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Arsenal 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

I wrote after the Hull game that I would rather Arsenal wrapped things up nice and early, but if they were to win all of their remaining games with injury time goals, so be it. I stand by that position from one perspective, but writing this evening, I`m not sure my heart can take this level of punishment! It`s been a jam packed football week, after the thrills and spills of Arsenal v Barcelona; I spent my Friday evening watching Milwall play Brentford at the Den. The reason this match report is coming to you this evening is because we fly to Perpignan at lunchtime tomorrow, but the pre match focus lay more in Salford where Manchester United played Chelsea. It`s a bizarre sensation watching a football game and wanting a draw, there`s something very unnatural about it. But Chelsea took a deserved victory and the title now looks theirs to lose, though a tough run in for the lotto Chavs gives us a chance. But first our focus had to be with a Wolves side on an impressive run, whilst the spine of Arsenal`s team has been ripped out due to injury. Not literally ripped out you understand, but then don`t be surprised to read tomorrow that Vermaelen misses the rest of the season with a ripped put spine. Or something.

Arsenal began the game brightly and in Walcott they had an outlet that Wolves could not deal with in the opening stages. After five minutes, Walcott weaved his way in from the right and cut an intelligent ball back to Eduardo, who fired the ball straight at Hahnemann. Arsenal`s next promising attack came down their right when Walcott fed the overlapping Rosicky, who again cut the ball back but Eduardo could only scoop a difficult chance wide. Again Walcott was the creator in chief as the home side maintained their high tempo start, Walcott again receiving the ball on the right and this time feeding the overlapping Sagna inside the box but his low, powerful drive was beaten out by Hahnemann`s legs. Walcott again was centre stage before the 20minute mark when Sagna`s corner was headed out to the edge of the area and Walcott caught the clearance with a sweet first time volley on his left foot which Hahnemann did well to hold. If you require proof that Arsenal don`t practise corners, it`s the fact that Sagna did not know he was taking the corners until he realised nobody else would. We went into the match without designated set piece takers.

The Gunners were still asking all the questions of a well organised Wolves side, ten minutes before the break, another Walcott surge from the right saw him pull the ball back to Eduardo; he combined with Tomas Rosicky- a constant bright spark throughout- who back heeled to Denilson who dragged his shot wide. However, Arsenal went into the break goalless and needing to lift their tempo. A mixture of the energy sapped from the Wednesday night just passed and the minds focussed on the Tuesday night to come was evident in the Gunners play. With Arshavin and Fabregas missing, the link up between midfield and the forward line looked to be lacking despite an energetic display from Rosicky in the Cesc role. In the second half, Arsenal did not create much at all with Wolves looking even more dogged. Walcott was now being nullified by Okelobi, who simply sat deeper and denied space in behind, though a Walcott cross was headed into the air by Zubar, Eduardo showed great reflexes to spin and hit a volley wide in the area. Arsenal were dominating possession, but Wolves were sitting numbers on the edge of their area, squeezing Arsenal out centrally and trusting the fact that, when forced wide, no Arsenal player would denigrate themselves by, you know, trying to get on the end of a cross. It was no surprise to see Bendtner come on for the ineffective Eboue, whilst the peripheral figure of Eduardo was moved to the left hand side.

Tomas Rosicky broke through in the area to deliver a low shot which was expertly held by Hahnemann, but Arsenal were running low on inspiration despite the Czech`s best efforts. On 68 minutes, the away side were reduced to ten men when Karl Henry needlessly ploughed through the back of Tomas Rosicky in the centre circle when the Czech had his back to goal. A stupid tackle that was reckless and with excessive force, as the rules deem of a red card challenge. However, that did not make the Gunners` task any easier. In fact, it made it more difficult as Wolves decanted to the edge of their own area making space at a premium for Arsenal`s attack. Substitute Samir Nasri pulled a pass back from the right edge of the area which Tomas Rosicky thumped straight at Hahnemann, Rosicky would have been the most deserving player of a goal, that was for sure. But Rosicky`s most vital contribution came at the other end when Jarvis` corner was headed goal wards by Ronald Zubar only to see Rosicky clear off the line. Arsenal looked clean out of ideas and the away side looked worthy of a point. A Sagna corner was cleared to the edge of the box to Nasri, he played a perceptive slide rule pass to Walcott in the area he screwed a close range effort wide on 91 minutes. The game felt as though it was up.

