So first things first. Does it irritate anyone else that the league is so badly organised that we still have a game in hand dating back to September? Does it really take that long to squeeze the extra game in? It’s ridiculous… I hate looking at the league table talking about our position if we do happen to win our extra game.
Onto the match…
Eboue Gallas Vermaelen Silvestre
Diaby Song Denilson
Eduardo Arshavin Nasri
The team lined up pretty much as I had expected. Almunia has clearly turned into the undroppable keeper, which was unsurprising considering the excuse Wenger made for his Liverpool mistake. In midfield, I would have preferred to have seen Ramsey in there, but I could understand his omittance as he often goes missing if he’s played from the start… and up top, I couldn’t argue. Walcott rightly dropped after some atrocious performances… the rest of the players were all we had left!
Arsenal started off nervously, Diaby mis-timed a slide tackle which allowed Fagan to hit a low and hard shot at Almunia’s goal. Luckily it was wide of the post by a yard or so.
Our first chance came from Diaby. Eduardo played the ball to Nasri who neatly teed up the Frenchman, who hit a powerful shot at the leg of the Hull defender, out for a corner.
Eduardo and Nasri combined again when the Croatian found his team mate free in the box. The best the Frenchman could do was shoot at Myhil.
Arsenal were looking a little clueless again. If in doubt, hit the wings and fire high balls into the box seemed to be the preferred tactic again.
The game needed a spark and sure enough, Nasri was on hand to provide it in the form of a 200lbs firework. A freekick was awarded after a challenge on Hunt. As the ref had his back to Nasri, the Frenchman cheekily stamped on Garcia’s foot. Hunt hit the deck like he’d been floored by Tyson, Barmby came flying over shoving Nasri in the face… que carnage. After a few minutes of handbags, the ref consulted his linesman and awarded Nasri and Hunt a yellow card each. Lucky Nasri! He’ll now avoid a video arbitration.
After the fight, Hull started getting silly. Zayyate challenged wildly on Vermaelen, then shortly after Barmby and the same player double teamed Diaby and conceded another freekick. Denilson stepped up and from 35 yards slotted it into the far left of the goal. A pearler of a free kick. Arsenal went in at half time 1-0 up!
As the players headed into the tunnel, the childish arguments continued. There were even some rumours that hood man Cesc was involved again! Kevin Keegan and Moritz Volz spoke about how soft the free kick was at half time but I couldn’t disagree more. Neither Hull player won the ball and I was unaware that double teaming a player to win possession was allowed. Stick to the Circus Kev…
Arsenal came out for the second half much better play wise. Eduardo turned on the edge of the box superbly to give himself acres of space… he shot wide. Shortly after the Crozillian gave Diaby the opportunity to shoot inside the box. The shot was crudely hand balled but the ref missed it.
The play moved up the other end, Fagan chased a ball in the box, tussled with Silvestre, fell over and claimed his shirt had been pulled. The ref; conned, pointed to the spot. What a joke. However, the punch line was in the penalty Geovanni took. He ran up slowly, Almunia stood his ground, to watch the Brazillian shoot close enough for Alto parry away. A crucial save from the Spaniard.
Arsenal went up the other end. Diaby did excellently out wide playing a clever one two with Song, the return pass went across the face of goal for the easiest of tap ins for Eduardo.
Fagan continued to do his best impression of Wayne Rooney, tearing around like an idiot, shouting and swearing at anyone who’d listen, crucially not picking up a yellow card.
Arsenal were cruising without really creating chances. The coach brought on Rambo for the superb Nasri.
The final goal of the game came from Diaby. He played another one two, this time with Arshavin who patiently waited for the perfect return ball. Diaby strongly held off the challenge and banged it into the top corner.
Walcott managed to get a few minutes on the pitch and went close when he lobbed wide. Ramsey also blazed the ball just over after a superb move. Joe Royle seemed to think the result was flattering… I can only think he’d confused the last word of that sentence with comfortable.
All the ‘poor performance’ talk at full time from the commentary team riled me a bit. I thought we played fine. It wasn’t vintage, but arguing 3-0 was undeserved was picking holes for the sake of it. The female presenter interviewer for ESPN made a class A tit of herself interviewing Arsene at the end… it was quite funny watching Arsene’s face everytime a poor question came out of her mouth. Talking of Wenger, Wrighty7 has his own opinion on what will happen if our coach heads to City.
So in conclusion, a very good performance from everyone on the pitch today. We go into Christmas in a very strong position with a number of other teams. The Villa game now holds extra importance as they seem to be sneeking up the table grinding out good results along the way. It was a pretty crazy day today, Almunia saved a penalty, Diaby had a blinder, Nasri was tough in midfield, Silvestre looked great, Man U lost heavily as did Liverpool… madness!
One can’t help but think United deserved that after Wolves played a reserve team against them last week. If we do eventually win out game in hand, we take second. Today I’ll mostly be backing West Ham and of course, Burnley!
Almunia: Wouldn’t have got a game if they’d let me be selecter for the day. Still, I wont let that statement get in the way of telling you he had a solid game between the sticks and he that he kept a clean sheet… which included a penalty save. 7
Eboue: You know he’s had a good game when there are no key moments in a match that he’s involved in. Hull were pretty impotent for most of the day, so he didn’t have much to do. What he did do was well executed. 7
Gallas: A solid, yet quiet game at the back. 7
Vermaelen: The only difference between Gallas and the Verminator is the Belgian pushed forward when things are quiet. Again, a solid game. 7
Silvestre: It’s time to give up the auto-slag mind set people use on our favourite geriatric. He had a very good game today, even managing to get up top to join in some sparkling moves. 7.5
Diaby: After he started getting the ball from out of his feet a bit quicker, we saw glimpses into what Diaby could become. He was creative, strong, rangey in the tackle. He was involved in all of the goals and he showed what he could do with a bit of application. 8.5
Song: Powerful performance from the man who likes to call himself the first defender. Good passing, tough tackling and some real discipline (Bar the ruck!) today. I was very impressed. 8
Denilson: A guy I was sitting with pointed out that while Denilson doesn’t appear to do much in game, his main role is to hold the space out wide and link the play. When you look at it like that, you can’t argue that he does a good job. He’s not as crash bang as Rambo, but he holds onto the ball well and he has an eye for a pass. His freekick was very well executed and it stuck two fingers up at Wenger’s ‘don’t shoot from distance’ policy. 7.5
Eduardo: He plays in an unfamiliar wide position and does a good job. He created a few openings today and managed to bag a goal. His finishing still lacks the pre-injury confidence, but I’m sure it’ll come. 7.5
Arshavin: A pretty quiet game from the Russian. He doesn’t perform particularly well without Cesc or a pacey forward. He still holds the ball up well and he has the ability to pull a rabbit out the hat… sadly, not today. 7
Nasri: A super game from a player I gave a little bit of stick to last week. It was gutsy innings that combined skill with hard work and tough challenges. His range of passing was excellent today and for once, I was sad to see him leave the pitch! I was very proud of our Frenchman kick starting a brawl... loved it! 8
P.S. I watched Madrid destroy a very poor Zaragoza side yesterday. The finishing was out of this world and M.Diarra was excellent. If he’s on the market for 5mill, he’d certainly be worth a punt and he’d certainly suit the Premier league.
Also, I have no Villa tickets! Hand them over if they’re going spare… I have plenty of takers!