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Category Archives: 2011-2012

West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Arsenal

West Bromwich Albion 2 (Long 11, Dorrans 15) – Arsenal 3 (Benayoun 4, Santos 30, Koscielny 54)

It was nail-biting. It was tense. And, at the end, we did get to celebrate St. Totteringham’s day.

Going into the final round of games of the season, there was a growing amount of tension. With so much left to be decided, it was bound to be a nerve-wracking session of 90 minutes for fans.

With Arsenal on 67 points, and Sp*rs on 66, it was all going down to the very last minute of the season, to decide 3rd spot and automatic Champions League Qualification. While Arsenal faced the tricky prospect of travelling to West Brom, who were looking to give a farewell to their boss Roy Hodgson, before he moves to the England job, Sp*rs faced fellow London side Fulham at home. Arsenal, themselves, were looking to give the perfect farewell, to assistant manager, who had served the club, with distinction, for 44 years.

Arsenal made few changes to the team, and also slightly tweaked the formation. Carl Jenkinson came in for the injured Bacary Sagna, while Francis Coquelin got the nod ahead of Aaron Ramsey in the centre of midfield. Gervinho held on to his place in the lineup.

West Brom, on the other hand, had a few injury concerns of their own. Peter Odemwingie passed a late fitness test and was named on the bench, while Chris Brunt and Jerome Thomas were ruled out. Simon Cox and Marc Antoine-Fortune were named alongside Shane Long in attack. Keeper Ben Foster suffered an injury during the warm up and he was replaced by debutant Martin Fulop.

However, the Hungarian was at fault for Arsenal’s first goal, which arrived as early as the 4th minute. His hesitation led Israeli Yossi Benayoun to tap in front of an empty net. This kicked West Brom into action, and they soon had their equalizer. News, meanwhile had just streamed in that Emmanuel Greedybayor had scored for Sp*rs against Fulham.

James Morrison played a beautiful through-ball to Shane Long, who scored, and despite protests from Arsene Wenger and the players that Long was offside, television replays confirming the fact, the goal stood. And, just 3 minutes later, it looked like a replay of the Norwich game, when Dorrans beat Koscielny, to stab a goal past Szczesny. West Brom were up 2-1, and Arsenal’s challenge for 3rd spot was crumbling.

Soon, the game became very open, with Robin van Persie, finding himself in good positions, and West Brom, too were applying pressure of their own. Arsenal didn’t have to wait long for their goal though. Youssouf Mulumbu was robbed off possession by Andre Santos, who struck a low shot, and was fumbled over by Fulop into the net.

Gervinho managed to create a couple of opportunities, before half-time approached, but were well read by Fulop. Both sides looked lively, going into half-time, and West Brom should have had a penalty when Coquelin  handled the ball, while blocking a shot, but it would’ve been too harsh.

Arsenal bought off Tomas Rosicky for Theo Walcott, probably an injury concern, for the start of the second half. Things were getting feisty out in the middle, meanwhile, with Song and Long exchanging a few, and then Jenkinson catching Morrison. Santos then had a shot at goal, with the keeper well beaten, but it went just beyond the far corner of the goal.

Meanwhile, Fortune was causing all kinds of problems for Jenkinson, but Arsenal got the breakthrough on 54 minutes. Martin Fulop commited another horrendous mistake, as he punched the ball backwards into his own net, and Laurent Koscielny was on hand, to stab it home.

After that, it was a case of holding on to what you have. West Brom created plenty of opportunities, while Arsenal had to play on the counter. A flurry of corners came next, with van Persie having to clear an Olsson shot off the line. Arsenal were still hanging in there, just about.

With Sp*rs doubling the lead, the onus was on the Gunners to score one more and kill of the tie, but they were instead held back by a swarm of Baggies pressure. Gervinho, who looked good, till he reaches the opposition’s penalty area, plays in some more poor final balls, and he was replaced with Kieran Gibbs. How vital this would prove to be late on.

A Koscielny slip allowed Keith Andrews to have a go at goal, but Szczesny makes an invaluable save. Ramsey came in for a hobbling Coquelin, and it loooked like the Gunners were looking to pack the midfield. Arsenal fans were still biting their nails, as West Brom looked to launch attacks, coming into the final 10 minutes of the season.

