September 30, 2009
Two vital wins over the last four days have put the Gunners in control of their Champions League group and seen them head in the right direction in the Premier League too. In their different ways, the victories over Fulham and Olympiacos have shown that this Arsenal squad has developed since last year. On Saturday, the team proved they could "win ugly" and defend a slender one-nil lead and, on Tuesday night, they showed relentless endeavour in breaking down an Olympiacos side that had no attacking ambition whatsoever and defended with ten men.
After last season's debacle at Craven Cottage, many Arsenal supporters were looking to Saturday's match against Fulham as a barometer of whether this team has the heart required to come away from tricky away grounds with a result. Roy Hodgson's team are a different prospect on their own turf. They raise their game when hosting higher profile teams and are capable of overturning the formbook - as both Arsenal and Manchester United found to their cost last season.
Arsenal were a long way from their best, particularly in the first half, but when Robin Van Persie latched onto an exquisite pass from Cesc Fabregas and converted a sharp chance, it was enough to give the Gunners the edge. Some determined defending and a few decent saves from stand-in goalkeeper Vito Mannone saw the lead held and the three points safely banked.
September 23, 2009
After their victory in Belgium last Wednesday, back-to-back home wins were the perfect medicine to chase away the Manchester blues as Arsenal comprehensively brushed aside Wigan on Saturday and then a mixture of second-stringers and youngsters comfortably dealt with high-flying Championship leaders West Brom in the Carling Cup last night. All three wins were a great response from the squad to the two disappointing reverses at the hands of United and City.
If there had to be any criticism of the performance against Wigan it was that the margin of victory should have been greater. Only taking a one-nil advantage in at half-time belied the Gunners dominance and there was a sense that they were making hard work of a match that should have been over by the break. As it was, within three minutes of the restart, Thomas Vermaelen added to his first-half headed goal with a fabulous second - stroking the ball into the net from just outside the area. It was a strike that ended the game as a contest and from then on it was a cruise to three points as Eboue and Fabregas added a third and fourth respectively.
September 17, 2009
We wanted more ruthlessness from the team and last night we got it - just about. Having gone two goals behind in the first five minutes against Standard Liege, Arsenal fought back to win 2-3 and started their Champions League campaign with a valuable away victory. In truth though, it was one of the poorest displays of the season so far but, as we have found out in recent weeks, it is better to play badly and win than to play well and lose.
The start the Gunners made to the match could not have been worse. A defensive howler from Eduardo and a dubious penalty helped put Liege two up before Wenger’s players had even had the chance to settle into their rhythm and they looked rattled in the early stages. Once the opening flurry had died down, the home team sat back and attempted to soak up the building pressure as Arsenal began to dominate possession. It was a ploy that seemed to be working admirably for them and genuine goal-threats were restricted to a minimum throughout the half.
September 13, 2009
For the second time in two matches Arsenal returned home from Manchester with nothing to show for their efforts but a stinging sense of injustice. Whilst the 4-2 scoreline flattered City and the behaviour of Emmanuel Adebayor left a vile taste in the mouth, the Gunners can once again only blame themselves for not taking more from a game in which they were worthy of at least a share of the spoils.
Most of this morning's headlines rightly address the shameful performance of Adebayor. It is understandable that a player might think he has something to prove when coming up against a club that has discarded him but there are ways and means of going about that. The methods that Adebayor deployed to make his point only really served to prove what a classless and crass moron he is.