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Wham, Bam, Thank You Van

We've all done it haven't we? We've all criticised a player only to have that self same man ram your words down your throat. After all, Nicklas Bendtner scored the winner on Tuesday night. Well those words taste very, very sweet tonight and I'll gladly let Robin serve them to me with more sweet and sour sauce this season. He's always had the talent, but it wasn't only the goals, van Persie put in an excellent team performance, dropping back into midfield to receive the ball and I swear, with five minutes to go I actually saw him cajoling his midfield and organising them! I said last week that van Persie symbolises a lot about this team and like the team, he now has to demonstrate that kind of altruism and work rate for the rest of the season, I'm desperate for both to do so.

My afternoon began at the our usual watering hole pre Stamford Bridge, having booked ourselves a table at the Sporting Page, we holed ourselves up in a nice little booth complete with our own TV to watch the United City derby. Half of us Arsenal fans, half of the group Chelsea fans, sharing a beer and a burger pre match. It's the sort of thing going to football should be all about. After several bladder swelling Guinesses, we were on our way to the ground. I swapped my upper tier seat with a friend for a lower tier one and was positioned on the corner flag in the 4th row. Little did I know it would give me a great vantage point to see how massively offside our opener was! (I've only seen flash compilation of highlights as I write this, but I'm convinced van Persie was at least a yard off. Maybe someone can confirm?) The travelling fans were in resonating voice throughout, mocking their hosts with a rumbustuous chorus of 'it's so quiet at the Bridge,' followed gamefully by, 'there's no history at the Bridge.' Ashley Cole was, predictably, the subject of our ire. But I was surprised that Chelsea didn't really seem to give Gallas a particularly hard time.

The match began fairly evenly, though with Chelsea more dominant in the middle of the pitch. But the first chance fell Arsenal's way, Adebayor drifted out to the right hand side, floated a cross to the backpost which van Persie contested, the ball fell to Fabregas on the back post and hislow shot was beaten out by Cech, Gallas just couldn't connect with the rebound. Arsenal were playing a decidely high line, which is probably why Wenger bought Djourou in for Silvestre, but Chelsea's attempted passes to Anelka were often slightly overhit. But Chelsea decided to try and utilise Bosingwa and it was his cross that presented Chelsea's first clear chance when he brilliantly found Lampard with a flighted cross but Lampard's glancing header was straight at Almunia. Chelsea began to turn up the heat and it got to Almunia, who released the ball too quickly, Chelsea smuggled it back high in Arsenal's half, Anelka tucked the ball out to Bosingwa again and the Portuguese right back sent in a low cross into the 'corridor of doom' as it were between defender and keeper, and Johan Djourou had the misfortune of turning it into his own net. Chelsea's classless twat of an announcer took great delight in announcing the own goal. You cannot buy dignity. There was little else he could have done, it was an excellent delivery from Bosingwa. In times like this, you'll find out a lot about a young player. Gus Caesar infamously crumbled after a defensive error in a high profile match, Johan Djourou kept his head up and was brilliant thereafter, dominating Chelsea's forwards in the second half in particular.

The Gunners responded with a chance of their own. Denilson was played in an unfamiliar role on the right and whilst it was clear he is not a natural wide man, he worked incredibly hard for the ream. It was he who received the ball on the right, clipped in a lovely cross which van Persie juggled excellently, before somehow bringing the ball down in the area and sending a shot goalwards which Cech clawed away. Denilson won the ball back from Colein the area before going down under Cole's riposte challenge. From where I was I thought Denilson made a meal of it, possibly I'm wrong. On the stroke of half time, Arsenal lost possession and Anelka broke away, but he appeared to lack belief and fortunately, sent the ball right to Bosingwa when Kalou was free to his left. Bosingwa provided another teasing delivery which Anelka could only glance wide. Half time and it was difficult to see a way back save for an incendiary team talk from the manager. The announcer was once again in the mood to fan the flames of hatred by being a gobby twat when announcing Tottenham's defeat and inviting a round of applause for Everton. Listen, I'm not flying a flag for the Spuddies here, but official respresentatives of a club proporting to be one of the world's biggest should show more class.

