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[Archived] Arsenal 6 Rovers 2


Modi

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Hello there fellow Rovers.

Christmas is mere days away and so is Rover’s first trip to the impressive new Emirates stadium. Unfortunately for us fans, there’s not as much festive around at the moment as we’d like with just 19 points from 17 games. The match at Reading may have lifted spirits, but let’s face it, things have to start getting better soon. We can’t continue to be a second half team, otherwise we’ll come across a team that might bury us within the first 45.

Anyway, enough preamble: on with the show.

As a special treat for being very good this year (or, if you prefer for being naughty boys and girls it’s a punishment) you get two previews for the price of one. The first is a traditional brfcs style build-up, including a Q&A with a couple of Gooners. The other is a twist on old tale of ghosts and redemption which seems rather apt for Rovers season so far…

THE CLUB

Arsenal started the season poorly, picking up just 2 points from their opening 3 games. They then beat Man Utd at Old Trafford that kick started 5 straight league wins. Of the other ‘Big Four’ clubs they’ve beaten Liverpool and drawn with Chelsea.

Goals haven’t been a problem for the Gunners so far, with 29 goals in 18 games (only United have scored more) and defensively only United (again) and Chelsea have been stronger. It’s fair to say that Arsene Wenger looks like he’s remodelling his team successfully in all departments – just look at the back 4 against Chelsea which was the clubs youngest ever defensively line up.

However, there might be something amiss with Arsenal in the Premiership still – losses away to three teams they would expect to beat (West Ham, Fulham and Bolton) suggest something isn’t quite gelling on their travels. To add to Arsene Wenger’s problems, they had to come from a 2 goal deficit at the Emirates against Portsmouth.

All that said, they have risen steadily up the table to rest in 4th prior to the Rovers match. Parallel to the league performance, Arsenal have navigated through to the knock-out phase of the Champions League; although the closing part of the match of Porto wasn’t one to excite either the hardened fan nor the neutral.

THE STADIUM

After over 90 years at Highbury, steeped in history and an away end entrance under someone’s bedroom, the north London club moved to a brand spanking new home at the start of the season.

IPB Image

the mightly impressive new Emirates stadium

For anyone travelling by train into Kings Cross, the majestic rise of Ashburton Grove, or as it was swiftly sponsored, the Emirates Stadium, was a sight to behold. Built in around 2½ years, the new 60,000 seater stadium is a lesson on how construction of sporting venues should be run. One hopes that the Olympic planners look at this project rather than the fiasco of Wembley for their inspiration.

I loved Highbury as a ground, and will miss it’s quaint charm and the almost surreal setting. Yet I can’t wait to get to the Emirates – it just seems to be so good. In fact, when I flew with Emirates, I even watched a video on the construction of the stadium. I can’t think I’d do that for many buildings!

For some Gooners though, the bigger pitch and the more expansive setting hasn’t been an asset as yet. After 9 home league matches, they’ve won just 4 matches – the worst return in the last 5 seasons.

THE HISTORY

Rovers recent form away form against Arsenal doesn’t make pleasant reading. Not a goal has been scored in the last 3 visits to London, and indeed up until Pedersen’s winner at Ewood in February, Rovers had failed to score in the previous 5 league meetings, all of which were losses.

The last Rover to score away against Arsenal was Dwight Yorke, way back in October 2002, when Blackburn won 2-1, Edu scoring both the other goals.

Other notable matches up in the last few years include the 4-0 Rovers win in the League Cup run of 2001/02 (a game in which Mark Hughes scored) and the infamous FA Cup semi-final of 2005 when Andy Todd may or may not have decided to decapitate Robin van Persie.

THE PLAYERS

Arsenal has an abundance of talent, but as have been hinted at above, they are possibly a team in transition with a higher than expected quota of young players. And with the departure of Ashley Cole in the summer, there’s not one English player who would be considered a regular first team starter, although one person has started appearing regularly from the bench…

Theo Walcott … despite looking uncannily like he’s an Auton from ‘Doctor Who’, young Theo is starting to mold himself into a Premiership player with 15 mins here and there and has appeared in over half of the Gunners games this season. He’s not yet scored a goal though, which can’t be said for…

