Archive for March 28th, 2010

We’re not out of the title race (again)

4 comments March 28th, 2010

Birmingham 1 – 1 Arsenal (Nasri 81, Phillips 90)
Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

Arsenal have nabbed so many crucial late goals this season that we’d forgotten how painful they can be for those on the receiving end. Yesterday we were handed an agonising reminder.

It looked as if we would be the late victors yet again. Andrey Arshavin and Samir Nasri had been thrown on in an attempt to secure the game as we cranked up the pressure on an ageing Birmingham defence. Abou Diaby lashed in a goal that was dubiously disallowed – whether it was for Cesc Fabregas’ tackle in the build-up or the shoulder-barge Diaby used to create space for himself was unclear. Not long after, however, Nasri fired a shot from a similar range and angle that Howard Webb was forced to permit.

When the defence failed to close the Frenchman down, he drove in from the right-hand side and fired a twenty-yard arrow past Joe Hart. It was a superb goal, and looked to have given us three massive points in this topsy-turvy title race.

There were chances to extend the lead beyond that: Arshavin miscued when set up by Bendtner, and Nasri’s first touch meant that Hart was able to close him down when Cesc’s through-ball found him in the clear.

As we entered stoppage time, we looked surprisingly comfortable. Manuel Almunia had already flapped somewhat at a Hart free-kick, but Lee Bowyer hadn’t been able to keep the resulting volley down. That looked like our scare over.

But Almunia had one final party-piece left in him. A launched ball forward should have seen Christian Benitez flagged offside – when it didn’t, the ball rebounded to Kevin Phillips, who had come on to face Sol Campbell in a much-anticipated mid-nineties reunion. Almunia pawed his strike up in to the air, comically back-peddling as both he and the ball ended up in the net.

At full-time, Campbell let out his anger by booting the ball high in to the air. Two points dropped, and in the cruellest of ways. That, I suppose, is how Stoke suffered; how Hull hurt. Yesterday was our turn.

How unfortunate, then, that it came on a day when our title rivals came up against teams who were competitive only in terms of rivalling each other for incompetence. Aston Villa’s 7-1 mauling to Chelsea is a result to be ashamed of at any stadium, whilst United were extremely fortunate to come up against JLloyd Samuel – a man whose forename looks like a typo and who appeared to think he was on trial as a Man Utd striker whilst playing as a Bolton full-back.

Arsene was unequivocal in his assessment of the result:

“It is a big blow for our title, of course. We were in a position where we had to win all our games and not to win today is a big blow to our chances.”

One could argue that he could have started with Nasri and Arshavin ahead of Walcott and Rosicky, though the manager’s riposte was to suggest both were nursing injuries. Cesc Fabregas was clattered on the knee early on – had this been anything less than top priority, he would have been withdrawn and saved for Barca. As it is, his participation in that fixture has been thrown in to some doubt.

As the final whistle was compounded by news of Chelsea and United’s results, the obituaries for our title challenge, most of which were composed as early as August, were wheeled out once again. But this is no time for doom and gloom. Chelsea dropped two points away to a midtable side last week and have responded by scoring twelve goals in two games. Our fixture list remains favourable – and even more pressingly than that – we have the small matter of a fixture with Barcelona to contend with. Remember the motto: Cesc We Can.

On that note, I’m off to Italy for the next week or so. I’ll pop up again around the Barca game, no doubt, but if any Gooners could let me know whether or not the match against Barca is on Italian terrestrial telly or what have you I’d appreciate it.

Until then, keep the faith. We’ve been “out of it” enough times and come back for me to believe that there is life in this title challenge yet.

Search Gunnerblog

Get your Gunnerblog t-shirts now!

get regular updates from GS with twitter

Top Gunn

Cesc Fabregas
The man in form.

    Retro Arsenal T-Shirts from - Bringing Back The Good Old Days!: Click Here!

Latest Posts

Sponsored Links


March 2010
« Feb   Apr »

Posts by Month

Most Recent Posts

Posts by Category


Powered By

eXTReMe Tracker