I don’t know whether it was the abundance of beer, or just the reality. I’m hoping I’ll get some clarity. But I’m sure I just witnessed the greatest right back performance of the season and it came from a player I dislike with full blooded passion.
Yesterday was all about Emmanuel Eboue. He showed the skill he probably demonstrates in training every day and put on a master class in attacking full backery. His mazy runs and tireless work rate were a wonder for the home crowd to watch. If he could do that every week, not only would he start as our right back, he’d be the best one in the country!
Sunderland lacked everything a Steve Bruce side normally has. They played like a team who believed in their own hype after a nice 10 game streak at the start of the year. A real lack of effort on their part combined with a sparky and resilient performance from Arsenal… well, the result was only going one way this afternoon.
The first goal came when Eboue burst into the box with a penetrative run, he jinked in and out turning three Sunderland defenders inside out, he shot across goal allowing Nik to nip in at the back post to tap into the empty net.
Nik Bendtner had a great chance to prove his value to the team today and I’m afraid he didn’t give us his best performance. His control isn’t crisp, the ball usually ends up off the ground disrupting his ability to do anything thing with pace. His lack of instinct for the goal is also worrying. We can talk about work rate till we’re blue in the face but banging them away has to come into the picture at some point. 2 occasions today sparked cause for concern. The first was when Nasri crossed into the box, Ferdinand mistimed the header, Nik didn’t even bother to anticipate this and missed out on a simple header. The second was when he was cut in with a pass from out on the left, he controlled the ball with his left foot instead of his right, then duffed his chance onto the bar. Chances like that should be creeping in and in big games, you’re only going to get one… worrying from the Dane.
There were the usual lapses in concentration at the back. Almunia had to make a tidy save when Bent got through one on one, then Kenwyne Jones beat the offside trap, surged into the box and luckily hooked his shot wide. Bruce said his star striker was worth £30mill. Seriously, it’s that type of talk that gets Premiership clubs into trouble!
The second half was all Arsenal in the main. Sunderland did scare the Arsenal back 4 a few times but Almunia was out to impress today and he wasn’t going to allow the ball the chance to get cosy with his net today!
Arsenal huffed and puffed, but Craig Gordon was in an equally defiant mood and pulled out some classy saves to keep his players team in it. He looks very similar to Ian Curtis of Joy Division… errily so!
Our reward came late in the half, Cesc was bundled over in the box, the ref pointed to the spot! Up stepped Cesc to bury a pin point penalty into the bottom right corner. He ran over to the faithful and did some impressive air punching.
The ref blew up and Arsenal had taken an important 3 points. 2 points behind United, 6 behind Chelsea… and we’re really back in the mixing pot again!
Almunia: A top performance from our keeper. It seems silly that I have to praise our keeper for making 3 or 4 good saves in a game, but I will, because normally one sneaks in. 7
Clichy: I still don’t think he’s playing very well. He’s developed Howler Syndrome and I heard he caught it after sharing a towel with Senderos. I hope he can shake it off because if he doesn’t, Gibbs will surely step in next season. 6
Vermaelen: Had a powerful day at the office. He was quicker to every ball than the Sunderland pair were and he led the back line with much aggression. 8
Silvestre: He didn’t have a Sol Campbell type performance, but he did ok. He dropped a clanger when he set a poor offside trap that Jones took advantage of… but that is the Frenchman for you. 6
Eboue: If he could cut out the theatrics, I’d really like him as a player. Today he let his football do the talking with a superbly constructive afternoon of free flowing attacking full back play. The Sunderland boys didn’t know how to handle him because he was literally unplayable. Superb assist, deserved a goal. 9
Cesc: Not his best game of the season. His passing was sloppy at times and he got caught in possession on occasions. Still… he won a penalty and buried it. 7
Song: I thought he had a very solid game today, breaking up play where he could, distributing with efficiency. 7.5
Aaron Ramsey: Showed straight away why he should always get the nod over Denilson. He made surging runs, crunching tackles and had a few shots. He’s what you call real young talent. Shame he’s Welsh… 7.5
Nasri: I felt we got more for our money today. He covered his full back today, he put himself about and he made some telling attacking contributions. I just wish he’d do it more consistently. 8
Bendtner: He scored the tap in for the goal, which has to be credited. Bar that, it was a pretty cart horse like game for the Danish hitman. He needs to start scoring goals more regularly and he needs to work in his touch and alround play. He also needs to give up his penchant for hitting the wing… he’s not Thierry. His performances seem to have dropped from last season, he’s only got a few games left to prove us wrong. 6
Theo: £60k a week to watch him run up blind alleys, cross to Song’s imaginary friend and generally do very little. Today he did look like scoring twice, something I haven’t seen him threaten to do for a while. However, for the hype surrounding him, he’s really not delivering. If he can fuse that pace with any sort of productivity, we’ll have a top player on our hands… at the moment, it doesn’t feel like we’re anywhere near that. 6
So all in all, an expected win and a solid performance. Roll on Stoke City!
P.S. If you have any spares to the Burnley game coming up, I have plenty of Grovers looking! Drop me an e-mail! Oh, and I’ve noticed it getting a little narkey in the comments section, lets keep it friendly… we’re all gooners and a multitude of opinion helps the blog go round.