March 23, 2009
When it mattered, Arsenal dug deep and summoned some true class to overcome a dogged Newcastle United and clinch a vital away win at St James' Park on Saturday evening.
With Aston Villa on the wrong end of a thrashing by Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, it was a victory that consolidates the Gunners position in the top four going into next week's international break but, more importantly, it showed further proof that the team are beginning to rediscover their form just at the right time.
The first half at St James' Park was wide open and the action flowed from end to end from start to finish. It may have been entertaining fare for neutrals watching the match but for Arsenal and Newcastle fans it was simultaneously exhilarating and nerve-shredding. Neither midfield got to grips with dominating the game and, consequently, passages of play by both teams moved swiftly from back to front. The Geordies looked certain to take the lead when awarded a first-half penalty – Manuel Almunia having bundled over Ryan Taylor. The Spaniard immediately atoned for his error by saving Obafemi Martins' penalty. Arsenal also had their chances and only some desperate defending from Newcastle kept the scores level going into the break.
March 18, 2009
In the last couple of weeks, Arsenal's season has taken on a much rosier hue. The goals have started flowing, fourth place has been wrested back off Aston Villa, safe passage to the Champions League Quarter Final has been achieved and a first trip to the new Wembley has been secured to face Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi Final. After several months of frustrating results, the Gunners have chiselled out some important wins that give them plenty to play for between now and May.
Last Saturday’s victory over Blackburn was crucial. After the previous stuttering performances at Ashburton Grove against Fulham and Sunderland, three points were needed to exert some pressure on the faltering Aston Villa and these were duly attained with some ease. An early own goal from the visitors gave the Gunners the advantage. Andrey Arshavin opened his Arsenal account in the 65th minute cutting down the bye-line and smashing a shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle. Substitute Emmanuel Eboue completed the 4-0 rout with two late strikes – the first a close-range effort and the second from the penalty spot.
March 13, 2009
On Wednesday night in Rome, Arsenal turned in a performance that may have lacked fluency, cohesion and a cutting edge, but when nerves of steel were required in the penalty shoot-out, Arsene Wenger's young team kept their heads and admirably navigated their way into the quarter finals of the Champions League.
The relief and joy that was unleashed when Max Tonetto skied his penalty over the bar was palpable. For a team that is often criticised for not being able to "win ugly", the victory achieved in this tie could not have come any uglier. It was a display to forget but an outcome to enjoy.
March 9, 2009
Arsenal made light of getting past Burnley in their FA Cup Fifth Round encounter on Sunday and this, coupled with the Gunners Under-18s knocking Spurs out of the FA Youth Cup at the Quarter Final stage last Thursday evening, made it a great week of cup action for the club.
Such is the interest in the FA Youth Cup and, indeed, the rivalry between Arsenal and Spurs that nearly 20,000 spectators turned up to watch the under-18s slug it out at White Hart Lane for a place in the semi-final of the competition. Though the Young Guns saw more of the ball in the first half, it was Spurs who took the lead in the 6th minute - Jonathan Obika finishing off a breakaway move.
March 3, 2009
After another highly frustrating nil-nil home draw on Saturday, nothing less than a win was required at West Brom on Tuesday night and, thanks to two goals from Nicklas Bendtner and one from Kolo Toure, a win was what Arsenal got.
It is a victory that heaps pressure onto Aston Villa ahead of their fixture at Manchester City on Wednesday night and was just what the doctor ordered after four successive goalless draws in the Premier League.
Last Saturday, Fulham came to Ashburton Grove and gave the Gunners a really stiff examination. On balance, the visitors were arguably the better team over the ninety minutes. That said, Arsenal had chances to win the match but, such has been the recent lack of belief in front of goal, a decisive strike never really looked like coming.