Hard time is not over: Arsenal out of FA Cup

In a disappointing game, Arsenal FC suffered their second Cup exit in a week when they went down 1-0 at Bolton.

In other important matches, Manchester United eased into today's FA Cup fifth-round draw with a 3-0 win at Wolves.

Back to the Gunners, we can say that Stelios Giannakopoulos headed home a late winner for Bolton against Arsenal, who fielded an inexperienced side just days after crashing out of the Carling Cup against Wigan.


Wigan win over Arsenal in League Cup

Jason Roberts made a last minute of extra-time goal and sent Wigan Athletic into the English League Cup soccer final today after a 2-1 victory over Arsenal.

This result sent Wigan through on the away goals rule after a 2-2 aggregate scoreline. Arsenal FC looked on course to advance after substitute Robin van Persie netted a spectacular free kick in the 18th minute of extra-time to make it 2-0 after Thierry Henry had headed them into a 1-0 lead in the 65th.

Juan Antonio Reyes had a penalty stopped by Mike Pollitt in the 22nd minute and the Wigan goalkeeper made several more great saves to keep Wigan in what was a pulsasting, action-packed second leg tie.

Roberts, who had earlier missed half a dozen opportunities, broke clear in the 119th minute, forced his way past two Arsenal defenders and kept his cool to tuck the ball home.

The other semifinal takes place on Wednesday when Manchester United face Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford, level at 1-1. The final is at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on February 26.


Arsenal crushed Middlesbrough 7-0

Henry boosted his level to help Arsenal beat Middlesbrough 7-0 in a Premiership game at Highbury yesterday. Thierry Henry's brilliant hat-trick was followed by Robert Pires, Phillippe Senderos and Gilberto Silva goals.

The French striker started the scoring in the 20th minute with an amazing volley. Phillippe Senderos followed up almost immediately with a header that gave no chance to Jones in the Boro goal. Henry was in a killer mood on the night and broke clear in the 30th minute to slot home his second and Arsenal's third. It looked like a rout when Robert Pires tapped in the fourth goal on the 45th minute.

Things for Boro went even worse after the break when Doriva was sent off for a sent card offense in the 73 minute, but not before Gilberto Silva had tapped in the fifth goal in the 59th minute and Henry had completed his hat trick in the 68th minute. This goal was also Henry's 150th League score. The final flourish was courtesy Hleb, who was able to tuck in from a close range.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger praised his players for delivering a strong performance, "We played our game and the goals came as a consequence of the quality of our football. Of course, Thierry scored three - and everybody nearly scored!" he enthused.

Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren thinks the game was a learning experience for his team, "This has been my toughest day as Middlesbrough manager without a shadow of a doubt. Down to 10 men with six teenagers on the park it was always going to be difficult. I've told the kids they're going to be good players in the future." he told us.


Great Goal: Henry stays Arsenal

It is true that Arsenal FC supporters have had little to cheer about this season. Thierry Henry managed to turn things beautiful as he committed his future to the club. Such is the Frenchman’s importance that his signature is worth more than any trophy.

According to many speculations, Henry had been expected to join Barcelona in the summer, but has had a dramatic change of heart. The blaugrana team have been tracking him for some time, with Joan Laporta, the club’s president, recently revealing that they would do everything in their power to sign him, but his incessant phone calls to the player’s agent appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Keep in mind that the Gunners are preparing to move into the new Emirates Stadium, and Thierry Henry’s renewed commitment will ensure that they approach the future with confidence. “The truth is I love this club and I’ve made my mind up to stay,” Henry says today. “I can say to all my fans and the people who care about me, I want to lead the team out in the new stadium.”

The Frenchman has only 1½ years left on his contract but will sit down with Arsenal’s board in the next few weeks to discuss a new deal. Peter Hill-Wood, the club’s chairman, has previously made clear that they are willing to make him the highest-paid player in their history and it should not take long to hammer out the details of a new £100,000-a-week contract.

Henry’s decision has been the talk of English football in recent weeks, with everybody seemingly chipping into the debate as to whether he must stay or go, and the dilemma has even affected his own form. The striker has been a shadow of his effervescent self in recent weeks, shrugging his shoulders with seeming indifference as his side have struggled, but revealed that the support of Arsenal fans had helped him to come through a hard time.

After reaching a career-defining choice, he can expect to hear even more from them in the coming days. “I’m still only 28, but when I see the fans and the way they talk to me it helped make my decision,” he admits. “They didn’t boo me or make life difficult for me on the pitch.


Arsenal beats Cardiff City: 2-1

French player Robert Pires underlined his case for a new deal to stay in the club. At the same time, he scored two goals to guide Arsenal into the FA Cup quarter finals. Pires, whose future is still not clear, managed to strike twice in the first 18 minutes to seal victory.

Robert, whose contract expires this summer, is looking for a new two-year deal. However, the Gunners usually offer 12 months to any player over 30.

Arsenal FC rested not only Thierry Henry. Also Jens Lehmann, Sol Campbell and Cesc Fabregas were dismissed for this clash, and the inexperienced defence was made with youngsters Kerrea Gilbert and Johan Djourou, as well as the nervous Philippe Senderos.

Cardiff threatened after less than a minute: Neal Ardley clipped an excellent through ball over the head of Senderos. The Swiss international took time to turn, and that enabled Jerome to nip in ahead of goalkeeper Manuel Almunia only to lob his shot just over the bar.

The Gunners nevertheless steadied themselves and regrouped. Although their defence looked suspect, they were a completely different squad going forward, with experience and class in equal measure.

With just six minutes gone, Arsenal scored. Dennis Bergkamp picked out Jose Reyes and the Spaniard weighed up his options before clipping a superb pass into the path of Pires, who had beaten the offside trap.

He controlled the ball with his first touch before picking his spot and burying his shot inside the far post.

Senderos was still looking shaky and was fortunate not to be penalised when he accidentally tripped Jerome as they got to their feet together after a challenge.

The Swiss international got a booking soon afterwards for a clumsy late challenge on Joe Ledley, but Arsenal were in a class of their own going forward and went further ahead on 18 minutes.

This time van Persie was the architect of Cardiff's downfall, delivering an incisive pass to Bergkamp, who in turn picked out the run of Pires and the Frenchman's finishing was again exemplary.

After the mid time, they were still suspect and when Jerome powered forward onto a long ball, he picked out Kevin Cooper in space inside the penalty area only for his shot to be blocked.

Almunia, who was pushed by a fan who ran onto the pitch amid the amazing finale, clasped onto the ball amid one scramble in the Arsenal area but the home side held on for victory.


Pires: Arsenal is just an option

French player Robert Pires says he is open to offers from another clubs. However, he wont rush a decision on whether his future lies at Highbury.

The midfielder has less than six months remaining on his Arsenal contract, and although he has been offered a new one-year one, beginning in the summer, Robert wants two years.

He is free to negotiate with other tems now, under terms of the Bosman ruling, but just after talks with coach Arsene Wenger will he be ready to declare whether this season is to be his last after six years at Arsenal. "I am now free to commit myself to another club," said Pires.

"I don't want to get worried with this for now. I will see what happens. I will meet with Arsene Wenger this month. I will see what he wants to do with me before making any decision about my future." Pires said.

Pires has been out of the French national team for the past year after a series of rows with manager Raymond Domenech, but he recently expressed his hope of winning back his place in time for the World Cup.

He told today's L'Equipe newspaper: "I think I can play at the highest level for another two seasons and I am open to any proposal.

"Everything will depend on the professional and financial terms. Mentally and physically I feel I am still at the top."