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Tommy Guns Down City

Tommy Guns Down City

Apologies, this one's gonna have to be a bit brief, work commitments and all. But I think fourth place is certainly sewn up now and we can set our sights on usurping a preoccupied Liverpool into third. It is important to finish the season strongly with the next campaign in mind. I want these players itching to come back to pre season training and firing on all cylinders by the time we journey to some European city or other in early August for our Champions' League qualifier.

I was always confident of a result last night, I am sure Wenger will have instructed his troops to win this game and get Champions' League qualification in the bag. The Gunners' flew out of the traps as well, playing more of the champagne football which we have betrayed somewhat in recent weeks. I think the temptation to hoof it to Adebayor has been all too difficult to resist and therein lies the key to our recent goal drought. With Hleb and Fabregas suffering a simultaneous dip in form in March, the creative cogs of the team haven't been firing. Arsenal played to their strengths infinitely in the opening period, playing the ball along the floor at speed. Hleb, Rosicky and Fabregas interchanged positions with great elasticity and Adebayor dropped off to link up play. City were chasing shadows and Arsenal took the lead half way through the first half. It was to be a carbon copy of the equaliser on Saturday, with a cross coming in from the right (I forget who put it in) and Tomas Rosicky once again attacked the ball from the back post, nicking in front of Nedum Onuoha and slotting between Isaksson's legs. Mr. Wenger has obviously had a dickie bird with Tommy Gun about attacking the ball in the box and it has paid a rich dividend in the last week. Many pontificate on Arsenal's lack of width, but this is simply not true, Arsenal hit a lot of crosses into the box in an average game, we just seldom have anyone attacking them. Let's hope Rosicky can keep this tendency going to supplement his long range shooting.

Rosicky was clearly the best player on the field last night, exuding energy and charisma. Hleb, Rosicky and Fabregas were in their element, pulling City apart at will. But theirein lay the problem, the game almost became too easy and the concentration dropped. A warning shot was fired when Beasley's goalbound effort was brilliantly blocked by the kinetic Clichy. The Gunners' didn't take the hint, a poor clearance under no pressure fell straight to Barton, who quickly fed Vassell and Eboue's poor awareness allowed Beasley in to score. Eboue and Jens had poor nights, the latter looking shaky and indecisive, while Eboue's concentration appeared to be sadly lacking. From here on, the Arsenal crowd really frustrated me. It seemed they just could not wait to jump on the players' backs, I swear I detected some kind of perverse pleasure in people barracking Arsenal's every move. Hleb, appointed scapegoat in chief by people who, frankly, just do not understand the game of football, was the target of most frustration. Never mind that this guy was at the heart of every balletic move in the first half, never mind his constant tackling back (did you know he has the highest tackle success rate at our club at 80%? Check the stats, he makes a lot of tackles too), the result was the team panicked under the weight of ignorant groaning. The fast football which was pulling City apart was not allowed to transpire as moron upon moron screamed, 'shooooot' or whailed impatience every time the ball reached the half way line. The upshot was that we resorted to pumping it long, which of course did not work. Fabregas was bypassed and his stranglehold on the game loosened. Hleb was visibly shaken by the crowd's moronic barracking and lost his confidence. This was chrystalized as he cut in from the right, with the goal at a tight angle and the pull back a safe option, in an attempt to appease increasingly childish 'supporters' he lashed it well wide with his left.

At one point, Arsenal ignored the 'pundits' and almost got their breakthrough. Adebayor brilliantly dummied Gilberto's pass, Rosicky read it like a copy of the matchday programme and ran onto the ball, pulling back for Adebayor, only for Distin to block his goalbound effort and deny football a piece of aesthetic mastery. Minutes later, the sheep went 'baaaaaaaaah', as a dipping Fabregas volley from twenty yards beat Isaksson, giving Arsenal a 2-1 lead with seventeen minutes remaining. I think a peak at the predictions on the forum will confirm just how predictably unpredictable football can be. Most people, your writer included, predicted a Fabregas goal, having gone 11 months without one it was inevitable he would get two in a row. Two weeks ago that shot would have cannonned off the post.

