January 31, 2010
They almost had us fooled didn't they? Two weeks ago the Gunners beat Bolton and went to the top of the table. At that point, even the most sceptical Arsenal fans must have dusted off that little box that all football supporters keep at the back of the cupboard marked "hope" and taken the lid off. After today's crushing defeat at the hands of Manchester United though, Arsene Wenger's team looked as far away from being genuine title contenders as they could be and that little box has been put away again for another season.
Today at Ashburton Grove, Arsenal were outclassed and out-played by their visitors and were lucky that they weren’t on the end of a heavier beating. In fact, it flattered them that Thomas Vermaelen’s late consolation effort got them on the scoresheet at all.
January 29, 2010
After a disappointing exit from the FA Cup at Stoke at the weekend, Arsenal followed up with a goalless draw at Aston Villa on Wednesday night. This was the first of a run of four games that could very well determine whether the Gunners are serious challengers for the title this season.
In truth, the draw at Villa Park was probably a fair result. The home team had the single best chance of the match and the better of the first half. For their part, Arsene Wenger’s side looked more dangerous in the second period and hit the woodwork in both halves.
January 21, 2010
Arsenal blasted back against Bolton at the Grove last night to turn a two-goal deficit after 28 minutes into a 4-2 victory by the final whistle. It was a result that sent them back to the top of the table for the first time since August and is a huge psychological boost for both the players and supporters. Two months ago, they looked like title no-hopers but their current position at the summit ought to give everyone belief that they are still contenders - at least in terms of the results they are producing.
The qualification at the end of the last paragraph is necessary because whilst the result last night was what everyone was hoping for, there were aspects to the performance that were less than pleasing and ought to be a concern for the manager. Firstly, for the second home game running, the team took an age to get into their running. Against Everton, only when they had gone a goal behind did the players find some appetite for the match. Last night it was worse as they supinely let Bolton go into a two-goal lead - and it was hard to argue that the visitors did not deserve it. Secondly, some of the defending last night was atrocious. Even in the second half when Arsenal were leading, Bolton mounted a serious threat with virtually every attack as the Gunners failed to cut off lines of service in midfield and struggled to mop up the consequences of that in the penalty area. On another day, against a team who were capable of smarter finishing, the result could have been very different.
January 18, 2010
There was a time in the not-too-distant past that matches at Bolton regularly proved to be traumatic experiences for Arsenal. Yesterday though, the Gunners turned in an efficient and solid away performance to beat the Trotters 2-0 and hot up the pace at the top of the table.
A goal from the inspirational Cesc Fabregas put Arsene Wenger’s men in front and the lead might have been increased before the break had a couple of decent penalty shouts - both coming from challenges on Arsenal’s captain - been awarded. Bolton had their chances too but the visitors rode their luck and secured all three points with a strike from substitute Fran Merida in the 78th minute.
January 10, 2010
Arsenal looked more like pretenders rather than contenders as they scrambled a home draw with Everton at Ashburton Grove yesterday. A last-gasp deflected effort from Tomas Rosicky rescued a point that the Gunners barely deserved having looked second best all afternoon.
After the match Arsene Wenger praised the team's fighting spirit in keeping going to salvage a draw. It might have been better if they had shown that level of urgency from the kick off though rather than trying to raise their game far too late on. To say the Gunners were slow to start would be an understatement. They looked disinterested and clueless. In the sub-zero temperatures in North London, most of the players gave the impression they would rather be anywhere else than running around in the cold.
January 4, 2010
Arsenal maintained their enviable record of not having exited the FA Cup at the 3rd Round stage during Arsene Wenger’s tenure by producing two late goals to beat West Ham 2-1 at Upton Park yesterday.
The Gunners found it hard to hit their stride against an industrious Hammers team. When the home team took the lead in first half injury time, it was hard-earned even if not necessarily deserved. The scrappy nature of the game continued until the last fifteen minutes when, following the introduction of Nasri and Diaby, Arsenal found some quality just as West Ham ran out of steam. Smart finishes from Aaron Ramsey and Eduardo, saw the one-goal deficit overturned and Arsenal safely into the 4th round where they will face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.