The game crept into its fourth minute of injury time; heads were uniformly in Arsenal hands as the stadium seemed resigned to the title bid drawing to an anti climactic close. The ball was shifted to Walcott on the right who touched the ball back to Sagna. The French full back took a touch before tossing in the umpteenth cross of the afternoon, only this time Bendtner had goal side of Ronald Zubar and met the cross with a precise header into the bottom corner. The timeliest, most precious of goals and the stadium duly erupted; Arsenal had snatched a victory they really didn`t deserve. Sol Campbell`s celebration might just be the most brilliant expression of joy I`ve ever seen. They could have added a second when Nasri broke clear but fed Walcott on the right when Bendtner was clear; Walcott tucked the ball back to Denilson whose shot was blocked. The final whistle was greeted with mass relief. In truth, Wolves were good value for a point such was the tenacity and organisation of their defending, but Arsenal simply don`t give up, even when their performance is below average. We were perhaps fortunate to escape with this three points, but the title bid remains alive as a battered and bruised Arsenal linger on towards the finishing line, eyes swollen and bloodied, swinging wildly like a drunken street fighter, hoping to land the one killer blow. Somehow, they keep landing it too. LD.

1.ALMUNIA, 3.SAGNA, 31.CAMPBELL, 5.VERMAELEN, 18.SILVESTRE, 17.SONG (8.Nasri `71), 15.DENILSON, 7.ROSICKY, 14.WALCOTT, 27.EBOUE (52.Bendtner `64), 9.EDUARDO (12.Vela `79). Unused: 2.Diaby, 21.Fabianski, 22.Clichy, 37.Eastmond.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday April 3 2010

