Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool: Gallas heroics ensure title-saving win

What a pleasure it is to be writing to you today.

After a very tough run of games that has seemingly knocked the confidence out of players and saw the English media right us off as title contenders, the 1-0 win over Liverpool means we’re back in it.

Except that we were never out of it.

I said before the Aston Villa game that I felt we would be a decent chance for the title if we could end these four games around five or six points behind the league leaders. Chelsea’s unsurprising loss to Everton and Manchester United’s draw at Villa Park means we have achieved that mark.

With just a gap of six points to make up and a favourable run of fixtures to come means I genuinely feel there is cause for optimism in what Arsenal may still achieve this season.

Regarding the Liverpool win, the thing that impressed me most was the level of patience and self-control that our boys managed to achieve.

Worried about the threat of the Liverpool counter-attack, Arsene Wenger clearly instructed the team to play more conservatively and work themselves into the game. An opening half of missed passes and lacklustre movement proved an unwelcome side-effect of those instructions, but the payoff was that Liverpool never threatened.

Samir Nasri’s concussion did not help proceedings as his ten-minute period of grogginess denied our team balance until his replacement by Tomas Rosicky. Our two best opportunities of the opening half where a characteristically wild strike by Nicklas Bendtner and a scuffed effort by Cesc Fabregas. Meanwhile Liverpool were restricted to one Maxi Rodriguez shot.

The second half was something of a different story as Liverpool and our boys traded blows.

Lucas had an early sighter before William Gallas denied David Ngog with the best Arsenal tackle of the season. Tracking back from Liverpool’s only successful counter-attack of the evening, Gallas produced a last-ditch sliding effort to stop Ngog after the French striker had wriggled free of Thomas Vermaelen.

It was inspirational stuff from Arsenal’s best player of the match and almost inspired a goal at the other end. Andrey Arshavin, who had an otherwise quiet game, fed Rosicky with an excellent through-ball but the Czech winger was caught in two minds over whether to shoot or pass to Bendtner in the middle, eventually causing him to mis-control at the vital moment.

It was Nasri against Chelsea all over again but thankfully it didn’t cost us.

Pepe Reina made a save from Bendtner after a typically blustering run before the Dane was booked for diving just outside the area. It was uncharacteristic of a player who has shown to be one of the most honest out there and although the decision was spot on, you have to wonder what stopped referee Howard Webb from dishing out the same punishment to Steven Gerrard for two acts of simulation that were just as bad.

The final twenty minutes saw a flurry of action: the winning goal, a terrific save by Manuel Almunia and a controversial handball by Fabregas in the dying moments that saw us run out with the three points.

Unbelievably the winning goal came from the head of Abou Diaby.

Bendtner and Rosicky combined well before the Czech man sent in our first good cross in the last 6 months to leave a perfectly-placed Diaby with the simple job of powering home. It was a great goal – the sort that I feel Arsenal supporters enjoy the same way that Stoke fans love it when their team manages to score after some nice passing – and was only bettered by the celebration, which saw Diaby mobbed by teammates Theo Walcott and Fabregas.

Almunia’s contribution to the night came soon after as he superbly tipped a Ryan Babel fizzer onto the bar. He’s come in for a lot of criticism in recent weeks but in my opinion had a strong game tonight, handling the penalty area situations well and producing this crucial save.

With the clock ticking down and our boys seconds away from a vital win, Gerrard got away with a dive in a move that saw Dirk Kuyt fouled. Gerrard took the free-kick, Fabregas blocked it with his hand. The Arsenal captain was on a yellow at that point and was fortunate not to be sent off, but in the end the referee waved play-on before blowing the final whistle seconds later.

Arsenal 1, Liverpool 0. Beautiful.

I mentioned before that Gallas was my Man of the Match but credit must also go to Bendtner and Diaby as well as the manager for his team selections and tactics. It’s clear that the two tallest players in our squad give our play much more variety and we looked a far danger proposition in attack than in the previous two games without giving away too much at the back.

