So in the all important first game of the quadruple header, Arsenal failed to capitalise. We bumbled our way to a draw in a fairly open game which was surprisingly for large parts.
There were chances for both teams, Arsenal having the better of them.
Cesc Fabregas went on a superb run at the end of the first half, cutting in and out then poking a shot that hit the post, the ball came back out readying itself for Rosicky to fire it in, sadly Rambo had other ideas and stepped in the way.
Aston Villa’s best chance fell to Agbonlohor when he broke free of Vermaelen, fired across goal, only to be denied by a sharp save from Almunia.
Other notable incidents from the first half was a key injury to the shaky Vermaelen and the second Premiership debut in an Arsenal shirt for Sol Campbell.
The second half saw Arsenal perk up. Arshavin went close with a superb 50 yard run, Freidel spilled the shot out to Rosicky who went for power over placement, the cross bar decided to get in the way this time.
Ashley Young tested the reflexes of Almunia with a diving header, again the Spaniard was equal. I maybe praising Almunia for his saves, however, it must be noted his overall keeping was pretty weak. He was flapping at crosses again and it made me cringe to watch. Anyone who thinks Shay could do better on the crossing front should watch Rooney’s final goal against City.
Eduardo picked up an ankle injury and Nik B came on… the saviour we’re led to believe. Well, he’s not much different to the old Bendtner. He came on, threw his weight around a bit, but he didn’t add much to our game. He was played through by Arshavin in the last ten minutes, I was expecting a snap shot, instead, we got a cut back and the move fizzled out.
One of the Grovers made a great point the other day about a Wenger comment. On the one had he says that we shouldn’t expect great form from Theo because he’s been out injured, on the other, he pointed out we didn’t need a striker because Nik B was back. Now everyone know’s I’m a fan of Nik, but he’s never done it on the finishing front for me and after being out for 3 months with an injury, I highly doubt he’ll be knocking them in for fun.
The game wore on, the creativity fizzled out and Arsenal took a point away with them. The boys dug deep and defended very well. Say what you want about Villa, but they are a very good team defensively and they have a very threatening attack. With our record for defending, a clean sheet here is very encouraging. We squandered chances, but there have only been 4 occasions this season when we’ve done so (One was the trip to Greece).
A disappointing result? Well, yes, we want to win all our games but a point is hardly disastrous, just irritating because we missed some sitters and the woodwork went against us.
What is truly disappointing is the injury to Vermaelen. He could be out for the season with a broken leg. Sol Campbell was superb tonight, don’t get me wrong, but an injury to our main man and the reliance on an older player to stay fit with Arsenals medical set up… well, it seems like a big ask. Not getting Smalling seems negligent, not having anyone else lined up could cost us the Premiership.
Losing Eduardo is also a blow. He hasn’t been flying of late, but we need all the players we can get our hands on at the moment.
Song needs to return ASAP because Denilson just doesn’t cut it as an Arsenal player at the moment. I don’t care if he becomes the next Zidane, right now, he’s awful. I’ve had 5 years of the future, a bit of now would be nice.
However, it must be noted that despite peoples impeccable memories, every successful team we’ve had was littered with a few marmite players who wouldn’t get into our apparently world class pub teams! Lets not pretend that Grimandi was a well loved player when his number used to flash up on the substitute board. Most people used to sigh the same sigh they do when they see Eboue warming up to come on up front. How about Cygan (My brother religiously has his name etched on his shirts), Vivas, Garde, Edu (For the bulk of his career bar the last year) and even Flamini in the early years? They all had the same love Denilson is getting now. Most of their names were only cemented in legend after they left…
As fans, we can’t afford to mope. People have to understand that we can’t win every game this year and a few draws are going to be part and parcel till the end of the year. Wins against Chelsea and Man U will put us right back in the mixer. Destiny is in our hands and it’s up to us to prove to the world we have what it takes to fulfill it.
I think it’s also a good time to remind you that when we won the league in 1998, we lost 6 games and drew 9, finishing up on 78 points. For me, teams are so much better this season, the likely points total for winning will be much closer to that number than the 90 point total teams have been reaching of late. In 2002 we lost 3 and drew 9. This season, we’ve lost the same amount as United and one more than Chelsea who have a game in hand. You can’t go on seasons past, you have to take this year as different, more competitive and unlikely to be a run away for anyone.
I’m confident, so should you be… the games are coming thick and fast and the next three could see one of the greatest turnarounds of the decade!
This isn’t a rallying cry, it’s a demand!
Putting one over the Mancs? I’m getting excited already!
See you in the comment!
Almunia: Made some tidy saves, dealt with his crosses like his intention was to see how close he could get his glove to the ball without touching it. 6
Sagna: I thought he dealt with Villas pace well today, a good performance. 7
Vermaelen: Not the best game I’ve seen him play. He made a few mistakes and got himself booked early. I’m worried about the injury (Rumoured to be a broken leg). 5
Campbell: So much for Sol losing it?! He came on and he was immense. He won balls in the box and slotted beautifully into the defence with Gallas. 8
Clichy: Caught out hideously on occasions but sorted himself out in the second half. 6.5
Gallas: Immense game from the Frenchman. He was powerful in the challenge, took responsibility in the box and put in a great performance. 8.5
Cesc: A very slow start to the game but came to life late on in the first half with a run that sparked the team. Much better second half, shame about the finishing. 7
Denilson: Not good enough. Sorry, but it doesn’t seem to matter where he is played, he can’t crack it. We know that flogging a dead horse sometimes sparks a career, but we’ve also seen what can happen when that process doesn’t work… he’s on loan at Everton if you were wondering. Poor positional play, naïve defending, sloppy tackling and an appalling lack of pace. 4
Arshavin: An anonymous first half, but a much improved second. His trickery and quick thinking was too much for Villa and at times, too much for Bendtner also. Unlucky not to score. 6.5
Eduardo: Very quiet. Injured. 5
Rambo: A disjointed first half with some very slack play. He got in the way when Rosicky could have scored which was pretty infuriating, but then again, he is only a kid. He had a better second half but didn’t drive the game like we know he can. 6
Bendtner: I wasn’t hugely impressed. It’s his first game back, so maybe I’m being unfair. His height definitely added something to our game but his hunger for goals is lacking for me. Still, maybe he’ll find his shooting boots for the United game, then all will be forgiven! 6
Rosicky: Unlucky to get blocked in the first half, guilty of not placing the ball in the second half. I thought his pace and ingenuity shone through in the second half. 7