Update: Sincerest apologies for the mistake with regards to the timing of the close of the transfer window. As so many have already pointed out, it closes on Monday night – not Sunday night as I had previously thought. I’ve left in what I originally wrote, using strikethrough to indicate where I’d made my mistakes, so hopefully everyone can still get some value in reading around it. Apologies again!
As I write to you today it is approximately 8.10am on Monday the 1st of September Australian Time. By my calculations that makes it 11.10pm on Sunday the 31st of August UK Time. Which means, of course, that Arsene Wenger has just under an hour to make whatever signings he is hoping to before the transfer window slams shut.
Now, I could use this post to discuss possible transfer targets. But instead, I’m going to have a bit of a talk about everything that has gone on over the weekend – our Champions League draw, the win over Newcastle, Wenger’s reaction etc – and then hope that once I’m done there’s a couple of photos of new players holding up Arsenal shirts on the official website.
Let’s see how it goes…
I’ll start with the most important point of interest, Arsenal’s quite excellent 3-0 win over Newcastle at Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was a perfect illustration of what this Arsenal side are capable of when they are at their best as a Newcastle team that have been in relatively good form were quite simply torn apart by Wenger’s men. Meanwhile, down back, they rarely got a sniff.
The goals came from Robin van Persie – who scored a brace – and Denilson, who will be delighted to have netted his first for the club after the disaster that was his performance against Fulham last weekend.
The first goal saw van Persie fire home from the spot after a clever bit of Emmanuel Adebayor play saw his attempted cross hit the arm of Charles N’Zogbia. It was a fair decision any which way you look at it and I think van Persie showed some real character to step up and take the kick considering the form he has been in of late. It shows the type of player he is and it’s wonderful to have someone with so much confidence in their own ability in the Arsenal squad.
The second goal was also scored by van Persie as he finished off a quite brilliant piece of link-up play involving the Emmanuels’ Adebayor and Eboue. The latter drove past a couple of challenges in the middle of the park and played a simple one-two with the former. He then proceeded to backheel the ball in a clumsy, yet strangely compelling way to van Persie who smashed the ball into the roof of the net. It was the sort of goal that Wenger probably dreams about every night and the manager stood to applaud his side’s effort.
The third and final goal involved another piece of passing perfection. Samir Nasri – who had another storming game in front of the home crowd – tore down the left flank before being confronted by two Newcastle defenders. He checked inside, fed the ball to Adebayor, who flicked it to Denilson, who passed it back to Nasri, who fed it back to Adebayor who laid it on a plate for Denilson to fire home. When you read over that sentence again and realise that every single pass was made within a five-yard radius you get an impression of what a special goal this was. Needless to say, Wenger was on his feet yet again.
Aside from the goals their were a heck of a lot of opportunities which Arsenal created. William Gallas fired over from two yards in the third minute with what has to be the worst miss of the season so far, while Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given made several great saves from van Persie, Nasri and Kolo Toure amongst others. Van Persie also hit the bar with a rocket shot from a ridiculous angle soon after Denilson scored while substitute Theo Walcott wasted a couple of very presentable chances late on.
Down the other end the best Newcastle could muster was a scuffed shot by Michael Owen – who will not be happy with Shola Ameobi getting in his way – and a header from Nicky Butt which struck the bar. It’s not inconceivable to suggest that had Butt’s header been on target it most likely would have been cleared off the line, so to restrict Newcastle to just one clear chance on goal was a good defensive effort by Arsenal.
The other significant highlight – or lowlight, depending on how you look at it – was the return to football of Joey Barton. Now, I don’t want to go too much into what he’s done off the field or how he should be punished for it but the tackle he made on Nasri so soon after coming on was just ridiculous. He quite easily could have snapped Nasri’s leg ala Eduardo and although I don’t encourage retaliation as such – I was quite happy to see the Frenchman get his own back with that little ankle-tap.
You can see all the highlights from the game here.
All-in-all it was an great performance by Arsenal and an excellent response to the loss to Fulham last weekend. With both Chelsea and Liverpool drawing on Sunday night it leaves Arsenal just one point off the top of the table with three games played and at the end of the day, that’s not the worst position to be in. The attack is starting to look fluid and the defence more organised and if the manager and his team can continue to tweak the flaws in their game then this Arsenal side will stay around the top of the pile.
A quick update on the time situation – and it is now 11.49pm UK Time. Still no hint of a signing. Eek.
Before the Newcastle clash the big news was the Champions League draw on or around Friday. Arsenal’s draw saw them pitted against Fenerbache, Dynamo Kiev and FC Porto in Group E. As many people have said, this is quite a tough group – not necessarily because of the quality of the opposition – but because of the difficulty of the away legs. Fenerbache and Porto are a formidable force away from home while the weather in Kiev at the time of the game will play a big part in the result.
What it all means is that if Arsenal are to progress on top of the group then they will have to put a lot of effort into securing maxium points from the three games at the Emirates Stadium. It’s likely to be an exciting ride regardless of the outcome.
And that’s really all for today. I had hoped to bring the fantastic news of a late, late signing but at this stage it doesn’t seem to be happening. That’s not to say that someone hasn’t signed and the Arsenal website just hasn’t had time to update, of course. And when it does, as always, you’ll be the first to know.
One minute to go, Arsene, don’t let us down!
Have your say on Arsenal’s win over Newcastle, the Champions League draw or a new signing by leaving a comment.