Alex Song stuck to his role of shielding the back four and produced a much improved performance. Fabregas had an off-game but got a lot of support from his midfield partners, surprise starter Emmanuel Eboue had a good game at right-back while Rosicky was a handful after replacing Nasri.

This was a game won more in the mind than the body and our players need to be commended. They played a patient, intelligent possession game that reaped dividends the longer the game wore on and responded admirably to two crushing defeats that surely must have dented their confidence.

It was a surprisingly good end to a difficult period of four matches that ultimately still mean we’re in with a genuine title chance.

Thoughts?

Have your say on Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Liverpool by leaving a comment.

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53 Responses to “Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool: Gallas heroics ensure title-saving win”

  1. henrykissinher
    February 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    Now lets hear all the doubters. only 6 points off chelski with an easier run in of games.
    how much difference did bendtner make last night, someone to actually win the ball in the air.

    diaby is turning into one of my favourite players, he has a lot of different assets compared to the rest of our attacking players.

    keep it real people and in the words of the excellent journey ‘don’t stop believing’

  2. The Black Panther
    February 11, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    I thought that bringing Bendtner off near the end was not the right thing to do (though this was perhaps down to his lack of match fitness) and that for the last ten minutes the scope he gave as a target in the air and up front was completely lost in providing Arsenal with defensive relief. It virtually offered up the attacking box to Liverpool in a tense end. I was kinda almost sitting there waiting for the next attack to come and then the next.

    The striker may have buffed a few attempts and created a couple turnovers, but there was no doubt the players around him seem to work well with the different type of target he is, and there is little doubt he is still getting up to speed after his injury. Had Arshavin had a better game, perhaps his influence might’ve been more apparent.

    Also your comments that Arsenal offer nothing at set pieces without Van Persie could seldom be made more apparent than last night.

    P.s. Diaby was great all game.

  3. Evanoxide
    February 11, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    I agree. Bendtner had a fairly good game, still needs to work on his runs though.. Gallas and Almunia deserves their saying in this post too.. The only poor performer in my opinion, was Cesc.. definitely not up to standard anyway!

    Need to keep up composure and momentum with this win..

  4. Aske P.
    February 11, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    Clichy still gave away the ball in dangerous areas again, and almost all of Liverpool’s play went through him, but he looked slightly better last night.

  5. Ahmad Garba
    February 11, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    Arsenal for show past the level of Liverpool. Friends, this year’s title will be very interesting. Watch out for the gunners. Well done GALLAS.

  6. Rian Joubert
    February 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    I was thinking this morning that our issue was not the losses against chelsea and united but rather the draw against west ham and burnley as well as the loss to sunderland. That is 5 points right there.

  7. Shard
    February 11, 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    I still think the title shouldn’t be our focus. That sounds stupid but when its about the title we’re looking at others to drop points. Will both Chelsea and ManU drop enough points? Maybe. But we need to win our games and not worry about the title. We have a chance,yes.. lets not blow it. Lets keep our end of the bargain.

    Thats what we did yesterday. As for your analysis of the game, I didn’t think the Bendtner incident was a dive. Gerrard dove twice (once to claim a penalty against Diaby) and the foul on Kuyt following the Gerrard dive wasn’t a foul. Oh and Cesc was not in the box.

    For the rest, you’re spot on Andy. Our boys do need to be commended. They played with spirit and defended better. Let’s hope it continues.

  8. Joshua Oluoch
    February 11, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    the young boys did us proud! It is still very possible!

  9. Ali I. Ahmed
    February 11, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    Andy while you are spot on about everything, I disagree with you on Arshavin. As opposed to what you said, I felt that he was flourishing tonight down the right channel. His dribbling was better, his passing was better (than the past few games) and he was putting in much more effort defensively – case in point: shoulder nudging jammie carragher off the ball!

    In any case, it really was beautiful.

  10. marek
    February 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    again, i have to say that – arsh distributed quite a number of beautiful passes – to bendner, rositsky, cesc etc…
    Nobody could make any use of them. That’s why I am not surprised when Arshavin decides to go for the goal himself, and not to pass to people who are so inefficient…

  11. Alhassan Sue Aubakar
    February 11, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    Weldone Arsenal we wnt you to keep wining, we are solidly behind you. Kee the flag flying.