For the first ten minutes of the second half, I had all but accepted defeat. The home side should have extended their advantage. Kalou tried a cute through ball to Anelka, which Djourou smuggled away as far as Lampard, who tamely curled his shot wide when he should have tested Almunia. But from the ashes of despair,came the embers of victory. Adebayor contested an aerial ball from a Chelsea clearance,the ball dropped to Nasri, who beautifully cut the ball back to Denilson on the edge of the area, the Brazilian slid a through ball past the Chelsea rearguard with van Persie looking massively offside, but the linesman's flag stayed sagged and van Persie got his head down and put his right foot through the ball for a fulminating finish into the top corner. In December 2005, van Persie had a perfectly good goal chalked off against Chelsea at Highbury, the karma has been three years in the waiting. John Terry displayed his usual charm with a desperate lunge on Sagna, I couldn't tell if it was two footed from my angle, but he propelled himself with intent, probably aware that the rock solid Sagna was carrying an ankle injury. Sagna was quick to his feet after the tackle which probably saved John Terry a lot of strife, it was more chivalry than an individual like Terry deserves. What Terry's desperate tackle did reveal was that Chelsea were panicked in defence, it was bad leadership. The sort a certain Arsenal defender would have been forensically deconstructed for.

Arsenal fed on the fear and won a free kick on the left hand side. Skipper Fabregas floated a cross in, which was headed down by Adebayor and van Persie brilliantly swivelled in the box and fired a low shot into the corner. Delirium in our half of the Shed End, but the nerves were taut as ever given the occurences of the last two league outings at Stamford Bridge. But without the bullying Drogba and the brute force of Essien, Chelsea looked bereft of inspiration. Arsenal's full backs, who had ably supported an Arsenal midfield shorn of its width by injury, put in a resolute defensive shift. Djourou dominated aerially with Gallas hoovering up beside him. Song kept tabs on Lampard and Ballack, Denilson continued to check and enervate Cashley's forrays. Adebayor worked hard upfront and van Persie dropped back as a fifth midfielder when we didn't have possession. Chelsea did not trouble our goal again with a lack of attacking options on the bench, but the Gunners might have grabbed a clincher in injury time. Bendtner burgled Bosingwa on the left and carried the ball forwards, releasing Denilson on the right, but his touch was heavy and Cech smothered him.

The final whistle sounded to an eruption of joy in the away end, complimented with a harmonious chorus of 'there's only one team in London.' It was an excellent team performance in the second half, defensively we looked as solid as we had all season. One cannot help but wonder how different our season might be had this kind of effort been displayed in every game. van Persie looked like the player we know he can be, Alex Song showed he can be a defensive midfielder at the highest level of the game if he concentrates and Sagna and Clichy restored their form of last season. Now the Boss has to drill belief into his players, as well as the message that they have to show this sort of fight in every game. The togetherness was evident in the crowd too, despite his indiscretions, Gallas was given a rousing reception (probably more in an attempt to piss Chelsea off). Perhaps it's significant that our two victories this month have seen us concede the majority of possession, the Gunners looked to pressure the ball high up the pitch in an attempt to hurt Chelsea and add tempo to a passing gamethat has become all too ponderous of recent weeks. We were handed a large slice of fortune in the shape off an offside equaliser, but from there on, the confidence was evident and the way we struck whilst the iron was hot to grab the winner reveals the mental facilities are there. Mine, meanwhile, are somewhat dulled after some celebratory drinks in the White Horse next to Parson's Green. Even the awful state of the trains on the way home couldn't rob the spring from my step.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday November 30 2008

Time: 11:12PM

Your Comments

RvP was offside for the first goal but he still took it well and we needed the luck to make something of the game. When on form RvP is our most potent attacking threat and expectations of him are high but that doesn't and shouldn't immunise him from criticism. Another player who has been far more harshly treated also had a great game today. I hope Gallas can now be acknowledged for his strengths too.
Amos.
At the beginning of the season I saw Djourou and Song in these positions as part of our best possible side. I think that they are both talented and if can play with this sort of concentration and effort they should not be left out of the squad for the rest of the year. Of course that is a big if...
TPowell
Wonderful depiction of the match LD! Big win for us, lets hope we don't concede the momentum this time.
gunnerkid107
How sweet it was. It was difficult sitting with the Chavs when i could see how much fun the Arsenal supporters were having. That PA was a Gi*p. I swear he was mis saying all of the names of the Arsenal players too, or maybe just ignorance
paul_ownz
"Denilson worked incredibly hard for the ream" lol made me chuckle. You should do all reports after a day on the sauce :) For all Gallas' faults and we know they are feckin legion, he still has a lot to give Arsenal. Still far from convinced about Song and Denilson although both grew into the match both had long periods of duffness, On another note lets have a quick lol at Ronaldo - I heard a beep I heard a beep :0
nikolaijns
Commenting on thier annoucer, I also noticed him give a massive paused between "Number 10" and "William Gallas" so the Chavs could get their boos in, and he gave a more boisterous and lavish welcome to Ashley Cole than anyother player. *****stain.
Rocky7
Did he actually call for a round of applause for everton? how sad
HuddersfieldYiddo
The even sadder thing is HY, that Chelsea have no real historical rivals, so they just stole ours .... lol
Rocky7
The quickest write-up ever LD! From my seat I saw the paradox that is our team today… all the side’s positives– skill, fight, energy and togetherness, and at the same time the exact opposite – the negatives of lethargy, jitters and lack of cohesion... It was all there together with the hangovers of the shenanigans of the last couple of weeks. To pull a win out of the bag when we clearly have some disarray in the camp, is nothing short of fantastic. If we could manage to clear some of our demons we’d be proper contenders.
Andy-bayor
Did anyone see Scolari's post match interview? Don't blame him but the poor guy was totally seething... There is nothing that satisfies me quite as much as getting one up against the likes of John Terry, Michael Ballack and Frankie-boy Lampard :-)
Andy-bayor
Obviously gutted for Cashley though Andy :)
nikolaijns
what were the chavs chanting to the gooners just b4 RVPs' equalizer? it sounded something like "your not rivals anymore"
fran merida
I, for one, feel the worse for Anelka.
TPowell
Poor Cashley Niko - he got the usual earful too but booing him is just a pantomime now... I don't remember the chant you mean fran, but it should have been "We weren't here when we were *****"
Andy-bayor
Good write up, although you're being easy on Denilson. He needs to show more urgency on the ball, as possession was wrested from him far too easily. Nasri was also poor on the night and provided little cover to Clichy who couldnt handle Bosingwa. For all that, the Chavs were poor which helped us. I am just happy with the 3 pts, as I decided a month back that its better to take each game as it comes. This win should not be seen as a sign for the next game against Wigan. I'm pleased for Gallas, he put in a good shift and contributed to the defensive solidity. I got the CB partnership of my choice today and they put in a good claim for permanent slots.
prits
This game, while uplifting me, also frustrates me. Chelsea did not have a poor game today, and neither did United a couple of weeks ago. This proves that when we play with desire and determination we can literally beat anybody. Why can't we play like this every week? I think its a valid question.
TPowell
I know we are all euphoric but i was pulling my hair out at the OG. Almunia at 30 years old is by far one of the few experienced guys in this team and yet he makes silly mistakes. We were under pressure and all he does is quickly return the ball to Chelsea. In big games he has tended to make some elementary mistakes. Today RvP bailed him out. We need a better keeper!
Gael-Force
Just watched that Ronaldo handball again, hilarious. Of course if Gallas had done that, the headline the next day would read: 'Worse ever captain in the Prem makes most embarrassing mistake ever'
TPowell