Time: 10:09PM

Your Comments

Loved the last two sentences Tim! And why the same day match report? LD staying in on a Saturday night?
TPowell
Nevermind, I see why now. Enjoy Barcelona, looks like you could be sitting next to Zlatan now that he's been ruled out for Tuesday
TPowell
It was a deserved victory - if only because of Wolves lack of ambition. There was nothing in Wolves play or attitude to the game that would have warranted a point. They did what they had to do as well as they could even if the time wasting was a bit blatant but despite the sending off, which was the only poor tackle in the game, there was no Stoke or Hull like clogging in the way they went about it. The final ball was missing for us and more than anything else that is what we are going to have to find without the help of Cesc over the coming weeks.
Amos.
Just finished watching the game again ... this time through calm eyes. I actually thought we played pretty well, it's never easy to score against well organised sides like Wolves. They played their hearts out today, and whilst people might say we were fortunate we thoughorly deserved the victory. There was nothing lucky about the goal, it was a great move and a nice finish. If that happens in the first minute no-one calls it a lucky goal so why is that any different because it happened in the last minute? I didn't see anyone elses reaction to the goal because I was busy jumping around like a looney myself, so watching it back on Football First is brought a smile to my face to see the reactions of the players, staff and fans. Fabianski literally ran off the bench and went ******** mental. This is wy we love football .... however Wolves fans will also tell you this is why we hate football too.
Rocky7
Brilliant write-up as usual Tim! I loved "lotto Chavs" lol Like Rocky7, I was jumping about like a looney, when the ball hit the back of the net, and joining in the "Super Nik"singing! I loved the way we went from total frusturation to Pure Joy with a hint of Relief!
hackneyval
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKRxgD2gb68 Watch Sol about 20 secs into this clip. Priceless.
Little Dutch
lol.. was he dry humping??? ..hahaha.. i literally ran across my room and back like a mad man
arseneknows
Swinging lows, hallelujah highs. Football is a drug. What an absolutely CRAZY week. My heart can't take much more punishment!!
julieloveshenry4ever
Rosicky was massive. Whilst Wolves didn't really offer much going forward, it was also a reflection on how well we were defensively. It'll take an effort a notch or three up, but it bodes well for the Barca game if we can convert more than one of those 23 shots.... The finishing was nowhere....
the yza
That is one great clip. Been watching it over and over. Ha, ha love it! Sol Campbell is HILARIOUS! Arsenal through-and-through- no wonder the spuddies foam at the mouth over him! Brilliant celebrations. Means so much to everyone to keep going on both fronts. As we like to say over here, "Keep 'er lit" Arsenal!
julieloveshenry4ever
i totally enjoy the way Sol celebrated the goal!!!
fcdematthew
can't wait to see Sol back at the lane, that would be so good!!
luckys_10
that was rocisky first 90 mins for ... god knows! i must say i love arsenal but that is too much for our health
Gooner SA
It was similar to his celebration at Stoke ... he went mental then too. I think he regretted his decision to leave as soon as he'd made it, and now he's glad to be home. And I must say right now it's looking like a master stroke from Wenger.
Rocky7
How many times have we delivered on the saying of 'getting something from a game when you're not playing well' this season? Barca was the perfect example. It's been a weird season but the way Chelsea are playing right now, I can't see them dropping 4 points and us winning all our games, especially with our injury list. But as long as we're fighting until the end, that's all we can ask for. Surprised Arsene didn't play Traore at left back yesterday as he's pretty good going forward.
Gooner_Vin
Still high on yesterday. What a feeling. What a fighting unit our side has become. That we are still in the title race despite injuries, leg breaks and first time yellow cards is a miracle. While Barca at home look too strong for our current depleted side, the spirit in our side has won me over whatever happens.
Deltaforce
was at a wedding yesterday but kept up wit d match using my mobile.. by 91st minute 0-0, I virtually guzzled beer meant for half the guests!(positively looking like a younger tony adams!)
shady gunna
Can't say we didn't deserve the win LD, agreed on everything you said in the article otherwise. Sol's been passion personified ever since he came back. Brilliant to see him so motivated and playing well. Was a bit surprised to see him start the game though - I'd thought Traore would've played LB with Silvestre in the middle.
GoonerLou
when my phone updated 94th minute 1-0, i thought i had passed out dreaming! still hungover in bed today.. now for the small matter of barca away
shady gunna
when my phone updated 94th minute 1-0, i thought i had passed out dreaming! still hungover in bed today.. now for the small matter of barca away.. maybe i should attend a funeral dis time!
shady gunna
Amos wrong mate Henry deliberately ground his foot into Walcott's calf, after the player was on the ground. If the ref had had a reasonable report from his assistant Henry should have been sent off then. . There were many little rough ups behind play. Thought Tommy played a ripper of a game and Eduardo only missed his shot because his support foot slipped as he shot. Tend to think that when he finally lays his demons to rest he will regain his previous ability. Not sure now if we play Nasri on the left as we did look a one sided team for much of play and the left only really came into play during the last ten to 20 mins.
