Great Dane’s Hattrick Vitalizes Arsenal

That’s the way we gotta do it boys. Arsenal came back from losing the first leg of their round of 16 of the Champions League against Porto to pummel their opponents 5-0 at the Emirates Stadium. Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner – heavily criticised after a succession of misses in Saturday’s win against Burnley – scored twice in the first half & once in the second to wipe out the 2-1 lead Porto were protecting from the first game in Portugal.

Andrey Arshavin was instrumental in both first half goals as Bendtner added the final flourishes to Arsenal’s flowing attacking moves that enabled them to take control almost instantly. Samir Nasri, taking on Cesc Fabregas’ midfield mantle in the absence of Arsenal’s inspirational captain through injury, embarked on a weaving, angled solo run that took him past a succession of Porto defenders to score.

Substitute Emmanuel Eboue quickly added the fourth as Arsenal launched a sweeping counter-attack from a Porto corner, Arshavin again making life easy for his team-mate to go around Porto goalie Helton and score.

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Arsenal 3 Burnley 1

Arsenal defeated Burnely 3-1 last night to level on points with second-placed Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas opened the scoring when he slotted in from close range but soon afterwards he was forced off injured. Burnley equalised when David Nugent latched on to Leon Cort’s header and looped the ball over Manuel Almunia.

Theo Walcott curled in a sublime shot to ease the embarrassment of Nicklas Bendtner’s awful finishing before Andrey Arshavin rifled in a third. The result takes Arsenal to within two points of leaders Manchester United, who won at Wolves 1-0 later on Saturday. The Gunners are level on points with Chelsea but have an inferior goal difference and have played one game more than both their title rivals.

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Arsenal 3 Stoke City 1

Arsenal defeated Stoke City away but the match was marred by the horrific injury to young Welsh talent Aaron Ramsey. The Gunners midfielder’s ankle buckled under a challenge by Ryan Shawcross, who was sent off and departed in tears. Shawcross took a heavy touch and caught Ramsey just above the ankle as he stretched for the ball. The Welshman collapsed on contact and he was left writhing on the floor, with his right foot appearing to hang at an unnatural angle. Shawcross, who was later called up to the England squad, was shown a straight red card and while Ramsey received lengthy treatment, several Arsenal players looked visibly shaken.

Stoke had taken the lead when Danny Pugh headed in from Rory Delap’s long throw-in but Nicklas Bendtner levelled with a fine header back across goal. Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty before Thomas Vermaelen tapped in, as Arsenal moved to only three points off Chelsea, who lost 2-4 to Manchester City and have 61 points. Manchester United have 60 points.

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Arsenal 2 Sunderland 0

Despite struggling at times against Sunderland, Arsenal came out 2-0 winners and prepare to put the Champions League loss to Porto behind them. The Gunners wasted a series of chances before Nicklas Bendtner met Emmanuel Eboue’s cross to break the deadlock.

Arsenal sealed their win in injury time when Cesc Fabregas scored from the spot after he was fouled in the area. The winning margin should have been far greater, but the result means the Gunners’ title hopes are still very much alive despite losing to both the teams above them in recent weeks.  Manchester United’s surprise defeat by Everton earlier in the day meant the third-placed Gunners are now only two points behind the Old Trafford side, with leaders Chelsea a further four points clear.

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After The Loss

The disappointment of a loss is always there. The disappointment of losing to Manchester United is greater. Because they suck and they blow and the swallow.

Not sure if this derails our chances of winning the league but it sure is dampener onto an otherwise bright last few weeks. Losing 1-3 is not the way things were supposed to happen.

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Arsenal 4 Bolton 2

Coming back from 2 goals down, Arsenal scored 4 straight goals to beat Bolton 4-2 and temporarily go to the top of the English Premier League. Gary Cahill volleyed Bolton in front and Matthew Taylor scored from the penalty spot after a foul by Denilson.

Tomas Rosicky struck from 18 yards and Cesc Fabregas slid home a controversial equaliser, William Gallas having injured Mark Davies in the build-up. Thomas Vermaelen hit the third with his left foot before Andrey Arshavin scored after linking up with Eduardo.

Arsenal needed that 2 goal cushion to go to first place above Chelsea on goal difference. In the build-up to the goal Gallas challenged for the ball with Mark Davies – the Arsenal defender was late and caught his opponent on the ankle in what was an awful looking challenge.

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Sol Campbell To Return To Gunners

Former Arsenal star defender in the twilight of his career, Sol Campbell is set to make a surprise return to the Gunners. His signing should be completed in the next few days after he played 45 minutes for their reserves against West Ham. The 35-year-old former England defender has been a free agent since being released from his contract with League Two side Notts County in December.

The club have said he played in the 4-2 win “with a view to a permanent move back to Arsenal Football Club”. Campbell, who previously played for Tottenham Hotspurs & Portsmouth played only one game for Notts County after leaving Portsmouth. But after being strongly linked with a move to Championship leaders Newcastle, Campbell now seems set for a return to the club where he won two Premier League titles.