  12. Giddie- Nairobi
    February 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

    Good job lets keep up the spirit. I see a repeat of what happened in december.

  13. Steve-O
    February 11, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Believe. This season, it’s very possible.

  14. sandip
    February 11, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    great result yesterday! Especially with the chavs and the mancs droping points.

    Those who say the first half was woeful. I’d rather have a first half like yesterday than the first half at home against the chavs, where the game was over after 30 min!
    Almunia made a great save and I still have a hard time believing he did this.
    Diaby had a good performance. He’s showing a lot of progress and even though one of these days he will be erratic again, I believe he will become more and more consistant.

    I would like to raise a point on Clichy though. What is going on with him? On nani’s goal last week, nani began his run 2 meters behind clichy, and ended up in front of him… That’s just an example, but… Since WHEN does clichy is being caught up? I remembered him as one of the fastest left back on the planet, but since his injury he looks very slow. What’s up with him?

    Bender… He’s a nice guy, but… Errrr…. In fact it’s all I can find to say: Bender’s a nice guy.

    Very happy about our victory though

  15. juniper
    February 11, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    The hoax story run by Cardena Ser Radio that Cesc had reached a verbal agreement with Barca to join them this summer must be counted as one of the most successful yet from the Spanish hoax factory that churns these tales out.

    In the olden days it was generally agreed that you could only run a hoax story once, but as with the “Arshavin didn’t realise he would lose all this money in tax” story (now replaced with Arshavin and Wenger don’t get on) the last year has proved that it is possible to keep even the simplest of hoax stories running over and over again.

    The question is why? Why do people pick up such an old story and keep repeating it?

    Clearly one reason is that there are now so many blogs willing to cut and paste any story that suggests that Arsenal are in trouble. Since the club clearly isn’t in trouble (just about the only club making a profit and with repayable debts, just about the only one of the big clubs with a young rather than seriously aging squad, and hence the only only club with a sustainable growth policy, and just about the only major English club that currently meets the UEFA criteria for entry into future Champs Leagues), it is necessary to clutch at straws.

    But it is not just the blogs that ran the “verbal agreement” hoax story. Even such august newspapers as the Telegraph picked it up and ran with it.

    So here’s some reasons why they do it…

    1. Stories like this are a deliberate attempt to destabilise Arsenal, and those who print them when they are still live are clearly part of that movement. You can’t get away with saying, “I ran it because it was news” because blogs and papers and radio stations can pick anything they like as news. Untold didn’t touch the story until the hoax had run its course – and we didn’t seem to run out of news. No one pointed a finger because we didn’t mention it at all. And I don’t think we looked particularly stupid because we were talking about other things.

    2. It is quick and easy give-away news – you don’t have to do any research, you just cut and paste everyone else’s story.

    3. It is a great lead in to further speculation. In this particular hoax the normal line was to say, “it is believed that Fabregas has decided to leave Arsenal because…” and then make up some reasons. What was so clever about this particular hoax was that virtually everyone picked up on the same reasons that were “believed”.

    Hoaxes are great weapons when you have a willing bunch of clones who are far too busy to go and investigate a proper story. You come up with the hoax, plant the story, and let the unthinking drones do the job for you.

    Arsenal supporters who really want to support the club could do worse than register on the Manchester United forums and start running the story that the Glazers are planning to liquidate Man U the moment they have redeemed the PIK loans – which they will be able to do by selling off the training ground and the 100 year old Trafford ground and pocketing the money.

    They will then make a tidy profit (since the club didn’t cost them anything) and it is unlikely anyone will be able to take over the club since they won’t be able to afford the “football debts” which have to be paid before the club can be re-admitted to the league.

