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Everything In Its Right Place

Everything In Its Right Place

van Persie looks to have his sharpness back, Gilberto has regained some form, Song looks to be a find at centre half, we're scoring deflected goals. That's right, it's all coming together at the right time! In all seriousness, this game wasn't going to tell us anything about the side we didn't already know. Reading were beaten before they took to the pitch and did not look like a side in desperate need of points. We took to the Grove with masses of empty seats embarrassingly visible. I cannot tolerate this awful attotude of 'oh well, we're not going to win anything, it's on TV, it's only Reading, early kick off blah, blah, blah.' These people are not supporters and are better off staying away in my opinion. I have often remarked on these pages that I will often goand see Millwall, my local team, with friends in a bid to appreciate what we have. Spoiled, fairweather fans should be made to do the same. The club gave out noisy, foldout fan thingies which made for an even worse atmosphere in an already moribund Grove, as scores of children and two over excited Germans to my left thudded them excitedly. This made for an embarrassing, contrived, showy American style clapping which makes me weep. Atmosphere at football is a thing of the past unless you are with a hardcore away contingent. If you're not an Arsenal fan and you're reading this preparing to mock, please don't kid yourself into thinking your club is any different.

With the pressure off, the game had a distinct end of season feel to it in the opening twenty minutes. Arsenal looking and Reading looking incapable of producing a contest worth watching. But after an intitial malaise, Arsenal began to dominate proceedings. It was Alex Hleb who was the catalyst. With Reading bizarrely playing a high line, Hleb put a through ball in for the marauding Fabregas, but Bikey put him under pressure as he raced through on goal, and the Spaniard could only prod tamely at Hahnemann. Walcott began to stamp his class on the game as well, he played a neat one two with Gallas on the edge of the area, his searing pace visibly frightening Reading's backline, but his pull back was cleared in the six yard area. Arsenal began to turn the screw as Robin van Persie's free kick was touched wide by Hahnemann. Song headed the resulting corner just wide. A gilt edged opportunity presented itself moments later, when Toure's cross saw Adebayor miscue a free header. But the Togonator made amends when an extremely fatigued Toure supplied the ammunition again, clipping in a sumptuous cross, which Adebayor controlled beautifully, sauntered past Sonko and provided a composed finish to break the deadlock. That was Ade's 27th goal of the season, yet he still attracts savage criticism. Unbelievable. My friends and I discussed this phenomenon amongst Arsenal fans for finding scapegoats when I remarked that Senderos has not played in any of our domestic defeats this season. Gallas, Eboue, Senderos and Ade all come in for it and I think it stems from people's embryonic impressions of players. All of the aforementioned were written off too quickly, and when things go wrong people revert to deafult setting and criticise these players because they desperately want to be proved right.

Reading collapsed at this point and Arsenal went into cruise control. The home side effectively played with three upfront, Adebayor central, Walcott pushing up from the right and van Persie sitting off, showing touches of true class. van Persie managed ninety minutes and rode a few heavy knocks which was pleasing. There was a point in the second half when, tired of feeling Bikey's studs, he turned Bikey inside out twice in a matter of seconds. He was also angrily confronted by Liam Rosenior in the second half and walked away. van Persie appears tohave mastered his temper and is letting his feet do the talking. van Persie picked up the ball with his back to goal half way inside Reading's half, turned and spun a beautiful ball to Toure on the right, Toure cut the ball back and Cesc Fabregas just couldn't make the connection. But sixty seconds later, Arsenal did have their killer goal. Fabregas teed up Gilberto who unleashed a shot which flew in via the head off Andre Bikey. How we are fortune's fool, to have received that kind of luck in recent weeks. The delight of his teammates suggested that that could be his final goal for the club. A flowing move saw van Persie play in Adebayor, he cut back to van Persie who did not get a true enough connection to steer his shot past Hahnemann.

The second half was played much like an attack v defence training session. Fabregas began to take hold of the match, he played a probing ball to Walcott on the right, Fabregas then headed Theo's teasing cross just over. Walcott has matured impressively, he plays with his head up now and varies his positioning. He wants the ball and is prepared to drift infield and cause team's problems. Physically he looks more confident and is beginning to look every inch an Arsenal player. The boy is subjected to far too much pressure, but I really think we'll see a big season from him next year. van Persie was continuing to fine tune his aim, a crashing free kick thudded bar and post before coming out. Fortune appeared to have remembered itself. A telling incident thereafter when Bendtner did not clear a corner and Fabregas and Lehmann furiously remonstrated with the Dane. I rate the boy but he appears to be tremendouly unpopular as a personality with the players. The Gunners pressed for a third as Fabregas again dribbled through a bewildered Reading defence and played in Walcott, coming in fromthe right touchline and he crashed a shot against the bar.

