Garcia Makes a Meal but Arsenal Get the Dessert

By on December 20, 2009

[dailymotion id=xbkgib]

I have been through a number of blogs and reports on the Hull City match and the range of opinion has been fascinating. For me, I think this is a quality result and, despite dropping two points at Burnley in mid-week, I think we come out of the past eight days in good shape. If the table held today and we won our game-in-hand, we would be in second place ahead of United on goal differential.

It wasn’t the kind of pretty we are used to and, once again, Arsenal struggled a bit coming out of the gates. Fabregas’s 8th minute goal on Wednesday was the first time the club had scored inside the first quarter of an hour of a match all season. Yet, once again Arsenal failed to make much of anything happen in the match’s first 45 minutes. Arsenalinsider had some strong words to describe our first-half performance, but I think he goes a bit far when he says:

The first-half entertainment at the Emirates yesterday was appalling. It broke the game of football down to its simplest and barest, so low was the quality that no way could this be called a profession. For a moment it was possible to understand those wretched people who say of football, ‘it’s just a game’ because that is all it was. Aside from Denilson’s nicely bent in free-kick from 25-yards on the stroke of half-time, there was little pride or care in anything Arsenal did.

We did, after all, control the match and created one or two scoring chances, namely Samir Nasri’s shot from inside the box. But it was a rough match between two teams that obviously don’t like each other, and that, if nothing else, made it interesting to watch. The animosity finally spilled over just before the break in an incident involving Samir Nasri and Richard Garcia.

Now, I have watched the replay a dozen times. As it appears to me, Nasri clearly steps on Garcia’s foot. He does not kick out at Garcia, nor does he “deliberately and maliciously kick the back of Garcia’s ankle,” as claimed by EPL Talk. There was absolutely no “maliciousness” in it at all. That is not to say that he didn’t do it on purpose but he hardly tried to hurt Garcia any more than the dozen or so reckless tackles from Steven Hunt throughout the match.

Far more disgraceful than a little step on the foot was the way Garcia went down as if Nasri had stuck a knife in his back. My three year old has stepped on my foot harder than Nasri did to Garcia and I certainly didn’t fall down on the floor the way Garcia went down. It was just as, if not more, disgusting than Nasri’s toe-tap. But, apparently just like during open play, it seems as long as there’s even the slightest contact, it’s okay to play it up and try to deceive the referee into thinking it was worse than it really was. The saddest part is that the incident overshadowed one of Nasri’s best matches of the season so far.

Arsenal went in to the break up 1-nil on the back of Denilson’s free-kick. Like last weekend, the second half was a different story. And Abou Diaby needs to be singled out for his performance. Filling in for the injured Cesc, Diaby scored one goal and assisted on another, held possession well, and got into advanced positions regularly. Eduardo finally ended a 10-match scoring drought with a tap-in and could’ve had two had he been able to finish what was a sublime touch on the edge of the box from an Arshavin pass leaving him one-on-one with the keeper in the box. Forced to strike it with his right foot, he put it just wide.

Unlike Arsenalinsider, I do think there are good things to be taken from this match. On a freezing cold night in December, an injury-ravaged Arsenal were able to get a 3-nil win. It’s what we need to do. The Burnley trip was slightly disappointing but less so when you consider Burnley’s fabulous home record this season. Almunia made a crucial penalty save but the cloud of doubt hanging over his head cannot be chased away so easily.

On ESPN Soccernet, Kevin Palmer claimed Arsenal were a “two-man team” just like Liverpool. Even more ridiculous is the fact that his analysis came AFTER the match. Liverpool without Gerrard and Torres would’ve lost that match. Liverpool do not have players like Eduardo, Diaby, Arshavin, Walcott, or Ramsey to fill in when their two best players are missing. Arsenal secured the points despite missing their two most important players and playing their 4th-choice left-back.

Arsenal now have a week off before the Villa match which begins a run of 5 games in 14 days. In the next three weeks, we have a chance to put ourselves in a position to make the second half of the season more meaningful than it has been in recent years.


  1. Ted Harwood

    December 20, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Frankly, I’ll never understand people who complain about us having to win games when we’re not at our best, grind out results, and then when we actually do just that, suddenly it’s all rubbish. And we won 3-0. Hell, the Fulham game was much more scary than this one was, and yet people seem more down after this performance. Strange.

    I thought Song, Diaby, and Denilson were all just wonderful yesterday, quite frankly. Obviously I’d still love to have Cesc in there, because I think he sometimes sees things on the pitch that nobody else can, but those three really held it down. Losing Song might hurt a bit, but based on what I saw yesterday, I think we’ve got the guys to get it done.