  16. pragat
    February 11, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Was pretty much perfect for Arsenal last night. Beating Liverpool, Man Utd drawing, Chelsea losing, and Spurs losing aswell. Fantastic day. But why do I still feel empty? I’ll tell you why. Purely because, in my heart of hearts, i believe Arsenal dont have the firepower to win the league. Look at it realistically, Chelsea and Man Utd have in form strikers such as Drogba and Rooney, who do we have? Arshavin? Bendnter? In fact, the only aspect of our team which i have faith in, is the midfield. Alex Song and Fabregas have been fantastic this season, and i cannot fault them. Chelsea and Man Utd have better Goalkeepers, defence, midfield and forwards than Arsenal. Dont get me wrong, i am actually an optimist (I know! How funny!) but ever since we got slapped in the face twice by Drogba, yet again, i have turned realistic more. I love our own little geography teacher, but i think he has turned insane…but at least he isnt a fat waiter. Anyways, to wrap this up, i sincerley hope Arsenal prove me wrong, and i will be the happiest man on earth if they do. Echoes of 89′ are coming back to me…even though i wasnt even born by that time, but damn ive still watched the DVD about 100 times. Come on boys.

  17. Kosi
    February 11, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    What an important victory. The importance of height was obvious and espescially Bendtner’s display was great. However, there have also been a lot of failures and many thanks to Gallas. The team will needs some adjustments during the summer: Alumnia? Walcott? Denilson? I would appreciate a cut.

  18. lusungo
    February 11, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    Nice result,bendy has the dimension we were missing and for sure Eboue delivered .Six points is not much , I hope we keep the fire burning,the title is not too much to hope for ! Up the gunners.

  19. seyenija
    February 11, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

    Whoa! what a win what a result the kind we need to make genuire gunners to be happy.Let the team keep the focus anything is possible this season. Cheski and Manu dropping points last night are good omen.The two teams are still going to drop points at least they both have difficult games ahead of them, and we must not also forget that Manu is still involve in the leaque cup and Cheski, FA, that means more stress and possible injury worry for them.Let me say this, real gunners sticks with the club whether win or lose.Let us stick with our team.We still have a realistic chance to win the title this year.Andy, keep the good work going.IT GUNNERS FOR LIFE.

  20. nevergoonergiveup
    February 11, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Our play was ragged at times and we rode our luck (particularly late on) but we played with real spirit. Now we must focus on WINNING games against lesser opposition, not drawing them. Come on you Arsenal!!

  21. Aske P.
    February 11, 2010 at 11:00 pm #

    @Shard:
    No, the Bendtner incident was definitely a dive, and I’m both an Arsenal fan and Danish, so no accusations of bias 😉

  22. billi
    February 11, 2010 at 11:18 pm #

    great summary of the match, all exciting situations summed up, and with an objective view I think, I just remember that the first half was nearly boring, nothing happened really on both sides, second quite different, and I just remember that I was upset with no working out of the chances they created, when Bendtner shot wide alone in front of the goal at least nearly, his dive, I prefer the try to shoot a goal even when you are really hindered, Fabregas efforts inefficient, quite all, the pushing forward by Vermaelen was frightening in contrast to that, I remember the reporter saying: Vermaelen in front of the goal, it was nearly an counter attack by his own, then Rosicky, you know I have a special feeling for him, and he didn’t shoot, I couldn’t believe it, he glimped a look into the middle and the ball got a kick of his feet, he should have shot immediately because he can shoot with his left, and at that situation, of course, it’s so easy to say sitting on your sofa and watching, nevertheless, I couldn’t believe it, nothing worked out, it was as hexed, and then the relief, otherwise I would have exploded one time, this excellent cross by Rosicky and that wonderful finish, although the reporter claimed what a poor defending by Liverpool, but they forgot that you have to let them look such poor, o.k. but then the pressure of Liverpool, suddenly Arsenal gave up their possession of the ball, despite of the goal Liverpool took the pressure, the save by Almunia, you can say what you want about him, but you can’t disrespect this reflex, it was an exceptional moment, in any case, so the fortune seemed to stay with Arsenal, but it was all frightening all the time, 4 minutes extra time, how could it be in another way? and suddenly the referee whistled and whistled for Liverpool, it was frapping, in the end of course he didn’t gave them a penalty, I think they didn’t deserved one, but the referee stayed quite fair, at the whole I would say, nervy match, and yes you have to mention that it was nearly the only fitting cross this season for Arsenal, they have to work on the final pass and the finish of course, but we all know that …………. 😀

