Between moving, a faulty fuel filter and various other travails, there was an Arsenal match yesterday wasn’t there?
“A gritty Birmingham defense holds Arsenal!” Bullshit. Birmingham gave tons of space , Arsenal had most of the possession, and the lads had tons of easy chances that didn’t turn into goals. Honestly, watching the first few minutes of the match I thought we’d win it 6-0.
The first real scare came in the 14th minute when Almunia made a great diving save off a Jerome shot. I felt Arsenal were moving the ball well and were just destined to score. By the 17th minute, Dudu placed a header from a pinpoint Hleb cross straight into the Birm ingham keeper’s gut. Damn! Squandered chance, oh well, there would be plenty more, right?
2 minutes later and my prediction comes true: Clichy plays to Hleb who moves the ball on to Eduardo who looked to be half brought down by Kelly and to have half dived. In slow motion it’s a pretty harsh penalty call and clearly looks like Dudu dived. Oh well, Man U 27 fake penalties, Arsenal 1. Ade takes the kick and places the ball just inches from the keeper’s grasp. 1-0 to the Arsenal and no less than they deserved.
The penalty woke Birmingham up and they came out and put pressure on Arsenal. They caused a few Arsenal turnovers but really Birmingham didn’t seriously look likely to score.
But to be honest Arsenal looked really sloppy. Especially Theo, who seemed to turn the ball over every time he touched it. His poor play, poor passing, and dribbling into defenders, basically shut down the entire right side in the first half. I guess we know why Wenger plays Eboue on the right: Theo’s no where near ready.
But I don’t want to single him out — the rest of the team was equally guilty of too elaborate play in the first half. I mean come on guys, every pass doesn’t need to be a clever back heel. While I was contemplating the complexity of Arsenal’s play, Cesc saw a good turn and shot sail over the bar.
Then the first half ended, much like it started — overly complicated play by Arsenal, incisive counter attacks by City, and no goals.
Birmingham came out in the second half and won a corner right away. Flamini, who also looked very ordinary yesterday, lost his marker and O’Connor headed in what would easily have been an Almunia save had it not been for Cesc’s leg. Crap, crap, crap. 1-1. Now I’m getting tense.
Almost right away Cesc played a great ball in to Ade who had his shot blocked by Kelly. Then a foul on Sagna led to a free kick taken by Cesc who put it perfectly on the head of Senderos but it was a comfortable save. And then the pressure was on. Another corner was claimed nicely by the keeper and now Arsenal was swarming in the box. It looked like 20 people were in the Birmingham box but Arsenal couldn’t put the ball away.
65th minute, Bendtner on, Theo off. Bit of a different story now, less wide play more central attacks, but it’s still the same result: no Arsenal goals. For example, almost immediately after bringing Bendtner on, Eduardo makes a great run but blows the pass and three strikers are left standing around in the box. Are you getting sick of the same story over and over? WAIT!!! THERE’S MORE!
Now, Birmingham is weathering enormous pressure. Every other minute Arsenal is winning the ball, working it through the midfield, and then Cesc plays the ball into [INSERT ARSENAL PLAYER NAME] who [CHOOSE: misses/is blocked/is saved]
The camera pans over to Wenger squatting on the sidelines. He looks at the play on the field, looks at the pitch, and then wistfully up in the air. His answer is to bring Diaby on for Sagna. Now, I don’t know how much Arsenal you’ve watched this season but Diaby isn’t the cure for over elaborate play. There’s more dribbling, more passing, more chances, but still no goals, even though Arsenal are effectively playing a 2-3-5.
And that’s how it ended.
Enough of that match, let’s put it behind us.
There is still a dearth of actual transfer news to report, I could pontificate on the meaning of so and so’s saga but I’m tired. I will say that this article has a much better take on the Almunia for England story. He sounds more rational when he says:
I would prefer to hear the Spanish anthem than the England one. But it’s also true that the time of patriotism and really feeling a national anthem has somewhat gone out of fashion. It matters more what you owe a country or the people of that country. I owe everything to Spain on a personal level but professionally I can’t put a price on what has happened to me in England.
It’s a non-story he just loves what England has done for him and if he’s asked to play for England, he will.
I really have to go get some doans, or maybe some Fiery Jack for this back of mine and get back to work on moving. Until Monday.