The chant sung to "You're not singing anymore" was actually to William Gallas. It was "You're not captain anymore". Actually one of the politer songs aimed at Gallas today. The difference today was simply that Van Persie took his chances. Shame (in my eyes, even if I doubt very much yours) that Chelsea couldn't do the same. Can't help but think back to last year when we came back against you in a similar fashion... It doesn't feel good but I don't think we were outplayed (and you weren't last year) and I think it was a good game. I look forward to the reverse!
The_Legend_Of_Zola
ok, first the negatives: 1) denilson caused quite a few breakdowns in attack by giving the ball away looking for a decisive pass 2) at times clichy's decision making (especially in the first half) leaves one wondering what goes on in his head? a simple clearance becomes an ordeal because he decides to take the player on in a dangerous position. but on the positives: i think this midfield formation of fabs, den, rvp, song & nasri is great. gives us so many attacking possibilities, also frees up the lone striker in either ade or bendtner. i noticed we moved the ball up the pitch very quickly last nite, which i think is because we had options in the midfield. all in all a satisfying performance, and rvp scoring from a sweet strike on each foot, adds icing to the cake.
supersof
"cometh the hour, cometh the man (or van)". nasri against utd, rvp against chelski, maybe vela against liverfools???
supersof
Gallas has looked infinitely better since Kolo was dropped and it was notable that Djourou was aerially commanding whilst Gallas used his wily positional sense in behind him. van Persie looked more confident dropping back into the hole with Adebayor ahead of him, perhaps he thought there was more chance of the ball sticking to Ade than with Vela and Bendtner in recent weeks. I thought Ade worked very hard yesterday and his role in the second goal shouldn't be dismissed.
Little Dutch
RVP proved exactly what his value to the team is today, scoring when nobody else looks like doing sweet ***** all. He was the only player who looked likely and was doing it all by himself for most of the day, but ask Tom14, we should sell him, right?
Ozi Gooner
Oh yeah, Almunia still remains an utter joke.
Ozi Gooner
Good description of the game LD? A good team performance, I think Denilson played a better defensive role than Theo does and this helped Sagna but I agree that he does dwell on the ball a bit too much sometimes - this should improve in time - but he works tirlessly and shows plenty of enthusiasm. Song did well in the midfield sweeping and clearing up, probably his best senior game for us so far. Adebayor made a difference up front - Bentner isn't quite ready for that yet - and Djourour has surely played himself into the first XI. The own goal wasn't his fault he had to try to cut out the cross and it was just one of those things. The great thing is that it didn't sap his confidence one bit. Gallas had a good game and will probably enjoy playing alongside Djourour because they seen to compliment each other so well. Nasri needs to improve the defensive aspect of his game and then he will be a great player. What the hell! A great team performance with a great result, well done everyone.
norfolk dumpling
Ozi - I have to say that I think your comment on Almunia is a little unfair. It is true that he was the indirect cause of the own goal and it isn't the first time that he has made this kind of mistake but don't forget how many times his saves have kept us in a game and all players make mistakes. I agree that it was a bad mistake and he mustn't make that kind of mistake again but it doesn't make him an "Utter joke".
norfolk dumpling
I think "utter joke" is harsh but he certainly should just be a stop gap. Not quick enough off his line, poses too much with his save, slow to get back up, not swift enough in his distribution and when he is it's wayward ..... I'd like to see Fabianski given a chance.
Rocky7
I think there's a massive shortage of top class keepers, Almunia isn't world class, but then I don't think Cech has been since he got that head injury, van der Sar is a liability nowadays. Only Reina is consistent and solid in the top four. Given's a great shot stopper but I cannot remember him ever catching a cross. I really rate Friedel but he's knocking on. Nobody really stands out, a friend of mine has a theory that you could rotate the Premiership keepers at random and the table wouldn't finish too differently. I like the look of Fabianski but I'm happy for him to be a "Cup keeper" this season and push on from there. I must also say the "I told you so's" regarding RvP aren't really necessary, everybody wants Arsenal to win and if that means Ghengis bloody Khan scoring the winner at Stamford Bridge I'll celebrate it regardless of any individual. If someone boos a player who then goes onto score, fair game, give them some stick. But rubbishing people's opinions is uncalled for, like I said in the article, Nicklas Bendtner scored the winner on Tuesday night and he's come in for a hell of a lot of stick recently.
