Arsenal back in form and back in fourth

Arsenal back in form and back in fourth

Eboue celebrates his goalBack on the 23rd of February, with Arsenal struggling to score and sitting 6 points behind Aston Villa, I made the following statement:

“Once we break our 0-0 rut, which is nothing more than an excruciating novelty, we will be fine. Our defence looks strong and so does our goalkeeper. Van Persie again looked sharp, Bendtner is improving while Arshavin is more than capable of playing as well as he did against Sunderland in future games. Eduardo is back and Theo Walcott is on his way. We will start to score – it’s not a hope but a formality.

Arsenal’s next six Premier League games are three home contests against Fulham, Blackburn and Manchester City and three away trips to West Brom, Newcastle and Wigan. Aston Villa, on the other hand, host Stoke, Tottenham and FA Cup conquerors Everton and have to travel to Manchester twice and play Liverpool at Anfield. They will drop points. We’re likely to drop some too, but some quick maths indicate to me that we’ll be at least level with Villa by the second week of April.”

Astonishingly, our 4-0 defeat of Blackburn coupled with Villa’s overnight loss to Tottenham (!) means we’re already fourth, a full two weeks ahead of the date that I predicted.  Our superior goal difference means that although both Villa and Arsenal have collected 52 points it is our boys and not the team from Birmingham who sit snugly in the final Champions League place.

The manner in which we dispatched of Blackburn was fantastic. As is the norm, Sam Allardyce sent out his team to test us physically but an Arsenal side containing the attacking quartet of Nicklas Bendtner, Andrey Arshavin, Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott was too hot to handle. Our boys played with pace and power – something that has been missing with the likes of Walcott unavailable and Arshavin struggling for fitness – and it was a joy to watch.

Wenger’s starting team was spot on. Taking the opportunity to rest Robin van Persie, William Gallas and Abou Diaby after the draining experience in Rome, the manager relied on his faith in Bendtner, Johan Djourou and Alex Song to fill in the gaps and none of them let him down. Indeed, with the exception of Arshavin and ascintillating Walcott, the aforementioned trio were the most important contributors to a comfortable victory – providing a strong spine down the middle of the pitch that has often been missing this season.

There will be undoubtedly be people who criticise Bendtner for his inability to score any of the numerous opportunities he created, but there is also no denying that the Dane’s all-action display allowed the smaller, pacier players around him to flourish. It was his endeavour up front that allowed Wenger to administer a 4-5-1 so successfully and I think the manager was right to focus on the Dane’s touch and movement than his inability to finish in his post-match press conference.

While the Dane performed admirably it was Arshavin and Walcott who were the real stars of the show. The pair combined to open the scoring in just the 2nd minute, forcing Andre Ooijer into an own-goal, while Arshavin added a second with a beautifully-crafted individual effort. Set free on the left by Denilson’s pass the Russian skipped past Danny Simpson before lifting the ball over Paul Robinson from the narrowest of angles. A simply sublime goal and very much like this one (1:48 min into the clip) scored for Russia during qualification for Euro 2008.

Meanwhile Walcott caused Blackburn trouble all afternoon with his phenomenal pace and direct running. Although his touch was a little inconsisten at times the sheer panic his speed and unpredictability caused the Blackburn defence was thrilling. That Stephen Warnock, Blackburn’s captain and left-back on the day, was pulled off on 55 minutes awas a compliment to Walcott’s performance. Looking retrospectively at things, we’ve certainly missed him.

Arshavin capped off his contribution late on when his fierce shot was parried into the path of substitute Emmanuel Eboue, who duly tapped home. The Ivorian celebrated his goal with a ridiculous dance – understandable really, given the season he’s had and the painful lack of goals he has provided over the years – before embracing his Russian teammate. Unbelievably, Eboue had a second minutes later when fellow subsitute Carlos Vela won a late penalty and the craziest man in the squad decided he would take the kick. A fine kick it was too, adding the icing to a delicious afternoon cake.

While it’s important not to get too carried away things, it would also be criminal to downplay our undeniable return to form. The arrival of Arshavin has had an impact as has the return of Walcott, while the recent improvement of Alex Song means that things are looking more solid in the middle of the park. We seem to have that cutting edge back to our play and given the quality of players still to return from injury – Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Emmanuel Adebayor – I see no reason why we can’t hold on to fourth spot and push for silverware in the FA Cup and Champions League.

We’re back, make no mistake, and it feels bloody good.

Have your say on Arsenal’s delightful win over Blackburn by leaving a comment.

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95 Responses to “Arsenal back in form and back in fourth”

  1. Darragh
    March 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    Great analysis SF. I agree with all your sentiments. Bit puzzled why Eboue took the penalty..but who should complain when it results in a goal?

    Bendtner was a bit off, but I still think he is more useful up front than Adebayor is!

    2 weeks til Rosicky is back…but with the form of Nasri and Ashavin, I’d say it will be hard for him to press for a start! And same goes for Adebayor.

  2. Spanish Fry
    March 16, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    @ Darragh – Thanks mate. Nasri and Arshavin are certainly in excellent form, and Wenger’s 4-5-1 formation is working really well. Given the players we have on our books, I think 4-5-1 is the way to go to accomodate the return of Cesc. We look far more impressive with a number of players floating in and around the striker – in this case Bendtner – and I hope that continues.

  3. Swift
    March 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    Great to see Arshavin score, hes been knocking on the door for a few games now and to see him score is excellent. could have had 2 or 3 as well, the set-up that Arshavin provided for Eboue’s first goal was great.

    Seems we are back to our slick passing game, the passing between the Defence and Midfield was brilliant at times lacking in the basic mistakes, misplaced passes etc that were made earlier in the season during our really bad run. I put this down to Denilson and Song in particular maturing which is great. No youngsters make the Arsenal first team without a whole heap of talent and its great to see these two finally realize this. and they are only 20/21, no other top four teams have consistantly played such young players week in week out which will only aid their development in the long term.

