Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dennis's testimonial review.

Hope you all had fun if you went yesterday. I couldn't get to the game but managed to catch it on C5.

'Twas, as almost all testimonials are, a strange game(s), yet one which seemed to be full of warmth, and rightly focused on honouring and celebrating Dennis's career, which was the most important thing.

The first half consisted of an Arsenal XI of players who, basically, hadn't gone to the world cup. However, it was still of interest as the Ajax team facing them were no mugs and contained several of their first team. Flamini did his usual huffing and puffing, but unfortunately had little end result to his efforts. Song remains an enigma. He seems to stroll through the game at a pretty comfortable pace, and then struggle to fnd players with even simple passes. A moment which seemed to sum up his maddening performance was when he lost the ball through trying to play a ball to someone about five yards away, but then ran back and won the ball back. I really don't know what to make of him. Cygan made an awesome tackle, but the Ajax goal saw him and Connolly split in two. Marty Poom finally got a game - and proceeded to handle the ball about five yards outside the box at one point. heh. Aliadiere and Bendtner didn't really set the game alight either and the best player of the first period for us was, rather inevitably, Al Hleb. He was caught in possession a few times, but only due to a complete lack of options. At other points he seemed to be the only player on the field with any ingenuity and inventiveness. At times he remineded me of a younger Dennis. The only other player who really caught my eye was Traore at L-B who had an excellent game. He's very young but I think he has a definite future with us.

Second half and the greats were rolled out. And not just on the Arsenal side. It was a far more entertaining game, even if the pace, inevitably, dipped somewhat. Seeing Paddy back in an Arsenal shirt was a little too emotional. Most of us accept that his transfer was, rationally, the right move, but at an emotional level, I think most of us also wanted to see him finish up his career with us. Other than Paddy, I particularly enjoyed seeing Ray Parlour, Marc Overmars and the entire back 5 [almost] back where they belong. Seeing Nutty scythe his way through an Ajax 'great' brought back a few memories.

It was great to see not just the obvious greats, but also players like, the legendary, Oleg Luzhny, who now seems to weigh about 40 stone, and Glenn 'I still can't cross the ball' Helder.

Yet the best moment of the entire game came from Gilles 'legend' Grimandi. Edgar Davids had been put through and seemed certain to score. So Gilles blatantly scythed him down. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard. I think that should be shown on the big screens at the Emirates before every game. If anyone has a youtube clip let me know.

Thierry effortlessly outplayed everyone on the pitch, and it was fitting he should score the first Arsenal goal at the Emirates, after scoring the last one at Ashburton. Dennis had a golden opportunity to score at the end, but the keeper blocked it. When will these keepers learn? I remember at the Keown testimonial Robert Green saved Martin's penalty. It's their testimonial! Let them score!!!!

I also thought that the appearance of Van Basten and Johann Cruyff highlighted just what stature Dennis is held in - especially in the Netherlands. He's certianly one of the best players in their history, as well as ours, if two of the greatest players of the twentieth century are willing to turn out to respect him on his retirement.

The only sour note of the game, for me, was the absence of Tony Adams. Now I don't want to unfairly criticise him, and his reasons for not attending the match may be entirely valid. But he wasn't there at Martin's testimonial, or, indeed, at the last game at Highbury. I think there are unresolved issues with him and the club, which is souring his post-career relationship with us.

One last thing - for those of you who didn't watch it on C5 - you missed out on a, largely unintentional, comedy-fest. As in when Edu came on and everyone went Edoooooo, and John Barnes said ' I don't understand why they're booing Edu'. I waited for him to say the same thing with Kanu, but i hope he realised his mistake. Or when they asked Arsene why Davids was playing and Arsene said 'Ajax picked him to play, not us'. Or having Winterburn commentate on the first half, and then go and get changed to play in the second. Priceless.

But overall, a great day, and one in which Dennis was fittingly honoured. I can't wait to get into the Emirates as well, which should only be a few weeks away now...


