Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday March 7 2010
Following a week of furious remonstration, it was nice to get back to on pitch matters. Though much of our pre match pub discussion revolved around working ourselves into a lather with the moronic coverage of Ramsey`s injury. For some very odd reason it has been Arsenal and Arsene Wenger who have been taking the stand and having to defend themselves, sickening fuckwits like Stan Collymore penning three words of pseudo pretend concern for Ramsey before then dribbling on for 1,500 words in unveiled hatred for our manager and the club, their agenda couched in xenophobic bile. Fortunately an article from the Guardian was brought to my attention which spoke some sense; it was penned by Dara O`Brian. It took a fucking comedian to talk some sense about a shocking incident, I shouldn`t laugh but it`s hard not to. I should not be surprised if the supporters are criticised this morning for not producing a "There`s only one Ryan Shawcross" banner. Did we not consider poor Ryan`s feelings? How selfish of us. Credit to RedAction for arranging the banner and to everyone that contributed fiscally and physically to its production. The players warmed up and took to the pitch in tee shirts bearing the legend, "Get well soon Aaron."
The pervasive feeling of injustice amongst the supporters needed to be reflected on the pitch and with England`s worst away side in front of them, positively spanking Burnley felt imperative. The Gunners started with a swagger too, Cesc Fabregas taking advantage of Burnley`s high line by dinking an impudent through pass to Bendtner who had taken a good position on the left, the ball just wouldn`t quite sit for him as he advanced on goal and Leon Cort toe poked the ball back towards his own goal and Brian Jensen palmed the ball wide. The Clarets briefly fluttered when Clarke Carlisle headed a Jack Cork corner straight at Almunia, but the predictable pattern was one of Arsenal attack. Fabregas and Eboue played an intricate, delightfully executed 1-2 on the edge of Burnley`s box which culminated in Fabregas driving the ball just wide. Eboue was causing Burnley problems on the right and when Nasri found him with a searching ball, Eboue hit a low first time cross which just about crept to Bendtner on the back post, but Jensen was already on top of the ball to block the goalbound effort. A goal was portent and it arrived on 33 minutes, the insouciant Samir Nasri had the idiotic cries of "shooooot" ringing in his ears instead engaged his brain and dinked a delightful through pass over the top of Burnley`s back four for the onrushing Fabregas to slot the ball through Brian Jensen`s legs. A quite beautifully crafted goal, but the celebrations were enervated when Fabregas limped off with a hamstring injury two minutes later. A quite devastating blow for Tuesday night and one can only implore the sky and ask why injury must be such a persistent foe. Arsenal nearly motored into a two goal lead within seconds when Eboue again found space on the right and pulled back for Bendtner who stretched but just shot wide.
The home side raced out of the blocks for the second half, someone clearly lit a fire under Theo Walcott`s arse because he performed like a man who had just been shown the Top of the Pops video for 'Diamond Lights` and told to try to do the impossible and make Chris Waddle look even more of a twat. Walcott skinned Danny Fox on the right hand side, composed himself and slung in a pinpoint cross for Nicklas Bendtner who unbelievably contrived to head the ball wide with the goal opening its legs and begging for it. Chances against Porto on Tuesday night are likely to be harder to come by and such opportunities will need to be buried. The point was made all the starker on 50 minutes as Burnley scored an unlikely equaliser. Eboue`s clearance only made it as far as Jack Cork, he headed the ball innocuously forward, Silvestre once again was not attuned to his defensive line and had stayed behind whilst his colleagues had pushed up (recall Diamanti`s goal in the Cup at Upton Park), Vermaelen had gone to sleep and the ball drifted through to David Nugent who calmly lobbed the ball into the back of the net. The Gunners were clearly stung and sprung straight back into life, Eboue found Walcott on the right, who seemed to be taking a personal vendetta against Danny Fox, Walcott nudged the ball back, Bendtner controlled and steered the ball towards goal only to see Leon Cort block the ball on the line. Walcott was pushing right up against his full back and was in the danger area again when Denilson found him with a probing pass, Theo looked a different animal to the listless presence he has been for much of the season, attacking with zest and purpose, and he forced a diving save from Brian Jensen at his near post.
There was some inevitability that Walcott would put Arsenal back into the lead, Bendtner looked right and picked out Walcott again, again the young English winger looked to take on Danny Fox, he cut onto his left foot, showing a flair for variety and curled a lovely finish into Brian Jensen`s bottom corner. Chris Waddle, that one was for you. The goal put an extra spring into an already bounding stride and Walcott was at the heart of Arsenal`s next attack, sauntering to the by line before cutting the ball back to Andrey Arshavin who skied his effort with the ball bouncing. Walcott put another chance on a plate a few minutes later when his low cross saw Bendtner in space eight yards from goal, but he put the ball just wide again with the goal gaping. I felt this miss was a little unlucky, Bendtner could get the same chance 1,000 more times, do exactly as he did in that incident and he`ll score, he was perhaps guilty of trying to be too precise with that particular finish. I`m wary of bland platitudes about "the bad striker being the one that doesn`t get any chances" but I have always reiterated that Bendtner is a player that does not hide and wants the next chance, therefore I was somewhat surprised to see him substituted, I would have backed him to stay on and score, but it wasn`t to be. Bendtner is not the sort of player that will let yesterday trouble him overly.
The game became needlessly nervy in the last ten minutes, with our profligacy meaning Burnley were still in the game and hearts collectively fluttered when Cork`s corner was flapped at by Almunia, the ball fell invitingly to Steven Thompson who hammered the ball over the bar. But in injury time, Arsenal did display some clinical finishing to put a more respective sheen on the score line. Eduardo smuggled the ball to Arshavin by the corner flag, the diminutive Russian accelerated into the box before generating trademark power with his left foot and utterly spanking the ball past Brian Jensen on his front post. Arshavin is able to generate such power with so little back lift in his shooting. With Fabregas and van Persie out of Tuesday`s game, much will rest on his slight shoulders. In the end we had the three points we expected and wanted, were it not for some wayward finishing, we might have sent an even more resounding message to our title rivals that we`re in it to win it. But on Tuesday, we will not have the same premium of chances and if and when they come, they will need to be buried. For now, Waddle and Collymore, that was for both of you. Cunts.LD
1.ALMUNIA, 27.EBOUE, 5.VERMAELEN, 18.SILVESTRE, 22.CLICHY, 15.DENILSON, 7.ROSICKY (23.Arshavin `63), 4.FABREGAS(c) (2.Diaby `37), 14.WALCOTT, 8.NASRI, 52.BENDTNER (9.Eduardo `76). Unused: 3.Sagna, 21.Fabianski, 30.Traore, 37.Eastmond.
Date:Sunday March 7 2010
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