The best are always the ones you don’t expect. Beating Stoke was great, watching Andy Carrol blaze a last minute penalty was joyous, seeing United humiliated at home was superb but finishing things off with Chelsea being beaten by QPR and listening to John Terry wriggle his way out of being a racist… Well, that was just gold!
The line up was minus Robin, the coach opting to rest him in favour of Chamakh. He went with JD at right back and gave our defence quite a physical look.
Stoke stole in with the first attempt at goal when Etherington dragged a hopeful low shot wide. We were controlling proceedings though. Chamakh had his first attempt on goal when he latched onto a corner that bounced in the box, he could only steer wide.
The first long throw of the match took forever to come in, Delap’s time wasting is awful, it came in like a bullet but Mertesacker dealt with it without panic.
Stoke wanted to make a violent impact on the game and had their chance when a ball headed out for a throw and their full back smashed through Arteta (sunshine in my eyes, name check please!).
It has to be noted, Stoke weren’t playing with their usual intent. A draw at halftime was on the agenda for them.
We broke them though, Rambo chipped a delightful ball over their defence, Gervinho chested it down and fired in. No mistake today!
‘1-0 to the football team.’ reverberated around the ground!
No sooner had the Ivorian made himself a hero, he’d made himself the muppet. Stoke had an innocuous freekick about 35 yards out, Gervinho managed to miss the dinosaur of Shawcross behind him, the defender made his move, the ball not the player was tracked, he picked out his header and after a bit of head tennis, Peter Crouch knocked it in.
Bad defending because of a switch off. I hope he was boll*cked for that.
The second half exposed that lack of spark we’ve suffered from most of the season, we had plenty of the ball but finding a decent outlet was proving tough. Theo was back to his infuriating worst and as Stoke got closer to a point, their gamesmanship started to shine through. Mertesacker was pulled down with two hands in the penalty area right in front of the lino who ignored the foul.
We werent helping ourselves, our forward three were playing far too narrow which played right into the hands of a defence who train to be an impenetrable wall of 8.
It was time for some changes. Off came Chamakh and Theo, on came Arshavin and Robin. The difference was immediate. Gervinho switched flanks and Arshavin put Stoke on the back foot with his unpredictable play.
It didn’t take long for us to pull ahead, Arteta chipped a ball out wide to Gervinho, he pushed into the box and cut back to Robin who bundled it over the line. Fancy that, a striker making a run into the box!
It didn’t take long for us to stretch that lead and bury the game, this time Gervinho took to the other winger, found his way past the dozy stoke defence, cut back and whadya know, Robin was there to help the ball over he line in quite grubby fashion!
3-1 up… The crowd were over joyed, the players even brought out some one touch football for us! Most stayed till the end and gave the players plenty of love and applause, was that because of massive train delays? Maybe. Who cares though, the players won’t know!
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Chezzer: Hard to fault him for the goal. In the main, a solid game, his passing is improving and he doesn’t let high balls into the box phase him. Capello said yesterday that you don’t win anything without a good goalkeeper, at least we have that area covered now. 7
Santos: I can’t really work him out yet, one minute I think he’s the new Sylvinho, others I think he looks a bit slow and cumbersome… and dare I say it, a touch casual? 6
JD: I like the fact he’d clearly read my last match report and taken the Cesc comparisons literally. A few hospital passes had to occur before he decided that he should just stick to playing right back. He dropped a few Senderos like clangers but as the game grew, he started to play much better. 6.5
Mertesacker: I think it’s difficult to put the goal on him or Koscielny. When you have all the time in the world to pick out crouch in the 6 yard box, it’s always going to be tough to defend against. Overall though, things were far less fraught than they usually are. Less panic and no real aerial problems. A marked improvement. 7.5
Koscielny: He’s really starting to grow as a player next to an experienced centre back. I love his tenacity and the snapping at ankles he does. He doesn’t give anyone much time and I can see him being a solid asset for us this season. 8
Arteta: A much better performance from the Spaniard, he roughed it and he tried to play ball. His long range pass to find Gervinho for the second was top notch. He still isn’t sparkling, but I think that is more to do with him finding what his role in the team is than anything else. 7
Song: He’s certainly playing a deeper role this season, the bounding into the box of last year has been curtailed for the solidity of the team and when he just plays in front of the back four, he’s fine. His dodgy passing in the final third leaves a lot to be desired, but in fairness, if you watch defensive midfielders across Europe, there aren’t many that ooze class on the distribution front and his isn’t that bad in comparison. 7
Ramsey: A very encouraging performance from the Welshman. He covered plenty of ground and made it known to Stoke that he wasn’t a shrinking violet. Loved his energy, loved his assist and I’m pretty pleased he’s starting to find some much needed form. 8
Theo: A bit of a garbage game from the wideman. Sometimes he looks like a footballer, most of the time he just looks like a very fortunate sprinter. He struggles to dribble past players, he makes poor passing decision and unless a team lets him run at them, he’s a pretty impotent force. The crowd are far less forgiving of him this year and it’s a shame that after 5 years of dross, he’s not going to leave us next summer with us all regretting his loss. Must up his game, or the only club interested will be Everton. 5
Gervinho: Many have questioned whether he’s been a duff buy, I haven’t thought so. I think we’ll have form like this from him all year. He blows hot and cold, but when he blows hot, he’s hot. He was awkward, busy and clinical yesterday. His first goal was Thierry-esque with some superb control to boot, his two assists were fantastic as well, a proper wing wizard contribution! His best game in an Arsenal shirt and the perfect lift before the Chelsea game next week. 9
Chamakh: He’s just not a very good player. His movement is telegraphed, his control isn’t top four and his passing is at times, is horrendous. If Robin gets injured, I’m not sure how we’ll cope in his absence. 5
Robin: Came on and done the business as always. The big worry is how dependent we are on his talent. Outside him, there are no goals. He’s a massive boost for the crowd and he’s a massive boost for the team. Our whole game changed with his introduction and he stood up and let himself be counted when it mattered. A captains performance! 8.5
Arshavin: A great cameo appearance out wide or wherever he fancied playing. He gave balance on the wings. What I mean by that is that we went from 10 men with Theo on, to 11 men when Arshavin came on. 7
Frimmers: Came on, then lost it, then won it back. 6
We’re building a bit of momentum now. We’ve got a reasonably solid base to work from and we’re starting to find out way in attack. Chelsea don’t look quite so daunting after their loss yesterday, so overall, things are looking up. It’s an interesting step change in expectation amongst Arsenal fans at the moment, we know we’re not great, so every win holds that little bit more joy. 4th place really is going to be a trophy this year and after the weekends results, it looks like it’s at least attainable if we can grind out some consistency.
Roll on Bolton!
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I’m off for a cup of delicious blind coffee to kick start my day…