Campbell spent five years at Arsenal between 2001-2006, during which time he won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and scored in the 2006 Champions League final defeat by Barcelona.

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Arsenal 2 Everton 2

It took an injury-time equaliser by oft injured Tomas Rosicky to rescue a point for Arsenal against Everton. Everton’s Leon Osman scored on both sides on the pitch – he put the visitors ahead when he headed in Landon Donovan’s corner. Arsenal clawed their way back into the game with a slice of good fortune as Denilson’s shot took a deflection off Osman to leave Tim Howard stranded.

Steven Pienaar raced clear and dinked the ball over Manuel Almunia to make it 2-1 but Rosicky’s shot was deflected in to salvage a draw for Arsenal. But the Gunners will be disappointed not have closed the gap further on their title rivals, with all but two Premier League matches falling victim to the big freeze. They are now three points behind leaders Chelsea, but no longer have a game in hand on their rivals.

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Arsenal 4 Portsmouth 1

It will be a very good New Year’s eve celebration for Arsenal players, staff & fans alike after the Gunners showcased their Premier League title credentials and increased Portsmouth’s troubles at the bottom with a stunningly comprehensive 4-1 win.

They took the lead when Eduardo’s free-kick deflected in off Younes Kaboul, before Samir Nasri fired in a second. Aaron Ramsey made it 3-0 with a brilliant solo goal, hammering in from 20 yards, before Nadir Belhadj’s close-range strike gave Pompey faint hope. But Alex Song superbly headed in a Nasri cross to wrap it up for Arsenal.

When you look at the stats, except for Eduardo, these are not regular goal scorers for us. Arsene Wenger’s men keep up the pressure at the top, moving to within four points of Chelsea and staying two behind Manchester United with a game in hand on each.

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Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 0

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas came off the bench to inspire his side to a victory over Aston Villa. Fabregas picked himself up after being fouled by Richard Dunne and curled in a 25-yard free-kick with aplomb. The goal came after Villa keeper Brad Friedel had denied William Gallas from point-blank range and kept out an Andrey Arshavin shot. A first-time finish from Fabregas after a Theo Walcott pass and an Abou Diaby strike wrapped up the win for Arsenal.

Fabregas had started as a substitute because of a hamstring problem and was brought on after 57 minutes to give his side extra impetus in beating a stubborn Villa side. The move paid off for manager Arsene Wenger but he will be concerned that his skipper aggravated his injury in sprinting on to Walcott’s ideally weighted pass and had to be replaced on 84 minutes. However, the victory moved the Gunners to within four points of Premier League leaders Chelsea with a game in hand over their London rivals.

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Arsenal 3 Hull City 0

Arsenal show signs of struggling without influential captain/midfielder Cesc Fabregas & striker Robin Van Persie but still won 3-0 against Hull City. In a fesity match that boiled on the verge of nasty violence, Samir Nasri came up from behind Hull’s Richard Garcia and trod on his leg. From the set-piece, Denilson curled in a beautiful effort that was entirely out of place in an ugly match.

After the interval the Tigers were handed a way back into the match when Silvestre was harshly judged to have pulled back Fagan in the penalty area. Geovanni stepped up to take the spot-kick but Almunia beat the ball away and Hunt headed the rebound wide. Eduardo with a 59th minute goal deflated the visitors and Diaby closed out the scoring with an 80th minute after he exchanged passes with Andrey Arshavin and then smashed in a shot that left the Hull goalie with no chance.

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Arsenal Move For Van Der Vaart?

For the past few days it seems that one of the hottest transfer rumours has been the possible movement of unsettled midfield maestro Rafael Van Der Vaart from Spanish giants Real Madrid to Arsenal and it seems likely that Arsene Wnger will swoop in to sign him.

According to the News of the World, the former Hamburg and Ajax star is desperate to leave Spain and is ready to revive his career in the Premier League. Van der Vaart has found his chances limited at the Bernabeu following the acquisition of Brazilian midfielder Kaka.

And after falling out of favour with Los Galacticos coach Manuel Pellegrini, the 26-year-old has started on just three occasions in La Liga this season.

The Dutchman is eager to gain regular first-team action before representing his country in next summer’s World Cup, and is reportedly willing to accept a pay-cut in order to earn a move to North London. Do we need more shooting power? Yes we do!

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Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1

I wasn’t able to watch this match live (still not getting ESPN on the old outdated tv) but I tried following it on score updates websites. Without a proper striker in the lineup, Arsenal went away to Liverpool and won 2-1. This result also brought the Gunners smack back into the title race as they are 3rd in the league and have 31 points with a game in hand over Manchester United & Chelsea.

Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt had scored to put Liverpool in the lead just at the interval but Arsene Wenger fired up his squad by berating then during the halftime break. Liverpool’s £18m full-back Glen Johnson, who suffered a torrid afternoon, unwittingly handed Arsenal a route back into the game when he turned Samir Nasri’s cross past Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina five minutes after half-time. And then Andrey Arshavin struck in stunning fashion, controlling brilliantly before firing a thunderous shot high past Reina.