Robin van Persie … the young Dutchman has been in fine form this season with 7 goals, of which 5 have been in the Premiership. He’s well on his way to better his previous highest tally which is helpful to Arsenal with Thierry Henry being out for a few weeks and seemingly being a strop anyway. Henry and van Persie are currently joint top goal scorers for the club, and with Henry being sidelined, he’s passed the captain’s armband onto…

Gilberto Silva … before this season I didn’t think much of the Brazilian, but he has really impressed me so far this year. A real driving force in central midfield, he seems to now be emerging as a successor to Vieira, rather than a Vieira fill in. He seems to be a decent captain too, getting involved and calming players down in some heated moments. Gilberto is also chipping with some useful goals, having scored 6 this year which is the same as…

Emmanuel Adebayor … with Henry out of the reckoning currently, the lead striker role is generally falling upon the man from Togo. Offers a different proposition up front from Arsenal, looking a bit like Kanu but with legs that go in the way he wants. Likely to be a major thorn in the side of Rovers on Saturday, as no doubt will be …

Jens Lehmann … let’s make no bones about Lehmann can be a very fine goalkeeper, but he can also as annoying as just about player in the Premiership. A failure to understand that he doesn’t have any right to a 2m exclusion around his body, makes the German get rather uppity when anyone dares to get close to him. Ladbrokes aren’t offering odds on him sustaining ‘an injury’ at some point during the match.

THE FANS

By way of explanation: when asking round about the forthcoming game, I decided to use a few football chants, considering both teams are well know for their vocal supporters. ;)

To make it more fun for you, dear reader, I’ve not bothered translating what the questions were getting at – see if you can work out what was meant. (Oh, and even I couldn’t get a question out of “Boom! Boom! Boom! Get Into ‘Em!” )

Who are ya?

Gerald Acheampong… I've been a gunner since the age of 6. Born in South London but raised in North London. I'm a Proppa Gooner! First game I ever saw was Arsenal v Leeds in 1978 we won 2 – 1.

Khalid Hamid. I'm a small businessman based in West Yorkshire and I love football. I support Arsenal as they play good football.

There’s only one….

Thierry Henry or Dennis Bergkamp. Denis was and still is a God. His sublime touch and vision is something that we in the premiership were blessed to experience. As for Henry… He is undoubtedly the finest player ever to grace Premiership pitches. A complete athlete with a gift from the gods in terms of his ability to play the game. He's in a very special bracket of players which include the likes of Garincha, Di Stefano, Maradonna, Pele, Ronaldinho..

There are many. Past Malcolm McDonald, a typical English center forward. Also past, I have to mention him – the one and only Donkey Adams! For the present, Thierry Henry because sometimes he carries the whole Arsenal team on his own!

Who’s the b*st*rd in the black?

Referees need to be held accountable for their actions just as players are for theirs. I think it is ridiculous that we do not use video technology and some touchline/goal line technology to help officials make decisions. All the other major sports seem to see the beneficial aspects of use of these technologies, its just football which is stuck in the dark ages.

Too much red tape. To many vague laws. Too inconsistent. Main problem is putting off introduction of video to clarify main decisions.

1-0 to the Arsenal…

I think that we will win 2 – 1.

I'll be happy with the 1-0 but Blackburn are a tough team. I expect the Gunners to get the three points.

Can we play you every week?

I quite like Blackburn Rovers now. However when Jack walker pumped all that money in to the club and you bought the league I wasn’t too impressed. Blackburn… the Chelsea of yester year… haha… Mark Hughes is a good manager for you boys. I think he gets a lot of stick but he does tend to get the best out of your players most of the time.

Definitely not! Roberto de Savage and the "beautiful" Tugay? No way! Tough, no nonsense in your face – image of Mark Hughes.

Savage, Savage, what’s the score?

Robbie Savage can only blame himself for the grief that he gets from fans across the country. He's actually a good player but he does have tendency to gain wings when ever anyone comes close to him or to take peoples legs away if he can’t get the ball off an opponent. Could really do with sorting his barnet out though.

I love the geezer. 100% committed, a genuine footballer. A joy to behold.

Are you watching, are you watching, are you watching Tottenham?

I always love beating Man Utd and Chelsea however nothing can surpass the smile on my face after giving Spurs a proper slap on the pitch.

Spurs is usually the easiest of them, Utd and Chelsea, but Martin Jol is trying to do a job and he's doing alright. Man Utd already done, and Chelsea hopefully. Generally these days, would prefer to beat Chelsea.