Carl Jenkinson and Marc Antoine-Fortune are involved in a small tussle, and if the striker had gone down, it would have been a penalty, as the defender was holding on to his shirt. Arsenal just weren’t able to hold on to the ball, with Benayoun, Song losing possession in vital moments. The defending was getting more nervous, and West Brom looked like they would capitalize.

Koscielny blocks a shot, but Gibbs isn’t as lucky, and concedes a freekick inches out of the box. Szczesny saves, but possession is lost again. Arsene Wenger clings on to Pat Rice in nervousness, as van Persie blasts a shot on the counter, well over.

It was all getting nervy, when Gibbs made a fantastic block in the dying moments, otherwise, we would have been in 4th spot. As the final whistle blew, there was a palpable sense of relief, among Arsenal’s players, fans and coaching staff. 3rd place was secured, and it was time for St. Totteringham’s day celebrations to begin.

The parting shot of the day was Arsenal players throwing Pat Rice into the air. A marvelous career has ended, with the perfect result.

Match Ratings

Well, there are none, today. The players were good yesterday, and held on to 3rd spot. What more could you ask for.

This is my 100th blog post, and there is probably no better way than this. Till next season, then!

Jai Arsenal 🙂

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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Arsenal 3-3 Norwich City

Arsenal 3 (Benayoun 2, van Persie 72, 80) – Norwich City 3 (Hoolahan 12, Holt 27, Morison 85)

Man of the Match – John Ruddy (Norwich City)

The chances of having St. Totteringham’s day celebrations, this year, seems pretty bleak now. In what can be described as one of the matches of the season, and one which never ceased to amaze and entertain, Arsenal garnered only a point, to move 2 points clear of Tottenham and Newcastle, albeit having played a game more.

There were no surprises in Arsenal’s lineup, with the same squad that played against Stoke being used. Norwich, however stuck to their policy of rotation, and made several changes. Simon Lappin came in place of the injured Adam Drury, while there was also place in the lineup for Canada striker Simeon Jackson. Also named was the Irish Messi, Wes Hoolahan.

Within no time, Arsenal were in the lead, after birthday boy Yossi Benayoun opened the scoring, with a fine curling effort, into the top corner of the net. Just 70 seconds had passed by at this stage.

However, contrary to what I had predicted earlier, Norwich didn’t seem like they were too keen on an early holiday. They almost equalized immediately, but Grant Holt’s strike was blocked by Kieran Gibbs. They didn’t have to wait long though. An unconvincing moment from Szczesny later, Norwich capitalized as Kyle Naughton’s ball was turned towards the goal by Wes Hoolahan. Szczesny fumbled, as the ball ended in the back of the net.

What was required from the Gunners on the afternoon was some impetus to gather the 3 points that they so required. However, they looked edgy, lackadaisical and lethargic in their approach. Norwich, playing for nothing, after having secured their top flight status, looked like a real menacing outfit.

An Arsenal attack fizzled out, and Norwich got hold of the ball, and chested and headed it around neatly, to set up Grant Holt and Wes Hoolahan, who were up against Laurent Koscielny and an backtracking Kieran Gibbs. Holt’s shot took a big deflection off Gibbs’ and looped over a stranded Szczesny into the net.

Arsenal almost equalized, but van Persie failed to get to the end of a low Sagna cross. Moments later, the French right-back suffered an injury, and was replaced by his compatriot Francis Coquelin. He almost conceded a penalty, moments after coming on, as a cross from the right was met with a tangle of legs between Coquelin and Howson. Replays clearly showed Coquelin had fouled the Norwich midfielder. However, the referee refused to oblige.

Norwich were wrecking more havoc in Arsenal’s penalty box. Russel Martin was hauled down by Koscielny, and should’ve gotten a penalty. A furious Paul Lambert certainly thought so. Soon after, Grant Holt nearly gave the Canaries a 3-1 advantage going into the break, but for Koscielny’s brilliant last ditch challenge.

A chorus of boos echoed round the stadium, as the two teams trudged off the pitch at half-time. Surely a hairdryer treatment would do the trick.

Arsenal came racing out into the second half, but it was Norwich who created the first real opportunity, when Jackson almost did a Taraabt, with a shrug of shoulders to beat Vermaelen, who slipped, but his poor effort was saved by Szczesny. Moments later, Benayoun headed right into Ruddy’s hands, with Koscielny being impeded by Holt, but the referee clearly was in no mood to give penalties.

