Spyin' Kop: Arsenal at Anfield - 31st March 2007

Posted by gramck24 on March 26, 2007, 11:40:44 AM

Liverpool v Arsenal
Barclays Premiership
Saturday 31st March, 2007
Kick-off: 12.45pm
Referee: T.B.C.


Strange would be the best way to describe the last three weeks or so. Things have remarkably quiet since knocking Barca out in the Champions League and being drawn with PSV in the quarters. Sandwiched in between the draw and playing Arsenal on Saturday, we have had the instantly forgetable 0-0 bore draw with Villa and i have hardly watched any Ing-er-lund games since the World Cup for the exact same reason. I missed the Israel game on Saturday and will probably miss the Andorra game midweek due to watching paint dry in a bit of planned domestic DIY. So then, i have found myself in a bit of a lull during March without some real footy action but that should be rectified on Saturday.

Hopefully our game with Arsenal on Saturday will kick start our final push for a great season end (spent in Athens?). A morale boosting win over the Gooners should not only liven up the race for 3rd spot, but will also give us a great lift before we play PSV a week tomorrow. So how will we get on against a side who has put 12 goals past us in 3 games so far this season? We have headed over once again to those very friendly chaps at Arsenal-Mania for their veiws on the season so far and how they see the game going on Saturday.

For this particluar Spyin' Kop, I have delved straight into the Q&A as we have had all the stats, info and history in the 3 previous games this season. Instead, I have opted to elongate the answers to gain a more mixed view on all things Liverpool/Arsenal.


1. Would it be fair to say that your season has reached a bit of an anti-climax?
   
Mark: I would say so. Obviously there's a bit of a battle on for 3rd, maybe even 2nd, but most gooners, myself included, were certainly expecting more from the FA Cup and Champions League. PSV and Blackburn were two very winnable ties and it's a real shame not to see us make the most of that.
RC8: It's been a tough last couple of weeks, but many, like me, are still looking forward to what this team is capable of. The real problem has been injuries and suspensions, they really hampered our team and all our chances of finishing the season on an absolute high. If we finish third at least domestically we will have done better than last season, so that's something I'm looking forward to.
Phenn: Yes, though now we just need to get third place and there's no excuses with fixture congestion since all we have to play for is the league. The race for third is still very interesting.
Lev: Well i cant say that it wont be a boring end to the season, because the latter rounds of cup competitions really do bring along suspense and excitement, but its something we have to accept. Yes its not expected, nor is it acceptable to a certain degree, but i honestly believe we have to endure this disappointment now for what is eventually going to come.
Lagos Gooner: yes
Awooga83: I think thats a fair comment the disastrous fortnight we suffered that led to our 3 cup exits certainly led to alot of soul searching and questioning of where we were going as a club and seeing as it had looked like we might get a cup and as it was realistically our only trophy would come from them has meant the season appeared disappointing.
Gunners_Nadz: On the fact that we lost 3 cup competitions in the space of 2 weeks, however league wise we are doing not too bad, an improvement of what would have been from last season. however, despite the loses of 3 cup competition, and no chance of silverware this season, ironically, we still have a few more games to make the season 'end' more plausible. so, in other word. YES
Qs: To be out of everything so early yes. In fairness it was expecting too much to challenge for the league and cups are cups, anything can happen. I'm most disappointed about the FA Cup to be honest. I think it being New Wembleys first final makes it that bit more special.
Drthorne1: If you had asked this question three weeks ago I would have said NO WAY, but reflecting now yeah I would agree.
Tony Montana: Yes. Anyone would feel really disappointed in going out of 3 cup competitions in no more than two weeks. We were out of the title race within a month or two so this season has been worse than last season in a way. Getting fourth or third will not make it any better.
Kanoo: Sad to say, it really has. I'd still be watching them play, cheering them on but not with much excitement. We'll be playing for 3rd or 4th place only and that's it.
   
2. Cup competition wise, you seemed to be motoring along nicely. What happened within that fortnight meaning that you lost the Carling Cup final and were also knocked out of the Champions League and FA Cup?
   
Mark: Getting to the Carling Cup final was still a big achievement for our youngsters, and on the day we applies ourselves really well, taking an early lead. I think we were very unlucky to lose that game, but it's ok because the youngsters can be proud of themselves and learn from it. Blackburn and PSV, as I said, really should've been relatively simple wins for us, but I think too much squad rotation in that period left us a little unsettled and we just weren't at our best when it mattered.
RC8: As I said before, injuries, suspensions, and the lack of experience of our youngsters really hampered our chances. In the Carling Cup final I think we did very well, we outplayed Chelsea, but we did not have a goalscorer on the pitch, and after Diaby knocked out Terry, we lost our best player, he simply had to be substituted I'm afraid. Against Blackburn injuries such as Fabregas, Rosicky, Henry, and Robin van Persie did not exactly help the cause either, and the fact that referees overlooked 2 crystal clear penalties during the course of both games did not exactly raise our morale. When the goal came it had the effect it had because of our inability to finish off chances, low morale, and lack of attacking options. It's a shame really. PSV? Same reasons for which we were kicked out of the FA Cup, but add inexperience to the mix, our young players did not know how to react once we went behind, and could not provide defensive stability.
Phenn: Probably a combination of physical tiredness, immaturity and bad luck. Our finishign was just s**t, we could have won all those games.
Lev: I put it solely down to lack of finishing. A lot of Arsenal fans will put it down to youth, injuries and other reasons, and i guess maybe they're all inter linked, but the main reason is not scoring goals. In all games, PSV and Blackburn more so than Chelsea, we had chances to finish the game, but we missed them all. That has carried on into the games against Everton and Villa, where we only got a deflected goal in both games
Lagos Gooner: We effectively lost 2 cups at Cardiff because of the harm the sendings off did to our already limited attacking options. But our inability to put chances away cost us a place in the CL
Awooga83: In the Carling cup we did pretty well considering the side we put out and just Drogba's class saved chelsea in the end. But the suspensions and injuries we picked up certainly hit us at Blackburn and we seemed to take a bad mentalit from that game into the PSV game which we already had a difficult situation and just didn't have goals in the team that day which was crucial.
Gunners_Nadz: Carling Cup, we have dominated the first few minutes of the game and or young Theo Walcott scored a brilliant goal. However, The Chelsea showed experienced against our youngsters. but no matter how it goes, we should have and could've won that game.
   