    Interesting to see if those negative posters even make a return calling for Wenger to be sacked a few months ago ever return etc, I guess when we go on our next bad run. Almunia has been in really good form too, so that should hush Ramugunner a bit I hope 😀

  4. Spanish Fry
    March 16, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    @ Swift – Hahah @ Rumugunner. Poor fella!

    The speed and movement was excellent and we haven’t had the players capable of doing this for a while. Bendtner and RVP are not in that category and I think having both players in at the same time does slow things down. With Arshavin, Nasri, Walcott and even Song pushing forward we looked very dangerous.

  5. ramps
    March 16, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Why is no one talking about how great Denilson played????? I have not seen a better passing game from an Arsenal midfielder since Fabregas against A.C Milan

  6. Spanish Fry
    March 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    @ ramps – I have to admit that Denilson flew under my radar a bit. I probably noticed Song and the wingers a little more than Denilson. I’ll keep an eye out in the next game for him.

  7. True gunner
    March 16, 2009 at 3:40 pm #

    That is what Arsenal should be performing like!!! Fantastic and we are certainly back. Song you finally got the defense splitting passes right and with that we shall win. Once again Song you have got those passes right. You are already gifted with accurate pin-point passing so if you apply that in the defense splitting passes then you are going to be difficult to avoid in the starting line-up.Also i have to commend ur gud ability in the air. You are short but you beat several taller players of Blackburn in the air!!! Walcott, nasri and Arshavin, that was fabulous!! Beyond words. very good to have made Eboue take penalty so that he can get the feel of scoring and do it more often. Even for penalty takers we shall be able to select the composed players from a variety of players. Otherwise bravo the entire team . Keep doing that.

  8. Shard
    March 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

    I have to hold my hand up and say you got that right SF.. I was worried a few weeks ago but we’re back in 4th n villa seem to be struggling for form.. Let’s just hope the team continues its rise. The crazy thing is if we win just 8 games, 3 in the FA cup n 5 in the champions league, we end up with a cup double this season.(aah the up n down emotions of a football fan..)
    League still a priority though with man u ,liverpool, n chelsea still to play.

  9. Shard
    March 16, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

    And a word on bendtner.. I think its quite stupid and frankly very annoying the way fans get on his back..They got after him even before he had the bad misses n that may even have caused him to miss the easier chances that came later..
    If it were RVP who’d missed the chances( and perhaps even the later ones) i’m sure the fans would have been singing his name..
    Bendtner played well against blackburn n tried hard.

  10. Spanish Fry
    March 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    @ Shard – Yeah it was disappointing. The interesting thing about Bendtner is that I don’t think he’s a player that relies on confidence as much as others. Those misses won’t phase him in the slightest and he’s just as likely to come out and score in the next game as he would be had a got a goal or two.

  11. gradew
    March 16, 2009 at 5:01 pm #

    Bentner will be the top striker, if he keeps on improving. He is very very better than Ade.

  12. staslohness
    March 16, 2009 at 5:01 pm #

    Congratulations, comrades=0)) with first ArshaWin goal and tremendous win over Blackburn!! Hope will overcome Newcastle next weekend, while Villa visiting Liverpool and we’ll secure the 4th place=)

  13. Gibbs
    March 16, 2009 at 5:04 pm #

    Great analysis of tqe game SF.

    I agree with most of the things said. I also want to add the fact that Denilson was great, he played the Gilberto role as an ‘invisible wall’ covering the defense. His interceptions and passes were spot on. Bendy positions himself perfectly as a lone striker (better than RvP), but he is unfortunately let down by his finishing, work on that and this lad will be one classy striker. Nasri, Arshavin and Theo were simply brilliant and Arsha is the best player in the EPL surely, he is just sublime. Great performance all round, im happy with the team.

  14. Gibbs
    March 16, 2009 at 5:12 pm #

    Oh, Diouf is a twit btw.

  15. Gibbs
    March 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm #

    And ive noticed Eboue is being dubbed the African Messi. Lol

  16. Alex Chui
    March 16, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    well,a great weekend ,its been.Now thats what i call vintage arsenal,i mean a 4-0 score and so many wasted chances(Bendtner).Song was on song,arshavin is just ridiculously good,walcott was a tormentor,we really did miss him.I agree Bendtner excels as a lone striker and yea he is better than adebayor!but he needs to work on his confidence,he’s just too wasteful.Denilson is yet to convince me,i mean he is supposed to be Brazilian!Overall good work

  17. Spanish Fry
    March 16, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

    @ Gibbs – Diouf is indeed a twit. I completely forgot to mention him. For what it’s worth, I thought he should have been red-carded. Almost another Eduardo situation and he’s inexplicably doing to get away with it.

  18. Hans
    March 16, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    If this is what we can do with Walcott not nearly at his best, possibly only at 60% and an ever improving Russian cavalry, plus the ever improving Bendtner, we shall be riding high. Astone Villa will drop to where they belong, somewhere near Spurs, with Everton in 5th, well below us. When Bendner learns to take one extra second in execution and begins to take his chances he can be the leagues top scorer. His ability to be in the right place at the right time is uncanny. He is also more than prepared to come back and fetch if necessary.
    Well done to our boys, we’re nearly back on track. I see no reason why we’ll not lift the FA Cup.

  19. Gozza
    March 16, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    Go’ on arsenal!!!!!!!!!!

  20. butterfingers
    March 16, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    Yeah all you almunia haters leave him alone as jens would of got sent off for sure in that tussle with dickouf. Almunia pulled off a couple of nice saves, denilson looked good, sharva was awesome and bendter worked harder than heavy pockets ade. The returning players (bar cesc) will have to work hard to get back into the team and will we see ramsey or bischoff again this season is another thing?

  21. butterfingers
    March 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm #

    Also wtf was pederson diving like that for? Has he been watching eboue in training? A red card or ban should be coming I think.

  22. Gibbs
    March 16, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    @ butterfingers

    That dive was the worst ive ever seen. Blackburn was just dirty, and it seemed to me like Fat Sam gave his players specific instructions to go for our player’s ankles. Diouf on Almunia, Andrei needing stitches at half time, when Theo went down in the box. And Dirty Sam trying to justify his player’s actions is just pathetic. They must be banned, but the FA is toothless they wont do a thing.

