Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Hull of a finish gives Arsenal the points, as reinforcements look imminent

I do like my puns, so I make no excuse for the title.

What could have been another dispiriting away trip turned into a very nice little result, one orchestrated by a Robin van Persie who is really beginning to show hints that he could grow into the role vacated by his Dutch predecessor.

Robin has always been a hugely talented player, but I always felt that, until even last season, his decision making was a tad questionable. Whilst it was nice to see a player actually shoot, his play often seemed a little selfish, despite the return in goals he gave the team. Thus, he seemed to have one great game, in which he would usually get a brace, followed by two or three in which he would struggle to get involved.

This season, he really seems to have grown and matured as a player in what's been a difficult time for the club. Not only has he been scoring the usual crackers, he's also been pulling the strings up-front. A fairly incredible three assists against Hull, followed from the assist and the excellent game he had last week is really encouraging. I really hope he can stay fit til the end of the season, as the consistency in his form is surely stemming from his consistent availability.

Elsewhere, it was good to see Ade get on the score-sheet after a barren-patch, Nasri's second goal was about as good a finish as you'll see in the Prem this year, and Bendtner reprised his role as a goal-scoring impact sub. I'm sure he'll get a start next week against Cardiff, which will give him a chance to continue to make his claims for a place in the starting XI.

The only really negative notes from yesterday were both expected and unexpected. Eboue was completely rubbish, again, and his miss, when he shanked the ball wide in the first half was almost the polar-opposite of Nasri's cool finish.

Clichy was the only other note of concern. After a super couple of seasons, his form this year, starting with his dramatic error against the Spuds has been worrying. He now seems to average at least one serious error a game, and his crossing remains poor. His error yesterday stemmed purely from confidence. Instead of attacking the ball and the player, Gael backed away from the ball, fearing Mendy would again skin him for pace. This gave the Hull player far too much time to pick out Cousin, and put our backs against the wall. I really hope Gael's form picks up because he's one of the players i like the most in the current team.

So, as for reinforcements...

It appears that the Arshavin deal will be completed this week. After Arsene wrote him off as 'too light-weight for the Premiership' last summer, I have to say I am surprised to see us linked to him. His form at the Euros, aside from one game when he was marked out the match by the eventual champions, Spain, was dynamite,and he looks like the exciting type of attacking player we are often linked with. Crucially, he's already at, or at least nearing, his peak, so we are buying, hopefully, proven rather than potential talent. I'm sure the fee will be big, probably around €17 million, and I'm also sure that if the pound wasn't so weak against the euro we'd already have signed him. With Arshavin, on the verge of going on strike, there's only realistic way this is going to end.

If he doesn't come in, perhaps AC Milan's Youan Gourcuff would be worth a look, but with Kaka's alleged move to Man City on the cards, it may be the case that Gourcuff is taken back to Milan in the summer.

I hear Milan also have a French guy in their squad, who doesn't really get a game but might be worth a look, Mathieu something or other...

Til later.