Right back Kyle Naughton, and then Simeon Jackson missed further chances for the Canaries. Arsenal responded with two misses of their own, van Persie and Ramsey the culprits. Rosicky and the impressive Gervinho both had shots on goal, but failed to score.

Arsenal almost had their equalizer, when substitute Marrouane Chamakh’s shot was blocked by Elliot Bennet, only to fall to Alex Song, who played his trademark assist to van Persie. The Dutchman didn’t dissapoint this time, and leveled the scores.

8 minutes later, the comeback was complete, when van Persie, brilliantly placed again, scored off a Rosicky through-ball, under John Ruddy, into the back of the net.

By this time, the adventurous Paul Lambert, had 3 strikers on the pitch, with Anthony Pilkington, Aaron Wilbraham and Steve Morison. It was Morison, who scored the final goal in the match, as he took the ball into his stride, and beat Szczesny at the far post.

What followed next was a frantic end to the game, with Arsenal creating numerous openings. First, van Persie was clearly pushed over by Naughton, with the goal wide open, in the penalty box, and the ref again refused to budge. Soon, Song attempts a backheel, Gibbs has a header, Song has another header, van Persie sent clear on goal, but all of these attempts were kept out by a brilliant John Ruddy.

As the final whistle blew, Arsene Wenger, clearly fuming, just about managed to shake the hands of his counterpart Paul Lambert. It was in our hands, but now it is not. And it is all down to us. We can just hope Manchester City and Aston Villa can do the business for us tomorrow.

The parting shot of the day was Robin van Persie waving at the crowd. Could they be goodbye waves? Only time will tell. For now, the team should just get back to thinking how to beat a West Brom side, keen on giving their boss Roy Hodgson a final hurrah, before he heads on to take the England job.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (6.5) – Looked nervous throughout the game. Nervy clearances, poor handling, bad distribution.

Sagna (7) – Slowed down too many attacks for me. Suffered a bad injury though.

Vermaelen (6.5) – Poor game. He may score a lot of goals, but he is a defender. Needs to concentrate on his defending. Was found wanting on many opportunities.

Koscielny (7.5) – We may have conceded 3, but he was brilliant. Without him, it could’ve been a rout. Sadly, he was partly at fault for the 3rd Norwich goal.

Gibbs (7.5) – He had a good game, I thought. Very good going forward, and almost scored what would have been a precious winner.

Song (6.5) – Failed to get in a single tackle in the game, as far as I remember. He too seemed to slow down the pace of the game at times, but he played a delicious assist for the equalizer.

Rosicky (7.5) – Worked hard in midfield, constantly running at the Canaries defence.

Ramsey (6.5) – I really like the lad, but he hasn’t been at his best of late. Hopefully the close season will give him a good break, and he can return an improved player. He worked hard today, but nothing going his way.

Benayoun (7.5) – Scored a fine goal, and was involved in some fine work in midfield.

Gervinho (7) – A much improved performance from last week at Stoke. His dribbling looks much better, and so does his confidence. Created some good chances today, and switched flanks well, too.

van Persie (8) – Where would we be without him. Scored two important goals. Hopefully, this was not his last game at the Emirates in Arsenal colors.

Subs –

Coquelin (7) – Injected a bit more pace than Sagna on the right, which was good to see.

Chamberlain (7.5) – Provided some much needed creativity, as soon as he came on. A good few minutes.

Chamakh (7) – There is still some life left in him, isn’t there.

Overall Team Rating – 7.10

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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Stoke City 1-1 Arsenal

Stoke City 1 (Crouch 9) – Arsenal 1 (van Persie 15)

Man of the Match – Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal)

If last week’s result bought as much as a frown on my face, today’s result, or rather results did much better to my anger management. A 1-1 draw at a rugby team, is not a bad result, at the end of the day, or in this case, towards the end of a campaign.

With just 2 games left now, Arsenal will need all 6 points against Norwich and West Brom, to be completely sure of 3rd spot. But, with Newcastle faltering, like they did today, losing 4-0 to Wigan, and Sp*rs own bad run, which has seen them lose to Norwich and QPR, it seems sealing 3rd spot could all but become a formality for the Gunners.

There were no surprises in team selection for Arsenal. With Arteta and Walcott out, Benayoun and Ramsey both started, with Gervinho on the wings. Surprisingly, for Stoke, Jermaine Pennant recovered in time, to start the match. Stoke have had a long and hard campaign, which has seen them play 52 games, including Europa league ties in locations as far as Split in Croatia, Thun in Switzerland, Kiev in Ukraine, Tel Aviv in Israel, Besiktas in Turkey and Valencia in Spain. However, their fitness levels remain appreciable.

It was, infact the home side, that made the brighter start to the game. However, Arsenal carved out the first two real chances of the game, with Benayoun timid’s shot and van Persie’s header both being saved by Begovic. Stoke got the early breakthrough, as Mathew Etherington, in acres of space, crossed to Peter Crouch and lanky striker had to just direct the ball into the net, despite the challenges of the Arsenal defence.

6 minutes later, scores were level, as Yossi Benayoun robbed Ryan Shotton off possession, and setting up Tomas Rosicky to delightfully cross for Robin van Persie, who headed in this time. It was the Dutchman’s 28th goal of the season.

Arsenal created more opportunities, but failed to trouble the scores. Gervinho should’ve gotten on the end of a fine Sagna cross. van Persie had a shot blocked, while Koscielny blazed his header over. It ended 1-1 at half-time.

The second half began, in the same fashion as the first with Stoke doing some early running, and Arsenal easing into the game. A van Persie header was easily held by Begovic. And there were more chances, as Gervinho and Vermaelen both skied their efforts. Aaron Ramsey almost scored, in the same stadium, where two years previously he had been struck with a career threatening injury, before he was bought off.

Arsenal had penalty claims turned down, when it seemed Glen Whelan had pushed Yossi Benayoun, but the referee didn’t oblige. It was Stoke, though, who had the better of opportunities to win it late on. Cameron Jerome almost did a Kevin Prince Boateng, but Szczesny produced a fine save. And in the dying moments, a Delap rocket, was almost turned in, but for Sagna’s alertness.

Now that Stoke away is out of the way, it is but natural to say that Arsenal simply must win their last two games, to be completely sure of that 3rd spot.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (8) – Had a fine game. His decision making was spot on.

Sagna (7.5) – At fault for the first goal, but otherwise a good game. Supported Gervinho well.

Vermaelen (7.5) – A good game from him, but again seems to get caught out far too often. Lucky for him, he is partnered by Koscielny.

Koscielny (8) – Another consistent game. Rarely put a wrong foot.

Gibbs (7.5) – Was given a good run around by Pennant, but never really looked troubled.

Song (7.5) – A good improved performance after the last two games. BTW, what are his shins made of? Metal? First, Balotelli and now Whitehead!

Rosicky (8.5) – Worked hard through the game, in pressing forward and tracking back. His clever cross proved to be vital.

Ramsey (7.5) – His work rate can’t be faulted. Had a decent game overall.

Benayoun (7.5) – Had a couple of decent opportunities. Industrious performance.

Gervinho (7) – Looks too lightweight for the Premier League, and not brave enough. His shooting is woeful. Wenger has a lot of work to do with him. His game today was overall decent, made some good runs, but then gave most of them away.

van Persie (7.5) – Scored the equalizer, and then had a couple of chances to score the winner. Was always under pressure from Stoke’s defenders.

Subs –

Diaby (7) – Looks well short of match fitness. By the looks of it, he has got another injury. Hope to see him next season!

Chamakh and Santos – Came on too late to get a rating.

Overall Team Rating – 7.58

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea

Arsenal 0-0 Chelsea

Man of the Match – Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal)

I am actually at a bit of a loss of words, right now. Even though its been well over a day since one of the worst games of football I have witnessed, I still can’t find enough words to jot down a match review.

The worst game I saw this season, before this was the 1-1 draw between Manchester United and Liverpool. Both teams played crap, and were just happy to kick the hell out of each other. It also had a little racist incident, by the way. And next was the 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Tottenham. Not that I give a shit about them, but the game’s result was important to us. What ensued was piss poor football. But, yesterday’s game topped it all. Here is an attempt at a match review.

Arsenal’s major injury concern before the Chelsea game, was in all obviousness, Mikel Arteta. He has been ruled out for the remaining 4 games of the season. However, there were returns for French defensive midfielders Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin. Also, Yossi Benayoun was ineligible to play against his parent club. Brother of Calamity, (thanks to god’s blessings), was replaced by Laurent Koscielny, who returned after his 2 game suspension. And, a timely return it was. Arsenal started with Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield.

Chelsea, on the other hand, were forced to make wholesale changes to the squad that played in absorbing encounters against Tottenham and Barcelona, in the FA Cup and Champions League respectively. Ashley Cole was replaced by young Ryan Bertrand. Branislav Ivanovic, who is still suspended, was replaced by Portugal international Jose Bosingwa. John Terry, Gary Cahill and Petr Cech kept their places. The midfield looked fresh, with Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Oriol Romeu, all of whom have played sparingly this season, drafted in. In what seemed a 4-3-3 formation, Daniel Sturridge, Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou were picked in attack.

Now, to the actual match itself. The first few minutes were the slowest minutes I have seen this season. Usually, teams like to start off with some fizz. After kickoff, Arsenal were just happy passing the ball in their own half. And the players, were just walking around, like they were taking a stroll in the park with their girlfriends. This is where the tone for the entire game is set.

Arsenal were very lethargic, and thus allowed Chelsea to have much of the ball. And, when Chelsea have the ball, it ain’t a pretty sight. They were spraying around the ball intelligently though, managing to frustrate the Gunners. However, it was Arsenal who made the first real attempt on target. van Persie managed to direct a Walcott freekick on to the post. Then, Fernando Torres had a great chance, after some good work by Florent Malouda, but he was denied by a last ditch interception from Laurent Koscielny. Minutes later, Malouda caused more problems when he played a ball over the top for Kalou, who missed an onrushing Szczesny, only for Koscielny to come to the rescue again.

In the second half, it seemed like Arsenal had gotten a bit of bashing from Wenger, when they got into the groove. (Mind you, only a little bit). Laurent Koscielny hit the post again with his header, and van Persie’s shot was turned away by Cech. Theo Walcott suffered an injury, which meant he was replaced by Le Forehead, Gervinho. A largely lacklustre Tomas Rosicky, and a dissapointing Chamberlain were soon bought off, as well, to be replaced by, surprise surprise, Abou Diaby and Andre Santos. Now, that’s how you win a match, I suppose.

There were no more real attempts on goal, really, after that, as both sides looked like they had already agreed on a draw, and were just creating chances for the heck of it. Towards the end, Alex Song played in Robin van Persie. Unfortunately, for the Dutchman, his right foot isn’t as talented as his left, and he completely miscued it. Before that, he turned in and out, beating Chelsea’s defence, but was beaten to the shot by Cech.

It took another Koscielny block to deny Sturridge later on.

The only reason I was cheerful come 1:30 AM IST, was that QPR managed to beat Sp*rs 1-0, and I saw a really entertaining El Clasico.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (7.5) – Had a good game, preventing a few goalscoring opportunities for Chelsea.

Sagna (7.5) – A decent game again, but still lacks a bit of cover from Walcott.

Vermaelen (8) – Was caught out a couple of times, and had Koscielny to rescue the situations.

Koscielny (9) – Fantastic defending. He is our best defender by a mile. (Country mile)

Gibbs (7.5) – Looked vulnerable to Chelsea’s attack a few times, but a good game overall.

Song (6.5) – He was poor. Just like the Wigan game, gave away the ball far too often, and never really looked like a defensive midfielder.

Rosicky (7) – Subdued by Romeu and Essien, to make any impact.

Chamberlain (6.5) – Can’t fault his effort, as he is still inexperienced at this level. Rarely got out of the traps.

Ramsey (6.5) – I thought he worked hard, but nothing really worked for him. Strange.

Walcott (6.5) – Ineffective against Bertrand. Stranger.

van Persie (7.5) – Why you no score with right foot? Beats me.

Subs –

Santos (7) – Put in more pace and creativity than Chamberlain on the left.

Gervinho (6.5) – Crossing needs to improve. I have never seen him once kick a football into the air.

Diaby (6.5) – Collecting a yellow card was his only contribution to a timid game

Overall Team Rating – 7.69

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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Arsenal 1-2 Wigan Athletic

Arsenal 1 (Vermaelen 21) – Wigan Athletic 2 (di Santo 7, Gomez 8)

Man of the Match – Victor Moses (Wigan Athletic)

I am at a loss of words to say, in the least.

Last night was a representation of what can be so shambolically Arsenal. When the fans really expect a win, over a team that is stuttering at the bottom of the table, we go ahead and lose the game. And it was not a lack of talent, but a lack of determination, last night.

Take nothing away from Wigan though. They have given themselves a great chance to survive in the Premier League, with wins over Liverpool, Manchester United, and now, Arsenal. And, they deserved every bit of the 3 points, they earned last night.

No major injury worries ahead of the game. Jack Wilshere, is however, ruled out for the rest of the season, and also for the European Championships, which I believe, must be a huge blow to him. Laurent Koscielny remained suspended for this game too, meaning there was a place in the starting lineup for brother of calamity Johan Djourou. There was also place in the lineup for inform Israel captain Yossi Benayoun, while Andre Santos continued at left-back, with Arsene Wenger deciding not to risk young Kieran Gibbs.

Arsenal did all the early running, with Thomas Vermaelen’s long range effort, ambling just wide. Yossi Benayoun’s fine header was parried away by Oman international Ali Al-Habsi, who has been sensational for Wigan this season. Arsenal maintained the early pressure, as they won some early corners. It came to their own undoing, as the Gunners sent everyone forward. Wigan cleared the lines off one corner, and broke away brilliantly.

It was like clockwork, as James McCarthy, Victor Moses and Jordi Gomez all linked up, before Gomez set up the on rushing Argentina striker Franco di Santo. His initial effort was blocked by an alert Szczesny, but the ball fell perfectly to him, and he finished off to hand Wigan the lead, and end his 17 game goalscoring drought.

Before Arsenal could settle down, after the goal, Victor Moses took on Bacary Sagna, and beat him for skill to set up Jordi Gomez. His first effort was saved by Szczesny, but Gomez didn’t miss the second, and Wigan were 2-0 up at the Emirates in under 7 minutes.

There was more concern, as Mikel Arteta was forced off due to an injury, and according to some reports, his season could be over. He was replaced by Aaron Ramsey.

Arsenal’s response was swift, as they stepped up gears in midfield, with some decent moves. Vermaelen jumped too early for one effort, while Benayoun had another off his header’s clipped brilliantly by Al-Habsi. Tomas Rosicky then fed a delightful cross, and it was met powerfully by Thomas Vermaelen, who headed home.

Johan Djourou shot narrowly wide, and then, Tomas Rosicky played a 1-2 with van Persie, before completely skying his effort.

The second half was almost the same story, with Wigan playing a fine containing game, and even enjoying fair amounts of possession. Arsenal never really threatened Al-Habsi, as Antonin Alcaraz and Gary Caldwell stood firm. In fact, Wigan had the more clear scoring chances of the second half, with Moses terrorizing the naive Arsenal defence.

On one occasion, he was clear of the defence, but shot too early, for Szczesny. He later played a fine ball for Gomez, but the volley was poor. Wigan employed some time wasting tactics, towards the end, much to the frustration of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans, but the bottom line is, we really didn’t deserve to win the game.

Arsenal threw on Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but their inexperience in such circumstances, was clear for everyone to see.

The task doesn’t get easier, as next up is the in-form Chelsea.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (7) – Not really to be blamed for both the goals.

Sagna (6) – Had a poor game. Was literally owned by Moses and Beausejour.

Vermaelen (6.5) – His attacking instincts seem to be costing the team a bit at the back.

Djourou (6) – Guilty on both the ocassions. Could have been guilt for more, but was saved by Moses’ inexperience.

Santos (6.5) – Was never threatened, and did help a bit in attacking.

Song (6) – One of his worst games this season. Lost the ball far too many times. Seems to have lost that extra yard of pace too.

Rosicky (7.5) – The workhorse in the centre of midfield, and assisted Vermaelen’s header.

Arteta (No Rating) – Played too less, to get a rating.

Benayoun (7) – Can’t fault his workrate. Does tend to overdo things a bit at times. His two fine headers were brilliantly kept out though.

Walcott (6) – Lack of effort, or lack of skill, I really don’t know. Just didnt perform yesterday. Beausejour had him pocketed.

van Persie (7) – The frustration seems to be getting to him. Didnt have a good game either.

Subs –

Ramsey (7) – Worked hard all night, but nothing going his way right now. Seems to overplay a bit, and suffers as a result of that.

Gervinho (6) – Rarely got on the ball, to make a worthy impact.

Chamberlain (6) – No impact from him, either.

Overall Team Rating – 6.50

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-3 Arsenal

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 – Arsenal 3 (van Persie 9 (pen), Walcott 11, Benayoun 69)

Man of the Match – Yossi Benayoun (Arsenal)

The expected happened last night, well, atleast at Molineux, as Arsenal romped home with 3 more vital points as they look to secure 3rd spot and automatic Champions League qualification, and also edge closer to ensuring the annual St. Totteringham’s Day celebrations will take place as is the norm this year as well.

On the other hand, Wolves, despite all the spirit and determination they have, look closer than ever to Championship football next season. Arsenal, without Laurent Koscielny, booked in the previous game against Manchester City, replaced him with brother of calamity Johan Djourou. Kieran Gibbs, who suffered a slight strain, was given a rest, as he was replaced by bustling Brazilian left-back Andre Santos. Surprisingly, Tomas Rosicky, the man in fine nick at the moment, was given a well deserved rest, as Yossi Benayoun held on to his place in the starting 11, while Wales captain Aaron Ramsey got another chance to shine.

Wolves, made a surprising selection, opting with only Kevin Doyle upfront, rather than the Fletcher-Ebanks Blake partnership that has been preferred recently. Roger Johnson missed out, as Spurs loanee Sebastien Bassong, and Ronald Zubar were chosen. Young midfielder David Davis was given a rare start.

The game began at a blistering pace, as Wolves look set out to frustrate their opponents, with a high up pressing game. Wolves had barely caught their breath, when Walcott displayed tremendous pace, to get behind the Wolves’ defence. A slight touch from Bassong, and Walcott made the most of it. Bassong, being the last man, was shown the red card, and the tone was set for the match.

Robin van Persie, who seems to be going through a bit of a slump, with no goals to show for in the last 4 games, stepped up, against Wayne Hennessey, who had earlier frustrated the Dutchman in the league encounter in December. van Persie cheekily nicked home the penalty.

Before you knew it, Arsenal were 2-0 up. Theo Walcott, again showing some blistering pace, as he linked up with van Persie, to slot home the killer goal of the night. Wolves seemed happy to be doing damage limitation, as they allowed Arsenal to pass around the ball freely at well. The crowd cheered whenever Wolves got possession of the ball, as the game seemed to look more of a rout. Arsenal never looked threatening enough after that, and clearly had taken their foot off the pedal.

The second half was a slightly different story though, with Wolves showing more intent. Ronald Zubar exposed Andre Santos as he helped himself to a few crosses from the right. Kevin Doyle even managed to force Wojciech Szczesny into a fantastic one handed reflex save.

Aaron Ramsey should have scored when he was in a one-on-one situation with his national team’s goalie, but his shot was blocked, while van Persie too missed a chance to make it 3-0. It didn’t matter though, as Yossi Benayoun stabbed home the third, to seal 3 points.

Later, Arsenal’s complacency was quite evident, as Serbian midfielder Nenad Milijas forced Szczesny into another good save. But, from then on, it was just a formality for the Gunners, who now move 5 points ahead of fierce rivals Tottenham.

Next up, slayers of Manchester United, Wigan Athletic on Monday night.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (8) – Pulled off two fantastic saves, one of which was at a critical point in the game.

Sagna (8) – Had a relatively easy outing.

Vermaelen (8) – A bit susceptible to sloppiness, but a good performance nonetheless.

Djourou (8) – Cant fault his performance yesterday. Needs to be at his best against Wigan, too.

Santos (7.5) – Looked a bit suspect at times, against Zubar and Kightly.

Song (8) – A good game, but slowed down the game on many a occassion.

Ramsey (7.5) – Missed some glorious chances, but had a neat game today, with his passing and movement.

Arteta (8.5) – Fantastic in midfield, spraying the ball around at will. Was at the end of a few crude Wolves tackles.

Benayoun (8.5) – Fantastic performance from the hard working Israeli. Constantly made runs behind the midfield, allowing a more stable build up. Scored a good goal, too.

Walcott (8.5) – Killed the game early on, with his pace.

van Persie (8) – The goal drought’s over, finally.