As full prone injury squad and matters of suspensions against some pretty decent sides, to be fair, ofcourse it is difficult for us to progress. we have completely lost our attacking options and had to rely on 4th and 5th choice strikers, basically we lost half of our squad. We created decent chances against PSV and we rushed Henry who barely makle it 50% fit, but the chances were not good enough.You may classified this as excuses but, these are FACTS.
Qs: Lack of strikers. Simple as that. No Henry and no van Persie meant we just didn't ahve a forward line capable of really troubling a top European back 4. In the FA cup we were extremely unlucky, 3 stone wall penalties turned down and again a lack of strikers and this time Adebayor was suspended too. Combination of bad luck and a lack of goals.
Drthorne1: Injuries, Suspensions, and the complete lack of being unable to defend set pieces.
Tony Montana: You could write an essay on this mate. Well first thing is first. We've been plagued with injuries this season. That hasn't helped at all.If we had our first team I reckon we would still be in one of the competitions. Each competition had it's own reason for us being knocked out, however. We were always going to play half a second string side in the Carling Cup Final and in that game we didn't finish our chances, the main factor why we didn't win. Simple as that. Yes, Chelsea got into the game more in the second half but we weren't overrun and we had our moments on top. I'd like to say we were the better team overall. We just don't have good finishers at this club. In the FA Cup we just didn't want it enough. It was obvious in the game at the Emirates that the players had one eye in Europe but in the return leg at Ewood Park we didn't deserve to win. We just played poorly. Senderos made a howler for their goal but he's not a right back and everyone else was crap. Against PSV, we weren't clinical enough which has been the story of our season. Henry is on poor form so who would get the ball into the net? It's too much pass pass football and players like Hleb and Fabregas have got terrible shots.
Kanoo:
Carling Cup FinalI'm not too disheartened by the Carling Cup loss, really. The kids really made us proud.

FA Cup Replay
The Blackburn game was a bit hard to swallow. We wasted a few chances (as usual) but still Blackburn didn't do anything noteworthy till that McCarthy strike. We could have used Toure and Adebayor but the red cards in the Carling Cup didn't help.
   
Champions' League
The hardest defeat to take. No doubt. I'm not repeating the old record but we wasted a few chances and lost our concentration in the last minutes. Helb gave away a needless free kick and we were punished for slack defending. Big Time!
   
3. I must admit, Arsenal do play very attractive football to watch. But sometimes it appears that you play one pass to many and there is not enough end product. Thoughts?   
   
Mark: Certainly the football is good to watch, and we're proud of that, but it can go a little over the top at times, and isn't as fast as it used to be. We don't rip into teams anymore, we just square it and go for the simple ball just to keep possession, rather than being a bit more adventurous and forcing the issue. I think that will come with time though, once this team settles and gains confidence.
RC8: When we've had all our players fit or at least had the choice to choose the best 11 against a determined team we've shown we can deliver plenty of end product. An example of course, is Anfield earlier this season, or Reading, or Blackburn, or Charlton, you get my point. With Thierry, Robin, Thomas, and Fabregas available, we've been able to score on a consistent basis.
Phenn: It's not a pass too many, it's the wrong pass or just not playing the killer ball well. We can connect the "easy" passes with greater consistency than anyone else in the league if not period. But either our final ball fails, we don't try a good final ball enough, or even when it all works we miss a sitter.
Lev: I put that down to youth, even if maybe some senior players are guilty of it. But i think if we have a fully fit team, then i dont think we see the problem of too many passes. Henry and RVP especially arent scared to shoot, and what we've replaced them with since theyv been injured aren't ruthless enough in terms of mking the right decision and finishing e.g Aliadiere, Baptista
Lagos Gooner: How could anyone disagree with that?
Awooga83: I think thats quite a fair assesment however we have had a hard time with Van Persie and Henry this season which has significantly reduced our end product and lost Pires who even at the end was a big contributor in terms of goals from midefield which we have missed this season
Gunners_Nadz: Yes, we do play quite the attractive football, as we are known for our counter attacking. but yes, spot on the fact that we pass too many times without giving the end product. we mostly rely on RvP for thatHenry who can finish. and also, yes we lost Pires, who scores vital goals from midfield itself. and we could hardly find a replacement for him. although, Rosicky can do it., it is his first season, and to be fair he has been pretty good. must've had 100 chances to actually score the goals from midfield. so, I'm thinking, he could fill in Pires' shoes. he's got that spark.and we'll be seeing it soon enough.
Qs: We've created so many chances this season that have failed to be converted into goals. The system is not wrong, the style is fine. It carves teams open when its at its best(you guys know that better than most) but even on a bad day it still makes enough chances to beat teams. Its just a case of putting them ball in the onion sack.
Drthorne1: Arsenal do spend allot of the time looking for the "Perfect Goal" and to be honest most of the time it pays off but our finishing this season has been nothing short of woeful.
Tony Montana: I'm delighted opposition fans think we still play very attractive football. This season it's been nothing special. It's been good and even excellent at times but not like it was in the Vieira and Pires days. On many occasions it's been dire affairs or just average games. As you say, we pass it too many times and i think we have too many playmakers and not enough clinical finishers. We're also too slow and need too many touches. We need goals from midfields and in the league we've got hardly any. Fine, Gilberto's got 8 but we need more from the other players. I don't think Gilberto will get that tally next season and as an attacking mid Rosicky, Hleb and Fabregas must step up otherwise we will never win the league.
Kanoo: How can anyone disagree with that, especially Liverpool fans?
   
