Archive for December 17th, 2009

Burnley 1 – 1 Arsenal: Disappointed but not surprised

Add comment December 17th, 2009

Having been unable to watch yesterday’s game live, I’ve just caught up thanks to the extended highlights available on Sky’s Football First service.  They obviously had a few technical difficulties with the broadcast, as they kept running a ticker along the bottom apologising for the fact that co-commentator Trevor Francis was inaudible.  Honestly, Sky – when it comes to silencing Trevor, no apologies are neccessary.

This was a match in which we appeared to play well for all of five minutes – those minutes came immediately after we took the lead against the run of play.  Manuel Almunia had already tipped an own-goal-bound Vermaelen header on to the bar when Cesc Fabregas waltzed ricocheted his way through the Burnley defence before knocking home his tenth goal of the season.  It’s an outstanding haul – carry on at this rate and he’ll end the season with twenty or so, which would be phenomenal.

The greatest threat to that achievement is, as usual, injury.  After a promising spell in which Arshavin hit the post and Cesc volleyed wide, the captain picked up a hamstring injury which forced him to hobble off before half-time.  He’ll now miss Saturday’s game with Hull, and one fears a few more after that.

By that point it was 1-1.  Andre Bikey’s miscontrol in the penalty area drew a lunge from Vermaelen that was a clear foul, and a penalty was awarded.  Graham Alexander simply doesn’t miss, and the sides went it at half-time level.

After that Burnley looked the more likely victor.  Chris Eagles struck a post and a potential winner was controversially disallowed for offside.  In that instance, Manuel Almunia inexplicably allowed a cross to slip through his hands, gifting the opposing striker an easy tap in.

Almunia’s form is a real worry.  His confidence is shot, as evidenced by poor decision-making and erratic, inefficient distribution.  Many will be hoping we sign a keeper in January, but I can tell you now: we won’t.  Lukasz Fabianski is seen as the future number one, and will be given the opportunity to earn a first-team place before we so much as glance at the chequebook.

We didn’t offer much of an attacking threat in the second half.  Eduardo was brought on but at the moment Arshavin looks a far better option through the middle.  The fact that Van Persie and Bendtner are out and still the Croatian can’t make the team speaks volumes for how rusty he is at the moment.

Theo Walcott is another suffering from lack of form, again due to his failure to put together a decent run of games.  Hopefully the pitch-time he is getting at the moment will see him enter the new year with renewed vigour.

It’s two points dropped, but the alternative way of looking at it is to say that we’ve picked up four points from two games in which we have not played well.

This week is congested, but there’s no point moaning about the fixture list: with respect, we’re playing Burnley and Hull.  Let’s get on with it and win on Saturday.

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