    Also, re: Nasri: nobody that small should be that tenacious. Yes, the “stamp” was not legal, but for the rest of the game, he was equally dogged.

    • ArsenalStation

      December 20, 2009 at 2:11 pm

      Ted, do you think Garcia’s “reaction” was as equally appalling as Nasri’s stepping on his foot. He didn’t stamp on it or anything like that and he went down like he’d been shot by a sniper. Yet no one even acknowledges that while idiots like EPL Talk must be blind claiming he kicked him maliciously in the back of the ankle. What match were they watching?

      • Ted Harwood

        December 20, 2009 at 6:37 pm

        It was nowhere near as bad as Garcia made it look. Not even close. My comments about Nasri above, by the way, are meant positively.

  2. The Gaffer

    December 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    You’ve got to be kidding. Nasri intentionally kicked Garcia. End of story. If you get kicked it in the back of the ankle, you’ll definitely go down in pain as much as Garcia did.

    The Gaffer

    • ArsenalStation

      December 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm

      Gaffer, while I appreciate your podcasts and site, this time I have no idea what you’re talking about. First of all, I did not say that it wasn’t intentional. As stated in the article, which I am assuming you read, I’m not defending Nasri’s actions. But, watch the video again… it is clear that he steps on top of his foot. NOT the back of his ankle.


      And it was hardly malicious… certainly not more so than Steven Hunt’s half a dozen elbows and challenges. Obviously, it wasn’t an accident, but it certainly wasn’t in Mascherano’s class… perhaps, Garcia’s exaggerated reaction is what is making you think it was far worse than it was. That is the issue I was discussing, or am I not allowed to criticize the guy who had his foot stepped on? Does that make it okay for him to then cheat by trying to deceive the referee? Or the way Fagan won the throw-in from Gallas by intentionally deceiving the referee? Or the way Fagan then went down in the box with his arm around Silvestre? Fagan and Hunt’s behavior on the day overall was far more disgusting than Nasri’s. But I guess lying, deceit, and real maliciousness is no match for getting your foot stepped on. Can you seriously approve of Garcia’s histrionics? That’s no less worse for the game.

  3. willo

    December 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    The Gaffer so called cause he makes gaffes.
    Here is another.
    The Tosspot would be a better nickname for you lad.

  4. Sljiva milos

    December 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I liked this video and post.

  5. noname

    December 20, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    NAsri is stupide. How he can do this again, He escaped the first time with manu player , he got a yellow this time. The next time he will be punished with a red. he will deserved it. I don’t like stupide player who instead of putting effort on how to win the game, just loose it at the first occasion. come on he is Arsenal Player, he should not go so low.

  6. nug

    December 20, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    what’s more appalling is the response from barmby.
    swinging a hit to nasri from the back..

    simply no class at all.. that kind of attitude should be punished by the FA.

    • Samuel

      December 21, 2009 at 9:15 am

      So where was the linesman or assistant ref on that side of the pitch ,sleeping as usual ,it happens evey game with ridiculous
      offsides decisions that are so glarinlgy bad ,but the EFA carries on like Sepp Blatter saying refs are only human, and blind as well.

  7. Gaunty

    December 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    We would have lost that game last year. At long last players like denilson and diaby stepped up to the plate. Denilson made 4 crunching tackles in the second half to silence the hull bully boys.
    If we can beat Villa then really are back
    in it.

    • ArsenalStation

      December 20, 2009 at 5:58 pm

      Gaunty, we’re already “back in it.” We are only two points back of United and our game in hand is home to Bolton. And we are only 6 points back of Chelsea with the game in hand. If we remain level for the next week and then win our game in hand we will be in second place three points back. That means we have as good a chance as anyone to win the league, including Chelsea, who will then lose key players to the ACN.

      Also, Denilson’s performance was encouraging because he may be needed to cover for Song during the ACN.

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  9. Maria

    December 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Some player just don’t get it do they…….that was an EXCELLENT performance by a MF of Denilson-Song-Diaby……thus there is undue criticism had it be Rosicky-Cesc-Ramsey it would have been celebrated by the meeja and most Arsenal ‘fans’ but since these players have already been deemed not-Arsenal quality and to oforeign they will never get the credit they deserve………..but hey we WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON and they created,tackled and scored!!!!

  10. Maria

    December 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm


  11. dragz

    December 20, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    the MF trio were excellent.. that should be the highlight of the match.

    it’s a shame on denilson-diaby-eboue witch hunt.