Reading mounted their first dangerous attack when Song was dispossessed next to the corner flag and Bobby Convey's shot was tipped over by Lehmann, who in all likelihood bade farewell to the the Arsenal fans yesterday. More ups than downs in the crazy German's tenure but I'll remember him fondly. The crazy bastard. (The fact that he didn't level Sonko after taking a knock from him in the first half was probably the most surprising incident of a colourful Arsenal career). There was one final flourish when Bendtner played in Fabregas, he composed hismelf and took aim only for Duberry to brilliantly clear off the line. It was a satisfying performance but there is a lingering sense of regret that we didn't absolutely thump Reading. In seasons past when we have been involved in dead rubber games, Arsenal have run up big scores. (The 7-0 versus Everton and the 6-1 versus Southampton come to mind). 2-0 suggests the game was a lot closer than it was, but there were pleasing signs of Ade, RVP and Walcott working in tandem. Disappointing that somany stayed awayand that Eboue appeared to be booed when he came onto the pitch. On the pitch it all came together, just when it didn't really matter.LD.

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Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday April 20 2008
Time: 11:53AM


Lovin those Radiohead Titles LD ! No suprises from me! ...sorry
20/04/2008 11:58:00
I was tempted to go with 'Jigsaw Falling Into Place', but that would have been crap...........
Little Dutch
20/04/2008 12:01:00
Sometimes people don't appreciate what they have. I am sorry to hear about the atmosphere on the stadium, there are so many Arsenal fans around the world that would kill to be there one day, let alone, every week. On the game, Bert played very well, Eboue did great at RB - his natural position, Song was outstanding and Adebayor... well his "poor" first touch set him up nicely, and his "horrible" finishing got him his 27th (!!) goal this season. The silly ***** who still bash him for reasons that make sense only to them will continue to do so, no matter what the big man does. The fact is no one here expected him to get more than 15, but after RvPs injury he stepped up and showed what he can do. Even Georgie Graham praised him recently in an interview, saying he has the potential to become a world class striker. Seems that AW will not be looking for goalies next season as it seems Mannone will be getting a bump up in the pecking order.
20/04/2008 12:31:00
I see that Cesc made 105 passes in this game 95 of them successfully completed. It isn't the first time this season that he has gone over the ton but it is a mark of how poorly Reading coped with our overall play. RvP brings back that important ingredient of the unexpected missing in a good part of this seasons play. Oh to have had him fit for a whole season.
20/04/2008 14:17:00
Watching the game, how we didnt score more than 2 I have absolutely no idea. Basically we bent Reading over the table, spread their bum cheeks and stuck it where the sun don't shine. It was like watching us back at the beginning of the season, quick, flowing one touch football which we have all seen and loved over the past 10 years,which the Reading players hardly got near us. I was really impressed with Walcott yesterday as well, who was unlucky not to score to be honest, as LD said he looked a constant threat to the opposition defense and had the hunger and desire that we all like to see in a player. Hopefully that will shut his critics up for at least a few weeks. I'm not going to get carried away with yesterday as we were playing a team who are in a relegation dog fight, but with the one or two quality players Arsene is talking about signing, I have high hopes for next season.
20/04/2008 14:52:00
I thought eveybody was excellent yesterday, and G4L is spot on about Ade's first touch. Obviously MOTD disagreed and put it down to 'bad defending from Sonko'. It's getting to the laughable stage. And funnily enough they complained at United not getting penalties, but no comment on Rooney's assault. I don't know why I still watch it, probably for a laugh I guess. But back to Arsenal, it's a good sign of things to come, especially Alex Song, who although didn't deserve the stick he recieves, looks a different player to the on we saw 18 months or so ago. But then again, so does Adebayor, Hleb, Flamini and Clichy.
20/04/2008 15:10:00
Good insights LD. I was a bit disappointed by the Bendtner incident, which seemed to confirm our suspicions about his unpopularity - Bendtner's attitude has become a lot better recently. The lad has ability, attitude, tremendous self-belief - a pity. I agree with the scapegoats comment as well, there are these usual suspects that come in for criticism (although I believe Eboue deserves a large share of criticism, sometimes, it goes over the top for him as well). Excellent game overall, pleasing to see the performance, disappointing to see only 2 goals scored. I will take that at this time of the season. We have re-discovered our comfortable winning touch and thats important.
20/04/2008 15:50:00
Good piece LD. I always enjoy your write ups and like you cant stand these fairweather johnson fans. I bet a lot of these fans dont remember the 70's and 80's. They have been spoilt and have had no experience of living and breathing football with your team and not win anything. Wenger is a great manager and has a belief in his team. I, like any fan sometimes dont agree with his choices, Wreh as one example but I can live with Eboue as a squad player and Song like the Flamster will grow. If we can sign a couple of quality players, next season looks good as every new season does. For all true gooners, keep the faith.
20/04/2008 16:01:00
It was a bit somber at the Emirates, but you cannot expect every fan to be as passionate as you are. I am probably too passionate & sung through out most of the game, but it was is more an effort when it is a nothing game. A bit of an anti-climax to the end of the season. Also the singing section sung "we love you arsenal" for 10 minutes straight near the end which was really nice. I think Bendtner should be let go due to his unpopularity at the club. Its not as if he get up one or two peoples noses, it appears to be the hole team. Appart from the corner you mentioned, an instant where he chose to chip it with his left foot to Fabregas rather than slip in RVP with an easier pass was met with disaproval. I am loving Theo's confidence, and with a few more games under his belt he will become even better.
20/04/2008 16:34:00
You're right paul, I myself wasn't exactly wildly excited. But to not even bother showing up takes the *****. It's just arrogant and spoiled.
Little Dutch
20/04/2008 16:44:00
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