Sunday, 24 April 2011

Same Old Arsenal, Always Infuriating

Say goodbye to any hopes you might have had that Arsenal could still win the title, even after bottling every game over the past month or so. Too many draws, too many mistakes and just not being good enough has put an end to our season, and today Bolton cemented this by beating us 2-1 at The Reebok. A 90th minute header from Tamir Cohen finally laid this Arsenal side to rest for the 2010/11 season. There's always next year I suppose...

This afternoon we had to win at all costs. Anything less would simply confirm that this season was not meant to be, no Premier League trophy for us this time. The first half was relatively even, but Bolton looked dangerous on the counter and from set pieces. Well in the 38th minute, Bolton took the lead. From a corner, Gary Cahill rose above our defence with ease, powering a header into the corner that Samir Nasri did well to chest away. Unfortunately the ball didn't leave Nasri's body with much pace, and Chelsea-loanee Daniel Sturridge was waiting to head the ball back into the net to make it 1-0 Bolton. First blood to the home side and Arsenal needed to respond quickly if they were to maintain any hope of a victory, let alone keeping themselves in the increasingly disappearing title-race.

Well Arsenal did respond, but not in the manner we might have hoped. With only a minute gone into the second half, Sturridge got on the wrong side of Djourou in the penalty area and went down; the referee instantly pointed to the spot and it looked like Arsenal's dreams of a successful afternoon had quickly descended into a nightmare. Kevin Davies stepped up to the spot, but thankfully his penalty attempt was atrocious and Szczesny saved with ease, keeping Arsenal in the game. This swing in momentum appeared to galvanise the men in red and white and only minutes later Arsenal were back in the game. Robin van Persie played a nice one-two with Fabregas, and the Dutchman laced the ball past Jaaskelainen to make it 1-1 and game on. For the next 40 minutes or so, Arsenal set up camp around the Bolton area but just could not get that all important second goal. Nasri had a great chance to take the lead but could only hit his shot at the keeper, before having the rebound blocked. It just looked like one of those days, with Wenger casting a frustrated figure on the touchline as the Gunners spurned chance after chance, failing to shoot when they would pass instead. Just when things couldn't get much worse, substitute Tamir Cohen popped up from a Bolton corner in the 90th minute and made it 2-1 to the home side; game over for Arsenal, and season over as well. Another set piece, another lapse in concentration and another goal - Arsenal just could not handle Bolton from corners this afternoon and they paid the price for it. Cohen had only been on the pitch for five minutes too...

So now Arsenal can forget the title, they can forget the celebrations and the medals. No open-top bus parade this year. The Gunners now have more pressing concerns in the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City. Carlo Ancelotti's team have hit a hot patch of late and have soared into second place, and now they have a three point advantage over us and a better goal difference as well. In all likeliness, Arsenal have probably thrown away their chance at second, let alone first, unless they can right this sinking ship and finish the season with some respect. The blue side of Manchester are also a concern; they have two games in hand and if we don't wake up, they could quite easily steal third place from us. That would be a disaster.

Anyway, unless Arsenal can win all their remaining games and a miracle occurs, this will probably be my last post on here this season. I have a lot of uni work coming up and once thats done I might write a piece or two on what I think the club should do in the off-season; who they should buy, who they should sell, stuff like that.

Thanks for reading.

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