Archive for May 25th, 2009

Signing Off In Style

Add comment May 25th, 2009

Fans outside The Armoury salute Arsene Wenger

Arsenal 4 – 1 Stoke City ( Beattie 10 (og), Van Persie 16 (pen), 41, Diaby 18 , Fuller 31 (pen) )
Highlights here; Arsene’s reaction here

I said before the game I hoped that Stoke’s concentration would have already departed to some sunny Summer island.  Well, their attention to defensive detail was entirely absent in a calamitous first half that saw them three down inside twenty-one minutes.

We played well too, and looked determined to end the season on a relative high.  The first goal was a short corner routine between Cesc and Van Persie, which ended with the former crossing into the box for James Beattie to stab with unerring accuracy into his own net.

An Arshavin flick then set Van Persie clear in the box, and the Dutchman showed good persistence before being fouled to win a penalty that he converted himself.

Not content with that, he then provided a sumptuous free-kick into the box which Abou Diaby flicked home for a third.

Stoke grabbed a consolation when Ricardo Fuller’s tricky run was illegally interrupted by Denilson.  Fuller matched Van Persie by getting to his feet and netting from the spot himself.

However, it wasn’t long until our three goal advantage was restored, and Stoke were the main contributors to their own downfall – a Rory Delap header fell short of his goalkeeper, and Van Persie chested it down before expertly volleying in our fourth.  Robin also came close to a hatrick with a free-kick that thundered off the underside of the bar, and as the game progressed there were other chances to extend our lead: Theo Walcott missed a one-on-one, Abou Diaby headed wide when scoring seemed easier, and Van Persie failed to convert from just a couple of yards out.

The second half petered out and the crowd’s Mexican waves were more a product of ennui than the introduction of Carlos Vela.

There were some great showings.  Kieran Gibbs, relieved of any real attacking pressure by Stoke, was fantastic going forward, whilst in midfield Cesc and Arshavin were clearly enjoying themselves.  Vito Mannone had a quiet but solid debut in goal, and Robin van Persie played extremely well as the lone striker against a physical Stoke defence.  He finished the season with twenty goals – a total which is nothing to be sniffed at.  As we line up in a 4-3-3/4-5-1 with increasing regularity it’s going to be important for Robin to learn to play that role as the sole forward.

Whilst the performance was impressive, the game itself seemed to take a back-seat to the love-in between Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal fans.  From a march before the game to singing his name throughout, those in attendance made it clear that Arsene is still very much the man for us.  Arsene appreciated it, and is keen to repay the faith:

“It makes me feel appreciated and even more regretful that we couldn’t give them what they wanted this season. I am very respectful for their faith in me. It’s very warming and it makes me even more determined to pay them back.”

After the game the squad went on a lap of the pitch to show their appreciation to the fans.  Perhaps surprisingly, Emmanuel Adebayor was present, and limping conspicuously.  He looked a little sheepish but relaxed.  Is it the last time we’ll see him in Arsenal regalia at the Emirates?  Perhaps.

Time now to brace yourselves for twelve weeks of transfer speculation-based mayhem.  I’ll be here, stirring the pot of despair whilst you constantly refresh now in the hope that we fill our number six shirt with a talent deserving of its rich heritage.

Well guys, some good news: after yesterday’s events, Fabricio Coloccini and Afonso Alez might be available…

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