Anonymous said...

The match also served one purpose - to confirm what most people already suspect - that the squad just isn't deep enough.

Is it me, or do many of our back up players have the air of accidents waiting to happen - Cygan, Song, Hoyte, Almunia, Flamini (in midfield anyway) Smith and Aliadiere?

Even, the legends look like they would have comfortably beaten the stiffs.

Whatever you think - 1 in, 3 out last summer and the same again this year isn't a good strategy for closing a 20 plus points gap.

Have to say though, Traore looked an excellent prospect. Good news, as having used 8 left-backs last season, he might be needed.

Anonymous said...

We need 2 defenders that is for sure. Arsene needs to splash some cash before the seasons starts or we will struggle to finish in the top 6.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed the same about the lack of Adams. It is indeed a real shame. He only got a passing mention at the last game at Highbury (& obviously didnt attend).

Even if he does has a beef with the club he should have been big enough to put it aside for the Testimonials.

Adams needs to come back into the fold, so that his legacy can stay in tact.

gazzap said...

I think adams and wenger dont really see eye to eye. I seem to remember Adams saying a couple of things publicly about team selection and wenger did not take it well. I think adams still wants to be par tof it all but is waiting for AW to move on. to be blunt he will be waITING A long time and I'd rather have wenger!

yesterdays result was PERFECT. our first ever game at highbury in 1913 ended 2-1 to use with Leicester Fosse scoring the first goal. its a lovely bit of symmetry that links to our past. of course Henry scoring the first goal was great and he flew back from his holiday just to make sure he was the first! great man.

I agree about our reserves. while there were many weak ones I think there are also players who are almost ready...Bentdner, Muamba, Traore spring to mind and there are others who looks like they could make it but need a bit more time like Connoly, Larsson and Lupoli.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, gazzap. He has complimented Wenger, but they always seemed to be made in a sort of backhanded way. It may have to do with Wenger not offering him a coaching position, especially now as Martin is on the staff. But if so, he surely could have been a bigger man - it was about Bergy and not Wenger after all. Hope it was a more benign reason such as duties with Portsmouth. And in any case, if he wants to one day be Arsenal manager, his absence won't help that.

Never doubted Henry. He's made no bones about how much he feels he owes to Dennis. I was struck upon reading Dennis' words about the importance of eye contact with remembering how often Henry's angry gesticulations are just about that - look up, look at my eyes!

GG's tackle was priceless, but his little look and shrug to Seaman afterwards was even better. F*cking hilarious. BTW, probably already seen Goonerboy, but Arseblogger has a clip up.

Anonymous said...

Great send-off for Dennis and lovely to see Cruyff running about like an elderly elephant.
Some of our kids' performances were worrying though.

Excellent: Traore.
Good: Hleb, Cygan, Muamba, Ryan Smith.
Fairly bad: everyone else, especially Song.

I used to think Song got too much stick - he had a couple of reasonable games last season - but since Saturday I have to admit he looks dire. Can anyone understand what Wenger sees in him? The Song-bashing is tedious, but I'd be interested if someone could show me his promising points. Wenger isn't that often wrong, especially not about midfielders.

Looks like we're going to have to improve pretty sharpish with a Champion's League qualifier less than two weeks away. OK, it was a testimonial but compared to the last one - Keown's, when the 20-year-old Reyes couldn't stop scoring - it left me wondering whether any of the young players will be good enough to step up this season. I had the same thought after Barnet, where it was obvious that Hoyte, Aliadiere, Bendtner and co were all trying their hardest, playing flat out for their contracts, but were mostly pretty dismal against a very poor team. How many will Wenger be off-loading next month? I hope we at least keep Lupoli, Muamba and Ryan Smith and can get a fair price for the ones we let go. Can't see anyone buying Aliadiere, however.

God, I hope the Ashley move is settled this week. I'm really really sick of it.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the best part of the game was gilles grimandi's 'tackle' on that cheating spud scumbag. relive the moment over & over again here: