Posted by Andre The Giant
One of the lovely things about Come On The Arsenal is that we have three bloggers, of which our only shared view is a passion for Arsenal. Often our thoughts regarding the current state of affairs of the club are wildly different. Monday being a perfect example, I pretty much didn’t agree with a word that SmartArse said. I thought Arsenal had their most convincingly positive performance in weeks and were terribly unlucky to drop points to a soft penalty 4 minutes after extra time should have ended. I was certain that United would drop points yesterday and I hadn’t written us out of the title race like a majority of fans and pundits. But then I am considered to be the overly optimistic one of us. So it was with a great deal of positivity that I approached this evening’s North London Derby. But optimism is no match for luck on the day and, for the gazillionth time running, Arsenal had none.
The game started incredibly well. Cesc Fabregas, who had his most effective game for Arsenal in months, threaded Theo Walcott through who finished with aplomb after just 4 minutes. Rafael Van De Cwnt scored a cracker just minutes later at the near post on his wrong foot. It would be harsh in my opinion to blame either the defence or our young polish goal keeper. Then another five minutes later, Samir Nasri exchanged passes on the edge of the area with Diaby and shot firmly passed Gomez to make it 2-1. How many times have you heard the press go on about how Tottenham need a new keeper this season? Gomez was terrible for most of the game, apart from the two outstanding saves he made against Fabregas in the last 15 minutes of the game.
The next 30 minutes or so were frantic but produced no further goals. Tottenham continued with their tactic of putting high balls in to Crouch to knock back into the middle but nothing came of that. Cesc put Theo through again and his first time shot was only inches wide. As the game neared the half time marker, the ball bounced around in the Tottenham penalty area and Theo managed to knock it back into the 6 yard area for RVP to head at Gomez. Gomez saved well but only managed to parry back to Robin who leather it into the top of the net. 3-1 and Arsenal were in control. Minutes later that control was relinquished. Bale, who had been anonymous for the whole half, clattered into Sczezny for the second time. Replays showed that Sczezny cleared the ball away only for the ape man to take a swing at him with his left leg causing an injury that would see him subbed at half time. For some unknown reason (well, Bale lying in a heap I suppose) the referee opted for a throw-in which pinged about a bit until it reached Huddlestone on the edge of the area who hit a once in a lifetime shot (yes, distinct déjà vu, I know) straight through the encroaching defensive wall, through VdV’s legs, narrowly missing his tiny nut sack, and into the bottom corner. It’s fair to say that there was jack all any defence could have done about that. Half time, Arsenal 3, Tottenham 2. The game was very much in the balance.
The second half featured more of the same end-to-end stuff, which must have been amazing for a neutral but nerve racking for an Arsenal fan. Van Persie scored a cracking fourth for Arsenal (in part due to Gomez flapping at it) but was ruled off side. Replays showed the decision to be incorrect by a matter of feet. Luck 2, Arsenal 0. Tottenham pressed and the goal was on the cards. Annoyingly it came from an unnecessary penalty. Lennon came storming on to a through ball on the left hand side, Scszezny tried to close down but Lennon touched the ball and went down under the advancing keeper. It was a penalty, no doubt, but the touch from Lennon was terrible and there’s no chance he would have scored. Frustrating to say the least. Van Der Vaart scored and it was 3-3. Beyond that, Sczezny made 3 excellent saves, one from a clearly offside VdV, and Fabregas had an excellent effort tipped passed the post. But the game ended in stalemate.
It was a frustrating result and potentially the end of our title challenge although I think the comments that we’ve typically given away a two goal lead, again, are way off the mark. This was a scintillating London derby and the win was never secured even at 3-1. The game was wide open and Tottenham scored an amazing goal to make it 3-2. Clearly at that stage anything could happen and to my mind it doesn’t seem fair to blame it on our defence, as none of the goals were particularly poor to concede. It’s just the way it goes sometimes, unfortunately. Personally, I think we showed a lot of spirit and were unlucky not to get the win. Cesc had his best game for months, Song looked somewhere near fit and Jack didn’t look that tired. It bodes well for the final 5 games which could be crucial.
In terms of the title race, we’re now six points behind with 5 games to play. Chelsea beat Birmingham 3-1 at home and go second on goal difference. Ironically, the fact that Chelsea are back in it could possibly work in our favour, although I am clutching at straws obviously, as they are still to play Man Utd and now have a massive incentive. If Chelsea and Arsenal win their remaining five games and United win their other three (having lost to Arsenal and Chelsea), all teams will be on the same number of points and it will go down to goal difference. Excluding the Man Utd game at home, the other 4 games are completely winnable. Bolton, Stoke and Fulham away, and Villa at home. Personally, I think it would be pretty silly to give up hope at this stage because we can certainly take it to the last game of the season. Who knows, we might actually get the bit of luck we’ve been waiting for all season. Let’s all be positive for a change, at least we didn’t lose.