  23. drew10
    March 16, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    Fat Sam sent his team out to kick us as always but we passed and ran his idiot players ragged.

    It was a joy to watch and Walcott hopefully is now proving all the idiots wrong who said he was rubbish.

    Speaking of idiots I was saying that I didn’t think Song was up to the job just yet, but in his last 2 games he has really stepped up a level. Shows what I know!! Good on the lad, I do actually want everyone of our boys to succeed.

  24. Spanish Fry
    March 16, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    @ drew10 – Glad to hear Song has turned your head.

  25. drew10
    March 16, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    Spanish Fry, He has shown that he has much more to his game in the last few performances, producing telling passes and being in the right place at the right time to intercept the ball on numerous occasions.

    Fair play to the lad he is young as is Denilson but both of them look like they have strong futures at Arsenal.

    When you look at the difference confidence has made in some of these youngsters you wonder why some fans ever think it is a good idea to get on the back of players, rather than supporting them through thick and thin.

    And before anyone says I was on Songs back, I never ever did anything than support him at matches as I do anyone who wears the red and white!!

  26. Spanish Fry
    March 16, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    @ drew10 – Well said my good man.

  27. Panda Bear
    March 16, 2009 at 6:36 pm #

    The only dissapointing part of Arshavin’s goal was the lack of his customary celebration… I expected him to run down to the other end of the field to the opposition supporters and shoosh them….

  28. AR
    March 16, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

    @ ramps – I did notice the great passing of Denilson. He should have the ‘pass master’ nick name, not Eboue, lol.

  29. Martyn Linkin
    March 16, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    Tis really good to see that we are back to our winning ways ..but then once again our season will be judged at the end not right now … much as am excited and all about the way we won we should not forget what is realistically true and can happen we could still end up in 5th place with no trophy and den our full season would be a shambles… Tabloids in England would have a melee of us and would have a field day running headlines of speculations that Adebayor and Cesc plus Robin are leaving ….the supporters would turn against Wengers kid project and would in due turn be frustrated with his whole project that’s not bearing fruit. Lets not be like the kids way back when the season started…they had a good run and all of a sudden gat a lot of praise and it started getting to their heads and then what happened? The results of that are why Aston Villa have spent quite a good chunk of time in F

  30. ib
    March 16, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

    song is improving so is deni.nasri n walc are superb.bendy will score goals.then with fab,rosicky n ade coming back,there will be enough competition for starting shirts.meanwhile man u fumbled n who said they can’t go on a bad run?everything is possible.winning the epl,cl n fa cup is a possibility.any douting thomas out there?

  31. Joe McDonagh
    March 16, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

    Everton fan here, just wondering who you think is going to win the league this year?

  32. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    A weekend to savour definitely! Generally a great performance by the lads, and I would agree with most of your summing up SF. Hang on a minute though- I know you’ve always got a downer on Eboue and you think the sun shines out of Bendtner’s arse, but how can you say that there’s been “a painful lack of goals” from the right back-cum-midfielder Eboue and then sing the praises of a centre forward who can’t hit a donkey’s arse with a banjo? Unfair in the extreme!
    I’ve ben a constant critic of Nik, but I’m big enough to admit that some of it was harsh. Saturday summed him up pretty well. His movement off the ball was superb, the timing of his runs impeccable. He’s finally started to go diagonally as he drops off defenders, so drawing them out of position and creating space behind him. It’s obviously these qualities that Wenger sees in training and what gives him confidence in the Dane’s ability. HOWEVER, his first touch still needs lots of work (against Roma it was awful, on Saturday, to be fair, it was better), and his finishing is still DIRE. OK, so it didn’t matter on Saturday, as the midfielders did the business, but we can’t be in the situation where our leader of the line misses 3 gult-edged sitters every game. Yes, he’s improving and that’s great. Yes, with hard work and a lot more composure, he could become a great player, but I cannot agree with summing up that he was one of the stars at the weekend. On the subject of the crowd getting on his back- I’ve heard a lot of people complaining in the ground near me that it pisses them off no end when he misses a sitter, then turns away grinning like a cheshire cat. I think it’s embarrassment and disbelief, coupled with his renowned self confidence, but it gives the impression (wrongly, I believe), that he couldn’t give a shit. Play it down the middle, SF and treat Bendtner and Eboue with equal scrutiny.
    That said, I agree that we’re now in pole position for 4th. It’s in our own hands now. We desperately need to be clinical in our next 3 or 4 games and get some daylight between us and Villa. We’ll both drop points between now and the end of the season, so we need to get ahead to give us a bit of a cushion.
    Great to see Spurs win- not often I think that!

  33. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 7:53 pm #

    @ Joe McDonagh – Gotta be Man U mate, one crap home performance doesn’t change the fact that they’re streets ahead of everyone else. Hope your boys do us a favour in your game with Villa coming up.

  34. Joe McDonagh
    March 16, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    @Fatboy, hope we do ourselves a favour that last gasp Van Persie equaliser at Goodison is vital now! Yeah I would think United although I would love to see anyone else win but them or at least a closer title run in. By the way, if Arsenal could buy one player to improve the team who would it be and why?

  35. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    We haven’t had an established defensive midfielder all season. Denilson has played there, although he doesn’t have the bite needed, then Song’s taken over. He’s a great prospect, and I can see him becoming a good DM, but he’s a long wat from being the finished article. We apparently came close to signing Alonso in the summer, but the deal went sour when Gareth Barry stayed at Villa. I’d have loved to see Alonso partnering Febregas in the centre of our midfield, as they did so successfully for Spain in the euros. You never know, if Liverpool go back in for Barry, it might yet happen.

  36. Joe McDonagh
    March 16, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    Must admit I think Vilarreal’s Senna would be perfect for arsenal in the Defensive Midfield role not only does it tackle well but also can play a bit of football too, he was my player of the euros….. I have been very impressed with Clichy and Sagna and Eduardo is just fantastic the goal in the cup against Cardiff was amazing… Whats the story with Wenger is he defo going to stay at arsenal, I heard Arsenal might be struggling for cash next season taking into account that the Highbury Apartments aren’t selling too well, do you think he will stay or would you rather him to go and mourihno come in lol

  37. Falklands Gooner
    March 16, 2009 at 8:53 pm #

    Hello all.

