It had to do more with the team spirit than style. When it mattered Arsenal scored 4 goals in the second half to win a very hard-fought match over Everton where they did not play any classy football. Eduardo scored his first and second goal for Arsenal, Adebayor and Rosicky added their part in the end. It seems Arsenal has scored 110 goals in 2007 calendar year, now that is really something.
It seems Wenger decided to give Adebayor some rest and start with Eduardo and Bendtner in front and return to 4-4-2. It did not mean there was much of the attractive football on display. For most of first half that was played by Everton. Bendtner looked like trying to prove too much but getting his first start in such a big match should be quite a nervy affair for the Big Dane. He seemed not to show any as he went for some fiery tackles and kept attacking the ball. He had a hand (leg) in the Everton goal, but I think Flamini missed his header and Bendtner was caught out of position with the ball.
If Wenger is doing something right these days, it is the team talk that he is giving in the break because it seems to work. In the early second half came Arsenal’s first goal in a very unlikely way. Clichy send a long ball to Eduardo who controlled it and hit it cleanly past Howard. Eduardo doesn’t miss the target that often. And it did not take long for the second one to come, as Bendtner headed in a ball to Eduardo who took it cleanly and turned Jagielka inside out with his touch and finished coolly. That goal certainly had a bit of Bergkamp touch 🙂
Bendtner got one more yellow and he was sent off just before Wenger was planning to take him off with Adebayor. It was a tackle which deserved a second yellow and I dont think Bendtner will have too much to protest about. It was sad that he got sent off in his first match that he started in the Premier League. Arteta’s elbow caught Fabregas and he too was rightly sent off. For all the flair of Arteta and his use of the body, he was quite irritating. The way he put his leg to trip Clichy when Clichy was about to win the ball was one example. He is a nasty player, that Arteta.
Adebayor came up and played his usual lone striker role. A defensive mistake set up Adebayor for the third Arsenal goal. By then Everton had given up on the match and Arsenal was all set to take the three points. And as usual Rosicky came and made a difference with his flair and got to score his consolation goal in the end, which was set up again by Adebayor and Diaby.
With Man Utd losing to West Ham, Arsenal opened a 2 point gap on the league standings. So it is a Happy New Year for all Gooners and everyone associated with the club. Lets hope the team builds up from here.
So in a busy Xmas New year period Arsenal have had a decent run though it could have been better.
Arsenal will have to play football from a different planet if they have to win at Everton in the weekend. If we stick to ordinary football we can get punished or at best come back with a point. If team news is to be taken van Persie is not yet fit and Gallas might not be available. Well thats all with the bad news.
Everton is a very good team and this year they have outperformed themselves. Their match with Man U was a tough one and if it was not for Pienaar’s foot they could have come back with a point from Old Trafford. This could be a very crucial weekend for Arsenal given that the other contenders for the title are also having some tricky ties. So 3 points here would be a welcome sign to stay on top.
Most probably Wenger will stick to his 4-4-1-1 again this time as he believes in that formation for that set of players. If we don;t score in the first 60 minutes I hope I can make him to send in Bendtner to speed up the proceedings.
In a few days time Lehmann will make a decision which may see him move away from London to Germany. He did a great service for the club especially in the Champions League final run. Thanks Lehmann for all the wonderful things you did. But we could have been spared the outbursts against Almunia. That was not called for.
And if you think that Almunia is the final solution for our Goalkeeping puzzle, well I would differ. He is good but we need a better goalie than that.
But for the time being he seems to be gelling with the team well.
So lets hope its a great match at Goodison Park and we come back with all the three points to mark a great end to the year.
And that is exactly what Gunners realised at the end of 90 miniutes at Fratton Park. It was here at the end of last season that Arsenal had failed to score in the league and they repeated it at the same fixture in this year. And when the opposition defend well, Arsenal failed to find a leader amongst their packs.
Fabregas & Hleb looked off-colour and probably fatigue has caught up with them. Particularly Fabregas gave away the ball too easily. Well Fratton Park is always a difficult place to get all three points especially when Campbell, Distin and Lauren have a wonderful game. Papa Dioup came up with some timely tackles to kill any sort of move that Arsenal were able to build.
I do not like this 4-4-1-1 or 4-5-1 that Wenger is employing for the last few matches. There are lots of issues with that formation and last nite’s game in general.
1. Ade can do the holding job and get back and work the ball from mid-field and move up, but he definetely needs a striking partner. He has played in too many matches and I think needs a break once in a while atleast.
2. Maybe Wenger didnt field Bendtner along with Ade coz he feels that both of them have similar playing style. Lets see if he switches to 4-4-2 when Van Persie is back.
3. If Eboue was going to be replaced why Diaby, he should have atleast changed the formation with Bendtner and tried it for 30 minutes. We saw how Bendtner influenced play after his arrival. And Eboue’s play-acting is getting irritating now. Also he makes a good deal of bursts into the box but shoots awkwardly. If he improves that he can score 5-6 goals in a season.
4. Many teams this year will look at defending well against Arsenal and sometimes we do not have any answers for that. I am surprised Wenger doesnt think of a tactic to counter it. I think we will have to live with this kind of a tactic from the opposition now.