  23. Shard
    February 11, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    @ Aske P.

    I wouldn’t accuse you of any bias anyway. We just have a difference of opinion. Though i must say I have heard a lot of people say it was a dive. I didn’t think so at the time but I may be wrong. So cheers 🙂

  24. pragat
    February 11, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    Where’s all this poor league stuff coming from?

    reminds of those on here who said they were gutted when we let in a late goal at everton in august……we were 6-0 up at the time!

    we won the league in 89 with 76 points,was that a poor league?

    did we get to the champs league final in 06 cos it was a poor champs league ,poor real madrid and juve we beat ,and chels ,mancs were knocked out?

    mancs won ithe league in the mid 90s with 74 points ,was that a poor league?

    did we win titles in 02 and 04 cos man u were poor?

    Some are negative for the sake of it,cos they want wenger out and even if we get 80 points,it will be due to a poor league ?

    I am not saying we will win it,likely we won’t,but we have a shout with 12 games left and thats with a half fit squad and no strikers since october

    spare me the sanctimonious crap that if we do challenge its cos of a poor league

  25. Shard
    February 11, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    Having Bendtner did make a huge difference though. Even though he does mess up things a few times he gives us a focal point. And as Black Panther (you’re building quite a zoo here Andy) pointed out that not having Bendtner on the field in the last 10 mins really put us under more pressure. Hopefully he can get 100% fit and stay that way.

  26. Bikila
    February 12, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    Enjoyed the match! I am pleased less with the favorable run of fixture than with the fact that we finally figured out how to deal with the counter attack. We created just as many chances yesterday without Song, Gallas, Vermaelen flying forward than we did when they came crashing forward. I’m not particularly worried about Clichy or Sagna. They are both still finding their form, so that just requires time and patience. I just wish that they BOTH spend practice just trying to get crosses into the box. Now that Bendtner is back in the team their crosses are more vital.

    I was also pleased with the way Theo played. He seemed more confident in the ball, and I am still surprised by how damn fast he is. I’d like to see Theo be more aggressive on defense. He has so much speed that he can afford to track way back and still fly past any back line on the counter.

  27. jako
    February 12, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    I was expecting 6 out of 12 points in the last four outtings.

    We hve got our confidence back.. our key games, Mancity, Spurs. the rest should be smooth while
    All top 7 has has to paly amongst themselves..

    Keep up the good work.

  28. ALGunner
    February 12, 2010 at 1:30 am #

    Win is an Win. This was just an absolute moral booster from results point of view. As we had favorable result as both the top team lost points. With Bendy upfront for the first time after so many games arsenal where mixing there games. Which we all thought arsenal where lacking the PLAN B when PLAN A fails. Not getting carried should be the word in there mind and take one game after another. GALLAS and DIABY where my MOM

  29. Shard
    February 12, 2010 at 2:27 am #

    The official site says Song and Arshavin are injured 🙁

  30. SOBIN THE GOONER
    February 12, 2010 at 3:05 am #

    INIL TO THE ARSENAL.
    WHAT A GAME .WE R BACK WITH A BANG .
    COME ON ARSENAL

  31. radads
    February 12, 2010 at 3:54 am #

    I like Diaby!!! Nevergoonergiveup, where were you when Arsenal lost to Chelsea and Manu

  32. fredric
    February 12, 2010 at 4:30 am #

    Gerrard will never learn to keep his mouth shut will he? Every time he gives it large about their next game they end up losing. Now he thinks they are going to beat City – didnt he say that about Arsenal a couple of days ago. Also he says he was happy with his performance at Arsenal. What performance was that? the one where he was diving all over the place? Such a hypocrite. There is nobody in football that irritates me like this guy does!

  33. americanarsenal
    February 12, 2010 at 5:35 am #

    fuck yes.

