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Seven-and-a-half Good Players


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Kevin Keegan said, "I've got seven-and-a-half good players here and some maybes and could-bes". Which seven-and-a-half?


For me:



N'Zogbia, Jonas

Enrique, Collocini, Beye

Given, Harper(half)


What do you think?


The Guardian


Van Persie double seals winning display


The Who's The Kids Are Alright twinkled over the PA system as Arsenal came out to play. Arsène Wenger must sometimes think the rest of the world does not believe him. After all, this was a week that started with his team chastised - rightly - for a rotten-tomato performance. Then he had to speak out against the jeers aimed at his main goalscorer, and all the while the fans have been panicking about whether or not he will sign an experienced midfielder before the window is locked until January.


For 90 minutes, the best part of 60,000 disciples forgot about their worries and their strife, and believed. There were some hearty boos towards the end, but they were directed exclusively at Joey Barton, who made his first appearance on a football pitch since he was released from prison. Kevin Keegan made an impassioned defence of his unloved player afterwards - he felt compelled to tick off Samir Nasri, who put in a retribution tackle on Barton which raised the temperature in the away dugout.


Typical Barton. Two minutes on the pitch and he managed to spice up an afternoon that had previously been devoid of too much tension. Until then it was a simple story of Arsenal enjoying themselves immensely against a Newcastle team who accepted they were second-best without too much resistance. Mike Ashley summed up the feeling of most in the visiting section midway through the second half when he downed a pint and shook his head in disbelief.


They were well below the standard that earned them a point at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the season. As Keegan pointed out, even the best teams have key players and Arsenal had Cesc Fábregas here, while Manchester United missed their kingpin Cristiano Ronaldo.


To Arsenal's relief, it was not just Fábregas who was back. Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie, who had played like shadows in the first two games of the season, both rediscovered their mojo. Van Persie scored twice and caught the eye. Adebayor worked tirelessly and unselfishly, and the quality of his performance won over the section of the crowd who had been on his back.


Supported by a midfield who functioned beautifully, this was easy-on-the-eye Arsenal. Cocksure and brimming with invention, they would have conjured a more substantial scoreline had Shay Given not given a shot-stopping masterclass in the Newcastle goal. The only downside for Arsenal was Van Persie hobbling off the pitch just as he had worked the crowd into a state resembling a mass love-in. 'He went for an X-ray to check on his ankle. Hopefully nothing is broken,' said Wenger.


What Van Persie dearly needs is a run of matches to gain the kind of sharpness that two injury-ravaged seasons have destroyed. An 18th-minute penalty served up the perfect opportunity for him to find his range, after Charles N'Zogbia handled Adebayor's cross. Van Persie's penalty kick was immaculate. It fizzed past Given and landed, unsaveably, inside the side netting.


Keegan's team were on the rack. And yet Newcastle should have equalised in the 37th minute. When Jonás Gutiérrez cantered down the right flank, Arsenal's centre-backs were befuddled by the cross, which fell to Michael Owen. Unfortunately for the England forward, Shola Ameobi ambled into his way to deflect a goalbound shot. His frustration was plain. With Fabio Capello in the stands, the most prolific striker available to England was otherwise starved of service.


Capello watched two Africans combine crisply to scythe Newcastle apart for Arsenal's second. Emmanuel Eboué linked with Adebayor and crowned one of his better displays with a sharp backheel for Van Persie to belt the ball past Given. Newcastle threatened only briefly after the break when Nicky Butt steered a header against the crossbar and Danny Guthrie shot from distance.


Arsenal struck back and Newcastle's rearguard were shredded by the nimble combination play of Adebayor, Nasri and Denilson, who tapped in his first ever Premier League goal. It was a goal of the style Wenger cherishes. He rose to applaud like a proud father. Van Persie earned a standing ovation with a strike of ridiculous audacity - from no more than a step or two inside the byline. But that was to be his final action, before disappearing with one of those dreaded knocks. 'It was a complete performance,' enthused Wenger afterwards.


Keegan was left analysing how much room there is for improvement. 'I've got seven-and-a-half good players here and some maybes and could-bes,' he assessed. Ever the optimist, he is hoping to sign three more players before tomorrow night.




Ben Lover, Observer reader


You could not get a greater contrast to last week against Fulham. Right from the start the players were really up for it; there was the urgency missing from the game at Craven Cottage. We were dominant throughout, the vast majority of the game was played in the Newcastle half. It was great to have Fábregas back, Van Persie was a constant threat and looks to be getting back to his sharpest, while Clichy was superb. Gallas was criticised after last week but had no problems against a Newcastle attack that put him under no pressure at all. Even Adebayor was not booed - he put in the effort, ran around alot and people are starting to get behind him again. I'm sure it will all be soon forgetten.


The fans' player ratings Almunia 7; Sagna 7, Touré 8, Gallas 7, Clichy 9; Eboué 8 (Walcott 7), Fabregas 8, Denilson 7 (Song 7), Nasri 8; Van Persie 9 (Vela 8), Adebayor 8


Steve Cole, NUFC-London.com


It just highlighted the gulf in class that exists in the Premier League. We were barely in it at all and hardly had a shot on target. With our record at Arsenal I didn't go with any great expectations but it easily could have been four or five. Shay Given made two or three good saves and could not be faulted for the goals, and I thought the penalty was a bit harsh, but the rest were just outclassed. Mike Ashley was sat just along from me and plenty of people wanted to 'debate' the decision to sell Milner with him but were hustled away. It was not a popular move - as was bringing on Joey Barton right at the end. I hoped never to see him in a Newcastle shirt again. We should have paid him off, no matterwhat it cost.


The fans' player ratings Given 8; Beye 6 (Edgar n/a), Taylor 7, Coloccini 6, Enrique 5 (Bassong 5); Gutierrez 7 (Barton n/a), Butt 5, Guthrie 6, N'Zogbia 6; Ameobi 4, Owen 6


To take part in the Verdict, email [email protected]

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Given, Harper(half)

Beye Coloccini Taylor *****

Jonas ***** ***** N'zogbia



must be those, considering he can't be happy with Butt, said in when he signed Guthrie he would be on the bench. Enrique he never plays, and Ameobi is complete sh*t*

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Guest optimistic nit

enrique, guthrie or taylor will be the half, my guess is enrique, from how he treats him, he hasn't lost faith in him but is reluctant to start him.









Bassong maybe, i would not say viduka, because he hasn't played yet and i have a feeling he's only talking about players who have played.

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Given, Martins, Owen, Jonas, Coloccini, Beye would be 6 of them i imagine, not sure who the other one is but Viduka might be the half as he's only ever fit half of the time, or it might be Guthrie as he's still developing so can't be totally relied on yet

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I agree if he means what some people think


martins      owen

gutierrez          barton

coloccini  beye



These are the only 7 players I think that are good enough for top 4.  And if we are serious about coming into top 4 we need...


Malouda/Left winger plus another centre mid


Left back and centre back.

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