It doesn't take a scientist to figure out that we play too many passes with no result. But it's still everyone's guess how to solve it. Hopefully, we can improve with our mostly injury freed squad next season.
   
4. Moving on… now you have been playing at Emirates for 6 months or so, do you still miss Highbury or are you glad to have moved on?   
   
Mark: You don't forget a home like Highbury in just 6 months, but we've already got some good memories at Ashburton; two wins over Spurs, a 3-0 win over Liverpool, that classic 2-1 over Man Utd, and generally a lot of thrillers with late goals. And of course we still haven't lost there yet which helps!
RC8: Highbury is irreplaceable if you know what I mean, but definitely, the stadium feels more like home than it did at the beginning. Still, it won't feel like home for 3 or 4 more years at least. Right now it looks like our house, but not like our home. Fortunately we are still unbeaten, and we've had many memorable games there already. We've beaten Spurs twice, you, ManUtd, etc, as well as the great Bergkamp testimonial, so I guess memories are piling up for the future.
Phenn: Not really relevant to me since I don't go to the games. Our stadium looks pretty though and we're definitely better in it than the beginning of the year.
Lev: Ill be forever missing Highbury. Both stadiums represent different elements of Arsenal. Highbury - the tradition and the history, our success and the beginning of Arsenal. Emirates - the bright future, the hunger for bigger and better things. Am i glad we've moved on? Ill never be glad we left Highbury, but i know in my head it was the right thing to do.
Lagos Gooner: Yes but you have to move on. Highbury would never have existed if we stayed in south London! And in time the new stadium will find it’s own soul! Besides with all these sugar daddies now we need the money the new stadium provides – You can’t have it all!
Awooga83: Highbury will always have a speacial place, certainly for anyone who ever went there or remembers it when it was in use it is a massive part of the history and the heritage of the club and it will never be a case that any Arsenal fan was glad we left it but it was necessary and we seemed to have settled quite well into our new home and haven't been beaten there in the first year so far which is pretty good.
Gunners_Nadz: Highbury, pains me really as I've never watched a game from the stadium itself and being a Gooner for 10 years. Highbury itself, despite never could feel what the Gooners who've been there, Highbury would always be our home no matter what. heck it has been for the last 93 years. At times, I really wish we didn't move to Emirates, as we were leaving pieces of Arsenal History behind, but we are moving on, and we are trying our best to create histories itself at our new stadium.
Qs: A little of both. The atmosphere isn't the same but the new stadium is amazing and I really think it reflects well on the club.
Drthorne1: Highbury will always be in our hearts but as with everything in life times must change.
Tony Montana: I don't miss Higbury in terms of how much money we rake these days compared to last season and before but football is not just about the money. It's much more than that, for the fans anyway. As a stadium, sometimes i look at the Emirates and I think it looks good. Other times it looks like a soulless bowl. I miss Highbury's class and 'Arsenal' feel. It was a small stadium but it was our stadium. Emirates feels more like the airline's stadium. It's better than a lot of Premiership grounds but it's not a classic British stadium like Highbury was and I miss that for sure.
Kanoo: No comments.
   
5. I read a couple of months ago that Thierry Henry criticised the fans for leaving early from matches at the Emirates. What is your view?   
   
Mark: I'm with him! I never leave early. What particularly annoyed me was the mass exodus after PSV equalised - there was still 10 minutes left and they'd already given up! It rubbed off on the players, unsurprisingly and they couldn't find the confidence to keep going. Shocking, considering how many late goals we've had there this season, as I've already said.
RC8: Fans leave early at most grounds nowadays if things aren't going right, but Thierry's criticism was correct. I for one hate those so called supporters who leave early. The fact that Henry criticised those fans is really a non-issue though. hopefully it will improve, and many are trying to solve the situation, but there's not much more that can be added to that.
Phenn: I too find it disgraceful. If we're winning by a lot and you have things to do that's fine, but if it's a close game or especially if we're losing I think a person should stay.
Lev: Completely agree with him. For some reason the fans at Emirates seem to empty before any other stadium. I see it constantly on MOTD and sky sports, and its very disappointing. I can understand leaving a minute or 2 before the final whistle because that will save you an hour on your journey home, but iv seen fans leaving in their thousands before the 85th minute which i find unacceptbale
Lagos Gooner: It’s an embarrassment!
Awooga83: I would agree i think its really poor to leave the ground early i mean you wouldn't do it for any other thing you go to like the cinema or a gig you don't spend money to miss part of what you came for and it is bad for the players to see that, but its alway going to happen with some people so there isn't that much to be done about it
Gunners_Nadz: For those who left the Stadium early, just to beat early traffic is a shame. honestly, these people who left early are a disgrace, there are thousands of other Gooners out there trying to get IN the stadium to watch a decent game, but those who left early are literally taking their privillages for granted. Getting a ticket itself was freaking hard enough. Not only that, it would cost the team itself down with morale, thinking to themselves "our fans has given up on us". It's an utter disgrace really. Gooners thick and thin, obviously don't mean anything to these people.
Qs: I agree with him 100%. I don't think its acceptable at all.
Drthorne1: 100% totally agree with him when your football club is one of the most expensive to watch you would have thought people would not want to miss a minute, but its a total disgrace how many people leave early
Tony Montana: I agree mostly. Even on Arsenal-Mania people admit that they don't want to watch us anymore because we're playing for nothing now. Part time fans all of them. I say I agree only mostly, however, because the players continually forget to clap the fans home or away when they lose a game. Henry is one of the culprits. Then he has the cheek to turn around and say the fans shouldn't leave early? Hypocritical. If the fans know they won't be appreciated then what's the point in staying? I can see that line of argument. Still, Henry is one of my favourite Arsenal players of all time. I'm proud he plays for the Arsenal.
Kanoo: No comments. Thierry has a right to say what he wants but the fans do too (they can do whatever they want). I won't be having a headache pondering over this.
   