  34. ArsenalTheWengerWay
    February 12, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    Arsenal have showed all of us against liverpool that they can fight, they played averagely compared to some of their season games, but what should be remarked on is that we fought for every ball and covered every blade of grass. We wanted to win, we needed to win and the mental strength on display after two crushing defeats was astonishing.

    One small matter that really gets on my nerves is people’s willingness to critize walcott, they are already asking for him to be sold, unbelievable. But funnily enough these same people will come back to congratulate walcott when he scores say the winning goal, they will say they always believed in him. The guy has been injured for a long time, give him a break, don’t you think he’s beating himself up over his perfomances. He just needs to improve his touch and dribbling a little, ok a lot but then i believe he will be converted to one of the most deadliest strikers by wenger.

    Call me crazy but stranger things have happened!!

  35. Avik
    February 12, 2010 at 6:08 am #

    Arshavin had a very nice game according to me. He made some sublime passes and almost wriggled out of a horde of defenders 2 times (bendtner should have scored on the 2nd opportunity). The best moment of the match for me was when Arshavin bullied out one of the biggest heavyweight defender of EPL- Carragher. Even the gallas tackle and rosicky’s perfect cross wasnt as good as that moment.

  36. Nairobi Gooner
    February 12, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    That header from Diaby was special. Thanks Andy for the comments and I wonder with the media who keep wrting us off at the earliest opportunity. Yes we werent really out of it but all the stories made even staunch Gunner fans start doubting. Let the players and manager have that winning and steel mentality for each of the remaining games and I believe we can push the other two teams hard. GO GUNNERS!!

  37. RipRoarinRed
    February 12, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    Well done, Rian Joubert, for reminding us that the hype around the four-game-make-or-break-run against the big four is irrelevant. Beat Burnley, Sunderland and West Ham twice, is what we need to do. Points dropped by losing to Sunderland are the same as points lost to Man U etc.

  38. darragh
    February 12, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    I didn’t think Bendtner dived. I thought the reply clearly showed his tackler tripping him. It was outside the area though.

  39. dave m
    February 12, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Our next two are against Sunderland and Stoke. It does seem that the ‘lesser’ teams are putting up a fight this year. 12 games to go and the top 4 have lost 4, 5, 6 and 8. There’s got to be one or two more defeats in our run in. The odd fluke and the odd draw. We need to stay focused. To be frank, I can’t believe I’m saying this after I ripped Wenger a new one last week. Still, we’ll probably draw with Sunderland.

    Chelsea are very up and down. I can see it being between Man U and Arsenal. Let’s face it, Rooney is on fire and probably the best forward in Europe right now. Don’t write off Man City for a run too.

    It was soooooooooo nice to stick it to Liverpool after Gerrard’s “we’ve watched the tapes and we know how to beat them” jibe. That’s 3 wins over Liverpool this season.

    Gerrard needs to get away from that rubbish team he’s in,

  40. Andrew Weber
    February 12, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    @ dave m – I think Gerrard’s recent form suggests he is in the right team for him 🙂

  41. Ianinja
    February 12, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Thought Bendtner had a good game, he may not be a Torres but he did hold play up well. A change from Sagna’s ineffective crosses.

    Gooday all

  42. dave m
    February 12, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    @ AW – Nice! Gerrard will be showcasing his talents at the World Cup and then he’ll go to Madrid for a pay day. That will leave Liverpool totally in the …

  43. Hey Nonny Mouse
    February 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Glad to be proved wrong because I didn’t think we’d get the win – it was a close squeek though – but deserved as we were the better team. Looked on Teamtalk or some website after and there’s Gerard whining about Cesc’s handball. Yeah, ain’t it awful, Stevie? Not quite as bad as cheating a penalty in the last minute of a Champions League Quater final though is it, you dick!?
    Best thing of all – a shut out. I’d be quite happy to go back to 1-0 to the Arsenal for a few games while we get our Mojo back. I guess it might have been different had Torres been playing – as the fat boy and dreadful Drogba were for manure and the rent boys, but Gallas did indeed have a stellar game and Almunia even saved a shot. So – come on, Arsenal. Get that old confidence back again and we can beat anyone. Love to see us give Porto a right tonking.

