Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Precious Points Cost Gunners

3 crucial points in the Premier League race but at what cost? Arsenal dispatched Stoke City 1-0 tonight, thanks to a Sebastien Squillaci header in the 8th minute, and are keeping the pressure on Man United who are now only 1 point ahead at the top of the league. But victory came at a price, with Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott both forced from the pitch with injuries, the severity of which has yet to be determined. Fingers crossed they are only out of action for days, not weeks.

I think most Arsenal fans expected a tough scrappy game tonight and that's exactly what happened. The Gunners started brightly, with Theo hitting the post after just a minute played. Arsenal kept the pressure on Stoke and it soon paid off when a Jack Wilshere corner found its way to Nicklas Bendtner, who lobbed the ball onto the head of Squillaci to head the ball home for the lead. Not a beautiful goal like we Gooners may have become accustomed to, but an important goal nonetheless, and Squillaci's first in the Premier League. It was a good pass from Bendtner too, his only meaningful contribution this evening (but how important in the scheme of things).

Once the Gunners went 1-0 up, they dominated possession but couldn't extend the lead, much to the frustration of all Arsenal-supporting spectators. The game became quite niggly, with Stoke typically nipping at the heels of every player wearing the red and white. Fabregas was taken off just five minutes after the goal, with what looked like a knee problem (although they're saying on Radio 5 now it might be his hamstring - shiiiiiiiiit). Hopefully he is not seriously hurt and his substitution was just a precaution ahead of Sunday's Carling Cup Final against Birmingham (I think having the captain fully fit on Sunday is going to help us immensely). Arshavin replaced Cesc and I thought he played quite well for the remainder of the match. Nasri and Wilshere were masterful in midfield, pulling the strings in the captain's absence, which was absolutely crucial in maintaining possession throughout the contest. The defence played well, with Djourou and Squillaci coming out on top against Stoke's big target men - pleasing to see given that our squad are vertically challenged in most departments. Overall this was not a nice game to watch, in fact it was downright horrible most of the time. Despite Stoke failing to create many clear-cut goal opportunities, every set-piece and every stupid time wasting Rory Delap throw-in looked dangerous. When you're only 1-0 up and have wasted larger leads previously in the season, the nerves build up as time ticks down. So when the final whistle blew, I was more relieved than happy.

So Arsene Wenger's men came away with the all 3 valuable points tonight but losing Fabregas and Walcott could really hinder our chances on Sunday, as well as the upcoming games against Barcelona and other Premier League games in the near future. Attention now turns to Wembley, and the Carling Cup Final against Birmingham. I've booked the day off work so I'll be there in the pub to watch us try and end our trophy drought. Really, really, really want us to finally win this bloody competition, as the League Cup is the only domestic trophy Wenger hasn't won. Looking forward to Sunday! Until then...

Thanks for reading.

Just heard that Walcott has an ankle sprain, and so will miss the Carling Cup Final on Sunday. A major blow, his pace would have given the Blues a real problem. Balls...


  1. Just spent the afternoon watching Milan vs. Munich. Tonight I have to watch Carmelo Anthony's first game as a N.Y. Knick, but I'm committed to watching some of Marseille vs. Manchester match tonight.

  2. I didn't see the United vs Marseille game, but everything I read and heard about it made it sound like it wasn't worth watching! Man U are ridiculously boring this season...