Reserves thrash Norwich/ Toure injured Wenger


By Ian Grant


Arsenal line-up

Thierry Henry will be back tomorrow against West Ham after recovering from a hamstring injury. Gilberto Silva is also hoping to be fit. But Lauren has been ruled out for a month with a knee injury. Jose Antonio Reyes and Cesc Fabregas are both suspended.

Dailly is out for West Ham, but Dean Ashton is in contention.

Arsenal Reserves

Arsenal Reserves made up for the away performances of the first team in a 0-5 threshing of Norwich.

Admittedly Norwich reserves were young. But there were some very good performances including MoM Tony Stokes – who has been converted to midfield. He grabbed a couple including a swerving free kick..

And Lupoli was as dangerous as ever, getting his 17th of the season. Bendtner impressed too with his close control and grabbed a goal.

Gavin Hoyte and Armand Traore also played, making their Reserve debuts in defence.

See Arsenal’s Official site

Chelsea’s farcical financial position

Arsene Wenger has attacked Chelsea’s finances. He said: “The rules should be you live within natural resources. Chelsea have no financial compulsory rules. If we lose £140m, we are bust. They can afford to make a loss if they can budget to get it back in two or three years.”

Don’t forget Arsene, political forces are at work within and without. Wigan chairman Dave Whelan is drumming up support among other Premiership clubs for a cap; and Richard Caborn is working with fellow European Sports ministers and EUFA and FIFA reps.

Winter blues

Ex-referee, Jeff Winter recalls in his book: “If you have a mass fall-out with Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool nowadays, you are probably depriving yourself of reffing their games.”

Sacked as a match assessor by the FA for publicly criticising Ferguson and Arsene Wenger – “I was told that people in high places, meaning Highbury and Old Trafford, were not happy with me, which is interesting because the worst game I ever refereed in terms of player attitudes was the fifth round of the FA Cup between Manchester United and Arsenal in 2003, parts of which were virtually unmanageable.”

In a Guardian review, he says: “The problem players are those who leave a foot in after the ball has gone, which is something Dennis Bergkamp was terrible for, or go down too easily. Danny Mills, Tomas Repka, Lee Bowyer and Gary Neville are the surly ones. There was always a snarling lack of respect with them. They were nightmares.”

Who’s The B*****d in the Black? by Jeff Winter, is published by Ebury Press at pounds 18.99.

Bentley remebered

More promising Arsenal youths leave in the transfer window, with David Bentley signing for an undisclosed fee for Blackburn.

Bentley promised a lot. But he had attitude – including criticizing Wenger for not playing him more.

Here’s an excerpt from an ANR review of his performance against van Persie in an England u-21 game against The Netherlands.

“Arsenal see the future for Bentley in the centre, ideally as a half-striker. In this game he played on the right, not his natural position. But he has great ability to make space and time for himself in tight situations, and find team-mates with a range of short or long passes.

“His longer passes are reminiscent of Dennis Bergkamp, illustrative of 3D vision, quite Beckhamesque in their foresight, but in this game, mostly along the ground.”

Owusu-Abeyie remembered

Again Owusu Abeye promised much. He has been sold to Spartak Moscow for an undisclosed fee. In his last home game he was all over the place. His confidence was shot to pieces.

Both players make way for the three imports.

Another excerpt from what probably was his best game against Everton in the Carling Cup last season: “But as at Manchester City, Osuwa Abeyie changed things when he came on. His pace and trickery put fear into the Everton defenders with very tight dribbling. His first dart through the blue ranks brought a brave save out of Richard Wright.

“His second incursion brought his first senior goal. Taking an incisive pass from Pennant, he cut inside and fired low past the ex-Arsenal man.

“The psychological balance had swung to Arsenal – who received good vocal support.

“But it was down to another Abeyie dribble through the heart of the Everton defence which lead to Lupoli hitting home.”

Kolo injures Wenger

The Daily Mail reports when Kolo Toure first arrived in 2002 and Wenger sets up an ‘ attackers against defenders’ drill. He sends Kolo in, and the African soon sets about the big men and Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp limp off.

With attackers now depleted, Wenger steps in. Kolo makes sure he leaves an impression and completes his hat-trick by bowling over the boss, who ends up in the London Colney treatment room, ice on his damaged ankle.

The paper points out Toure’s importance to the side. He last played for Arsenal in a goalless draw with Manchester United on January 3. Since then Arsenal have lost three out of six matches, been knocked out of both domestic cups and fallen four points off a Champions League qualifying place.

Toure says “It’s a difficult season. We’re not lucky when we play away, we’re not that confident. We play against some teams who come very hard on us. They give us so many kicks sometimes that it makes our game very hard to play. Sometimes they don’t come to play football, they come too hard, just to break you, not to take the ball. This is not right.”

In other news, the midfielder and Kolo’s brother, Yaya Touré has expressed a desire to play with Kolo at Arsenal. Chelsea’s Didier Drogba recommended him to Jose Mourinho but any bid from ‘them’ is unlikely.

Former Arsenal striker Kaba Diawara handed defending champions Tunisia a double whammy as they crashed to a shock 3-0 defeat to African Nations Cup Group C winners Guinea in Alexandria.

Soldier banned

A former soldier and Cardiff City fan, Stewart French, 23, who ran onto the pitch and barged into Manuel Almunia in the FA Cup Third Round tie, was banned from major matches for three years.