6. Speaking of Henry, I was recently listening to a football phone-in. Some Arsenal fans had mixed views on whether he should be at Arsenal next season or not. What is your take on situation? Should Arsenal have got rid last summer?   
   
Mark: I don't know what's been wrong with Henry this season. Injuries haven't helped obviously, but when he has played he still hasn't looked quite as interested as he once did. Still, he is a big part of why players like Rosicky came here to play. He can still have a big part to play for the club if he gets anywhere near his best next season. I want him to stay.
RC8: Absolutely not. He is vital for our team, not only as a player, but as a character, he sells shirts, and has a big influence over his team-mates. Those calling for him to be sold are fickle, disloyal fans who are just frustrated about the lack of trophies. Henry will retire at Arsenal unless he can't perform well next season, something that I doubt. The reason he's been so inconsistent this season is because of injuries, and purely because of injuries, but because he has a big ego, some people love to hate him, and bash him at any chance. Most fans are behind him, of that I'm sure.
Phenn: Too early to tell. He obviously had an injury-riddled season this year. How he does over the next couple of years is important. If he were retiring after this year then obviously I'd rather have the 20-30m we would have gotten for him, but he's not so it's too early to tell.
Lev: No, its was right to keep him last season, and i want him to retire here. Simple
Lagos Gooner: Henry is a bit of a conundrum. Sometimes I think yes, sometimes I think no. From a footballing point of view, The fact that he’s been playing through injuries and thus had a below par season has not helped in making up my mind. From a sentimental point of view I’d hate to see any Arsenal great, especially him leave
Awooga83: No we needed him to stay the team was vey down after the final. I definatly think he should be here next season his contributions to our great success easily earns him that privellage if you will of having a season racked with poor form and injuries and some bad luck. He had a busy schedule last season with alot of disappointments but i'm sure he will come back refreshed and ready to lead our assault for trophies next season
Gunners_Nadz: There are those who are fickle, with Henry under-performing this season otherwise suggested for them that he should leave this summer. again, you may brand this as excuses, but losing to TWO major football competition could really destroy your spirit. Henry was part of our European triumphs only to lose against Barca in the Finals. Henry played a major role in our team, against Real, Juve, and so on. Ofcourse, on the WC2006 itself, he has played a major role aswell, that brought up France to the WC Finals only to lost against Italy. He has been teared apart by both of his club and national team in terms of the victories that he could've won. I guess last year's failures not only affected all of us, ceratinly affected him even worse. people forget why he underperforming, and despite he's injured prone now, he has made 24 appearances with 12 goals. for a striker who injured, that is quite impressive stats. Baffles me really, last year, some of those fickle fans want Henry to stay and when he did, now they want him to leave - failed to see that assesment. but as for my opinion. no. he's our inspirational captain, and he still have that class inside him. and he's made it clear he's a Gooner for life. and I'll take his word for it.
Qs: No way. One bad season doesn't mean he's lost it. He deserves the loyalty of the Arsenal fans and the benefit of the doubt. He says he's been playing through injury and I remain confident he'll return next season in fighting form. Class is permenant as they say.
Drthorne1: People who want Henry out are total plastic fans the boy is Arsenal through and through and this is the first time ever he has suffered so badly with Injuries, I cannot wait to watch this Arsenal legend next year.
Tony Montana:   Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? The same fans who want him out are probably the same fans who were begging him to stay last summer. People were discussing, talking and moaning about player loyalty and that if Henry really loved Arsenal he would stay with us. People were saying that Arsenal were the club that made him who he is now, the big name world class player. At least one can say he blossomed at Arsenal. It was now time to return the favour and remain here at Arsenal people cried, because Arsenal, as a club, still stuck with him when he had a crap start to his Arsenal career. Now that he's had one bad season out of 7or 8 good ones people are whinging that we should sell him. Where's the loyalty now? He's probably been at Arsenal longer than some of these fans on the Arsenal-Mania website have supported this club. There's little loyalty, if any, in the game these days whether they are fans, players or staff members. Yes i know we can't keep every player but cut some of the ones who obviously have some talent to succeed here some slack.
Kanoo: People have a lot of opnions. Some say he's disintersted for Arsena'ls cause. Some seem to think he's asserting too much authority on the kids/other players that stopped them from playing well etc.. etc... If he's going to be playing at his best like he used to, then I'd defintely take him. If not, I'm interested to see how the kids mature without him (afterall, we've also won some crucial games without him).
   
7. We all know whom your influential and best players are, but is there an unsung hero who perhaps has not got a lot of recognition for his efforts this season?
   