    What a great weekend!? Man Utd getting thumped at home, Villa losing at home and us strolling into 4th.

    Well chuffed with both the display and the result. It was also great to see Arshavin running the show.

    The only negative thing I would say is that it is very noticeable that a lot of fans and waiting to get on someones back at all times it seems. I think the stick Denilson has been getting from some fans this year has been ridiculous and personally I think he’s come a long way. Of course Bendtner has his faults, they were pretty well highlighted at the weekend (!) but he also has enormous potential, something else which seemed pretty clear from his performance.

    All in all, a good performance, I just wish that all of us could just enjoy it rather than sniping at the players. Eboue, Song, Denilson and Bendtner have all taken flack this year. Whilst Eboue is far from my favourite player he has looked ok in recent weeks and the improvement of the other three on last season is clear.

  38. TT
    March 16, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    Denilson was totally fantastic against Blackburn. He will be even better alongside Fabregas. Song was alright, but I dislike him getting more praise than the near-perfect Denilson.

  39. Joe McDonagh
    March 16, 2009 at 9:06 pm #

    Why is Eboue got so much stick from the Arsenal fans he is a right back after all, surely not a right winger despite his two goals on Saturday, he seems to be the most hated arsenal player amongst the arsenal fans or is this being too harsh?

  40. Dally
    March 16, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

    @Fatboy

    If we had signed Alonso not only would it have been a wonderful partnership with Cesc but also I can’t see Alonso taking out his own team mate so he wouldn’t have got injured!!!
    In the end it may be good because it has given the lad a well deserved rest.

    Brilliant result last night, it only seems a few weeks ago when we were looking at being 8 points behind AV and now we are ahead on goal difference. A good result tomorrow night and another on Saturday and we could be 3 points ahead by the end of the weekend.

  41. Panda Bear
    March 16, 2009 at 9:10 pm #

    @Joe, he’s done a lot of stupid shit and shown a great deal of petulance in his time… I like him, and have a signed photo of him on my wall. 🙂

  42. Falklands Gooner
    March 16, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    Eboue….where do I start without becoming one of those fans I was just complaining about?

    He’s a diver…he loses his head and makes stupid challenges…he seems to lack common sense…he seems (Until recent weeks) to panic when he gets a clear sight of goal…etc etc.

    Most of what it boils down to though to be fair (For me anyway) is that he is a right back playing right wing, where he really is not very good.

    The thing is, I want him to do well, and it’s not his fault he has been played out of position. I think part of it is frustation that he has been our best option (In Wengers eyes) at right midfield when Theo’s been out and that doesn’t reflect well on our squad.

  43. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 9:20 pm #

    @ Falklands Gooner – I think it’s the diving that annoys me the most. He’s been a good servant to the club, and has been happy to play in a variety of positions. He doesn’t whinge when he’s on the bench, and he’s got good ability. He does do idiotic things (like getting sent off for no reason at Tottenham) and he’s not the best finisher, but you’re right- he’s a right back after all. The diving would disappear if Wenger had a word, so I suppose that’s down to the manager.

  44. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    @ Joe McDonagh – I agree Senna would be good buy for us. No, Wenger’s not going anywhere. Where would he go? His track record suggests he doesn’t like the big egos, so I can’t see Real, Barca etc appealing too much. He’s so infuential at Arsenal; he’s completely re-modelled the club since he arrived, from re-building the training ground to helping design the new stadium. I can see him staying as manager for another 5 years or so, then moving up to the boardroom.

  45. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    And there’s no way the old school tie brigade who run Arsenal could cope with Mourinho… they’d have a coronary!

  46. Spanish Fry
    March 16, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    @ Fatboy – I see what you’re saying about Eboue and Bendtner, but I don’t think I’m biased towards one and opposing towards the other.

    I don’t think anyone could deny that Eboue has been lacking in the goals department over the two seasons he’s played as a right winger. Sure, it’s a new position, but four goals in two seasons is pretty dire. Add to that the fact that, quite frankly, he’s acted like a real dickhead over the past few months and I think it’s fair to be a little harsh. I don’t think three goals and a few undoubtedly strong supporters should change the fans opinion of his, just as I wouldn’t expect a player who puts in a few bad ones to be rubbished. Eboue still has a long way to go to get back to normal in my opinion, although I’m hardly going to rubbish him when he plays well.

    As for Bendtner, I guess I felt the need to defend him today because of the stick the fans gave him. Had I let it go I feel there was a pretty good chance of him being rubbished in the comments and I wanted to avoid that. I certainly don’t think the ‘sun shines out of his arse’ but I do think he has been putting a great deal of effort this season, especially over the past few months. Again, I felt the need to focus on his ability to create chances rather than his taking of them because I think that at this stage of his career it’s far more important.

    In summary, I think I give every player a pretty fair go on this blog. Eboue has pushed me about as far as an Arsenal player ever will and as a result I am unavoidably going to be quicker to judge him than others. But that’s not to say I won’t acknowledge him when he does well as well.

    I hope that’s enough. Cheers again for your wonderful, thoughtful comments. They are a joy to respond to.

  47. Mimi Wenu
    March 16, 2009 at 9:42 pm #

    SF excellent analysis as ever.I agree it was a splendid weekend indeed.I and other arsenal fans (must have been a ratio of 5:1 arsenal:ManU by my estimation) first watched the ManUseless thumping before the close to vintage arsenal performance 20 minutes later.Personally I think the dane was key to the spaces created for the other players to score of course playing a major role in the first goal.And as someone said a good striker is a greedy one.More often than not he’ll find the bag of the net on a good day.
    I also think speed is very critical to our style of play:it unsettles defences and teams that park the bus; it produces goals and its delightful to watch.If we can learn to get the ball into the final third as fast as we were doing on Saturday then three quarters of our problems will be more or less solved.That was the hallmark of the great arsenal sides in the years gone by.Counter-attacks used to be so fast and many a time produced goals.