Dirty Northern B*st*rds! You dirty northern b*st*rds!

Andy Todd most bloody well did mean to elbow Van Persie. That was a nasty affair. It probably stems from the fact that Robin Van Persie played him off the park.

Andy Todd plays like only Andy Todd can play. He might have accidentally messed with the finely tuned Dutch machine.

THE PREDICTION

Arsenal will be smarting from only drawing against Portsmouth, and will be fresh from not having two games in a week for only the 5th time this season, so will no doubt come out playing high tempo stuff with a view that the Rovers game is not only winnable, it must be won.

The problem for Arsenal is that they still try too often for a ‘perfect goal’, and over elaborate when a bit of rough and tumble, get-into-em style football might be better.

That said, I can’t really see Rovers getting anything out the game. With McCarthy suspended goals are going to be hard to come by and I fear that Santa Wenger won’t be giving any gifts.

Arsenal 2 – Rovers 0

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A Rovers Christmas Carol

(Freely adapted from the works of Charles Dickens)

We join Ewooder Scrughes as he is confronted by the ghost of his old business partner, one Jackob Warely…

“But you were always a man of good business, Jackob,” faltered Scrughes.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, “Roverskind was my business! The common welfare was my business; goals, points, entertainment, and benevolence, were all my business!”

The spectre held up his arm weighed down by a hefty chain. “This chain brings me ever closer to the depths of relegation,” it wailed. “Your chain was this length many years ago Scrughes!” Scrughes shuddered and pulled his bed linen closer to his face. “Hear me, Ewooder! My time grows short on this mortal world. There is still time for you to avoid the fate that befell me and the doom that is relegation.”

Scrughes tried to smile. “You were always a good friend to me, Jackob. What is this hope that you speak of?”

The apparition rose higher and looked down on the quaking figure. “You will be haunted by three spirits.” Scrughes lost his new found enthusiasm. “Thank you, Jackob but I’d rather not.” The ghost before him let out a terrible cry, “Listen Ewooder! This is your only chance to save yourself and the club we built for so long. Accept these visits and learn from them.”

The wretched figure of the cowering Scrughes drew himself closer, and resigned to his fate closed his eyes….

The Spirit of Christmas Past

All of a sudden he was somewhere else. His grey hair was noticeably darker and his face less marked with the strain of managing a declining business. And he was with a figure, a strange shape not quite a child and not quite a man. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.” It said. “I will show you the past.”

Scrughes shuddered, “long past?” It looked at him and said, “Rovers past” and pointed down from where they stood at a pitch and one man in particular. Scrughes recognised this place! He recognised the man!

“Why, it's old Flittywig! Bless his heart; it's Flittywig playing again!'' Scrughes yelped with joy as the ball flew into the back of the net. “Oh spirit, can it really be just a few years since these happy times? When Rovers beat the Red Devils at this time of year?”

The spirit nodded and waved a hand and was gone. Scrughes found himself in another place.

The Spirit of Christmas Present

Scrughes did not immediately recognise this place, for it was somewhere he had never visited before. He looked around for a ghostly image and found none. He was in a building like nothing he’d seen, a theatre beyond his imagining, a palace he could scarcely believe.

A voice boomed out. “Come in! Come in! And behold me!” Ewooder Scrughes spun round and walked towards the doorway of the magnificent edifice. He stood in awe at the shining lights and swirling marble reflections, dazzled by the sight in front of him. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Present!” bellowed a voice. Scrughes realised that he was being addressed by not a man, but the building itself!

``You have never seen the like of me before!'' exclaimed the Spirit. ``Never,'' Scrughes made answer to it. “You are so much grander than what I’ve ever seen” he was clearly in awe. The strange building-ghost roared with laughter. “You could share in this glory but you must have the hope in your heart, my dear Ewooder!”

Scrughes shook his head and sadly said, “no Spirit, you are wrong. I am beyond hope, there is no redemption for me here. All are deserting me.”

The Spirit wearily said, “look here, Scrughes. Recall Tiny Tim. He had hope and he had bottle and he came through. There is hope for all.” Scrughes looked up thoughtfully and a flicker of recognition crossed his face and then faded. “I fear not, Spirit.” “Oh be gone with you!” the Ghost called out and Scrughes found himself somewhere else.

