May 27, 2009
Arsenal rounded off their season in comfortable style on Sunday with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Stoke City at Ashburton Grove. Though nothing was riding on the match, it was a pleasing way for the team to sign off after a torrid couple of weeks.
It was heartening too that the crowd, the manager and players all headed off into the summer on good terms with each other. Throughout the game, Arsene Wenger’s name was sung loudly all round the stadium and any residual friction arising from the annual shareholders’ meeting appeared to be forgotten. The consensus seems to be that Wenger is still the man for the job but with the proviso that a few changes are made in the close-season. To his credit, the manager himself has acknowledged this in the interviews he has given so all we can do is sit back and wait to see what moves he makes before the new season kicks off again in August.
May 21, 2009
Arsenal turned in a creditable performance at Old Trafford last weekend and, despite not quite being able to find a goal to spoil the party, they did restore some of their battered pride. A nervous-looking Manchester United seemed happy to defend and hold out for a draw whilst the Gunners held the majority of possession and came close to nicking a goal on a couple of occasions. The score finished nil-nil which was all United needed to take the title and Arsene Wenger’s men could at least leave the stadium with their heads up.
Most of the talk this week though has been about the future of Arsene Wenger and Emmanuel Adebayor. Wenger was reportedly upset by some of the questioning he faced at the club’s annual shareholders’ meeting. This was followed by some interview quotes from the manager that seemed to suggest that he wouldn’t be entirely averse to considering taking the job at Real Madrid. Only a matter of days later these rumours were dead in the water and all seems to be sweetness and light again as the team go into their final match against Stoke on Sunday at Ashburton Grove.
May 11, 2009
It was another lamentable Arsenal performance at Ashburton Grove yesterday as the Gunners crashed to a 4-1 defeat against Chelsea to finish off a dismal week on a low note. The visitors did not have to work too hard for their win and were largely content to sit back and pick the Gunners off on the break. It was a ploy that bore dividends as Arsene Wenger's team yet again struggled to find any real cutting edge. Nicklas Bendtner’s headed goal was the only high spot for the home team but it was a response that came too late to turn the tide. For the most part, Arsenal played like a team for whom the end of the season now cannot come quickly enough.
Yesterday’s display added further fuel to the fire of criticism of both Wenger and his players that has been stoked by semi-final defeats to Manchester United in the Champions League and Chelsea in the FA Cup. The Gunners seemed to be all too easily brushed aside by a physically stronger and more committed team. Another trip to Old Trafford awaits this Saturday and one would imagine that is last place either the players or the manager want to go right now.
May 6, 2009
Arsenal went into last night's Champions League semi-final with plenty of hope and belief but, despite starting the game brightly enough, the tie was dead after eleven minutes as Manchester United struck twice early on through Jung-Si Park and Ronaldo. In the second half, the Portuguese international applied the finishing touch to a sweeping breakaway move to give the visitors a three-goal lead on the night and banish any hopes of a miracle. Robin Van Persie's penalty strike was barely consolation for an Arsenal team that were well beaten over both legs.
In a way it was an outcome that was hard to be upset about. The Gunners were comprehensively outplayed and over-powered in both legs and sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and accept you were beaten by the better team. What was bitterly upsetting though was being forced to witness the gulf in class between the two teams. In the earlier years of Arsene Wenger’s reign, Arsenal were able to square up to Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and trade blows with them toe-to-toe like two bare-knuckle fighters. Both teams were physical but could also play football. Over the two legs of this semi-final though, Arsenal were unable to live with United’s power, ability and desire. It was painful to watch and is something to be very upset about indeed.