    One more thing – Arshavin. Pure genius. My player of the season so far. I love watching this guy on the ball.

  44. Arshadin
    February 12, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    We will stand all the chance, with their moral down after Inter and AC Milan gunned them both out of the CL.

  45. fredric
    February 12, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    Arsenal didn’t concede a goal for the ninth time in 26 Premier League fixtures this season, and it took a great save by Manuel Almunia and some quality interceptions before that (and one after by Cesc’s forearm!) to ensure Abou Diaby’s goal went unanswered. Liverpool did create some pretty decent chances, but there seemed a lot more commitment to protect the goal than in recent disappointments.

    The first half was pretty nothingy. Arsenal at times looked like eleven individuals rather than a team. I suspect another half time reminder of what was at stake may have had some effect, as the second half saw a vast improvement in concentration and application.

    As Chelsea and Manchester United both dropped points last night, there is optimism in the air. Good. That’s how it should be. It may well be unjustified, as – for this observer – Arsenal have to go on a winning run from now to the end of the season to have any chance of winning the title after suffering six defeats and four draws. Last season’s champions finished with 90 points (Arsenal can get 88 if they win every game), losing four and drawing six. I don’t in my heart of hearts believe the squad have the necessary character to finish ahead of both Chelsea and United, but it is definitely a curate’s egg of a season and I hope I am proved wrong.

    It is interesting that the 4-3-3 seems – to these eyes – to have morphed into 4 – 2 – 1 – 3, as Cesc Fabregas played ahead of two holding midfielders rather than one. Maybe this has been going on for a while, but there has been so little shape to Arsenal that I haven’t noticed it. I’m assuming the instruction to Diaby not to roam around quite so freely is a reaction to the number of goals that have been conceded. He certainly had a decent match last night. It looked as if the team had actually done a bit of work on defence on the training ground. Maybe, also, they sensed the anger in the crowd when it was perceived that 100% was not being given and responded. Frankly, they shouldn’t need the threat of raised voices to exert every last drop of energy, but that’s a discussion for another time.

    Liverpool are invariably a tough opponent, and I was quite relieved to see Wenger’s team play a game that included a bit of the more workmanlike qualities that did bring success to the club under the days of George Graham. Granted, his players were not good enough to consistently challenge for the title after 1991, but they could raise their game for the big occasion. Last night was certainly a highly significant match for Wenger, as his team needed to re-establish momentum or risk slipping down the table. Momentum is so important in football, and Manchester United’s Carling Cup exploits featuring full strength teams in the two semi-finals doesn’t seem to have done much harm to their league form.

    The decision to chuck the FA Cup at Stoke, so the rested players had enough in the tank to gain one point from the following three matches will seem more of a folly than ever when we enjoy the football-free weekend ahead. Let’s just hope that the subsequent trip to Porto witnesses a performance that will make the second leg a formality.

    As for domestic concerns, it’s really a matter of game by game and see where the team end up. They should – given the run-in – have enough in them to remain in third place and avoid the risk of elimination in a Champions League qualifier. And if they can win every game of the 12 remaining, then things might get interesting. If you really believe they can do that, put a fiver on Arsenal to beat Sunderland at the bookies, and keep re-investing the winnings until the team loses or ends the season on 88 points.

    I am pleased people are talking about Arsenal’s (albeit remote) chance of winning the title this year. Let’s see the players perform like champions in the making – demonstrating more of the character we saw in the second half last night – and as Wenger says, prove the doubters wrong. It’s what we pay some very expensive ticket prices for, so it’s time to shape up or ship out. Sadly, it does appear that William Gallas will do the latter this summer. It would be nice to see Ivan Gazidis use his self-proclaimed expertise in contract negotiations to tie him to the club for at least another two years. Hell, I’d give him four.

