January 27, 2009
If any further proof was required that Gunners are severely lacking in midfield creativity during the absence of Cesc Fabregas, then Sunday's FA Cup tie at Cardiff provided a perfect illustration of this worrying fact. Though Samir Nasri is capable of making the occasional impact during matches, the likes of Alex Song, Aaron Ramsay and the hapless Emmanuel Eboue contributed very little towards Arsenal's attempts to break Cardiff down. In the end, the home team managed to keep their visitors at bay with relative ease.
It was a rough day for Ramsay in particular. Selected by Wenger in the centre of midfield against his former club, his display was one to forget. From the outset his passing was poor and he squandered possession time and time again. He is still a young player and maybe he will develop but right now he looks a long way from being the finished article. He was substituted on the hour for Abou Diaby who, in turn, showed very little in the way of being an improvement. Over the ninety minutes Alex Song had his usual ineffective game and how Emmanuel Eboue has managed to secure so many starts for the club this season is a mystery that only Arsene Wenger can answer. The Ivorian's form has been nothing short of abysmal for months now.
January 19, 2009
After their stunning victory at Ashburton Grove back in September, Hull City were always going to fancy their chances of completing an unlikely double when the Gunners visited the KC Stadium last Saturday. Certainly, the home team started the match full of intent and held plenty of possession in the early stages. Arsenal soon eased themselves into the game though and took the lead on the half hour when Emmanuel Adebayor emphatically headed home a Robin Van Persie corner.
From this point the Gunners should have gone on to dominate the match. But, as we have seen so many times this season, they allowed their opponents back into the match and sloppy defending from Gael Clichy presented them with a chance for an equaliser in the 65th minute that they duly took when Daniel Cousin got on the end of a Bernard Mendy cross, thumping a header past the flailing hands of Manuel Almunia. For reasons best known to himself, Clichy had backed off Mendy, failed to close down the cross and afforded the Hull winger the time and space to pick out his man.
January 13, 2009
It was a grim encounter between Arsenal and Bolton on Saturday afternoon at a freezing cold Ashburton Grove and the action on the pitch provided little to warm the hearts of the crowd. The visitors seemed intent on playing for a draw and lined up ten players behind the ball from the outset. Though the Gunners held the vast majority of possession, without the guile of Cesc Fabregas in midfield, they could not find a way through until the 84th minute when Robin Van Persie finally managed to slip behind the Bolton defence to deliver a delightful cross that was slammed into the net by Nicklas Bendtner. It was the only real moment of inspiration in the whole match and it delivered all three points and much relief to the Arsenal supporters.
The goal would have also come as a great relief to Bendtner himself. The young Dane has had a difficult second season even though his scoring record so far suggests he is well on-track to better his solid efforts of last term. Sadly though, for some reason, he has become a target for some sections of the crowd and his every mistake is greeted with howls of derision and complaints to the manager. It is true that he has struggled to show his best form so far this season but why he should be singled out for rough treatment is a mystery, particularly as there are plenty of other players in the squad who have been well below par since August and who are arguably more deserving of criticism.
January 8, 2009
Arsenal made their way through to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup with a comfortable but uninspiring victory over Plymouth Argyle at Ashburton Grove last Saturday.
The first half of the match was eminently forgettable with both teams failing to get the collective pulses of the crowd racing. The game sparked into life though in the early stages of the second period when Robin Van Persie headed home a Samir Nasri corner following virtually the Gunners' first attack of the half. The lead was doubled three minutes later when Nicklas Bendtner turned in a Van Persie cross. Within a matter of five minutes Arsenal had seemingly put themselves in control of the tie but before the home supporters could begin to relax Plymouth struck back in the 52nd minute when Karl Duguid lashed home a shot from ten yards. In recent months, Arsene Wenger's team have found it almost impossible to keep regular clean sheets and the spectres of so many leads thrown away this season reared their ugly heads.