Mark: Gael Clichy for me. He had big boots to fill when Ashley C*nt left, and he's been absolutely brilliant. Tireless runner up and down the left hand side, solid defensively and really good on the ball, which is a key part of making it at Arsenal. I've been really impressed with him since he came back from numerous injury problems last year. Hope he can push on from here.
RC8: Touré and Clichy no doubts, they are great players, and not only do they improve our defensive game enormously, they actually improve our attacking fluency. Clichy has replaced Cole very well, and Touré has become the defensive pillar of our team, a truly magnificent player, and hopefully our next captain. Rosicky and Hleb are also very underrated, as is RvP, those 3 have been very important to our attack this season, and they can string some truly wonderful moves.
Phenn: Gael Clichy is an absolute stud prospect at left back that has done very well for us this year. I doubt he's in most of those discussions. Other than that I feel like people should know our other players and how good they are.
Lev: Gilberto and Toure.....they get some recognition, but not enough. I honestly believe if Toure was English then Hansen and co would be constantly talking about him, along with the papers. Both these players get on with their job with no complaints, and they do it bloody well.
Lagos Gooner: Kolo Toure / Clichy
Awooga83: I would feel Toure has been severly underated he is one of the best center backs in the premiership and an absolute lion who will always fight for you and give you 110% and never complains and genuinly seems a nice guy which can be a rarity in modern football.
Gunners_Nadz: Definitely Kolo Toure, who are really underrated imo, he has been the backbone of our defense. he can go to any position and still be the Lion roaring keeping the strikers in thier places. he is one of the best Centre Backs in the Premiership. And Also to our brilliant Left Back Clichy, who has been underrated, but now despite we lost Cashley Cole, Gael has fitted the slot perfectly. His defensive optionas are excellent, his pace are as fast as bullets, and his offensive action has been immense aswell. and the fact that he was not chosen in the International squad both give me these thoughts = 1 He's underrated and unrecognized, and 2 I'm glad the muppet Domenech didn't choose him as we want him to be on good health when we're up against you.
Qs: Up until about a month ago when his form dipped I'd have said Hleb. Now I'd say Clichy, he's really stepped up this year. While he hasn't yet reached the level Cashley was at with us he's been better than him this season. Second best left back in the league IMO and one of our most consitent performers.
Drthorne1: The grounds man/women at xxxxxxxxx, they do a great job and the pitch is always slick and smooth. WELL DONE LADS
Tony Montana: No, no one has been a hero in my opinion. Clichy has gone somewhat unnoticed though.
Kanoo: No one stands out particularly for me. Some Arsenal fans may disagree but I think Djourou did fill in well for the injured players at the back. He wasn't brillaint in all the games but I think he did a capable job.
   
8. Anyone of your boys had a shocker of a season so far?   
   
Mark: I wouldn't say there have been any shockers, but Julio Baptista hasn't really looked the part the majority of the time. Obviously Liverpool fans know about what he CAN do, but apart from a few goals (mostly tap-ins too it must be said) he hasn't been the kind of influence we had hoped for at all. Pretty sure he'll be gone next season though.
RC8: Not really, many have been inconsistent, but not shocking, although Baptista has had some difficult times. His only truly good game was you, where he scored 4 goals.
Phenn: Mmm.. lots of injuries and stuff so it's hard to say. Baptista has been pretty bad. I think most of our guys have had their high and low points, even Flamini has gotten some great goals (importance wise) for us.
Lev: Not a shocker, but below expectation i guess you could look at Baptista, and to a lesser extent Walcott (but thats because of the hype given to him by the media).
Lagos Gooner: Baptista and Walcott have not lived up to the hype ....at least so far!
Awooga83: Probably if anyone was having a shocker it would be Baptista but its hard to judge him as he hasn't played all that much and is in a brand new league and situation.
Gunners_Nadz: I would say Baptista. Baptista has scored brilliant FOUR goals against you lot, but he has been absolute shocker in his recent games. not living up to the hype I have to agree as we expect more from him. since he is on a season Loan from Madrid, if he had been given more chances to adapt maybe he could be great. He is from a slow paced sunny La Liga, and onto a more faster cold League. so, no one from La Liga could actually settle in completely in their first season in the League.
Qs: Henry really has. Down to injury maybe. Baptista has been a massive flop, alot of us, including myself, had high expectation but he's just not good enough. I hear Rafa is interested but he'd be no better than Crouch, probably worse.
Drthorne1: They have all been a little Hit and miss so i could not really choose one player.
Tony Montana: The main ones are Senderos, Henry by his standards, Ljungberg (but he's just not that good anymore), Walcott (but he's only 17 and hasn't played that much), Baptista and Aliadiere. Not in that order though.
Kanoo: To be honest, I'm shocked with the whole teams' performance. Senderos is definitely one of them. I thought he'd be stronger and better than last season after his very good performances for Switzerland at the World Cup. But it wasn't to be! Henry also didn't have a good season (with the injury and all). I also expected more goals from Rosicky. Ljungberg seems to be fading away (try as he might).
   
9. And what about anyone on the fringe of the starting 11 who looks like they could step up to the plate and have a good season next?
   