  46. tony
    February 12, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    If you are to believe the media, the John Terry affair has brought disgrace on the game we love in the past week. How could he do it to us? And, even worse, he was the England captain. Well – there’s a thing. The only difference between him and the nation’s male sweetheart, his predecessor in the role, is that he did the “dirty” with the former partner of a team-mate – well, lots of team-mates actually. And the part time resident of LA and Milan did it with somebody who “pleasured” a pig on a reality TV show. Classy girls??!! Allegedly…

    No – the real national disgrace in the game and the media is the continued idolising of England and Liverpool’s own Stevie G. In an entertainingly fractious Merseyside derby on Saturday littered with fouls and poor refereeing – no red card for the curly permed Belgian for example – that brought us old timers back to a pre Sky sanitised era, Stevie displayed his talents for all to see. The two standouts were “the starfish” – a personal favourite – and his role as wounded hero in the Pienaar sending off. Both classic Stevie – worthy of Oscar nomination as they had little to do with the laws of the game. A career in the performing arts beckons. The Liverpool centric broadcast media struggled, as they tend to do, to criticise one of their own; particularly one that is so hero worshipped locally and, for many, is the link back to the glory days of yore when they actually used to win a non cup competition or ten. You can feel the tension when little Jamie has to answer a question on this issue on Sky – the only point of comparison is the BBC where they just pretend it hasn’t happened.

    Fast forward to Wednesday and, guess what, under the benevolent gaze of Howard Webb (obviously trying to do his bit for scouse/police relationships) Stevie delivered another masterclass. Blatant dive in the area for a penalty; blatant dive under a non challenge in a defensive position to end the first half; several attempts to influence Webb’s decisions; blatant dive that led to the free kick that led to the handball that led to – well, the final whistle… poor Stevie; left the pitch aggrieved that he didn’t get a penalty (the alleged handball was outside the box but let’s not dwell on the details) that could have levelled the scores. No thought in his mind that it would have been obtained by deception…

    I am sick and fed up of Stevie and his antics. He is the one that is a disgrace to the game – not someone who confines his cheating to off the pitch activities. Yet Stevie will be centre stage in the build up and overhype of South Africa. We will be urged to get behind the boys and support their brave quest (usually, by implication, against cheating foreigners) to bring home the World Cup. We will be urged to forget JT’s indiscretions. As we all get caught up in the moment, as tends to happen, cast your mind back to a freezing night in February where Arsenal were trying to salvage their season and the serial cheating Stevie tried to do his utmost to ensure that, by foul means rather than fair, we were robbed of the chance of doing so. He is above the law on the pitch and off it now – what happens if the becomes Stevie G, Liverpool legend and World Cup Winner? It doesn’t bear thinking about…

  47. shambogunner
    February 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    ashley coles been caught sendin naked pics of himself to page three models……..funny tho…..i never knew they had male page three models……..

  48. Ianinja
    February 12, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    Whats a page 3 model?

  49. shambogunner
    February 13, 2010 at 12:51 am #

    topless glamour models in the sun newpaper….sleaziest, worst tabloid in britain…never any truth in it but the story bout cashley is in all the papers today…..he sez it was his photos and phone but hed given the phone to a friend without deleting the pics……wot a lieing sneaky knobhead….does he take everyone to be as stupid as him or wot?

  50. Lil Weezy
    February 13, 2010 at 4:29 am #

    Ashley Cole – Out for the season..
    Giggs – out for 2 months…
    Nani- possible ban of 3 games..

    What is going here, it seems that other teams are facing tougher times to come while Arsenal has already passed the the stormy times!

    Luck is finally upon us, now we have to make it count!

    Gerrard form is terrible if I was English, i would not want him to start in WC2010.

  51. Javier
    February 13, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    Great Victory

  52. Steve-O
    February 13, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    Tony, very well put mate. Gerrard is just a shadow of his former self and has never fired in the big games for England even when he was supposedly at the peak of his powers. He’s lowered himself to the ‘old, slow man’s’ style of play of fouling, diving, simulating, acting or whatever else you want to call it. Capello should take the initiative by dropping him to the bench and let someone who’s proud to wear the colours start the game.

    By the way, I’m surprised Ashley Cole wasn’t sending naked pictures of himself to gay mag boy models.

  53. theicehammer
    February 16, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    Tired of it all.

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