5. Rosicky had two of the best chances in the match. Again he is another guy who needs to know how to convert these half chances. One of his shots was coolly taken by James. Trust me James just made it look so easy. It was a great curler of a shot and an even better take from the best GK in England. (And please stop writing abt Almunia for the England job)
With Chelsea playing a 4-4 draw against Aston Villa atleast one of the contenders for the title has slipped too. But Manchester United’s strong form continues and for all the Gooners this will be a concern. If someone had told me at the start of the season that at halfway stage (which is now) Arsenal will be one point behind the leaders, I would have taken it. So nothing is lost yet. In the next series of matches if Arsenal win and Manchester United draw, then the Gunners would be on top by a point.
Arsenal played well in patches but those patches produced a brilliantly orchestrated move and a towering header from a super sub to clinch all the the three points and complete a double against Spurs. Credit should also go to Almunia for saving the penalty at a very crucial juncture in the match. So Arsenal will remain on top of the table during Xmas time and has put Man Utd in pressure to get all the three against a tough game against Everton.
Gunners had a very poor first half, in which they tested Robinson couple of times, once Eboue with a shot at goal and then Toure with a header. On the other end, Almunia was rarely tested for all the possession Spurs enjoyed. It was all the more disappointing because the Spurs team were playing with an under-strength side for this match.
Second half was a different deal altogether and Arsenal again played one of those good patches in this game. A very scintillating move, Fabregas gave the ball to Rosicky and ran ahead, Rosicky overcame two challenges and falling over, gave a deadly through ball to Fabregas, who held it on for Adebayor to run in from the left side and with complete knowledge of where his team mate is, back heeled it to him to complete a beautifully orchestrated move into goal.
Spurs got their act together and a lapse in concentration from Clichy found Keane inside the box, a back heel to Berbatov, who was silent till then, got his shot from an acute angle somehow past Almunia. Honestly I thought Almunia should have blocked it. He seems to be getting beaten from these angles at the near post (remember the Champions league final, winning goal). That is one area of improvement for him.
But Almunia was in his elements in effecting a save from the Robbie Keane penalty resuting from a Toure foul on Berbatov. Penalty saving is 5% skill and 95% luck. Both these were with Almunia as he blocked a later-hugely-dissapointed Keane shot. This was a morale shattering incident in the match for Spurs from which they never recovered.
At the other end, just as Fabregas was about to take a corner, in came Bendtner for Eboue who ran staright to the box and in that spirit made a jump (trust me I think he jumped over the crossbar height, though I dont have any evidence to prove this) and headed in a unstoppable ball past Robinson. Game over.
Here is another pic to suggest the height.
A very inspired performance from the Gunners and maybe Beckham’s presence in training in January will help this young team hone some free-kick taking skills.
You might have seen on TV or in other media of fans holding banners supporting their club. How many times have you seen a Football team holding out a benner for their supporters thanking them for their support.
Well Bayern Munich players did just that. They thanked all their supporters for supporting them in 2007. What a nice gesture.
Bundesliga is the league with the most following in Europe for no reason…Hats off to Bayern Munich
When Fabregas said this about a fortnight ago, little did he expect to draw the current Champions AC Milan in the knockout phase of Champions League. This along with Liverpool facing Inter Milan are the standout fixtures in next round of CL t be played in February and March.
Milan, the current champions are also the newly crowned Fifa World Club Champions after beating Boca Juniors last weekend. Though their form in Serie A is suspect, when it comes to Europe, they are a different class, with Kaka, Inzaghi, Seedorf all in their elements. Does Arsenal have a chance??? Well they will definetely not go down without a fight and who knows maybe on their day they might be able to beat Milan. Beating Milan is not like the 1-0 victory over Chelsea, it will require much more than that and to me will be the biggest challenge of the season.
Lets take one match at a time and we will think about the CL in January end. Next up is the Spurs match, the return leg of the London derby. It is true that there are lots of injury problems in the Spurs camp and Arsenal are back with a full squad after a long long gap. They are fresh as the reserves played the Carling Cup and won impressively. So unless they turn complacent, they cannot lose this match. So lets all enjoy the match and see if we can keep that 1 point lead at the top.
Its amazing how a team with an average age of 20 years and a few months can beat the first teams of Newcastle United, Sheffield United and now Blackburn Rovers. The team spirit was quite high as you could see in the display against a side where even the senior side goes and gets a few knocks. Even Fergie made a comment this year on the physical side of the Blackburn game.
Last time’s losing finalist, this Arsenal team should be one of the favourites to win the title again and its amazing how this young side can go on and on, beat some of the bigger teams with experienced campaigners and play football and win trophy. The entire XI which started for the super sunday was changed for this match. Fabianski was in the goal, with Hoyte, Song, Senderos, Traore at the back, Randall, Diarra, Denilson & Diaby in the middle and Bendtner and Eduardo upfront. Song had an impressive game and so did Diaby, Fabianski, Diarra, Denilson (before he made a stupid two-footed challenge) & Eduardo.
The Croat scored two goals including the winner, Diaby hit the first and Bendtner hit the post, which if had gone in would have been a very cool finish. One thing I admire about Bendtner is that he looks very calm and composed in front of the goal.
This team deserves to win the Carling Cup and I hope they do. Though Nacer Barazite did not get enough time to prove his skills, Fran Merida came on for him and showed some skills with the ball. These are all players who will be in the limelight in the next few years.