Arsenal vs Leeds, match 1 of 2.

January 10, 2011 8 Comments by Sian

Arsenal had been knocked out of the FA Cup by March last year, which is when I started blogging, so this is my first FA Cup post ever! Applause, confetti, party hats, streamers, etc!

Pity it was a draw then. Boo, hiss, veils, organ music, etc!

Wenger said that of all the outcomes we could have had against Leeds at the Emirates on Saturday, a draw was the second worst result we could have ended up with, obviously behind a straight forward knock-out. I fear he was merely underestimating the terrible consequences we could have faced in the event of a natural disaster or the reappearance of King Kong and his bitey ways, but whatever.

Given it was a draw with no goals from open play, it was actually a bloody sight more interesting than the last match we played against Manchester Bus. Our strongest side was not played, with Jack Wilshere and Samir Nasri rested (or is he injured too?) and Bacary Sagna, of course, suspended. We still started with Chamakh, Bendtner and Arshavin though, so you would have thought we’d have been a little less frustrating than we were.

But oh my goodness gracious me, were we ever frustrating.

We, once again, dominated play early on and made some good attempts on goal but nothing to really worry any of the travelling 9,000 fans. Who were great, by the way. Really loud, but at times a bit difficult to understand given the clash in accent…. a problem we’re not used to when playing the likes ot Chelsea, Tottenham, Fulham or Manchester United.

Oh no she didn’t!

Before the match I’d been told we were supposed to hate Leeds United. I only really remember them from around the 2000 mark and beyond, when the likes of Mark Viduka and Robbie Keane were playing for them, but I hear we have a long history against them or something. This is when being a 21-year-old blogger has its difficulties you see. Anyway, I was born up there somewhere, so have always thought fondly of both them and Harrogate Town and thus hate them I did not.

Was a bit bloody annoyed with them when they kept playing well though. Leeds are currently fifth in the Championship and in with a shout of a play-off place or more, so they weren’t a side to be underestimated. Nevertheless we arrived at half time with a deadlock, with Arsenal probably just about edging it.

Unfortunately, in the 54th minute Denilson broke that deadlock by gifting Leeds a penalty which Robert Snodgrass put away in spite of Wooja-Wooja Shush-nush getting a touch to it. With thirty-five minutes left to play, Arsenal needed to make some changes or risk being slung out of the FA Cup in the first match we’d played in. Eek.

Less than five minutes later Cescito replaced Alex Song, who is currently channeling his inner Abel Xavier, and immediately made a difference. It must be said that after Leeds’s penalty the only one I saw on the pitch trying to keep spirits up was Szczesny, the 20-year-old goalkeeper who stands up the end of the pitch away from play most of the time. I love Cesc to the power of a thousand but if he ever leaves us we can rest safe in the knowledge that along with Thomas Vermaelen and Jack Wilshere, we have one hell of a future captain in the form of Szczesny.

With Cesc on board the good ship Try-To-Win, we looked a lot better with lots of great football going on but still not very much goal action. It’s fair to say our striking force was still in bed yesterday. Arshavin had a pretty bad day, but none of them were exactly brilliant.

Bendtner had a great first half, especially being played out of position on the wing, and I noticed he was defending more than usual, no? In the second half he wasn’t good and missed plenty of chances, he and Arshavin failing to link up more often than not.

Anyway, it looked like we were going out of the cup as quickly as the teabag of a person who likes their tea weak, before we were finally awarded a penalty in the 89th minute. Cesc stepped up to take it in the same goal he took the one against Barcelona and banged it right home. We’d had an earlier call for a penalty where Theo went down in the box, which he later admitted was a dive. This may have been a silly thing to say and I don’t quite know why he did it but at least he’s English, so should get away with it just fine!

So it ended 1-1 and with a replay scheduled for the 18th January at Elland Road. Not ideal, given our already clogged schedule, but better that than being knocked out.

UPDATED: Whoops, no it isn’t! Leeds United vs Arsenal will now be played Weds 19th January (still 2011 though). KO 8pm GMT, ITV1.

No one was exceptionally good yesterday, except Johan Djourou who bafflingly got rated a six in today’s Sunday Mirror versus the rest of the team’s seven. I do think it’s unfair to lay all of the blame at only one member of the team’s door, though. Not least because Nick’s door would have to be about four foot taller than Arshavin’s. And it’s difficult to make doors unless you have any door-making knowledge, you see.

I know we all have our favourites. I could almost run the Nicklas Bendtner Fan Club single-handedly, while others think Arshavin can do no wrong. Sometimes, though, we allow our love of individual players to cloud our vision.

Nicklas missed a lot of chances yesterday, but those calling for him to be sold are bang out of order. Chamakh also started yesterday, and I thought he was utterly anonymous for the most part. Yet, I saw no criticism for him, whilst Nicklas was absolutely battered.

Fellow Twitterer @bonjourtani made some excellent points in her mini-rant about the double-standards of many Arsenal fans yesterday. So often are we fast to over-criticise one player, while letting others get away with murder. 

Here are some of her examples:

“Nicky plays shit, he has to be sold. Cham plays like shit, oh it’s okay he’s new.”

“Samir isn’t active in the game, oh it’s an off day. Shava doing the same, he should be sold that lazy Russian.”

“Clichy has bad performance, talks of him being sold is high. Clichy has a good performance, nothing said.”