  48. Falklands Gooner
    March 16, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

    Fatboy, that might be true but I think a shake up of the board at some point in the near future might not abe a bad thing.

    When you have a member of the board refer to an American Businessman and say that “We don’t need his money and we don’t want his sort”. At best that could be seen and incredibly snobbish, at worst downright racist. I don’t want anyone else taking over either, but you shouldn’t refer to people as ‘His Sort’ in this day and age.

    Whilst we have to keep the traditions of the club alive they can’t cling to their Victorian ideals forever.

  49. Jacobs Femi
    March 16, 2009 at 9:52 pm #

    I have always said that, benching Van Persy will do the mirracle. Our opponents are confused and dont know who is the threath and then Ashavin surprised them.

    The next match, let VanP come in at second half and you will see again. I am quite surprised at why Eboue is treated differently from Bendtner. Bendtner is the worst striker of the season.

    What type of pass does a striker need to score? how on eart can he be compaired to
    Adebayor? I still see people saying that he is good while we hate Eboue. Eboue is far better to Bendtner.

  50. Ezra
    March 16, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    What are you talkin about Fatboy! If you haven’t realised Arsene has just embraced the fact that Denilson is a far better DM to push Song and Diaby ahead of him in 8. He has been employing Song on the left zone and Deni on the right thus restricting their movements thats what AC Milan did in some game against Pompey but now has trusted Deny 2 cover the back 4 giving Song free movement ahead. You just review the matches where where both Song and Deny are playing you will pick it out, its that simple.

  51. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 10:07 pm #

    @ SF – a pleasure sparring with you as usual, my friend! I guess you and I will just have to agree to disagree about Bendtner to an extent. I concede he’s improving all the time- his runs at the weekend were timed to perfection, and he does cause problems thru’ the middle when leading the line, unlike RvP, who tends to drift out wide. I’m no great fan of Eboue; he has his limitations, but I felt duty bound to show some support for the lad who, like Nendtner, has been good over the last few weeks.

    @ Falklands Gooner – you’re spot on about the board being Victorian. I think it was a sad day when David Dein left. He may have been a slippery bugger, but he was gooner thru’ and thru’ and he was very influential in all kinds of ways. I’m torn on whether a rich investor is what the club needs. We keep being told that the revenue from the new stadium is all we need to compete financially with the big boys, but the really big signings have yet to materialise. I’m all for Wenger developing youth, but I still feel we need to sign 1 experienced, quality player per year, as Man U, Barca Real etc all do.
    What do others think? Is it time to take the money from a Stan Kronke, or can we compete without it?

  52. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 10:15 pm #

    @ Ezra – Gotta disagree with you there mate. How often have you seen Denilson playing deeper than Song? It’s Song who protects the back 4, Denilson who probes forward. When Denilson and Diaby have played together, it’s been Deni who holds and Diaby who goes forward. Denilson has played both holding and attacking central midfield this term. My point was that in my opinion, neither is the finished DM article. We’ve been blessed with some world class DM’s in the recent past (Vieira, Gilberto) and we’ve missed that security this year. Take a look at the Tottenham game at the Emirates. Time and again they surged forward thru’ the middle, taking long range shots from 30 yards or so. We had no-one there to break up the attacks at source. 3 of their 4 goals came about because of this. The home defeat by Villa was the same. They played 4-5-1, and Agbonlahor roasted us thru’ the middle. Again, no-one to get their foot in early. Song will become a good DM and he’s improving all the time. Denilson is a Fab understudy.

  53. Jacobs Femi
    March 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm #

    My big prediction is that Arsenal is winning Champions League.
    and may also win FA. It is going to be a miracle but God will do it.

    Only that Adebayor should be more proactive in decision making in front of goal.

    When Liverpool defeated Chelsea we followed suit and beat Chelsea. Now that Liverpool has defeated ManU at home. We are also going to defeat ManU in their home.

    The only unsettled score is with Liverpool which, if Rosisky comes back before then, Rosisky, Nasri, VanP and Arshavin should show Liverpool that we can also play hot and accurate shots.

    Let us defeat Hull tomorrow and go ahead to win chelsea for silver ware.

    Cheers Gunners – am proud to be a gunner

  54. C-Bass
    March 16, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    Eboue is a strange case for me. As much as he makes a buffoon of himself I desperately want to see him succeed. The same thing with big Nik. It’s almost like rooting for the underdog.

    As for the game it showed what we can do. Arshavin is looking like quite a good buy at 16 million. I just can’t help but think what could happen when our captain returns from injury and…. *in a whisper voice* Rosicky finally is cleared to play.

  55. Falklands Gooner
    March 16, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    It’s a bit of a mixture of the two for me. I accept that to compete with the big boys we possibly need the financial clout a new investor but I don’t want us selling our soul like Man City and Chavski have.

    The big money comes with big risks, if Abramovic ever loses interest and sells them off then Chelsea will go bust with their wage demands etc. The Glazer brothers have run up big debts getting Man Utd and now are ina position where they could bleed them dry. Apparently they’re big stakeholders in some of the American firms which have just gone but so watch this space.

    I love the fact that we promote from within and have youngsters coming through the ranks, but truth be told, if you want to win the title you need to be able to spend pretty big throughout the squad.

    I think it’ll be a few years yet before we really see dividends from the stadium, and as for the sale of the Highbury flats, they couldn’t have happened at a worst time really could they?

  56. Ezra
    March 16, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    Fatboy what about that last game who was in the defensive role, i could have bet to deny playing behind song like gilberto deny went forward when needed be playing some wonderful passes confusing us to be a creative midfielder.

  57. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    @ Ezra – Do you mean Blackburn? Song was definitely playing in a more withdrawn role than Denilson. Sure, there was some interchanging, as you would expect in any game, but Song was there to protect the back 4.

  58. enemyairships
    March 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    What are people’s opinions on Almunia these days? I think he’s a pretty solid keeper, and he’s not had half the calamities that Lehmann used to conjure up every other week.

