February 28, 2010
Yet again Arsenal’s fans and players had to witness the sickening sight of one of their own being horrifically injured by a reckless tackle. With the memory of Eduardo's broken leg at St Andrews in 2008 still fresh in the memory, Aaron Ramsey suffered a similar fate at Stoke yesterday, marring what should have been a victory to savour.
Arsene Wenger was understandably furious and called the challenge "unacceptable", citing that it was the third such injury inflicted on Arsenal players in recent years - Eduardo and Diaby being the other victims. The manager was right to be angry. Though Shawcross did not go in with his studs up, he was late and wild. It was the sort of tackle that would have disgraced a Sunday morning game at Hackney Marshes let alone a match in the Premiership.
February 21, 2010
Midweek away trips in the Champions League often lead to lacklustre performances the following weekend. Saturday lunchtime, Manchester United were humbled by Everton at Goodison Park and, later in the afternoon, the Arsenal made hard work of a somewhat easier assignment at home to Sunderland, eventually seeing off their visitors 2-0.
Though the Gunners dominated possession, it wasn't until the 27th minute that they took the lead when, after a strong run, Emmanuel Eboue danced through the Sunderland defence and presented Nicklas Bendtner with a tap-in. It was just the sort of confidence boost that the young Dane needed as he finds his feet again after a long lay off from injury but it was provided by some fine work by the Ivorian who was Arsenal’s stand-out performer yesterday.
February 18, 2010
"We know that when you go to Porto you need a solid defensive performance". So said Arsene Wenger following last week's victory over Liverpool. What we actually got was a horror show of a performance from Lukasz Fabianski that saw the Gunners go down 2-1 in a match that they really ought to have taken a result away from.
In the 24 hours since the final whistle Porto's goals have been shown innumerable times on the television and they don’t get any easier to watch with each viewing. The first saw Gael Clichy skinned on the right wing and Fabianski, with no one near him and caught in a bad position, fumble the resultant cross into the net. The second was a comedy of errors between Sol Campbell and the hapless Polish keeper, except there really wasn't anything remotely funny about it.
February 11, 2010
Victory over Liverpool at Ashburton Grove on Wednesday night, coupled with favourable results elsewhere, lifted the spirits of Arsenal supporters after what has been a frustrating and disappointing few weeks.
Abou Diaby's headed goal in the 72nd minute was enough to clinch the points in a scruffy game. The Gunners successfully held off a late rally by the visitors with Manuel Almunia pulling off a tremendous save by tipping a Ryan Babel strike onto the bar to provide the only other truly notable moment of the evening aside from the goal.
Before the match, the atmosphere in the stadium was subdued with the hangover from the defeat at Chelsea still having not worn off. The action in the first half - if you can call it action - did little to shift the gloom. It was as dreary and untidy a spectacle as you can imagine two teams at the right end of the Premier League producing. No tempo, a staggering number of misplaced passes and we had to wait until the 45th minute before Arsenal mustered a shot at the Liverpool goal that actually required Reina to make some sort of save.
February 7, 2010
Didier Drogba maintained his hoodoo over Arsenal by scoring two first-half goals that clinched all three points for Chelsea today at Stamford Bridge. His strikes gave the Gunners too much to do in salvaging something from what was a must-win match were they to keep any lingering title hopes alive. Frustratingly though, those two goals owed more to poor defending from Arsene Wenger's team than they did to the Ivorian's brilliance.
After a drubbing at the hands of Manchester United last weekend, a trip to Chelsea was probably the last thing Arsenal needed but that was the task the fixture computer set. One can almost imagine the team talk before the game being along the lines of: "Keep it tight at the back early on and then try to nick the first goal". Sadly, the Gunners did neither.