Subs –

Chamberlain and Jenkinson – Came on too late to get ratings.

Overall Team Rating – 8.04

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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Arsenal 1-0 Manchester City

Arsenal 1 (Arteta 86) – Manchester City 0

Man of the Match – Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)

The week of misery has finally ended. It was quite a mixed week, after QPR beat Arsenal last week, in a really drab game. However, the team has made up for it, and how. Arsenal secured their 8th win in 9 league games, as they beat title-contenders, or rather title-pretenders, Manchester City, courtesy a late goal from Mikel Arteta.

There were no surprises in the Arsenal starting lineup, as Arsene Wenger decided to drop out of sorts Aaron Ramsey, and started Israel captain Yossi Benayoun, who has been preferred for his experience, in the big games this season.

Manchester City, on the other hand, had some concerns of their own, as David Silva missed out, with a minor knee problem. This meant a rare start for, who else, $amir Ca$hri.

Arsenal had a fine start, in the opening 15 minutes, with Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky running all strings in midfield. Arsenal were mixing it all up, and making it hard for City in the centre of midfield. Rosicky thumped his shot wide. Then, Arsenal should have taken the lead through a header from van Persie, but unfortunately it hit the back of his own teammate, Thomas Vermaelen and onto the post.

However, the game soon started to get ugly. Yaya Toure was injured in a tussle with Alex Song in midfield, and the latter found himself at the receiving end of a Mario Balotelli high boot, for which the Italian should have been sent off. However, the referee probably missed the tackle.

Balotelli got to the end of a Nasri pass, but it was cleared by left back Kieran Gibbs. Nasri then played provider again, as his long ball was almost met by Balotelli, but was eventually cleared by onrushing Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. The game was being played out a frenetic pace with some exciting end to end stuff. Arsenal, clearly were way ahead of the big spending Sky Blues.

The second half started differently however, with Balotelli switching flanks from time to time, and the out of form Aguero playing a more central role up front for Manchester City. Szczesny just about managed to parry away a looping Aguero header.

Arsenal then got a few opportunities of their own. Yossi Benayoun danced his way past City’s defence, but his shot was weak. Then, Alex Song played his trademark long ball through to van Persie, however, the Dutchman’s effort only struck the post.

Then, Laurent Koscielny was booked for a foul on Barry, which means he will miss the clashes against Wolves and Wigan. Off the resulting free kick, Balotelli’s attempted overhead kick proved futile.

Then, Arsenal thought they had scored, when van Persie beat Komapny to shoot past Hart, but his effort was deemed offside. The chance of the game arrived, soon after. Walcott’s effort found the post, again. With the goal gaping at his mercy, Vermaelen made a complete hash of his shot, and Benayoun did the same, off the rebound.

However, despite City’s resolve and determination, Arsenal were not to be denied, as Arteta won the ball in midfield, and unleashed a fantastic shot past Joe Hart, to seal three vital points for Arsenal.

In injury time, Balotelli got what he should have gotten much earlier, as his poor foul on Sagna, attracted a second yellow, and marching orders.

Arsenal still had the time to double the lead, but Ramsey scuffed his shot way off target, with the goal right in front of him.

Match Ratings-

Szczesny (8) – Had little to do, but did it well.

Sagna (8.5) – Bombed forward a lot today. Was helped by Balotelli hardly doing any backtracing. Sent in a horde of crosses.

Vermaelen (8) – A fine performance, after last week’s QPR debacle.

Koscielny (8) – Looked comfortable for most of the evening.

Gibbs (7.5) – Like Sagna, he bombed forward a lot too, and didn’t shun his defensive duties.

Song (8.5) – A rock in the centre of midfield today.

Rosicky (8) – Lively throughout. Made a lot of darting runs.

Arteta (8.5) – Fantastic in midfield, and scored a fine goal, too.

Benayoun (8) – Another good game by him. Deserves more chances, than what he gets.

Walcott (7.5) – Well marshalled by Clichy on the evening. His performance in the second half gradually improved though.

van Persie (8) – Seems to be going through a bad phase, ain’t he? 😉

Subs –

Santos (7) – Like the commentator rightly said he is still a liability.

Ramsey (7) – Should have scored the second goal of the match.

Chamberlain – Came on too late to get a rating.

Overall Team Rating – 7.88

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2012 in 2011-2012, Match Reviews

 

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