Little Dutch
Never know what AFC's gonna turn up. I think that to have a keeper who's nowhere near even the Spain squad as our first choice just aint good enough, sorry, but that's the way it is. And whatever you think of Adebayor, when he's in the team, we score goals... also let's bear in mind RVP's strike rate this season, it must be the best in the Prem?
shewore
If Citeh do really go for Buffon... i really rate Joe Hart. But agree that there's a shortage.
shewore
We all know that RVP is a fantastic talent but like so many of those he is a bit of a maverick and has a somewhat moody and petulant side to his character. If he can continue to display the kind of attitude and commitment that he did yesterday on a regular basis he will surely progress from being just an incredible talent to a truly world class player.I also liked his ackowledgement of the Team when receiving his MOTM award. I agree with your comments on goalies LD but even Reina makes mistakes. I don't think Fab is ready just yet. BTW we should acknowledge Cesc's contribution which was solid without being earth shattering and perhaps his contribution as captain his having its efect? I should also apologize for the question mark (?) after my first sentence of my first comment. It should have been an exclamation mark (!). It completely changed its meaning. Cheers.
norfolk dumpling
Yep! Hart looks quite good.
norfolk dumpling
Difference is LD, Bendtner deserves the stick he cops where as RVP doesn't. Bendtner may have scored that goal against Kyiv and good on him but with a ball that good from Cesc do you really doubt wether any of our other strikers would've also scored that chance? With RVP though, his second goal in particular was the type of goal I doubt if any of our other strikers (maybe a fit Eduardo) would've scored and he was trying at it all game when not many were, an often over looked trait about him, but he performs when we really need it most.
Ozi Gooner
Terry's challenge was a clear red to me. Two footed with straight legs, jumping into the challenge. Not that I would expect Terry to be red carded.
pertore
your not having Hart.........hands off !!!!
lincolnblue
Ozi, you have a major problem me thinks. If you think I want to sell a fully fit on form van Persie you are totally wrong. I want to sell any player who does not play well in the large majority of games and has an arrogant attitude. Yesterday, however, van Persie changed. I cannot ignore that, nor can I dismiss his poor games this season. maybe you should look at it that way rather than just the black and white system you seem to have going.
Tom14
I did notice from my point that Gallas came straight over to us after shaking the officials hand and threw his shirt at us, the team rushed over top join him and seemed to show their appreciation for him having a rock solid game. This sort of togetherness could see us doing good things this season, if, IF the same work rate is applied to the lesser lights in the league. Chelski's announcer is a complete prat and should be out of a job, but then the club is used to having classless representatives; The announcer, Kenyon, Maureenho, Buck they were/are as bad as each other! The home fans were very quiet and we out sang them all game. Where is the punishment for the sick Chelski fans Paedophile chants? Bunch of idiots, I hope their family doesn't experience the travesty of a real paedophile, then they may not be such a complete bunch of dickheads! Will the FA do anything, probably not, the bunch of cowards that they are. Why was there empty seats around the ground, wasn’t Arsenal v Chelski a big enough game for their fans? Ashley Cole faded, Clichy looked the better player overall. Boswinga, is a great right back, the total opposite to Sagna though, buckaneering forward all the time, Sagna is different class defensively though. John Terry should of seen red for a wild, malicious two footed lunge on Sagna's knee, his knee FFS! He even looked in Sagna's direction before he lunged in making it very pre meditated and deliberate. SHould be a red and a 3 game ban, but you cant red card teh England captain and prize thug now can you? RVP was miles offside, but when he scored what should of been our 2nd goal at Highbury he was miles onside and that got chalked off so it is nice to see karma happening as it should.
LondonGooner
Thank you Arsenal for pegging back Chelski for my Liverpool.
I Bling Red
So nice to relive the game reading this piece. Now that you guys mentioned Gallas went to the away crowd and threw his shirt to them, it's not a surprise to see some of the press say he just trod off the ground 'alone' is it? And cheers LD for reporting interesting things like the crowd reactions and PA announcements which we don't see/hear clearly on TV.