Arsenal readopted their fast flowing football again, with confidence imbued into their limbs and an appeased crowd. Hleb relaxed and, guess what? Without a stadium full of idiots shouting down his every move, he dribbled in beautifully from the right, swaying past Ball and Distin before demonstrating his low centre of gravity to nudge the ball past Dunne, into the path of Baptitsa who rolled home a tap in. A Samaras shot which was so wildly mishit, it ended up going out for a throw in about two yards behind where he had hit it from was the only event of note as the Gunners' played their slick passing game to the sound of 'oles' rather than frustrated cries. A word for William Gallas in closing, who is looking more and more the general of our defence, using his brilliant body positioning and superior positional sense to keep the dangerous DaMarcus Beasley at bay. A summer together, devoid of injury, together with one or two quality additions convinces me that this team can go on to challenge for major honours next season. The fact that 3rd/4th place and a Cup Final with the kids is considered an unmitigated disaster is probably the highest praise you could afford this manager. A word of congratulations for Cesc too, for his PFA nominations in both categories, he is a special talent. But I cannot help but feel sorry for Gilberto, who has been our player of the season this year in my humble opinion. Hopefully, I can sufficiently dodge the bricks and fists and report on a morale boosting victory over our delightful neighbours on Saturday. Peace out homies.LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Wednesday April 18 2007
Time: 12:47PM


nice work LD.
18/04/2007 13:28:00
Good report LD. The booing was ridiculous last night. We've had a poor season but Hleb and Baptista are being made scapegoats. Whatever peoples opinion on the Beast (personally I like him and think he'll be an asset if kept) Hleb is getting stick thats unwarrented. He made a big mistake in the PSV match but other then that he is one of our more consistant performers (stats back this up) and his footballs a joy to watch at times. If fans are upset, it should be directed at Arsene, and not the players. He buys, picks and trains the team so the buck stops there.
18/04/2007 13:33:00
Another good game at the grove, we played some fantastic football at times, we seem to be understanding one another within the team now. I wonder how Adebayor will fair next season when he only plays a bit part?
18/04/2007 13:46:00
I wish there was some way of letting Hleb know that not all Arsenal fans are on his back, and some of us live up to our description as 'supporters'.
18/04/2007 13:55:00
fantastic article mate which convinced me to sign up to the site. i sit in the east lower and some of the stuff being directed at our players was completely disgraceful. what i also notcied was that these moronic "fans" were the same fans who left immediately after the beats had scored with 6 minutes remaining. perhaps they were upset that hleb and the beast (who had received the most stick) had stuffed their boos down their throats by combining to score the 3rd? what i will say though is there must be a way of shutting these muppets up? surely they're not that thick enough to not realsie that the players actually play better when the crowd are behind them and urging them on?
18/04/2007 14:03:00
Welcome, labwam. I completely agree with you, I mean how does it help if a player is boo-ed? Gooner_Vin, if you figure out a way, pls let me know coz I like Hleb as well. I think he has been very good for us, and his confidence right now is not right up there coz of the PSV botch up. But I hope he comes back strong from this.
18/04/2007 14:38:00
Cheers labwam, welcome to the site. Sadly, our home support was the reason I started going to away games, the contrast is astounding. I just tend to shout these people down now, either by taking the ***** out of them or, as I did yesterday to the serial Hleb baiter behind me, when the third goal went in I told him to sit down and shut up. There's a guy behind me who just whails, "shoooooooot" like a teenage girl having her first ever period, my mates and I took to absolutely ripping the ***** out of him and now he doesn't do it. Call it bullying if you will, but I just feel that strongly about it, surely the point in going is to support your team? I think most people just look at football as a way of letting off steam. It is to an extent, the referee will usually hear about it if I've had a bad week, but I prefer to channel that energy into encouraging the team, not barracking them.
Little Dutch
18/04/2007 14:41:00
Excellent write-up LD (as always). I agree with most things there, Gallas' positioning was top-class and he was solid in defence. Lehmann had a bit of an off-day, but I wouldnt be so harsh on Eboue. He certainly did not have a glorious day and there were mistakes, but it wasnt abysmal and his attitude was much better than earlier this season. I thought Baps was invisible for parts of the match.
18/04/2007 14:44:00
Every time Baptista comes on some dude behind me breaks into a chorus of "weve only got 10 men" For some reason he then cheered when The Beast Notched? Bloody hypocrite.
18/04/2007 14:44:00
The weird thing is that I think the crowd went totally silent after we got our goal.. and I wasn't there, but I felt that it must've contributed to some extent to us losing the impetus to go on and get the 2nd goal.. because after that 1st goal, we played superbly for 20 mins and then lost it altogether towards the end of the half. I feel that the fans do have the right to express their opinions, but after the match - not jeer the players during it.
18/04/2007 14:50:00
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