    I can’t wait for a return of Fabregas now, what a powerful midfield. I’m well happy to see us back in the zone. I think trophies may just be beyond our reach this year, but at least we wont embarrass ourselves as I’d anticipated a few weeks ago after all the 0-0 draws.

  59. Gibbs
    March 16, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    @ enemyairships

    Almunia has improved a lot lately. He is better than most GKs in the EPL at the moment, including Reina. The fact that we’ve only conceded 5 goals in the last 16 games proves that he is one of the best in the EPL.

  60. Gibbs
    March 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm #

    But i have to disagree with you about winning a trophy this season. We have already beaten all the teams remaining in the FA cup this season, i cant find a reason why we wont be able to beat them again.

  61. Joe McDonagh
    March 16, 2009 at 11:12 pm #

    Ok so my question to all u arsenal fans is which would you like to see leave the club first, Alumnia, Bendtner or Eboue –

  62. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    @ enemyairships – I think Almunia’s improved a lot this term. He’s not in the same league as Seaman, and frankly, I don’t think he’s as reliable as Lehman from a goalkeeping point of view- Jens was a top keeper. However, you never knew what mad thing Lehman would do next, and Almunia won’t spend half the season suspended. Other teams had Lehman’s dodgy temperament sussed, and used to target him at corners. He’d react every time. Almunia’s far more laid back. He has it in him to be a really good keeper.

    @ Gibbs – I’m with you mate about possibly winning the FA cup. We’ve nothing to fear there. I can see us coming up against Man U in the final. The CL final will have been played 3 days earlier in Rome, and try as I might, I just don’t think we’ll have been a part of that. Man U, however, may well have been. It might be this that may prove decisive.

  63. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 11:19 pm #

    @ Joe McDonagh – you’re certainly putting the cat amongst the pidgeons mate! You’ve seen I’m no Bendtner fan earlier, but on balance, it’s got to be Eboue. Almunia’s becoming a better keeper and there’s more to come with Bendtner (even though he’s not developing as fast as we’d hoped). I fear Eboue’s as good as he’s ever going to be.

  64. Joe McDonagh
    March 16, 2009 at 11:27 pm #

    even though im no arsenal fan, i think ur probably right, bendtner will be good he was good for birmingham in the championship when they came up. I just wonder about Almunia, I thought he was brutal in the shoot out and if you ask me I think Arsenal would have a really good shout at a league if;
    1. You kept ur players injury free
    2. Bought a defensive midfielder, keeper and tall centre back

  65. Joe McDonagh
    March 16, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    Oh and the 3rd point, get ur captain sorted – Cesc is amazing but he is no captain is he, in the role of the likes of Tony Adams I mean and in my opinion every team needs a captain like that along with a number of other natural leaders on the pitch

  66. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 11:33 pm #

    @ Joe McDonagh – OK, so what’s a realistic target for you boys this season? Can you overhaul Villa for 5th? Can you beat Man U in the cup semi-final?

  67. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 11:34 pm #

    I think the jury’s still out on Cesc as a captain. He’s no Adams, but then who is? He’s better than Henry was that’s for sure.

  68. Berrern
    March 16, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    Another setback for Rosicky… It’s only another two weeks, but still… Unbelievable how many times he’s been supposed to come back, only to hit another setback.

    http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11670_5058451,00.html

  69. Joe McDonagh
    March 16, 2009 at 11:48 pm #

    @Fatboy, yeah I am genuinely glad we drew United in the semi, cause if your going to win the cup what better way to do it – beat united to knock them out of the running for their precious 4 or 5 trophies (it would be beautiful! I am also hoping that they have a big champions league match either the wednesday before or after the semi (plus we beat them in the 95 cup final and they stopped us doing the treble in the 85 cup , so there is history there)….. Yeah I am by no means giving up on fourth, I know you guys will have a laugh at that but….. we are not in Europe (as arsenal are) and have an ok run of fixtures away to villa, chelsea and fulham are the tough ones.. realistically it probably will boil down to fifth but its not impossible to get fourth…. Arsenal seem to be coming into form at the moment though, so….. i’d go for the gunners, us and villa

  70. Joe McDonagh
    March 16, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    As for Cesc, he is great but look at the great teams that have won leagues / champions leagues and you have to say they have had captains who have been mountains, Adams, Bruce, Keane, Terry etc… so thats why I think its so important, who was the Arsenal captain in the invincibles team? Viera?

  71. Fatboy
    March 16, 2009 at 11:59 pm #

    Vieira yeah. Not all great captains are vocal or fist-clenchers. Look at Bobby Moore for the greatest example (showing me age there!).
    You’ve got work to do to finish 4th I think, but Villa are certainly there for the taking.
    I’d love to see you beat Man U, and anything’s possible in a one-off cup game.
    It’s good to see Everton back up there- your manager’s done a fantastic job with no money to spend. And he’s done it playing decent football too.

  72. Joe McDonagh
    March 17, 2009 at 12:13 am #

    Yeah I agree with ur point that they dont have to be fist clenchers although it helps I think… Bobby Moore was amazing – amazing ability but did he have some fist clenchers on that team with him???? Moyes is man as far as I am concerned and I cant heap enough praise on him, unlike Benitez, he buys really wisely with the little money he has got, and I can only say that Shandy Van Der Myde has been disappointing…. he has made a real team out of everton, its a pity arteta and the yak isnt around for the united game but hey im sure they will give it a good go…. By the way thinking of coming over to london in November or December how much is a ticket to an Arsenal match and where is the best place to get them from?

  73. jay-jay
    March 17, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    Why did Eboue take the penalty, Im happy cause it went in but Nasri, Arshavin? Why did Eboue take it. Great performance from the lads and with Villa playing Liverpool next week, who have equally found form destroying both Madrid and Man Utd 4-0 and 4-1 respectively, I feel Villa will drop more points, we have a trip to Newcastle, who have been playing good football but not getting results, Its a game we have been dropping points from and we also play late which we dont normally play well in but with the club booming in confidence, and the chance the establish a 3 point lead over Villa, I feel we can get the job done.

