December 28, 2009
Cesc Fabregas came off the bench to make in inspirational contribution that proved to be the difference between the two teams at Ashburton Grove yesterday. Until his entrance into the fray it had been an even contest but, within the 27 minutes he was on the field, the captain had scored twice, turned the match and ensured that Arsenal took a vital three points from Aston Villa.
The only disappointment of the afternoon was seeing Fabregas pull up with a recurrence of his hamstring injury after his lung-bursting sprint on the way to scoring his and Arsenal’s second. It remains to be seen how much further rest he will require before Arsene Wenger feels comfortable with picking him again, but looking at the upcoming fixtures, it would seem understandable if he were to miss tomorrow night’s trip to Portsmouth. He would have been an unlikely selection for the FA Cup tie with West Ham anyway as the manager will almost certainly shuffle his pack for that encounter.
December 20, 2009
After a disappointing draw at Burnley, the Arsenal got themselves back to winning ways yesterday by comfortably seeing off Hull City courtesy of goals from Denilson, Eduardo and Diaby. With Chelsea and Manchester United again dropping points over the weekend, the Gunners have kept themselves in contention at the top of the table.
In freezing cold conditions at the Grove, yesterday’s first half was a scrappy forty-five minutes of football. Until Denilson stepped up to bend home a gorgeous free-kick on the stroke of the break, the most interesting thing that had happened was the minor scuffle that had ensued a few minutes earlier involving several players from both sides. It was nothing but handbags but it did spark a bit of life into what had been an otherwise flat half.
December 13, 2009
A sensational strike from Andrey Arshavin clinched a vital victory for Arsenal at Anfield that saw them make up ground on the top two and piled further misery onto Rafa Benitez's Liverpool. The little Russian's fizzing drive flew in off the post and was the one moment of true class in an otherwise forgettable encounter. It was a goal worthy of winning any game.
The Gunners had to come from behind to take the points after having been on the rack for much of the first half and they were somewhat fortunate to go in at the break only one down. Torres spurned a decent chance and Gerrard had a penalty claim turned down that would have been awarded most other weekends. Liverpool deservedly took the lead in the 41st minute when Fabio Aurelio floated an innocuous freekick into the box. Manuel Almunia came for it but could only ineffectually palm it out to Dirk Kuyt who steered the ball home. Despite having to wade through bodies, it was weak and indecisive goalkeeping from the Spaniard who still looks short on confidence and does not command the area as strongly as he should.
December 6, 2009
Arsenal got themselves back to winning ways at Ashburton Grove yesterday. Goals from Andrey Arshavin and Aaron Ramsey were enough to see off Stoke City and restore some of the Gunners' battered pride after a bruising seven days.
The victory was more workmanlike than it was brilliant. Stoke looked the livelier team in the early exchanges but gradually Arsenal imposed themselves on the match. In the 21st minute Cesc Fabregas missed a penalty and supporters began to wonder if it was going to be another one of those days. Five minutes later though, Andrey Arshavin freed himself from the attentions of the Stoke defence, fended off a challenge and hit a slide-rule shot into the far corner to give the Gunners the lead.