January 26, 2011
3-0 home victories against Wigan on Saturday and Ipswich last night have seen Arsenal go second in the Premier League and book their spot in the Carling Cup Final. Last night’s semi-final win took a little time coming but second-half goals from Bendtner, Koscielny and Fabregas saw the Gunners into their first cup final since losing to Chelsea in the same competition at the Millennium Stadium in 2007.
Ipswich deserve a huge amount of credit and praise for the way they played last night. In the face of an almost constant onslaught they had an awful lot of defending to do but for an hour they held firm and, for the most part, looked reasonably comfortable. Though the Gunners held the upper hand in terms of possession throughout, they seemed to find it difficult to plough their way through the Tractor Boys’ massed defences. Robin Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas both came close in the first half but, at the interval, it was the visiting fans who were the happier.
Cesc Fabregas Celebrates His Goal Against Ipswich©PA Photos
January 20, 2011
After the debacle at Ipswich last week Arsenal needed to show more professionalism and they did just that in the games against West Ham and Leeds. Both were beaten comfortably with the minimum of fuss and bother. If only it could always be like that against inferior opposition.
West Ham are a club in crisis at the moment - and it showed. It is hard to know what is going on behind the scenes there but what is happening on the pitch is evidently not of Premier League standard and it hasn’t been for most of the season. Trips to West Ham have often been hard work in recent years but there were no such concerns this time round. Goals from Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott in the first half put the Gunners firmly in the driving seat and, after the Walcott had been felled in the area by Wayne Bridge, it was Van Persie who also stepped up to convert a 76th minute penalty to seal the game.
RVP Heads Arsenal's Third at Elland Road©Associated
January 13, 2011
If Leeds gave fair warning about the dangers of complacency and dropping your level of application when playing lower league teams in the Cup, it was not one that was heeded by the Gunners.
On Saturday, Arsenal had a let-off. Last night they were deservedly punished by Ipswich in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final.
Yes, believe it or not, it was a semi-final. One step away from Wembley and the chance to, you know, actually win something. You might have thought that this would have negated the need for any sort of team-talk. The players, professionals that they are, would rise to the occasion and dispatch Ipswich in the same ruthless manner that Chelsea did at the weekend in the FA Cup. What we actually got was one of the most flaccid, toothless and woeful performances of the season - and there have been quite a few similarly lame displays to compare it to.
Tamas Priskin Celebrates His Winning Goal Last Night©PA Photos
January 6, 2011
Well, everyone expected City would come to Ashburton Grove to play for a draw but who knew that one of the most expensively-assembled teams in the world could be quite so negative and technically bereft?
Waiting for the players to emerge from the tunnel before last night’s match, I looked to the stadium’s away section and wondered why the visiting fans had only taken half the allocation normally afforded to traveling supporters. It was very odd. I know it was a Wednesday night but, for such a big game, you would still expect a team like City to fill the full corner where the Clock End and East Stand meet. They had always done so on recent visits. But, by the end of the 90 minutes, it was perfectly evident why their fans weren’t there in any great numbers. Who would travel half the length of the country and pay good money to watch their team intentionally play like that?
Alex Song Tackles Yaya Toure©PA Photos
• Wallace Poulter gives the Man City view
January 1, 2011
Arsenal completed their trio of festive fixtures and rung in the New Year with an emphatic win at St Andrews which keeps them well up with the pace at the top of the table.
The Christmas and New Year period is always a testing time as the games come thick and fast. Going into the three games over the holidays, most Arsenal supporters would probably have settled for seven points from a possible nine but, after the team produced such a magnificent victory over Chelsea, it was disappointing that they let themselves down at Wigan two days later. The win at Birmingham today though got the team back on track and was a great confidence booster ahead of the visit of Manchester City to Ashburton Grove on Wednesday night.
Robin Van Persie Hits Arsenal's First at Birmingham©PA Photos