  74. Gibbs
    March 17, 2009 at 12:56 am #

    Eboue kicked the pen b/c he wanted to. He asked if he could take it and they let him.

  75. enemyairships
    March 17, 2009 at 1:10 am #

    Yeah, I’m starting to rate Almunia more and more, and it’s great because he’s such an underdog. All this talk about Cesc as captain is bewildering too. He’s had a very busy summer and was then the one player who seemed to make every team selection no matter what. I think his time out of the team will do him a world of good as now we might not be perceived so much as a one-man team.

    We’ve had our failings in the midfield in his absence and he is a creative mastermind, but now that there is hopefully less pressure on him to perform miracles, I hope he can turn into a leader of men. I mean, he has an abundance of experience already. Champions league final, European Cup winner, he’s probably the most experienced player on the team and he is universally respected too. I think he’ll turn into a great captain!

  76. Fatboy
    March 17, 2009 at 1:27 am #

    @ Joe McDonagh – Arsenal tickets are like rocking horse shit mate. If you find one, you’ll pay the earth. Look me up on this blog when you’re ready to come up to town, I’ll see if I can help you out. Off to work now, been nice talkin to you.

  77. GetGunMN
    March 17, 2009 at 1:41 am #

    One important aspect of this game was the fact that the firt goal came in so early. This could have turned out to be similar to the previous games as the others for the teams that sit deep and in numbers just to frustrate Arsenal. Once the first goal goes in you can even see the players relax and do what they do best. Pass those immobile thugs into submission.

  78. TayGoon
    March 17, 2009 at 2:16 am #

    I must admit that if I were not at work, I would have been drunk by now and it is not noon yet in the eastern US! Some of the talk here really get me depressed!(lie). The notion that we have to buy, and buy big to win is pretty much *&*^$* in my opinion and it to come up when the boys are doing such a wonderfull job is just amazing. We already have a selection dilema upfront and in the midfield even though we still have our 2 best midfielders yet to come back, and 2 top strikers still out. Alonso is an attacking MF and I don’t think buying another attacking MF will solve anything in team with Arshavin, Rosicky, Cesc, Nasri, Diaby, Denilson and a host of others, who can’t be accommodated week-in, week-out. Although some may not have been convinced by Denilson(for whatever reason,as long as it is because he is not named “Flamini” running around in a number 16 shirt). Give credit where credit is due. The boy has done very well. Song too. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Diaby primary role was/is a holding player/DM. I don’t think we want to be like everyone else so I find the notion “All great teams that win…. has this and that” We are Arsenal, we thrive in innovation and do things differently, without which the English game would have been totally different from what it is right now. We set the tone in a new direction and others follow! so it is not incoceivable that maybe one day we will have a CM as a stand in Goalkeeper(not really but you get my point) There are teams in the relegation whereabouts that has spent us massively, shooting down the notion that you have to buy to succeed.

    @Joe McDonagh; I fancy you guys to end up 5th ahead of Villa. I predicted in January that We will be ahead of them by the end of Feb, and went on a limb that it could even be when they faced Chelsea. I was 2 – 3 weeks too optimistic, hence I think me and SF need to get a bit more realistic from both perspectives(joke). But I also said when their balloon hits the first blade of grass, and reality sink in, they are going to go into a free fall. So far they are in a bad run, but their balloon hasn’t burst yet. It WILL iwithin the next 2 – 3 weeks and by then Everton will be ahead of them. Then we will see a kind of free-fall not seen since Leeds, and it may go on to next season. O’Neal is getting too carried away by the hype and accolades given him by the media by having a “very english” side, to the point he is benching his best striker for Heskey who has never set anything on fire anywhere, just because he is english, Carew is left to pick splinters fron you know what. That is in my opinion, the undoing of their season. Not many good things have gone Villa’s way since Heskey arrived!

  79. MoMONEY
    March 17, 2009 at 2:44 am #

    Its a shame really. Diouf was incredible for Senegal in 2002. Too bad he is insane.

    And I move to make “African Messi” the official nickname of Eboue…

  80. TayGoon
    March 17, 2009 at 2:52 am #

    Anyone remembers RVP’s goal last season that was simmilar to Arshavin’s, from the right side with his chocolate leg? I will post the link if I find it.

  81. TayGoon
    March 17, 2009 at 3:11 am #

    I stand corrected. RVP had a better angle against inter. The one from a tight angle like Arshavin’s was saved.

  82. MoMONEY
    March 17, 2009 at 4:53 am #

    Id much rather see Everton in Europe then Villa. Obviously not at our expense but they are a much classier team and organization… Shame Arteta went down…

  83. enemyairships
    March 17, 2009 at 7:31 am #

    In an ideal world, both Villa and Everton would be in the top three, along with Arsenal. Teams that run their clubs as intelligent and respectable businesses always deserve to do well more than those who have a revolving door for managers and more debt than some third world countries.

    I’m much happier seeing them both do well, I’m only frustrated that it’s at the expense of Arsenal instead of the Chelsea Pensioners.

  84. Spanish Fry
    March 17, 2009 at 7:58 am #

    @ enemyairships – I agree about having Villa and Everton up there. If we weren’t battling with them I’d be going for them over Liverpool/Chelsea for the other spots.

    Also, how’s your blog going? Haven’t checked it out in a while. Still writing phenomenally insightful posts? 🙂

  85. ramugunner
    March 17, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    It feels great that we are currently placed in 4th place ahead of Villa in goal diff. I had to attend a high level managerial meeting for my Motel(Ramada) for last few days. Just after Roma win. Good job done for fabulous Gunners who outsang Romans. We were lucky in Olimpico but who cares. We are through. Diaby was our best player in Rome. Sagna also for defending Vucinic well.Thanks Tonnetto and Baptista.

    I was at the Blackburn game last Saturday. I felt very sad for Bendtner who tried his best, hold the ball well, got into good positions but couldn’t finish. I didn’t hear any booing when he was taken off though. He was actually clapped. Wenger tried to convince him in press match conference. I rate the kid more than Bayor’.

