Archive for January 11th, 2009

Bendtner makes a point; Arshavin required urgently

Add comment January 11th, 2009

Arsenal 1 – 0 Bolton Wanderers (Bendtner 84)
Highlights here; Arsene’s reaction here

Nicklas Bendtner is the Emirates crowd’s current scapegoat of choice.  After Emmanuel Eboue was declared ‘Out of Bounds’ for the boo boys, an unspoken decision was made to train all sights on the Danish striker.  Yesterday he replaced Eboue in a more literal sense, coming on as a substitute with fifteen minutes remaining.

He played from the right wing in a 4-2-4 formation, and after coming close with a header as his first touch, he twice gave the ball away after dribbling into the centre of a congested pitch.  After that, a fair number of fans began to ironically cheer every remotely successful touch Bendtner had – pathetic behaviour from a section of the home crowd I’m beginning to feel increasingly alienated from.

Still, Bendtner himself delivered the perfect rebuke, launching himself at a Robin van Persie cross to end 84 minutes of frustration.  Naturally we handed Kevin Davies a chance to equalise, but Almunia saved and we managed to hold on for the victory.

Bolton had defended well enough, and with so many creative players out through injury we struggled to break them down.  Our best spell came in the second half, when Samir Nasri swapped with the sloppy Abou Diaby and played from a deep, central position.  Vela and Bendtner then joined Adebayor and Van Persie in an attacking foursome that proved, eventually, to be just too much for a depleted Bolton side to contain.

That said, I can only really cite two other scoring opportunities in the game.  One came shortly after Nasri was moved inside, when the Frenchman picked out a brilliant pass for Adebayor.  The African, much like when he rounded David James against Portsmouth, dallied, and Bolton were able to block.

The other chance fell to Adebayor’s strike partner, Robin van Persie, who managed to squeeze a shot away after an Ade flick.  However, his right-footed strike bounced off the post and was cleared.  The paucity of chances created advertised just how badly we need a player of Andrei Arshavin’s invention and skill.  The latest news of the Russian is that Zenit have rejected a £10m bid – there’ll be more on his potential transfer here tomorrow.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of enjoying the stadium’s Club Level facilities for the first time, and I have to say it was quite the experience.  The manner in which I tore into the buffet was particularly shameless, and I oughtn’t be surprised that today eating anything, and indeed moving anywhere at all are proving equally problematic.

My seat was right next to the director’s box, and whilst the rest off the board filed back to the dining room after the game, it was good to see neww CEO Ivan Gazidis stay and clap each player off the pitch.  Fabio Capello was also present, though who he was supposed to be watching is beyond me (*cough* WILSHERE *cough*).

Sat just ahead of me was a certain David Dein.  Seeing him sat amongst the relative plebs, just feet from the director’s box that was once his stomping ground, I began to understand (if not appreciate) his motivation to force his way back into a position of power at the club.  That said, he looked downcast and quiet throughout the game.  The humiliation of his sacking from Arsenal has forced him to address his previously effervescent public persona.

Finally, a word for Kolo Toure.  Linked with a move away from the club, he was captain yesterday as we kept a second consecutive Premier League clean-sheet.  Walking off the pitch, he saluted the fans and repeatedly clutched and kissed the badge.

Players do come and go, but it is not Kolo’s time yet.

Arshavin thoughts tomorrow.

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