Welcome to Tuesday, first day back for most in the UK. Normally a cause for great sadness, not today my friends, for the weekend was kind to us! Jesus answered my Easter wish list and delivered a bounty of unrivalled goodness.
First up yesterday we watched Norwich take the lead against Spurs early on. Things were leveled amidst controversy. Holt was pulled down by King, Spurs broke and Defoe scored. It wasn't over though. Norwich continued to ask questions and throw men forward. Their courage was rewarded when Bennet found himself in acres of space just outside the area, he moved forward, picked out the bottom corner and lashed his shot home.
Spurs hit the bar late on, but all in all, Norwich took a deserved win. Harry was amusing the press room after. He dropped Scott Parker and played 4 attackers in a 4-4-2. He kind of intimated that other people had asked him to do it, he'd always been reluctant as he doesn't have disciplined players and yesterday proved that. Strange. I hope he's not taking outside advice when or if he lands the England job!
The other bullet of good news was the performance Fulham put in against Chelsea at Craven Cottage. Chelsea went 1 up after some strange reffing from Clattenburg. Danny Murphy made a two footed lunge in the box, won the ball, but the ref blew up. It was a clear penalty, but at half time it emerged that he'd given the penalty for a deft touch from someone else. Turns out there was a touch. It was so tiny I'm shocked he saw it. This does throw up the age old argument... if a touch is so deft it takes Sky an hour to pick it up, how can it be strong enough to merit a penalty?
When are footballing authorities going to change this rule about being touched? It plays right into the hands of cheaters. For me, it should only be a foul if the force was enough to send you down. Going over someone's shoelace and hiding behind contact is a disgusting abuse of the rules and it gives rugby fans the chance to mock our game... and no one likes a rugby fan having one up on you.
Anyway, Lampard buried the penalty. However, Fulham had extra in the locker. Late on Petr Cech tipped over a shot from point blank range... from the resultant corner, Dempsey angled a beauty of a header into the bottom corner.
Unbelievably this now means Newcastle find themselves back in contention for a top 4 position! They totally deserve it as well. I said a few months ago that Alan Pardew has adopted the Arsenal transfer policy of 97. He's picked up technically gifted players from around Europe for a fraction of their true worth and he's winning. Cisse looks a steal at £9million. Ben Arfa has been superb of late and obviously Demba Ba and Cabaye have been superb.
We're actually in a situation now where Spurs could drop out of the top 4 along with Chelsea. Wouldn't that be grand?
Still, we have to remember that Arsenal are as capable as any of the rest when it comes to dropping stupid points at highly inappropriate times. We have Wolves on Wednesday. Now, normally I'd talk up Wolves as potentially a good side. I'm not going to though because it's not true. I've had the misfortune of watching them a few times lately and I can tell you the whole club is in a black hole of doom. The fans are booing the board, the players look like they're on holiday and there is absolutely zero desire on show.
Their form guide is pretty impressive. They've lost 8 of their last 10 games and conceded 30 in the process. They really are the whipping boys of the league at the moment. The only way we'll lose this is if we show as much complacecny as I am right now.
So guys, if you're reading this, don't get f*cking complacent.
Arsenal need 4 wins to qualify for the Champions League in 3rd place this year. For me, Stoke and Chelsea are the banana skins on paper. Wigan and Wolves are the banana skins if you know Arsenal. We need 100% comittement to push us over the line. I really hope the players know that and I hope the manager drills that into their mindsets all week. We're playing free flowing football again, we're playing with discipline and we've done most of the hardwork by killing off the big games with big victories. Let's not falter with 5 games to go.
There was a bit of a discussion in the comments yesterday about the merits of Clint Dempsey. The American has had an industrious season with Fulham and he's bagged a number of goals in the process. He scored his 16th yesterday against Chelsea despite not having the best game. Is he technically gifted enough to play for Arsenal? Some would say not. However, that's not what I like about his game. I like the never say die attitude. I like the fact he'll put his head on anything and I like the fact that he excels in a pretty average set up.
Dempsey and Murphy were asked what had changed with him this year with regards to goals. Dempsey said it was luck, Murphy waded in and said it was sheer grit and effort on the training ground. He said he'd never worked with someone who puts so much into every training session. If we're looking for someone to replace Yossi Benayoun this summer, surely we should be looking at this guy?
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See you in the comments!