    Arshavin is true class player. Lesson we got is that if you want quality player, you have to pay quality price. 17 million is looking more than resonable price now. If signing Arshavin proved to be the difference between Champions league qualification then he is worth single penny of 17 million. I am so glad to have him at Arsenal.. Signing Arshavin is the best thing Arsene has done this season When we have Cesc and Rosicky to join the elite group of Arshavin, Walcott and Nasri who is gonna stop us.

    I am mentioning for the first time that I was really pleased with Song’s performance lately. He was solid against Blackburn and Cardiff. Exceptional against Burnley. I will not carried away and start considering him Essien Esque because he has never performed against a top notch midfield. People will say he was so good in African’s cup but we have to consider that he never faced a solid midfield player in that tournament. Whenever he performs like Burnley game in a champions league match or against players like Essien/Hargreves/Mascherano, then I will accept that he has potential. Flamini did that last season by neutralising best player in the world in Kaka. And many other strong midfield’s. Song has never performed in a high level game. He was not trusted to start in Rome.

    By admitting he is in good form I would not be carried away. Almunia has been solid not spectacular for last few months. I had to laugh watching Almunia who didn’t bother to dive in penalty shootout. He didn’t move at all for 3 penalties. Anyway, he saved Vucinic without moving. Good lob.

    Oh Torres again… Terrorising Madrid and the best Defense in Europe. Watch Mr. Bayor’. Poor Vidic.

    Thanks Villa but no thanks Spuds. I couldn’t celebrate them winning for good reasons. I hate ’em that much. But I had to celebrate Stock’s equaliser.

    Still, We are in 4th place; 13 points behind ManYoo who have a game in hand. I am not delighted. Spuds can be delighted with such position in league, not Arsenal. Lately, we are winning with goals and good football which is fantastic. But no place for Lunatic delusion. We can talk about Song’s improvement, Eboue’s revival and Almunia’s solidity but it will be nothing but hot air untill we have win a trophy. We have a chance but the question is can we dispatch United and Chelsea in FA cup? Can we go all the way in Champions league where there are many teams far better than Arsenal team. Can we?

    I have no answers. I will be a happy Gunner if we win a cup and guarantee the 4th place.

  86. Spanish Fry
    March 17, 2009 at 8:43 am #

    @ ramugunner – Some good points, but you continue to be a little harsh on our players. I don’t think anyone is getting carried away with Song – it’s just that he’s showing signs that he’s improving of late.

    Again, more comments on Almunia not being up to scratch (when will you quit on this?). I don’t understand the notion of him being criticised for not diving. Players often go down the middle and that’s what Almunia was gambling on. It worked with Vucinic and I actually think Montella would have gone down the middle too but he was just a bit too clever at the last second. He didn’t not dive, he chose to stay put. What’s to criticise?

    I don’t think anyone is getting as carried away as you think we are, it’s just we’ve had precious little to celebrate this season and now we’re finally in fourth and in two quarter-finals. What’s not to celebrate? Sure, it will all be hot air until we win something, but that’s not to say we can’t enjoy watching football and enjoying the good performances and goals we’re scoring in the meantime.

  87. ramugunner
    March 17, 2009 at 9:07 am #

    Thanks Spanish for calling me a poor fella. I might not run an Arsenal blog like you do but I am a ST holder for Arsenal’s home games. I have supported the club longer than you have done. Thanks for being nice. I know most of you guys in this blog has never seen the face of Emirates but I respect your opinions. Not with few deluded fella’s.

    By the way, I am a busy man. Enrolled in Master’s of CIS and with a top managerial job. I might not be able to visit this blog regularly but I visit Emiartes very often.

    Swift; Almunia hasn’t done that much before I start rating him. I must admit he is improving a lot though. I ain’t hashing bro to let you know. Like I said, Untill we win a trophy, we can talk whatever we want about having ‘great potential’ and ‘improvement’ but it will just be a ‘hot air’. If you guys are satisfied being 13 points behind Manyoo who have a game in hand, I don’t have to be necessarily. That’s the difference. I demand more of my team. I ain’t a spuds fan.

  88. ramugunner
    March 17, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    There’s lot to celebrate. After Arshavin signing, I have become more interested in watching games. Can’t wait for City game when I can watch Cesc again with my eyes.

    Night everyone…

  89. Spanish Fry
    March 17, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    @ ramugunner – I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic but I certainly mean no offence by saying ‘poor fella’. And I can’t deny you’ve supported the club longer than I. I’m not in any way trying to make fun of you – just that I think sometimes I feel you’re overly harsh on our players and I like to contest it.

  90. enemyairships
    March 17, 2009 at 9:47 am #

    The site is going…er… slowly because I got cut off the internet for not paying a bill. Whoops! Hopefully I’m back on track now, but am still learning. Appreciating the community of regulars you have here as well, some interesting characters to say the least!

    Keep up the good work Mr. Fry!

  91. MoMONEY
    March 17, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    ramugunner we disagree some times but I agree with what you have said. I dont think Almunia is world class by any means but he is sufficient/ above average. Sure I would love an upgrade but if he has a leadership role in the club he is worth holding on to.

    And I agree with Bendtner. Not sure what Adebayor offers us that he does or wont in a year or two. Sell Ade por favor. Wish we had last year.

    And I would like to reiterate- I want Man United in the next round of CL

  92. MoMONEY
    March 17, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    And regarding Fernando Torres- That is what class looks like. Bring in his compatriot please

  93. onyeagwu tony
    March 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

    Is really nice to see Arsenal come back in a very long time,sure villa won,t see our back anymore

  94. Dally
    March 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm #

    Hopefully Arshavin will be pronounced fit for tonights game, he has had 8 stitches, 4 more than was identified on Saturday. It may be sore but I feel he will play. It will round off a great week if we beet Hull tonight. A trip to Wembley, It is an amazing stadium, went there to watch Yeovil, who are my local team get beaten by Blackpool in the Div 1 play off final.

  95. Blessed
    March 24, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    the boys are now showing me the reason i support arsenal, ‘camps’ cup is our this time. our camp is full and fine at the right time

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