They’re all completely true. ”Oh, but Chamakh is new!”… er, new to football? “But Nicklas should shut up and stop blowing his own trumpet”… how many of you read headlines and don’t bother to watch his interviews? Many of you, I’ll bet. He’s confident, big tragedy. Would you prefer a cowering, kitten-like striker up-front? Or someone who didn’t keep going throughout the match in spite of missing more than a couple of good chances? Then those blasting Bendtner for being over-confident go on to defend Arshavin for lacking the confidence to be effective at the moment.

Are you making a “Duh!” noise right now as well? I refuse to criticise one player alone because if anyone can learn anything from this sport it is that a team performance is lasting, while an individual performance is more often than not a one-off. Arshavin was off the pace yesterday, but his assists this season show you how much he does for the team. If he is lacking confidence, the only thing I can see that will fix it is more playing time. And if you watch Arsenal you know that he is one of those players who can suddenly turn a game no matter how badly he appears to have been playing.

Bendtner was Barn-Door Bendtner yesterday but his head didn’t drop at any point. Last season he kept us in so many games, he’s been out injured a lot this season and is currently being played out of position. And yesterday, Chamakh was no better, in my opinion. And I love Chamakh, I just don’t see why Bendtner should have to shoulder more of the blame than anyone else.

So, we have another match to play. It’s rubbish, but you gotta do whatcha gotta do. We have Ipswich Town on Wednesday, West Ham the following Saturday, then Leeds again and finally another home match in Wigan Athletic.

We are also the only side in England who could still go on to win the FA Cup, the Premiership, the Carling Cup and the Champions League. Some may say those of us who believe this are deluded, I say we just believe in the team (yes, TEAM) that we have.

Well done to Leeds and well done to Sanchez Watt for not celebrating Leeds’s goal yesterday. See you up north!


  1. Treez
    2475 days ago

    Very entertaining – and unlike theSunday Mirror’s reporter, I know you actually watched the game.

    My take on the draw was that Arsene’s team choice was iffy. Bentner is pointless on the right and Chamakh was way too slow.

    Cesc definitely made a difference when he came on but by then we were a goal down.

    I think Johan Djourou was our MOTM and is a legend in waiting.

    Like you, I thought the Leeds fans’ support was great – made us sound very puny. It’s time there were signs above the turnstiles – ‘If you aren’t prepared to make a noise, don’t come in.’

    Love your positivity – wish I had as much.


  2. Alan
    2475 days ago

    You’ve done it again, bird. Spot on with your observations. I too get a bit pissed off with the anti-NB52 brigade when there is a certain little Russian who gets away with murder (e.g. lack of effort, pointless little flicks which give the ball away, slowness to react…). Anyway, we’re still in it and I hope we can stay in it like the teabag of someone who likes their tea stewed to buggery and back (Love the simile).


  3. irishgray
    2475 days ago

    Nicely put all round Sian. I have to admit to being one of those “deluded” Arsenal fans, happily so in fact, but there was definitely something disjointed about the team. Fair enough its our “B” team and what not but still, I expected a bit more fluidity. As for NB52, I think he is a great striker in the making and will only get better. Did you see his cheeky step-over and flick just inside the box? If that shot had gone in I bet every Arsenal fan would want him played on the wing!! Anyhow roll on Ipswich and fingers Xed a nice big win just like the Chavs COYG :)


  4. 1NilToTheArsenal
    2475 days ago

    Another nice one from our future journalist, and this basically sums it up for me:
    “But oh my goodness gracious me, were we ever frustrating.”
    It’s at these points in the season when I like to invoke the words of the great hall-of-fame New York Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez of the 1940s. His gift for throwing a baseball was matched only by his humility and wit when he used to say, “I’d rather be lucky than good”.
    LOL, 1NTTA


  5. karki
    2475 days ago

    u’ve been writing for 1 yr and this is the first one i read ,, i’m glad it’s nt 2 or 3 yrs ,, at the same time not so glad for i missed ur 1 yr’s genuine analyses ,, and u’re only 21 ,, tht’s brilliant for ur age ,, I didnt get the chance to watch the match ,, neither had i read any match report because i was travelling ,, but dear ,, i got everything i wanted in it ,, u certainly are a good journalist making ,, just pure serene journalism ,, my type of thinking u’ve got .. Great work n Good luck Siany ^^


    • sianyr
      2475 days ago

      @karki Thanks for the lovely comment and thanks for reading! Hopefully there will be plenty more to come.


  6. Sebinho9
    2475 days ago

    Great blog as usual Sian. I do agree that certain fans are too quick to jump on the Bendtner bandwagon, however I think criticism on Saturday was wholly justified. He has to back up his words with performances. I think his eye is off the ball recently, what with becoming a Da and all. Hopefully the real NB52 will stand up soon (NB26?!).
    Arshavin needs to work harder in training. I swear he is still unfit. Denilson needs to sort his positional play. He’s neither here nor there and Chamakh had nobody to work with when both “wings” came inside and Denilson stayed deep.

    Keep up the good work. Much love.



  7. Uncle K
    2475 days ago

    A very insightful analysis.our kid.The teabag gag goes back to our Wrexham debacle some years back.Thanks
    for clearing up the pronunciation of our keeper’s name!
    ps Did you know that in Polish Scrabble,Z is worth one
    point? Personne ne peut tout savoir.


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