Mark: The Carling Cup has served us well in this respect as we've had an extended look at who we have waiting in the wings. Most impressive have probably been midfielders Diaby and Denilson, both very mature and cool on the ball, slotting into our game perfectly. Another is young left-back Armand Traore, who has looked a bit like a younger, faster Gael Clichy at times. There could be a lot to look forward to from these players next season.
RC8: Diaby is very promising, and so is Denilson. They could become very important parts of Arsenal's midfield. Theo could well take a more important role next season than he had this season. His progress was interrupted by his injury on the shoulder. Rosicky has been very good this season, but I expect him to deliver a much better second season, with less inconsistency, and better composure in front of goal.
Phenn: There's every chance Diaby could be a monster next year.
Lev: Diaby has looked brilliant since coming back, Denilson has been breath taking, and Djourou is also very impressive.
Lagos Gooner: Denilson
Awooga83: I think Denilson and Diaby are pushing very hard for inclusion in the first team even right now so i have no doubts we will see alot more of them next year. Diaby has great skill which you may not expect but he is very good at beating his man with a little shimmy and going on dare i say it Vieiraesq runs
Gunners_Nadz: I would say Denilson, Diaby, the pair has been immense, but still in the shadows of Gilberto and Cesc for that matter. But the rotation could be done in the next season, or that we may rely on them completely on Cup games. This season's failures on Cup competitions has given them more experience to play even better in the next.
Qs: I'm sure everyone will say the same but Diaby and Denilson are 2 quality players. Good enough for any side.
   
Apart from those 2 obvious choices Traore is looking very good considering his age and hopefully Bendtner will return from Birmingham to take his place in the squad instead of Baptista and Aliadiere.
Drthorne1: I think your going to see the best of Walcott and Denilson next year.
Tony Montana: Denilson and Diaby in my opinion. They are the two names the popped straight into my head when i read the question. The former is a little like Cesc but really is half way between Gilberto and Cesc. Good vision, skillful or technical, doesn't seemed to be phased by the physicality of the premiership and I think he has a good pass on him. Only time will tell. He's only played a fe games but looks like he could have a good season. Diaby is more like Vieira. Against Chelsea in the carling cup final he was excellent. He looked pacy, commanding and strong. That pass to Walcott for the goal was quality. I hope to see more of that. Unfortunately he can slip into very sloppy passing and he might not be a good shot taker. I hope it's the opposite, the same for Denilson. As a team though, I hope all the players improve.
Kanoo: Diaby & Denilson. I also think we'll see a much much improved Theo Walcott next season.
      
10. Other than Gerrard, would you take any of our lot if you had the chance? If so, who and why?
   
Mark: As well as Gerrard, I'm a big fan of Alonso and Sisokko, but to be honest I'd say we're about even in terms of personel. No one from your team I really feel would add a great deal.
RC8: Marc Gonzales, the boy is promising, I've been following him since his days in Chile, and he has the talent to become a truly wonderful player. I would like him here at Arsenal, he would be more effective without having to play under Benitez' always changing system. I have to say that I also like Kuyt, and he offers some of the things we are missing in attack. He is more clinical than Adebayor, but more mobile than van Persie, etc. Very good player overall.
Phenn: I don't feel I'd take Alonso over Fabregas really, it's debatable who's better right now but Fabregas has the higher ceiling. And Sissoko vs. Diaby ceiling wise is also a toss up, though that boy is a destroyer for you guys.
So not really.
Lev: Riise......i like players who can hit a good shot. I dont think he would replace Clichy or Rosicky, but i would love to have him here on rotation, just so once in a while we could enjoy a screamer from 30 yards. Xabi Alonso would fit our game nicely i think, with his good passing range, and hes another that can strike a ball well.
Lagos Gooner: No!
Awooga83: Definatly would be Kuyt i think he is a great little player and has scored some real crackers in his time for you guys and he is a good finisher really the type of player i enjoy watching.
Gunners_Nadz: I would say Kuyt he has scored some pretty screamers for you lot and he offers a lot in the attacking options you have rather than Bellamy imo. Always a threat, Clinical. If we had the chance, yes, we would take Kuyt in a second.
Qs: I've always liked Xabi Alonso, his passing range is great and he has a great shot from range. Right now though the last thing we need is another central midfielder. I'd take Kuyt now, he's like Adebayor only better. Hard working though not especially gifted but he has a better finish than the big man from Togo. The majority of your first 11 would make our squad but we are strong where you lot are strong(back four, midfield) so I'd be sticking with most of ours.
Drthorne1: I think "kuyt" and Carson when he comes back to you.
Tony Montana: No one. That doesn't mean I think Liverpool are inferior to us (we're about the same in terms of the league)I just don't think the players you have could just walk into our system. Fine, you have Alonso but then we have Cesc. It's debatable who is better but Cesc is still young. Why drop him for Alonso? I know you don't want people saying Gerrard but it really would only be him.
Kanoo: I actually want someone who can score scrappy goals (like van Nistelrooy) and maybe a goalscoring midfielder (like Maxi Rodgriguez) but I can't find any from Liverpool. So, it would still be Steven Gerrard.
   
11. What sort of line up do you expect Mr. Wenger to put out at Anfield.   
   
Mark: Hopefully our strongest possible. We've got injury problems at the moment but hopefully some of our lads will recover by then. I hope to see something like this:
   