The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come

Scrughes was faced by a horrid vision. A figure dressed all in black with a mournful expression with deep sunken eyes in skull that had no joy or humour in it. It looked impassively at Scrughes and gave no flicker of recognition. The only hint of colour in this nightmarish vision being a slight flash of yellow - no Scrughes saw, a flash of red from one of the skeletal hands.

“I fear you more than any spectre I have seen,” said Scrughes, “what fate do you hold for me!” Scrughes was shocked to hear his own voice so demanding! The figure pointed it’s boney figure downwards.

``No, Spirit! Oh no, no!'' The finger still was there, pointing downwards. “Spirit!'' Scrughes cried, “tell me this is your view of what may be, not will be! I will be a changed man, Rovers will be a changed team! Tell me that we can escape this fate!”

The Spirit remained unmoved, bar for the ever flicking of the yellow and red in one of it’s hands. “I will prove this wrong! I will keep Christmas and the future in good health and we will not fall to oblivion!”

The End of It

There was a flash and Scrughes found himself back in his office, a new sense of hope in his heart and a new sense of purpose. “I will remember the Spirit of Christmas Past and take it’s message of success forward. I will visit the home of the Spirit of Christmas Present and emerge victorious and I will banish the terror of the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come and leap the pit of terror!”

Scrughes was proud and happy and full of joy.

He knew he needed to share this with others. He knew that together the doom could be avoided!

And as if to reaffirm his beliefs, in the distance, he could hear the unmistakeable voice of Tiny Tim saying, “God bless Rovers, Every One!”

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Nice summery there Modi and it was good to see you yesterday.

When I caught the train down to London for the Charlton game I went passed the Emirates and it looks very impressive. You also go passed Highbury and its quite sad to see it been demolised.

Its going to be a tough game and if we play anything like we did against Reading in the first half yesterday we will get crucified.

I would like to think we may come away with three points and the first team to do so in the league but I cannot see it. Would be estatic with a draw.

Prediction.

Arsenal 3 Rovers 0.

On another note does anyone know whether the Drayton Park pub allows away fans in. I was going to post something on an Arsenal board but you need to sign up.

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Our stiking lineup is going to be utterly terrible. I doubt we will try 451 again after Reading so we could well see a Nonda and Derbyshire up front.

To be honest if we can lose by no more than one goal I will see it as a positive.

If Pedersen and Bentley can knock on from Reading then we will have some goal threat. Bentley paticularly will be looking to repeat last saturday's performance.

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On paper its a seriously one sided game and no doubt one gaylord lawrenson will be predicting an Arsenal riot.

Rovers are a hated team where Arsenal are concerned becuase of the alleged roughouse tactics employed at Cardiff, added to the fact we did them at Ewood last season, added to the fact that there is history with one Chris Sutton and that equaliser added finally to the victories we have achieved at Highbury in the past 14 years.

One thing that concerns me with Arsenal is how they perform with Terry Henry especially at home and that clearly suspect defence. There is no doubt they can demolish teams with the likes of RVP, Hleb and co but for sure they are a team that can easily be rattled.

Pundits will have a field day on a goalfest for the men in red, I dont see it that way, even if Arsenal are smarting from the Pompy result.

1-1 for me :unsure:

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Can't wait for this game just before Christmas. Really want to see the new stadium.

Can't see us getting much from this game with no decent strike force to choose from. I am hoping we can contain Arsenal and keep it to 0-0.

Unfortunately I think we will try and keep everyone behind the ball which never works and we will lose a goal in about the 60th minute. From there they will score again late on as we chase the game.

2-0 to the Arse.

Can wait for for the pre-christmas meet up and a good day out.

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Well im hoping that we will come away with the points (wishfull thinking on my part) but every one seems to be thinking we are going to be destroyed ie 4-1, 5-1 and so on. Like ive said in the past it seems that when Rovers play a top 4 team we seem to step it up and play well ie Man U this year and last (twice) although we lost to them it was only by 1 goal. Now the oppisit can be said such as are wonduful showing agenst Sheffield United where my boy friedel came up huge twice but are play was way below sub par for us espitaly comeing off a 6th place finish the season prior. I think we'll be ok, lose..probley, but not an ass kickin. :brfc:

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