alwaysgunner
Nice write up LD, but really think that we were well worth the win. Fair play to olves for their attitude and spirit in their defending. I think our boys at the back, and the ones in midfield, can learn something from the way Wolves defended as a team.
CockneyRich1
Btw, I thought Silvestre played well yesterday. Some of his forays forward from the LB position were surprisingly great! Bravo.
Deltaforce
silvestre was good albeit against a poor opposition who rarely threatened.. it still needs to be seen if he can hold his own against a more attacking opponent
McGooner
and i say now that i'll be a proud gooner no matter wat happens at the end of the season.. to be just 3 points off the top with 5 games to play is tremendous and it feels good to be involved in a title race once again.
McGooner
another lucky result! well i hope u come second ahead of united
mrdax
I know we still gave the barca game but is there any chance van persie will be mavailable for the spurs clash?
DBerg
there are a couple of distinct differences in our game compared to the past few seasons. we are scoring more from headers (bendtner is our plan b) & outside of the box. not that we are playing better but having more options gives us better chance & it has been one of the reasons why we are still in the hunt (another reason being mu & chelsea are quite ***** this term). albeit the physical attribute, bendtner is quite different from adebayor. he always gets into position & let the wingers do the dribbling compared to adebayor. i hope we can get a couple of flank players who can cross better because if chamakh really joins us, we will have 2 centre forwards who are really good in the air
Joe_@**
Apparently Song's not included in the squad...how much more injuries do we need???
jess_farenesh
Hi Fellas! Its been a tight last five days for me as I had to catch a Plane to Canada, the night of our game V Barca and could only see the first half before rushing to the Airport, very shell shocked. Was still in the plane, prior to take-off, when I mustered the courage to check scores on my phone and I let out a shout which startled the pregnant lady in the cabin next to mine; then I began to respond to texts from the "haters", who had filled my phone with doom messages, after the 1st half. Now, it is this die hard attitude of the team, this season that has made me so adamant we are going to win something. Who, ever, comes back from 2-0 down to 'this' Barca side? I don't know of any. Yes, they had a good 1st half, but soccer games last 90 minutes, last time I checked. Personally, I have not given up on this tie, especially as we have nothing to lose now and the pressure should be on Barca. Imagine if we scored first and "parked the bus"; plus, I don't think we will give them as much space as we did in the first leg, this time around. For me, Tuesday will be Act 2, scenes 1 & 2! (After Barca shaded it in Act 1. I still believe. PS: sorry to take you back, but it's been my first chance to comment on that game.
Naijagunner
Jess, if Song is to miss the Barca clash, that will be a great miss! Don't know how we are going to play without his battling qualities in the midfield/defense. LD we did, thoroughly, deserve our win V Wolves on the sheer number of attempts made and the possession stats. It was a combination of good defensive organization and a brilliant keeper that prevented a much wider scoreline. Considering the number of changes made, the team played very well, with half their heads already in Barcelona. We still have it all to play for. Chelsea and Man U will still drop points; at least, they are likely to drop more than we will, in the run-in. Chelsea meet L'pool and the Spuds (hopefully, still with 4th place to play for), away. Mancs play City(A) and Spurs; yes, so do we, but it is going to be a derby for us and home to City. Surely, the odds favour us.
Naijagunner
@Naija, Arsene has the option of playing Sagna in the centre where Zlatan's absence could be crucial due to his aerial prowess...This could means a start for Walcott as Eboue will fill the RB slot. There's also the option of playing Silvestre although I presume this will be Arsene's last option. I doubt Sol will be playing as he needs to be 100% fit as with the other players. As for the league, I do love your optimism...it's gonna be tough, but we will be there fighting till the very end...
jess_farenesh
@ Jess, like I posted elsewhere, if Sagna will be considered for CB, Wenger will have tried him in that position in some prior games when we had a similar situation (with Song suspended). I think a natural CB will be deployed; whether Sol or Silvestre, they have to rise to the occasion. It will be desperate to play both Eboue and Theo at the start; both are good impact players and we can make do with only one at a time, especially considering possible tactical needs, injuries and/or fatigue, at the later stages of the game.
Naijagunner
" Arsenal had snatched a victory they really didn`t deserve." What in are you talking about? Arsenal dominated every aspect of this match and thoroughly deserved to win, from where I was sitting we did. Must of been at a different game to me. If Wolves hadn't time wasted fromt he 17th minute onward there wouldn't of been so much injury time, their cynical unambitious style cost them the game aswell as the stamina and commitment of out players. Underserved? Tsk.
LondonGooner
 

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