Yesterday saw the the team run out 2-1 winners over Birmingham, having gone a goal down. The scorers were Zigic, Nasri and Chamakh. We started really well and both Wilshere and Diaby hit the ground running, the former linking up well with Chamakh with a couple of one-twos early on only for Carr to make a good sliding block of Chamakh’s shot. Though, I feel that if Chamakh hadn’t have tried to shoot across the keeper, it would have been a goal.
We then had a Squillaci header disallowed for offside. There wasn’t much in it, but offside is offside. Following the disallowed goal, Clichy missed a great opportunity following a cross by Nasri that was only half cleared by Dann, the ball fell to Larsson who then tried to lay it off for Carr to clear, but Clichy stole in and he really should have at least hit the target with his shot. However, it wasn’t to be.
We dominated the game in terms of possession, but our suspect defending reared it’s ugly head again for the opener. Fahey was allowed too much space and time to get his cross in, which was compounded by Djourou not getting tight enough on Zigic who scored with a very well placed header that didn’t really give Fabianski any chance of saving it. Can’t apportion any blame for the goal on the keeper. I did initially think that he was a bit slow to react, but having watched it again a few times, I think that the header was just so well placed that he couldn’t have gotten to it. Given the very makeshift nature of our defence, it was unsurprising to see them being a bit dodgy.
Our first goal came in somewhat controversial circumstances when Chamakh, who was already on his way down, way clipped on the foot by Dann. Now, people can say what they like about diving etc., but time and time again we hear the pundits talking about players ‘anticipating the challenge’ and ‘being clever’ which is exactly what Chamakh did in this instance. He got to the ball first, got the touch and there was no need for Dann to make the second swing at it once Chamakh had got the touch as the ball was gone before Dann made contact with Chamakh’s foot.
It was a bit of a soft penalty and some will say that he dived. But, I think that there is a difference between a dive where there has been absolutely no contact, and going down when you know that there is contact coming. Wayne Rooney did it against us last year, he go to the ball but it was going out of play, he saw Almunia coming and was already on his way down before contact had been made. Everyone said that he was clever and showed his experience and intelligence. It’s also a bit like when you have centre forwards, like Shearer, who continually back into the defender because they know that they will get a free-kick. They are anticipating the contact.
Yes, I think that Chamakh went down a bit easily and could have tried harder to stay on his feet but, I honestly don’t think you can call what he did a dive. I didn’t hear much of an outcry last year when Scott Parker dived in the box against us.
Also, whilst McLeish is happy to talk about it being no penalty, he conveniently forgets about the one that they got against us in the game where Eduardo’s Arsenal career, and our title challenge that season, was ended. Clichy won the ball in that incident, but the referee gave the penalty. Yesterday, Chamakh got the ball and Dann made contact, albeit slight, with Chamakh’s right foot after the ball had gone. Penalty. A soft penalty, but a penalty nonetheless. The penalty was then taken well by Nasri, who sent the keeper the wrong way. 1-1 at half-time.
The second half got off to a great start when Wilshere played a lovely little dink into Chamakh who did a nice little pirouette whilst Carr looked on and Chamakh finished nicely despite the despairing dive of Ben Foster. 2-1 and it was a really nicely worked, and finished, goal.
We then set about being totally frustrating going forward, contriving to undermine ourselves. Not getting the third goal always meant that we couldn’t relax and there were some poor tackles, one by Eboue and another by Wilshere. The latter getting a straight red. We can have no complaints about the sending off as we all know that it doesn’t matter whether or not he meant to make that kind of tackle or hurt the player. The fact is it was a mistimed tackle and was studs up, so he had to go. It’s something that he will learn from and he came out after the game and admitted that it was a poor challenge and that he deserved to be sent off. It was a really unfortunate end to his afternoon as he had had a really outstanding game, yet again.
With Fabregas nearing a return to first team action, maybe the suspension will give Wilshere the break that he probably needs in order to recharge his batteries a little and come back even more energised following his automatic three game suspension.
The most important thing yesterday was getting the three points, we can worry about our defensive issues and attacking profligacy later, though hopefully not too much later. It was good to see Bendtner get some playing time and let’s hope that he doesn’t suffer any kind of set-back.
Our win yesterday was made all the more important when Aston Villa and Chelsea drew 0-0 later in the evening. So, we are now in second place, level on fourteen points with ManUre but ahead of them on goal difference. The gap to Chelsea has been reduced from seven to five points.
I thought that Arshavin had a poor game for us yesterday and he is a player that really needs to up his game. I saw a quote from him recently wherein he said that he is a bit overweight, so it’s time for him to roll up his sleeves and put in some hard work in order to lose that weight and regain some form.
Former player (and eternal legend and bringer of joy) Robert Pires has been talking to L’Equipe about his current situation and thoughts on his future. I must admit that I would much prefer to see him stay with us in some form of mentor role for our younger players. To have someone like him around would be of invaluable benefit to the development of our younger players. Also, I would just hate it if he ended up signing for a cuntbucket like Pulis.
“ I spent six beautiful years at Arsenal. London became my home and I knew I would come back. On a professional level, I can imagine continuing my career here. Arsenal have offered me the opportunity to train and I can’t thank Arsene Wenger enough.
I am working with the reserves and sometimes with the professional group, which is perfect. England is probably the place where I have more chances to find a club. In England, people don’t look at your age. In Spain it was not the case, which is why I had to say goodbye.
Even for a club like Birmingham or Stoke City? Of course, if I have an opportunity from Aston Villa, I will rush. But I will analyse any proposition. I don’t want to go anywhere and fight every weekend for salvation. QPR? I would be attracted.
I am not necessarily looking for a six-month contract. I could imagine myself playing much longer. I will give myself until January 31st. If at the end of the winter transfer market I have not found a club, I will hang up my boots.”
Not a whole lot else going on, apart from the fact that that utter ballbag Pulis is STILL going on about Wenger, though this time he has finally admitted that he doesn’t like him. Never would have guessed that. Maybe it is because he is annoyed that he was publicly humiliated following his outing as a moronic naked head-butter (at the Emirates last season.) Message to The Naked Head-butter (TNH): suck my balls.
Right, that’s your lot for today. It’s still warm enough here in Yokohama to not need a jacket, so I am off out to enjoy what’s left of the afternoon.
Take it easy.