Lehmann
Eboue Toure Gallas Clichy
Hleb Gilberto Fabregas Rosicky
Adebayor Aliadiere
RC8:   A very strong line-up from almost all points of views, but lacking a proven goalscorer. The nearest thing we'll have is going to be Adebayor. I would personally go with a 4-5-1, but I believe Wenger will remain loyal to 4-4-2, and give Baptista one last chance to perform. Gilberto and Fabregas in CM, with Rosicky and Hleb down the wings, and Clichy, Touré, Gallas, and Hoyte/Eboué in defence. We can only hope for a few goals, but we can't afford to concede many.
Phenn: Our strongest one. I don't know the latest injury updates but I figure Adebayor will start. Gilberto not at CB.
Lev:   Strongest possible, which isnt very. Ade will certainly start, and im expecting Freddy to start becuase hes had 2 very good games. Only problem for us is who will score
Lagos Gooner:   Sounds obvious but his strongest possible
Awooga83: I would go along with everyone else and say strongest possible i would expect Adebayor back which will add soemwhat to our goal threat but we are still lacking a source of goals so it will depend if the other players hit a bit of form.
Gunners_Nadz:   The Strongest one we have. we have Adebayor back for this game, and Wenger might field 4-5-1, so is Clichy, Eboue(?), so, better options for defense, although we are still weak in Attacking, as we may have to rely on Ade. although to be fair, he can be deadly as he is at the 4-5-1 we played against the Mancs earlier in the season, and scored the vital winning goal. I can see a Midfield of Freddie, Cesc, Gilberto, Rosicky, if were were to play 4-men midfield. Freddie has been immense in his games lately. so, I'm sure he'll be in the starting XI.
Qs: I'm hoping a 4-5-1 with Adebayor as a lone striker. I think he'll play Adebayor with Baptista though. I'd rather we made more room for our quality midfielders for the rest of the season as the strikers just aren't good enough.
Drthorne1: hahahah, I have no idea but probably play 5 in midfield with Ade up front on his own with Freddie behind.
Tony Montana:   4-5-1 but hopefully 4-4-2 with Adebayor and Aliadiere up front. If it's the former then it will just be Ade up front. In midfield I reckon Cesc and Gilberto will be in midfield with Hleb and Rosicky on either side. Hoyte will play right back and Senderos partnering Toure and centre back. Gallas will have to move to LB. That's 4-4-2.
   
Unfortunately Wenger has been making weird decisions lately. I reckon player power is the reason why Gallas hasn't played at LB (remember the Chelsea thing?) and personally I believe Wenger might be getting annoyed at Senderos hence even though he is fit he is on the subs bench. If that is the case, I wouldn't be surprised to see Hoyte at LB again or Toure there with Gilberto at CB like at Everton. Ridiculous decisions.
   
If it's 4-5-1 I reckon Diaby or Denilson will be alongside Cesc with Gilberto anchoring. All in all we won't score with any formation.
Kanoo:   
Lehmann
Eboue Toure Gallas Clichy
Hleb Gilberto Fabregas Rosicky
Adebayor Baptista
   
12. After putting 9 goals past us in space of a few days earlier in the season, any chance of returning the favour?   
   
Mark: Haha, no chance! Winning at Anfield always feels pretty sweet so hopefully we can get another to enjoy.
RC8: Nope, sorry. Teams struggle to score against us, and we've only lost 2 games by more than one goal this season. We will probably go out there with our best defence, which is with Gallas and Touré in the middle, and which will be very solid, and will also keep your midfield trying to avoid the runs of our full back, which gives them time to reorganise.
Phenn: If you mean you guys returning us the favor, no I don't believe you will score a lot of goals against us (unless Gilberto is at CB, in which case I'll be cringing). If you mean we will score a lot against you lot, again I doubt it, but I mean if we have our forwards figure out where the net is you never know.
Lev: No.....we have Toure, he personally would never allow that to happen. Seriously though, i can see you scoring, but not more than......lets say 2.
Lagos Gooner: Hell no!
Awooga83: Well if you let us have a European cup then we have a deal.
Gunners_Nadz: As some has said around here, Big teams failed to score against us for more than one goal. we've only lost 2-1 Chelsea in the CC - to be fair, we are not fielding the same players on that day and what we are going to against you, 3-1 Bolton. but I don't consider Bolton a big team. but with you returning the favour it is possible, if you can get through our solid back four. so do beware my friend. Revenge must be flickering in your minds now, and couldn't afford for you guys to lose another one against us @ Anfield. so it is definitely going to be a great match. but a draw won't be the end of the world though.
Qs: Don't think so. Ye have a great chance of beating us but I'd bery surprised if your strikers put more than 1 past our defence.
Drthorne1: hahahah NO
Tony Montana: No
Kanoo: If you meant trashing us 6:3 or 3:1, I don't think so. But a very close win for either side is possible.
   
13. Care to have a stab at what the score will be in our game?   
   
Mark: After all the goals in previous encounters this season, I have a feeling this one might be a little quieter. I'll go for a 2-1 Arsenal win.
RC8: 1-0 to the Arsenal! I believe it will be a tight score-line. As always, Liverpool will attack much more at the beginning, but Arsenal are capable of holding back before taking control of the game, which is hopefully what we'll see yet again. If you score first however, your defence will be pretty difficult to penetrate, and I can see you winning the game. For us, a draw would be fine, but I'm confident we are going all for the win, as if we do there's still a very slight chance of us finishing second... wishful thinking I know, but I'd be nice. I don't think we'll score many against you either, I mean, Dudek is not going to be on goal! Nah, just kidding, your defence is solid as it is, and I rate Dudek as a decent, if error prone goalkeeper.
Phenn: 2-0 Arsenal with us getting a garbage goal at the end after being 1-0 up from a first half goal.
Lev: i refuse.......we will either play like we have been and lose or battle for a draw, or come out the blocks firing. Which 1 im not sure about, so i wont jinx it
Lagos Gooner: No
Awooga83: I think we will shade it i believe your involvement may just divert your attention somewhat and leave us free to get the points needed while you will drops the odd points here or there although i don't think will steamroller it with the form we are in at the moment.
Gunners_Nadz: I'll go for both 1-0 win from the only gaol scored by Ade, or a 2-1 win with Ade and Freddie to score for us, and Kuyt for you. we'll be seeing a goaless draw by half time.and the scoring will start at 2nd.
Qs: 0-0
Drthorne1: 1-1
Tony Montana: I'll just be happy if Arsenal score.
Kanoo: Shoud be close. We both know that 3rd and 4th is as good as taken (as the teams below 4th are even more inconsistent). So both teams won't be having extra motivation to win (maybe only for Liverpool due to the 3 previous defeats). I'm going for a lowscoring draw but wouldn't rule out a slim victory for either side.
   
