goal at the beginning of the second-half. Alex Song failed to find Gallas with what should have been a simple pass, allowing Dieudonné Mbokani a clear sight of goal, although his scuffed shot was blocked by Gaël Clichy.

Standard, though, were generally dropping deeper and deeper, with only a last-gasp challenge from Mangala denying Bendtner. An equaliser was becoming inevitable and it arrived in the 78th minute after Vermaelen, on returning to his native Belgium, converted a goal-mouth scramble. Replays suggestedthat at least one Arsenal player was in an offside position, while Song also appeared to handle the ball.

Standard were now utterly deflated and, from a Cesc Fàbregas corner, the ball then rebounded off Eduardo’s knee and beyond Bolat to give Arsenal the most uplifting yet unconvincing of victories.

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Arsenal's Eduardo wins appeal against Uefa ban  

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Eduardo da Silva, the Arsenal forward, has won his appeal against a two-match ban imposed for diving in a Champions League qualifying match against Celtic.

The Croatia international had been punished after it was decided that he unfairly won a penalty in the game at the Emirates Stadium. But Uefa has overruled the decision, making the player available for his club's first group-stage matches.

The ruling body said in a statement: "Following examination of all the evidence, notably the declarations of both the referee and the referees' assessor, as well as the video footage, it was not established to the panel's satisfaction that the referee had been deceived in taking his decision on the penalty.

"Therefore, the decision of the Uefa Control and Disciplinary Body of 1 September, in which the player was suspended for two Uefa club competition matches, is annulled."

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Manchester City pass first real test  

Monday, 14 September 2009

Manchester City passed the first real test of their Premier League season on Saturday with a 4-2 win over Arsenal to extend their 100 percent record.

"There were a lot of eyes on us today, people saying it would be a proper test. We went out with the right attitude and good mentality and that shone through," manager Mark Hughes told Sky Sports.

"It was a great day for everyone connected with City. The atmosphere was magnificent and that really drew us on.

"We didn't give up that many chances and we were always a threat. We were devastating on the break, all in all it was a great team performance."

Three second-half goals in 10 minutes by Craig Bellamy, Emmanuel Adebayor and Shaun Wright-Phillips ensured victory after the teams were level at 1-1.

"It was important we made a mark today and we did that, we were good value for the win," Hughes told the BBC. "Now we have to sustain that performance from now until the end of the season."

Adebayor, who joined City for 25 million pounds from Arsenal in the summer, upset the visiting fans when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of them.

"To a certain extent it's understandable given the last 18 months or so, there was a lot of pent-up emotion there," Hughes said.

"But he's already apologised for it. It's an emotional game and he just let his emotions run away with him. It would be a shame if that incident overshadows what was a great game."

Adebayor, who has now scored in all four of City's league wins, told Sky Sports: "I shouldn't have done what I did but the emotion took over me and I'm sorry for what I've done. Scoring today made me feel freedom but I'm sorry, it was a big mistake and these things won't happen any more."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had few complaints about the result.

"We made some concentration mistakes and we paid for it," he said. "They were a bit sharper and in defence we were a bit shaky, some players looked tired."

The Frenchman said that City had played well but when asked if they were good enough to crack the top four, he said: "It's too early to say."

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Sheikh Mansour has committed £770M to his Man City  

Sheikh Mansour has committed a mind-blowing £770 million to Manchester City since taking control of the club last year, it has been revealed.

The Times says City’s billionaire owner has committed £770.986 million, which includes the £200 million it cost to buy the club, the £342.786 million committed on players’ contracts and £10 million spent on improving the Carrington training headquarters, City of Manchester Stadium and the club’s academy.

Mark Hughes, the City manager, has spent £140 million on six leading players this summer and £218.2 million in transfer fees in total since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover, during which time City’s annual wage bill has more than doubled to just under £95 million.

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Wales 1-3 Russia: Andrey Arshavin inspires crucial victory  

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Wales made Russia fight all the way for a World Cup victory that keeps them hot on the heels of Germany in the race for top spot in qualifying Group Four.

The Welsh youngsters produced a spirited display and were more than a match for the Euro 2008 semi-finalists, who took the lead after 36 minutes when the excellent Andrey Arshavin created a fine goal for Igor Semshov, despite some impressive early play from the hosts.

Wales forced their way back into the game when defender James Collins scored on the near post from Aaron Ramsey's corner, before Sergei Ignashevich belted home a free-kick with 18 minutes left and Roman Pavlyuchenko added a third in the closing seconds.

Russia sent on Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko for Semshov after 70 minutes, and two minutes later they regained the lead.

Kerzhakov went down for what looked a soft free-kick against Gabbidon a yard outside the box, and Sergei Ignashevich drove the free-kick straight through the wall and past Hennessey.

Wales immediately replaced Gabbidon with an extra striker in Sam Vokes.

But Pavlyuchenko almost made it three with a dipping drive that crashed against Hennessey's crossbar.

Russia sent on Alexei Rebko for Kerzhakov with seven minutes left, with Wales still battling away for an equaliser.

A last-minute strike from Pavlyuchenko gave Russia a far more flattering scoreline than the match deserved. Wales - who long ago had conceded any realistic chance of qualifying for the finals - now know that it is mathematically impossible.

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Arsenal's Rosicky back on pitch after 20 months  

Arsenal's Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky made his first competitive appearance after 20 months on the sidelines when he started Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against minnows San Marino.

The 28-year-old, who has scored 19 goals in 68 games for the national team, has been out of action due to injury since January 2008 and has not played for Arsenal in the Premier League since then.

Czech coach Ivan Hasek called up Rosicky to give a boost to a team that is struggling in fifth spot in Group Three, seven points behind leaders Slovakia.

"I am convinced he will be all right. It's been five weeks since his (last) muscle injury, so there's no risk," Hasek told reporters on Tuesday.

"I've also talked to (Arsenal) manager Arsene Wenger and it's possible that Tomas will play against Manchester City on Saturday," he added.

Last Saturday, Rosicky watched from the stands as the Czechs drew 2-2 with neighbours Slovakia in Bratislava.

The Czechs have to win their last three qualifiers -- at home to San Marino, Poland and Northern Ireland -- to stand any chance of qualifying for next summer's tournament in South Africa.

Rosicky last played for the Czech team in November 2007, when his side beat Slovakia 3-1 in Prague on the way to Euro 2008.

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Marouane Chamakh to replace Adebayor?  

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

LONDON: Arsene Wenger has been linked with making a bid for Chamakh, who he regards as a well-suited replacement for the departed Emmanuel Adebayor, for much of the summer but the Frenchman will not improve his original offer of £5 million.

Bordeaux are understood to want £8 million for their striker who, with only 12 months remaining on his contract, would become a free agent next summer.

According to the Evening Standard, Chamakh's representatives have been in London this week and are confident a deal will be completed in time.

West Ham are the only other Premier League club to have been linked with making a move for the 25-year-old, but on more than one occasion, Chamakh has outlined his desire to move to the Emirates.

Meanwhile, in a bid to fill the gap left by Kolo Toure Wenger is prepared to pay £12 million for Subotic, who at 6ft 4in would be a welcome influence to Arsenal's backline. But Dortmund have said they will accept nothing short of their £18 million valuation.

Unwilling to pay over the odds for any player regardless of the money they have come into through various summer sales, Arsenal have identified Newcastle's Steven Taylor as another defensive option.

Only one more departure is expected at the Emirates after Wenger told Philippe Senderos he was free to talk with other clubs. Hull are favourites to sign the Swiss international to replace Michael Turner.

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