Sunday, April 22, 2007

Arsenal dominate but don't win. Again.

First up, don't go and watch Arsenal Spuds games in south-east london. For certain reasons, I found myself dahn sarf at midday yesterday and rushed to a nearby pub that I knew would be showing the match. On arrival, at least half the pub was spuds; at least. And many were the worst sort: they celebrated at half time as if it was full time; they screamed 'seedahn' every time we had a chance; they repeatedly sung the Wenger is a.... chant. Sometimes a little part of me feels sorry for the spuds - never in the title race, always choking; at others I remember what a sizeable portion of their fan-base is like, and I think they have the club they deserve.

Anyway, to football, where, yet again, we dominate a game, create hundreds of chances, but are punished for a lack of cutting edge.

The first half was a reasonably balanced affair, with Adey having a goal wrongly (?) disallowed and Keane sneaking in at the back post to punish some poor defending from a corner. Both Jens and Clichy were at fault for the goal, and whilst Keane's finish was instinctive we shouldn't be conceding sloppy goals like that. Jens, who had a middling game, needs to be better at command ing his area. His antics, which usually help us, hindered our performance yesterday, and contributed to the delays which led to Jenas's 94th minute strike.

But before the half was out Adebayor should have scored, as he blazed over when presented with an open goal. It's misses like that which make me have sympathy for David James's idea of performance related pay for footballers. To be fair to Adey, he never stopped trying despite his efforts hitting posts and being disallowed. He's a real asset to the squad, and hopefully next year he'll have more of a chance to play next to strikers who can actually score.

The defining moment of the match was undoubtedly Freddie's substitution. The team doesn't quite click without Cesc pulling the strings, and despite a superb performance from Diaby, it's clear why Arsene plays Cesc in almost every game. Both our goals came from Cesc-pieces (i'm sorry couldn't resist). That hasn't happened for a long time, and it was nice to see us vary our play, but Cesc's overall performance was a joy to behold. With our utter second half dominance, an equaliser seemed on the cards, and our overall performance should have meant that Adey's goal was a winner.

But when you squander the chances we had, pressure builds, and the chance is always there of the last minute reprieve that the spuds snatched. Also, when a striker like Baptista is up-front, chances are, seemingly, always going to be mised. Despite my hopes, he is clearly not good enough, and with his rant this week about English weather, i'd be very surprised to see him stay.
At half-time I was genuinely fearing defeat; by full-time I was gutted with a draw. Such is football. It was an encouraging performance nonetheless, with several players really shining. Diaby bestrode the midfield and looks a real prospect; Eboue not only looked good going forward but kept Lennon in his pocket; Cesc, even with the flu, dictated the game.

After a thoroughly depressing series of results, we've had two wins and a draw that should have been a win in a week. We've finally started scoring, and we've repeatedly shown enough spirit and desire to drag ourselves back from going one goal down. The defence still looks too leaky for my liking, but it now seems conceivable that we're going to end the season with a flourish. If we could win our remaining three games, and get everyone back to fitness, next season might be very interesting.


pd said...

There's a lot to be optimistic about.

Check out

Anonymous said...

Wenger got the formation and the late substitutions wrong but Fabregas made Arsenal tick.

The introduction of fabregas changed everything including the formation to 4 5 1 which suited Arsenal