14. And the race for 3rd spot. Liverpool or Arsenal?   
   
Mark: Arsenal. We tend to finish the season well, and we have nothing else to focus on, which although a shame, could help us in the race for 3rd.
RC8: Arsenal will win it, I'm confident of it, but Liverpool could grab it if we can't solve our problems up front. I believe it is going to be a very entertaining affair. Remember though that we still have one game in hand. I believe Arsenal are playing better than Liverpool currently, but if you beat us on the 31st then pressure might have an effect on our players, and you might edge it in the end because of your experience.
Phenn: Arsenal since it's all we have on our plate now and I believe we're a better team.
Lev: Im expecting Arsenal to take it, due to the fact that we hold quite a good position to do so at the moment. A L'pool win against us will make it interesting, anything else than im 100% we will take it.
Lagos Gooner: We are both equally consistent in our inconsistency. Toss a coin! - Although I hope it’s us, if only to say we have statistically improved in the League this season
Awooga83: I think we will shade it i believe your involvement may just divert your attention somewhat and leave us free to get the points needed while you will drops the odd points here or there although i don't think will steamroller it with the form we are in at the moment.
Gunners_Nadz: It's a shame really, as we should be racing for First instead of Third but the bloody Mancs bagged that one in. It's still possible for us to finish 3rd place this season. we do have 1 game in hand, unless we screwed that one, so yeah, I'm favouring for us for the 3rd place at the end of the season.
Qs: Obviously us. Your league form is average and if Adebayor can find his shooting boots I'm confident we will make the most of our lead and our game in hand.
Drthorne1: I think we might just sneak it.
Tony Montana: Arsenal. Does it really matter in the great scheme of thing? What's the difference?
Kanoo: It's hard to say. We have been inconsistent but not in the league in 2007 (thankfully). Apart from the Everton game, we haven't lost in the league in 2007. But then again, you guys haven't lost many games as well in 2007, apart from the Man Utd & Newcastl games.
   
If you put a gun in my head, I'll say Arsenal, but not so covincingly.
   
15. Finally… will you be cheering us on against PSV in the quarters of the Champions League?   
   
Mark: Yes. PSV don't play football. They didn't deserve to knock us out and they don't deserve to go any further playing the way they do. Hope you teach them a lesson.
RC8: I'll be cheering you on so that it is less likely that Chelsea or ManUtd can win the thing. I want Roma or Valencia to win it, but you are the only English team that I would not mind winning it. I don't know who I'd cheer if the final was AC Milan against you yet again, I mean, I hate Milan, but I'm not sure I want to see another English team winning it... whatever, I'll guess I'll support L'pool, at least that way the Mancs will be furious, which will be nice. Good luck.
Phenn: If you lot lose to them without Alex I'll laugh at you. But yes I hope you win simply because I hope Chelsea and the Mancs don't and you could play with both those teams better than an Alex-less PSV.
Lev: Yes, L'pool is the only english team i like the the European competitions this season, and i honestly believe you have a good chance to win it. Alex being out means that this should be a comfy win for you
Lagos Gooner: I’m indifferent. Put it this way I definitely want Chelsea and Manu to lose. I have no hostilities towards Liverpool, so if you guys play well then you probably might get my support
Awooga83: I wouldn't say i will be cheering you on but it would be you guys over either of the other english clubs left.
Gunners_Nadz: Sorry mate, I would say to both of the Italian Clubs Roma or AC Milan. I believe Roma can beat the living days of Mancs, as they are not good themselves in the CL campaign, and Milan to beat Bayern likewise, Bayern has not been good Die Bundesliga. but you never know what happens in football. but if we were to pick between Chelsea, Mancs and you lot. yeah, I'd take you to progress and to be fair for PSV, their best annoying player Brazilian Alex has been out to sidelines. so, pretty good Chances, but when your up on the Italian Clubs, then. Cest La vie.
Qs: No. I cheered ye in Istanbul and all me Pool mates throw back in my face far too regularly. Be better than United or Chelsea winning it I suppose.
Drthorne1: Of course I will "Come on you Reds"
Tony Montana: No. It was unbearable reading the scoreline on skysports when you won 2-1 at the Nou Camp. I didn't watch the game as I KNEW you would win. Bastards. You beat the team we lost to in the CL final. Gutted. You'll beat PSV, the team we couldn't score against this year (and that goal was an own goal at the Emirates). It's really annoying all the English teams still in the European Cup this year. I don't mind where they get to as long as they don't win it. Hopefully in this round they'll all get knocked out but I doubt it. We didn't even smell the European Cup til last year and Liverpool winning it 6 times will do my head in.
Kanoo: I'll be a mutual fan. I really want PSV to get trashed by someone. But at the same time, I wouldn't want to see Liverpool go all the way to the final and win (again) the very thing that we've crazed for so long. I think you guys should be really pumped up after dumping Barcelona out. You really have a chance but we're just so dissappointed that we're not apart of it anymore.

Thank you to the guys over at Arsenal-Mania for taking the time to answer our questions once again. You have been a great help.

© gramck 2007



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