GoonerLou
I was extremely grateful we had no defenders to bring on come the 85th minute that usually creates a destrucive imbalance
MeetTheGunners
The RvP disciples are pretty funny. I respect your right to believe he is the greatest thing since sliced bread and the future of Arsenal, I just disagree with your assesment. My positition has been the same for quite some time. RvP has bags of talent and a knack for making goals out of nothing. I genuinely believe he could be a legend - but only if he straightens out his attitude and stays healthy. At his age I don't know how likely either of those are. For me, RvP spends games at a time roaming about in anonymous fashion, not really working the way we know he can. Today he was a stud. Well done Robin. That's what I want week in and week out. It isn't even the two goals as much as the effort put in to get the two goals. I want him to prove me wrong. If he can perform in similar fashion 4/5 games (regardless of goals) then he'll have won me over. Currently it is about 1/5. Either way he did a great job against Chelsea.
smithdj74
RE: Gallas throwing his shirt to the crowd. Hasn't it been pointed out a few times that Gallas is one of the few players who ALWAYS makes a point of applauding the fans even after a poor game?
smithdj74
I thought it was refreshing to see us play a 4-4-2 in a big game..the media focus on the offside is unbelievable..would there be any sympathy if it was the other way round?
Anon 1
Terry's tackle was a straight red. The main reason for RVP's occasional frustration and fluctuating form is, I think, down to the injuries he has suffered which constantly interrupt his progress. Let's hope the injuries are now behind him and that he settles down to work hard in every game, if he does he will gain in confidence and become a tip top player.
norfolk dumpling
Anon1 - It has been the other way round, when RVP's goal was ruled out for offside when he was clearly onside and the media made fack all about that so I wouldn't get your hopes up mate!!
LondonGooner
Ye I know LondonGooner..remember it all too well..but nobody seems to want to talk about how chelsea were comprehensively outplayed for the majority of the second half and our glorious show of solidity...I don't remember any sympathy for us when rooney dived to end our unbeaten run, the two penalties against liverpool, the birmingham penalty etc..i could go on....anyway Cole touched the ball last so it wasn't offside...
Anon 1
Anon, Arsene just didn't have the human resources to play 4-5-1 with Diaby, Rosicky, Eduardo, Eboue and Theo out and Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere, etc. probably deemed not ready for Chelsea hehe. RvP also spent quite a bit of time in the midfield areas getting the ball doing link-up work. Somehow I wouldn't be too bothered with formation as (when we play properly) we're quite fluid enough to make formation less relevant.
GoonerLou
But yeah, I do get what you mean - I was also glad to see RvP not stuck out wide. So it's sometimes a de facto 4-4-1-1/4-5-1 with RvP in the hole. If he ran as much as he did, he's a bit of both a striker and an attacking link-up man.
GoonerLou
Ye but he could have played Song, Denilson and Cesc in the middle with RVP and Nasri out wide..I thought it was great that he didn't and it reminded me of the old days when we'd always play 4-4-2 regardless of he opposition while simply alterring the personnel..so sometimes we'd see Parlour on the right or in the middle, for example, whilst still retaining our shape..
Anon 1
Have to admit I don't know where van Persie's perceived "inconsistency" comes from. His last 5 league starts for the club (obv silly sending off as sub v Stoke) - MOTM v Chelsea, poor performance (1 of many) v Man City, absolutely sensational v Spurs, most dangerous attacking player v West Ham before Ade came on - free kick hit post, assist for Faubert og, goal and dangerous v Everton (granted did miss couple of good chances) Definitely agree about the full backs LD, Sagna especially made a couple of vital last ditch tackles and but for that cynical challenge by Ivanovic might have a real collectors item - a Gael Clichy entry into Goal of Month!
ishman
got to say he took both goals well! fair play to you lads!
merlin
I agree ishman, RvP for me has been performing well this season excpet the odd game despite not having the best support/service from players around him either due to injuries weakening our team or poor form of our midfield players. I've not seen every game in full but whenever I have seen him play theres been no lack of effort if not maybe end product always.
jubair
 

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