Man Utd (played 16) are in second place with 34 points and Chelsea (played 16) lead the table with 37. Aston Villa (after winning against United) in fourth place have 29.

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Arsenal 2 Stoke City 0

Perhaps Stoke City was just the opponent that Arsenal needed to get back on track after 3 losses that significantly damaged any hopes of them being in the winner’s circle. Andrey Arshavin missed a one-on-one chance, Samir Nasri was denied and Cesc Fabregas had a penalty saved as Thomas Sorensen kept Arsenal out early on.

Russian star Andryi Arshavin poked in a shot to open the scoring, before Armand Traore’s cross hit the bar and post, and Fabregas’s goal-bound shot hit Emmanuel Eboue. Arshavin collected a return pass from Fabregas, dug the ball out from under his feet and slotted a low shot into the bottom corner. Arsenal sealed the victory when substitute Aaron Ramsey rifled home from the edge of the box.

The result will be a welcome relief for Arsene Wenger, who has endured a difficult week, and it will help the Frenchman fondly remember his 500th Premier League game in charge of the Gunners.

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Ruud To Arsenal?

A section of the football press is talking about a possible move for Dutch striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy from Read Madrid to Arsenal. And they say it makes perfect sense and could benefit both sides considerably.

Why? Well, the Gunners were going great guns until November 14 after which they have lost two games in the English Premier league – to Sunderland and to Chelsea. And while the second is understandable, the first one is not. Fabregas was on fire scoring as well as assisting and Robin Van Persie looked like he would finally get an extended run without injury, then just 15 minutes into a 0-0 draw with World Cup holders Italy, Van Persie was challenged by Giorgio Chiellini and went down clutching his ankle.

So now the Gunners need an out & out striker, a target man up front who will knock in the goals and rack up the points for Arsenal, as Van Persie will likely miss 4-5 months of the season due to the injury. Former Manchester United player Van Nistelrooy has played in the Premier League before, having scored 95 league goals in his 5 seasons at Old Trafford. He can operate as a loan striker as well as part of a pair and would flourish with the number of chances that Arsenal create.

Van Nistelrooy has fallen down the pecking order at Real Madrid after the arrival of Kaka, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo and also finds himself behind Raul and Gonzalo Higuain. Thus with next year’s World Cup in mind Van Nistelrooy knows he needs to be playing if he is to go to South Africa. A move to Arsenal would benefit both parties, it just remains to be seen if a deal can be struck between both sides in order to resurrect Arsenal’s title hopes and Van Nistelrooy’s World Cup dreams.

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Arsenal 2 Standard Liege 0

Just watched the highlights a few minutes ago. Arsenal sealed their passage into the last 16 of the Champions League in convincing fashion with a comfortable win against Standard Liege at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger’s side needed only a point to qualify for the knockout phase for a seventh consecutive season – but they never looked in serious danger of clinching anything less than three as they dominated the Belgian club for long periods.

Samir Nasri took advantage of Landry Mulemo’s slip to put the Gunners ahead after 35 minutes and Denilson struck a spectacular, swerving second from 30 yards in first-half injury time. Arsenal boss Wenger will now hope his side can take their impressive form in the group stage forward and go one step further than last season’s Champions League campaign, when they exited against Manchester United in the semi-final.

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RIP Robert Enke

The footballing world is in mourning for Germany and Hanover 96 goalkeeper Robert Enke who died after being hit by a train in an apparent suicide. He was 32. Enke’s body was found at a train crossing in Neustadt am Ruebenberge near Hanover.

Enke, 32, won eight international caps and was in the running to play at the World Cup in South Africa next year. Enke, who had spells with clubs in Spain, Turkey and Portugal before signing for Bundesliga team Hanover in 2004. Enke had been suffering from depression and he had a fear of failure. Speaking at a news conference called by his club, Teresa Enke said her 32-year-old husband was afraid their adopted daughter would be taken away from the family if his illness became public knowledge.

The couple’s biological daughter died three years ago from a heart problem she had from birth when she was 2. Police said Wednesday they had found a suicide note, with no indications the death was anything but a suicide. Valentin Markser, a doctor who treated Enke, said the goalkeeper first sought treatment in 2003, when he lost his starting place at Barcelona and developed anxieties and fear of failure. The German football federation canceled a friendly with Chile slated for Saturday in Cologne. Hundreds of Hannover fans paid tribute to Enke at the stadium Wednesday.

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Arsenal 4 Wolverhampton 1

Arsenal’s good form continues as do the wins and the goals. Post another fine display to dismantle Wolverhampton, Arsene Wenger’s side moves into second place in the Premier League.

The Gunners were a touch fortunate with their opener as Ronald Zubar turned a Cesc Fabregas corner into his own goal. And Eduardo’s chip went in off Jody Craddock’s head to make it 2-0 before Robin van Persie’s exquisite touch set up Fabregas to score a classy third. Andrey Arshavin struck with a low shot from the edge of the area before Craddock headed in a late consolation.

This result means that Arsenal jump over Manchester United, on goal difference, into second place. United play league leaders Chelsea tonight.

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