Arsenal met the Spuds today in a derby looking to cement their superiority in the North London area. This game has never been interesting in the recent past, and the fact that there has only been one 0-0 scoreline in the last 31 games certainly goes to show that. Make that 32 now…
There’s only 1 word strong enough to describe our first half performance—-frustrating! We had our chances, with Gervinho particularly wasting rather a good opening after great work by van Persie down the left. But we were on the back-foot for most of the half, and our attackers really struggled. Ramsey was poor in the middle of the park, giving away a number of balls when under pressure. I just remember one good lofted ball which he played in to RVP, who won a free-kick off Kaboul. Arteta went near with it, but we needed something much more miraculous.
Walcott was anonymous at best. There was one instance when he received the pass from Gervinho and blasted it over with his left foot when he should have passed it back to Gervinho, who was blasting clear through the middle absolutely unmarked. His decision-making still needs to improve, and even Cappuccino wouldn’t have been impressed with his toothless display.
Our defence, well….i can’t really say much about it. I think Mertesacker was the only one holding us together. He did make a couple of mistakes, but they were mistakes I could forgive. He could have done better with his positioning for their goal, but no one’s perfect, and he had to get out there to close down the player, whatever people say. Overall, our defence wasn’t in shambles, but it was under high pressure for large parts of the game, and the midfield could have done better to protect it. Coquelin was fantastic, and was the Man of the Half for me.
What a start to the half. It was the classic North London start; they come forward, we shut the freaking door in their ugly faces, they try to keep the ball, we LEGALLY kick them to bits and get the ball back. Our hard work paid off within 5 minutes, when Song surged forward down the left and squared for Ramsey to power home from close range. 1-1, and the momentum was well and truly back with us.
We then attacked their goal incoherently for the next 12 minutes or so. They couldn’t get a touch of the ball, and we absolutely broke down their every single move within a couple of passes. But the final ball was lacking. Ramsey went close again, but was ruled offside.
Then Adebayor ran clear after indecisive play by our defenders, and Szczesny pulled off one of the best saves you’re going to see this season. Then began a period of pinball football, with both teams struggling to get a hold of the ball. At the end, Walcott showed his inaptitude again by putting in a hopeless cross after Arsenal had put 15 or so passes together.
Sagna fell victim to the garbage-dump that the Spud stadium is with a heavy landing 3 feet outside the touchline. Unfortunately, the grass ends a foot outside, so he fell onto the hard apron out there. A nasty twist of the leg later and Jenkinson came on at right-back, to face Bale of all people. Here’s hoping that it’s nothing serious for our solid Frenchman.
Benayoun came on for Walcott soon after. A poor performance from him, completely disappeared in the final third. He really needs to buck up if he wants to hold off competition for his starting spot. Anyway, Benayoun came on for his hard-working attitude, and to protect the inexperienced Jenkinson.
Then a goal completely out of the blue, with Walker striking from 30 yards or so. The ball dipped and swerved, and made a complete nuisance of itself, with Szczesny unable to read its flight. Some will say that he probably should have done better, but I can’t really say anything on that. It was a once-in-a-lifetime goal, one of the freak ones that only happen in games like these, one near exact a miracle like Rose’s 2 seasons back.
Arshavin was thrown on for Gervinho, and was in my opinion at the time one of the major mistakes of the game. We needed another forward on, and we should have thrown on Park for those last 15 minutes. Anyway, Song came very close from a corner immediately afterwards, and was always a force on set-pieces on both sides of the pitch.
Bale ran forward at least 70 yards, taking Benayoun and Jenkinson out of the game before squaring for Defoe, who forced a very smart save from Szczesny. Our keeper had a great game, in truth, and along with Coquelin, didn’t deserve to be on any losing side.
We went forward time and again in the last part of the game, but the final ball was seriously lacking. Meanwhile, the Spuds tried to hit us on the counter, and came close a number of times. 5 minutes were added on, and you could sense the apprehension around the ground. Unfortunately, Arsenal didn’t capitalize on any of it.
I should think that more than half of the added time went away on corners and silly free-kicks conceded. Mertesacker stayed forward, but then no one put the ball in!
We even put Szczesny up for the last 2 corners, but to no avail. The Spuds got the bragging rights again, and Arsenal’s woes continue……
Honestly speaking, it wasn’t such a bad performance if we look at it from another angle. We looked good going forward, but we crumbled when we really needed to stand up and spit in their faces. I don’t have any complaints against the ref; he got a number of decisions spot on, and we cannot pin this on him. I can’t say about the hand ball, but that’s part of football—we have to put that behind and attack on. There are a lot of positives which can be taken from the game, but the time has come for these results to turn into results…..